ECW Announces Keynote Speaker for the 2018 ECW Symposium at Stevenson Ridge!

HartwigEmerging Civil War is delighted to announce the keynote speaker for our Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge, to be held Aug. 3-5, 2018: former Gettysburg National Battlefield Supervisory Historian Scott Hartwig.

The theme of the symposium will be “Turning Points of the American Civil War.” Hartwig, who has authored works on the 1862 Maryland Campaign, will speak on the battle of Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation.  Continue reading

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Ulysses S. Grant and “The Babies”

Maxwell Eating ToeMy wife recently sent to me a photo of our six-month-old son with his foot in his mouth. That’s a feat I, in adulthood, occasionally still pull off, although in a less envious way and with more embarrassment. However, for babies, it seems a feat of ongoing delight and unending fun.

Seeing Maxwell with his toe in his mouth made me think of Ulysses S. Grant.  Continue reading

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Voices of the Maryland Campaign: September 19, 1862

As the darkness descended on September 18, the Army of Northern Virginia began to stir, using its cover to slip away, back across the Potomac River. It brought as many of its wounded and supplies with it as it could, but ultimately some had to be left behind. This movement, however, was not the end of the campaign. While Lee left a rearguard force under William Nelson Pendleton downstream from Shepherdstown to guard the crossing point, he planned to swing the rest of the army north to Williamsport, recross the Potomac River, and look for another fight near Hagerstown.

Rufus R. Dawes

Rufus Dawes, 6th Wisconsin Infantry

When the Army of the Potomac advanced this morning, they discovered the Confederate positions empty. Federal cavalry searched towards the river looking for Lee and found him when they came under fire from Pendleton’s guns on the bank of the river. An artillery duel ensued there all day. At dusk, a small Federal force crossed the ford and scattered Pendleton and his rearguard. A panicked Pendleton reported back to Lee that the Federals captured all 44 guns of the rearguard. Lee, startled by these developments, put the brakes on his army’s reentry into Maryland and sent much of it back towards Shepherdstown to swat away the Union incursion in his rear. Continue reading

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Statues of Stonewall: Charlottesville 2017

Jackson Statue-CharlottesvillePerhaps you remember this image from my “Statues of StonewallStatues of Stonewall” series: the Stonewall Jackson monument in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On August 12, a white supremacist rally in the city—organized to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee—turned deadly. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed and nineteen others hospitalized when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators. Since then, both the Lee and Jackson statues have remained at the center of controversy.

I took a trip down to Charlottesville today to finally check things out for myself. Here’s what the Jackson statue looked like:  Continue reading

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“A Grievous Loss”: John B. McIntosh at Third Winchester

John McIntosh

Today marks the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Third Winchester. This day long engagement was the beginning of the end of Confederate fortunes in the Shenandoah Valley. One of the highlights of the battle was a massive mounted attack launched by Union cavalry north of the town. It became one of the great moments in the annals of the Federal mounted forces in Virginia. However, it has overshadowed the loss of one of the arm’s most experienced officers, John Baille McIntosh. Born on June 6, 1829 at Fort Brooke in Florida, McIntosh came from a military family. His father, James S. McIntosh eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th U.S. Infantry. During the Mexican War, he was wounded at Resaca de la Palma and Molino del Rey. He succumbed to these wounds in Mexico City on September 26, 1847. His brother, aJames, graduated from West Point in the Class of 1849. He served in the 1st U.S. Cavalry and later became a Brigadier General in the Confederate army. James was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.

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Voices of the Maryland Campaign: September 18, 1862

Antietam aftermath

The Battle of Antietam left a gruesome aftermath recalled by many and visually recorded by sketch artists and photographers.

The detritus of war littered the fields, woodlots, and roadways around Sharpsburg. Both armies, winded from the desperate fighting of America’s bloodiest day, collected themselves, began the process of burying their dead and removing their wounded, and awaited whatever might come next.

For many, the scenes of the battlefield proved unnerving. Informal truces broke out along the lines to clean up the scene, at least as much as possible under the circumstances.

McClellan staffer David Hunter Strother joined his chief on a trip to the west side of the Antietam. He recorded in his diary the scenes he saw:

In every direction around men were digging graves and burying the dead. Ten or twelve bodies lay at the different pits and had already become offensive. In front of this wood was the bloody cornfield where lay two or three hundred festering bodies, nearly all of Rebels, the most hideous exhibition I had yet seen. Many were black as Negroes, heads and faces hideously swelled, covered with dust until they looked like clods. Killed during the charge and flight, their attitudes were wild and frightful. One hung upon a fence killed as he was climbing it. One lay with hands wildly clasped as if in prayer. From among these loathsome earth-soiled vestiges of humanity, the soldiers were still picking out some that had life left and carrying them in on stretchers to our surgeons. All the time some picket firing was going on from the wood on the Hagerstown turnpike near the white church.

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Eric Wittenberg Rides the “Whirlwind” at Bennett Place

“We Ride a Whirlwind”: Sherman and Johnston at Bennett Place is award-winning historian Eric J. Wittenberg’s 20th published book on the Civil War. Unlike almost all of his other works, this is not a battle study. Rather, it’s a detailed look at the nine days in April 1865 that brought about the true end of the Civil War.

After Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston realized that there was nothing to be gained by prolonging the conflict, so he and Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman undertook a series of remarkable meetings where these two warriors tried to make peace, not just to arrange the surrender of Johnston’s army. However, the U. S. government, still enraged by the still-raw assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, rejected Sherman’s agreement with a stinging rebuke that embittered Sherman against Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and ruined his friendship with chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck. Eventually, Johnston surrendered 91,000 Confederate troops on the same terms given to Lee at Appomattox, forging a close lifelong friendship with Sherman in the process.

This book examines these events in deep detail, and tells the story as Wittenberg has always wanted to tell it: in the words of those who participated in these events. “I’ve long been fascinated by the events at Bennett Place,” said Wittenberg. “I have wanted to tell this story for a long time, and I finally got the chance to tell it my way. The participants’ own words tell the story better than I could ever hope to do.” Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 9/18-9/24/17

 September 17th was the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

Do you have a favorite regiment or officer who fought at that battle?

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Voices of the Maryland Campaign: September 17, 1862


Union soldiers charging towards the Dunker Church

The flash of musketry fire illuminated the dark landscape around the sleepy town of Sharpsburg while the few visible stars still hovered in the early morning sky. With each passing moment, as the sun rose higher behind the peaks of South Mountain, the tension built. Men far from home, reposed from their few hours of rest, turned their thoughts away from home to what was about to happen. Each man knew, whether Billy Yank or Johnny Reb, the importance of the day–that this day might be like none other, that this day, there was no going back. Soldiers steeled themselves for the coming light, which ushered in America’s bloodiest. Continue reading

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ECW Week in Review 11-17 Sept.

September moves on at ECW. This past week, we observed a number of anniversaries, including September 11, the Maryland Campaign and battles in the Mexican War. You may click on the links below to read each post. Continue reading

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