Forging a State: The Western Virginia Campaign of July 1861-Conclusion

George McClellan was in his headquarters in Beverly on July 14 when news reached him of Garnett’s death.  He had taken over the home of Bushrod Crawford, a secessionist who had fled south, for his quarters.


The Bushrod Crawford is now part of the Beverly Heritage Center

McClellan brought with him on his campaign spoils of wire—a telegraph system that he established shortly after making his headquarters in the Southerner’s home.

News raced from the wires in Beverly to their eventual destination in Washington City.  “I have the honor to inform you that the army under my command has gained a decisive victory,” one of his dispatches read.  Quickly, as was the magic of the telegraph, news of the Federal victories in western Virginia spread across the country.  George McClellan became a Northern sensation overnight, and the first hero of the war.

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ECW Coming to the Fredericksburg B&N!

Fburg B&NWith so many of our authors coming into town for the Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge in a couple weeks, we thought it would be fun to get out and meet our local readers. We’re pleased to be teaming up with the Fredericksburg Barnes & Noble for a special event on Thursday, August 4 from 4-8 p.m.

Come out and meet Ed Alexander, Sarah Bierle, Dan Davis, Chris Mackowski, Robert Orrison, Dan Welch, and Kris White. The store will be offering all their books–or bring your own copies to have them autographed.

Also on hand will be ECW’s Steward Henderson and some of his colleagues from the 23rd USCT, dressed in uniform.

B&N is planning a few other surprises, too, so come on out and take part in the fun! The Fredericksburg B&N is located at 1220 Carl D. Silver Parkway in Central Park.

Posted in Books & Authors, Civil War Events, Symposium | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Confessions from Chickamauga: “Taking Chattanooga is as important as taking Richmond.”

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome guest author Hunter S. Jones

Although I’d visited the Chickamauga Park my entire life, I knew next to nothing about the actual battle. When I started this journey, I had no idea what a corps was or a brigade, even though I have an undergrad degree in History. I learned enough to get me through the war eras, pass the exams and write the papers, and move to the parts of history I enjoy: the fashion stories, the love stories, the epidemics. There’s nothing like a plague to capture one’s imagination and change the course of world history. The further I ventured into the study of the Battle of Chickamauga, the more intriguing it became. This wasn’t about Union and Confederate Armies; these are the stories of 150,000 American soldiers. Chickamauga is the saga of broken hearts and shattered dreams which happened on the dates of September 18-20, 1863.

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Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Emerging Civil War | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Question of the Week: 7/25-7/31/16


Do you think a fad like “Pokémon Go” is helpful or harmful to historical sites?

(“Pokémon Go” is a newly released mobile game where players go looking for Pokémon on their phone, but in real world locations. Many parks and museums are hotspots in the game, but were not consulted or asked if they wanted to be included.)

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture, Internet, Websites & Blogs, National Park Service, Preservation, Question of the Week | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Future of Civil War History: A Look Ahead and a Recap


In June, we riffed on the topic of “The Future of Civil War History,” inspired by that month’s issue of the journal Civil War History. As part of the series, we promised you a conversation with Civil War Times editor Dana Shoaf.

Perhaps you’ve wondered where that is. Mea culpa!

Dana and I actually had that conversation on June 1. Plenty of time to get that transcribed and ready for the blog, I thought. But the series itself turned out to be so intense, and I had to usher a couple Emerging Civil War Series books through the production process, too, that I wasn’t able to get Dana’s piece ready.

And then before I knew it, June was over. Then came vacation. And then some Symposium-related deadlines.

But now, finally, our interview with Dana Shoaf is ready to rock and roll. Look for that conversation to run beginning this week here at Emerging Civil War. Continue reading

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“I could not answer for what might happen.” Part II

Dwight Hughes (Read Part I)

Confederates took every advantage of their status as a formal belligerent in international law, insisted on their rights, and were equally determined to devastate Yankee trade. Their government could contract loans, purchase arms and ships in neutral nations, and commission cruisers with power of search and seizure on the high seas. Men-of-war flying the Rebel flag were to be accorded the same status as those of any other nation, including the United States, and were to be treated fairly with regard to assistance, supplies, and repairs in neutral ports. Continue reading

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Traveling Advice: Don’t Forget To Look Left & Right

When I was a little kid, my mom would let me run across the street to get the mail. We didn’t live on a busy road, but she taught me road safety. First, listen. Then, look to the left, right, and left again. If there weren’t any cars coming, I could cross the street. Pretty simple? As adults we do it without thinking, but maybe we should think about it more often – especially when touring battlefields and historical sites.

open-road-through-countrysideIt’s summer! And that means it’s a great time to hit the road and explore historical battlefields and sites all across America. Personally, I am counting the hours until I climb aboard a jet and set off for the “distant battlefields of Virginia” and the ECW symposium. (I’m on the West Coast and don’t have Civil War battlefields in my backyard.)

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the East Coast. Eight years, to be precise. I learned a lot on that first trip and brought home some startlingly beautiful  memories from the battlefields. There was one really important thing I learned from that trip. It was simple: look around. Let me explain. Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: The White Oak Civil War Museum and Stafford Research Center

ECW Weekender-Header

White Oak Museum Exterior

Exterior of the White Oak Civil War Museum & Stafford Research Center.

Countless museums dot the Virginia countryside. Their sizes vary from the impressive National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle to the quaint Weems-Botts Museum in Dumfires. One museum, thoug,h has always stood out to me as being the perfect mix of quaint and impressive. The White Oak Civil War Museum and Stafford Research Center is one of those off-the-beaten path gems that Civil War geeks salivate over.

My wife and I were first pointed in the direction of the museum in 2005, when we were interns at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. As we approached the museum we were not quite sure what to expect. A monument to the Federal 6th Corps’ winter encampment is perched in front of three flag poles, and an old school house. In the rear of the school we can see replicas of soldiers winter huts. The construction of the huts is impressive. They are clearly the right size and shape of the winter quarters we have read about numerous times, it was a real treat to see these domiciles meticulously brought back to life. But little did we know that the real treat waited inside. Continue reading

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Recruiting a Regiment: Thomas G. Stevenson and the 24th Massachusetts

Stevenson, Thomas G-sketch.jpg

The frontispiece of the 24th Massachusetts’s regimental history depicts a heroic-looking Thomas G. Stevenson, the regiment’s martyred first commander

As one of the ranking officers with the New England Guard, a prewar militia group based in Boston, Thomas Greeley Stevenson felt primed for leadership when the Civil War broke out.

Answering the call to arms, he and a close friend, Francis Osborn, another of the ranking officers in the Guard, approached Massachusetts’s governor, John Andrew, with a plan to hand pick officers and soldiers for a regiment. The officers, who would come from the Guard, would receive special training from Stevenson and then be sent out to personally recruit rank-and-file men to fill out their various companies. “[I]n point of efficiency,” the regimental historian later wrote, the regiment “should be second to none that the State might send out.” Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, Stonewall (sort of)


Stonewall Jackson statue in Jackson’s birthplace, Clarksburg, WV

Happy 155th birthday to Stonewall Jackson, who was born on this day in 1861.

Of course, Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born on January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).

But it was on this day 155 years ago at the battle of First Manassas that Jackson earned his famous nickname—arguably one of the most famous in American history—through his defense of Henry House Hill. Jackson always demurred, saying the name belonged to the brigade, not to him, and indeed the Stonewall Brigade wore its name proudly. Continue reading

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