1860’s Politics: A Fine Fiddle

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I came across this 1860 political cartoon recently while reading a story at CNN.com about the nastiest elections in U.S. history:


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Longstreet goes West, part Eight: Knoxville, and Huzzah!

(Fear not, dear reader: Our extended blog-essay is winding down; part nine will cover actual operations in East Tennessee, and part ten will conclude things with a summary of James Longstreet’s troubled interlude beyond Virginia. Thank you for your forbearance.) 


The site of Bragg’s Headquarters, Missionary Ridge

On November 3, Bragg, Longstreet, Hardee and the Army of Tennessee’s other senior officers gathered at Bragg’s headquarters to discuss their next move. In what by now should come as no surprise to any student of the Army of Tennessee, accounts vary as to the exact details of this conference.

Longstreet opened with a plan that was well in line with his current worries: He proposed to cross the Tennessee River near Bridgeport, and by means of threatening or destroying the Army of the Cumberland’s forward supply base, compel a retreat from Chattanooga. While in theory this was the soundest strategy, the idea foundered on the by-now obvious logistical difficulties. It probably received no more than a cursory discussion; Longstreet didn’t even mention it in his official report. Only a letter from William Hardee to Longstreet, written in April 1864, provides us with the details. Continue reading

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ECW on C-SPAN: Steve Davis, John Bell Hood, and Atlanta

C-SPAN’s coverage of the Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge continues this weekend with Steve Davis’s talk on John Bell Hood’s July 20, 1864, attack outside Atlanta. The talk will air on C-SPAN3 on Saturday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Meanwhile, C-SPAN3 will re-air Dave Powell’s talk on battle tactics on Saturday, October 22 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern time. And Chris Mackowski’s talk on Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle will re-air on Sunday morning, October 23, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

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Kilpatrick’s Deficiency in Judgment


Judson Kilpatrick

Theodore Lyman, Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade’s aide-de-camp, offered an interesting observation about part of the Federal cavalry on this date in 1863. The Army of the Potomac was cautiously advancing out of its protected position in Centreville, Virginia, where Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had chased it during the Bristoe Campaign. Federal cavalry under Judson Kilpatrick screened the advance. Continue reading

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The Civil War Trails’ Trailblazer: Drew Gruber



Drew Gruber prepares to replace and repaint an older sign in Franklin, TN. (photo courtesy of Robert L. Hodge)

Clark Kent isn’t the only one who lives a double life. Within any given day, Drew Gruber, the executive director or Civil War Trails, changes from overall-wearing post-hole digger to suit-donning organizer.

“It’s not uncommon for me to be in a pair of overalls covered in mud and someone comes over looking for the director and I’m digging a hole,” he said.

Gruber, who received the position only a year ago, is responsible for all aspects of the interpretive panels at 1,550 participating historic sites in five and a half states: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and two counties in Pennsylvania. Many locations have more than one panel, too. Continue reading

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1860’s Politics: A Study In 1864 Presidential Campaign Artwork

Art is created to be appreciated and to tell a message or story. Can we study artwork from a historic presidential election and learn about American ideas at the time? Absolutely. It’s amazing how much symbolism and propaganda can be featured in a fairly simple illustration.

Today, we’ll study a print from the 1864 Presidential Election. Originally created and published by Currier & Ives and now preserved by Library of Congress, this artwork has a grandiose title: “Grand national union banner for 1864. Liberty, union and victory.” Continue reading

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Digital Traces

Traces of the Bloody Struggle-coverTraces of the Bloody Struggle: The Civil War at Stevenson Ridge, Spotsylvania Court House by Chris Mackowski is now available digitally through Amazon.com, courtesy of Savas Beatie, LLC.

The book recounts the action on the eastern front during the May 1864 battle. (Click here for more about the book.)

Hard copies of the book are available only through Stevenson Ridge: $10 plus shipping. For ordering info, contact info@stevensonridge.com.

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1860’s Politics: Context! Context! I Tell You!

Emerging Civil War 1860's Politics HeaderNetwork News, Then and NowAs someone who loves the politics of the Civil War just as much as the battles, I have learned a few things that I would like to share as we begin our series of posts about the presidential elections of 1860 and ’64, and perhaps some of those in between.

One of the best things about studying historical politics is doing it on the Internet: it makes access to speech texts and images fast and thorough, and newspaper accounts, the 19th century version of television talking heads, are readily available as well. One of the worst things is also using the Internet, for exactly the same reasons. When it takes a researcher less than five minutes to call up 100% of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, including the videos of a televised recreation of this series of events (https://www.c-span.org/series/?LincolnDouglas). It is very easy to forget that these were not presidential debates in 1860. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 10/17-10/23/16

Question-HeaderJoin the fun… Meg Groeling and Sarah Kay Bierle were talking about quote-able lines from movies. So here’s some Civil War pop-culture:

What’s your favorite quote-able line from Gone With The Wind?

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1860’s Politics: Campaign Ads for Television?

Emerging Civil War 1860's Politics HeaderI was bored one morning and needed some history humor. So…I searched “1860 political” on YouTube. The results were amazing!

There were serious lectures and informational videos. And then there were political ads, likely created by students as part of their U.S. History class. Here are my favorites for the four candidates of the 1860 Presidential Election. Continue reading

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