ECW on C-SPAN: Grant’s Second Petersburg Offensive

Will Greene book signing

Will Greene signs books after his symposium talk

C-SPAN 3’s continuing coverage of the Sixth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge heads to the gates of the Cockade City this weekend.

A. Wilson Greene’s keynote address focused on Ulysses S. Grant’s lesser-known second Petersburg offensive, which took place in June 1864. His talk will debut Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET and re-air Sunday morning at 3:50 a.m. ET on C-SPAN 3.

After it airs, you’ll be able to see it on C-SPAN’s website here:

Also, Kristen Pawlak’s talk on Wilson’s Creek re-airs Sunday morning at 10 a.m. ET:

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Symposium | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Podcast Additional Resources: “A Chat with Brian Steel Wills”

Last week a new episode of the ECW podcast released. Dan Welch had a chat about a variety of historical topics with author and historian Brian Steel Wills.

We’ve combed through the archives and found a few articles related to the discussion topics and hope you’ll enjoy these additional resources. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the new podcast, just login to your Patreon account (or sign up). This episode is available to all ECW Podcast subscribers. Continue reading

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dangerfield Newby and John Brown’s Raid

John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry was planned to be a small beginning to a large outcome. Twenty-one men–twenty-two counting Brown himself–planned to seize the Federal armory and arsenal in the town and ignite a war against slavery that, they hoped, would stamp out the institution for good in the United States.

All of Brown’s followers had a personal hatred of slavery. They witnessed its horrors but few understood what life was like as enslaved humans. Dangerfield Newby was one of those men and his motivation for joining Brown’s force was more personal than perhaps any other. Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Civilian, Personalities, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Eyewitness Account of John Brown’s Raid

Reverend Michael Costello was the pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church at Harpers Ferry, [West] Virginia during John Brown’s Raid. A native of County Galway, Ireland, Costello studied at All Hallows College in Dublin for the Diocese of Richmond. On arriving to Richmond in 1857 he was assigned as pastor at Harpers Ferry, arriving there in November 1857. Costello had a thriving pastorate in Harpers Ferry, the many Irish and German immigrants working in the armory and arsenal filling the 400-500 seat church for two masses each Sunday.

Rev. Michael Costello wrote a detailed account of the raid at Harpers Ferry and his interactions with John Brown…(History of Saint Peter’s Church – 1930)

On February 11, 1860, Costello wrote a letter to Reverend D.C. Harrington, a classmate from All Hallows College. In this letter Costello shares his unique observations as a witness to John Brown’s Raid. The letter was ‘rediscovered’ in the archives of the Diocese of Richmond in 1971. The pertinent content of the letter follows… Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Personalities, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Question of the Week: 10/14-10/20/19

In your opinion, who was the best “army organizer” during the Civil War?

(This does not automatically imply the person successfully handled the force in the field.)

Posted in Armies, Question of the Week | Tagged | 10 Comments

Do We Still Care About the Civil War: Chris Mackowski

do we still care header

The cover story of the newest issue of Civil War Times asks, “Do we still care about the Civil War?” ECW is pleased to partner with Civil War Times to extend the conversation here on the blog. Today, we conclude our series.

As we wrap up our series on interest in the Civil War, it’s worth noting (again) that this entire discussion—here and in Civil War Times—came about following a May 25, 2019, article in the Wall Street Journal. The article made a fundamental mistake in its approach: it equated visitation at Civil War sites, primarily National Battlefields, with interest in the war. Readers of that article, and the countless folks who shared and retweeted it, compounded the mistake by buying into the original premise in the first place.

Examining battlefield attendance numbers is but one metric for measuring interest. John Hennessey, in a widely circulated Facebook page at the time reprinted in the current Civil War Times, explained those flaws. “The NPS had no systematic way of counting visitors prior to the mid-1980s, and even today, various parks count visitors in different ways,” he said.

The Sesquicentennial also demonstrated the flaws in counting heads as the sole measurement of interest. Hopefuls looking for the Sesquicentennial to boost attendance similar to the boost inspired by Ken Burns documentary found themselves disappointed. Attendance, while healthy, did not blossom. As Nick Sacco pointed out here, programs were generally well attended, but beneath the surface of those numbers, a core group of buffs traveled from place to place and event to event. That speaks well to their devotion, but it also means attendance numbers included a lot of repeat enthusiasts rather than fresh audiences.

Were I to design a more comprehensive study to gauge public interest in the Civil War, I would indeed look at visitations numbers, but there are a number of other things I would look at, too. Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Emerging Civil War Series, National Park Service, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Week In Review: October 6-13, 2019

This week we’re continuing the focused discussion and different perspectives for the blog series “Do We Still Care About The Civil War?” And there’s also some other highlights about photo sleuthing and Civil War history hiding in the Pacific Northwest… Continue reading

Posted in Week in Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

John Brown’s Raid 160th: An Introduction

One hundred and sixty years ago this month (October 2019), twenty-two men embarked on a mission that shocked the nation and accelerated the rush toward Civil War. The event is now popularly called “John Brown’s Raid” and is viewed as one of the key events leading to the Civil War. Continue reading

Posted in Slavery | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Do We Still Care About the Civil War: Kevin Pawlak


The cover story of the newest issue of Civil War Times asks, “Do we still care about the Civil War?” ECW is pleased to partner with Civil War Times to extend the conversation here on the blog.

The above question is perhaps the most common question asked among people with an interest in the Civil War these days, maybe more so than any of the great what-ifs of the Civil War. But, it’s an important one to ask. And my answer to it is very simple: yes, people do still care about the Civil War.

The Civil War is one of the greatest tales in American history. Its scale, its destruction, its stories, and its aftermath that laid the foundation for the United States we live in today. With a story so vast, elements of the war that have previously been understudied are popping up to the surface, making the Civil War era more accessible to countless groups of people that, until recently, had no reason to care about it. This includes an increased focus on stories of African Americans, immigrant contributions, women, and the overall effect of the war on society, among others. As public historians, this has increased the reach of our umbrella to bring people under and make the Civil War relevant to them. Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Ties to the War | Tagged | 4 Comments

ECW Weekender – Civil War History in the Pacific Northwest: The Pickett House

When my wife Asha and I pulled up to the Pickett House, we didn’t know what to expect. I scheduled an 11:00 a.m. tour of the museum and national historic site with Edradine Hovde, vice-president of Whatcom Chapter No. 5 of the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington. The Pickett House, built shortly after Captain George E. Pickett and 68 men of the Ninth Infantry arrived in August 1856, is Washington’s oldest home on its original foundation. It turned out that touring the Pickett House and meeting Edradine was the highlight of our vacation to the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading

Posted in ECW Weekender | Tagged , , | 5 Comments