Question of the Week: 6/25-7/1/18

In your opinion, what is the most iconic artillery line or single cannon either on a battlefield today or in a Civil War photograph?

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Week In Review: June 17-24, 2018

This week we’ve had another full schedule as the Artillery Series continues and we a special interview appeared on the blog.

Sunday, June 17:

Artillery: On Sunday evening we shared an article for the artillery series from the archives, explaining how shrapnel was invented.

Monday, June 18:

Artillery: Question of the Week focused on artillery’s role in battle outcomes.

Artillery: Doug Crenshaw shared about artillery at the Battle of Malvern Hill.

The interview series with Brian Swartz about Maine and the Civil War began. Continue reading

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Artillery: Finding An Artillery Manual

In his second inaugural address, President Lincoln observed, “Both [sides] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.” He referred to a religious situation, but I meant no disrespect when this quote came to mind as I looked at a secular book in the archives last week. The book wasn’t just secular. It was a manual of instruction for making war. Making war with artillery in effective, terrifying ways. And this book of war – like others written even earlier – was studied by officers on both sides of the American conflict.

Both sides read the same manual, loaded similar cannons, and each pulled the lanyards, hoping to send death crashing into their countrymen. Continue reading

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Artillery: The Pulaski Light Artillery Battery’s Trial by Fire at Wilson’s Creek

ECW welcomes back Kristen Pawlak

Before dawn on the morning of August 10, 1861, the men of Capt. William E. Woodruff’s Pulaski Light Artillery Battery prepared their breakfast of green corn foraged from the farm fields in the Wilson’s Creek valley just fifteen miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri.[1] The 71 men of the Pulaski Light Artillery Battery nervously awaited action, like nearly every other soldier in Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch’s Western Army. Just one month before, McCulloch’s Confederate army – made up of Arkansans and Texans – joined forces with Brig. Gen. Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard to liberate Missouri from the Federal grasp of Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon’s Army of the West. They were now on the brink of a major engagement along Wilson’s Creek and the Wire Road. Continue reading

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Artillery: “When A Shell Came Shrieking Over…”

From the ECW Archives, here is Chris Mackowski’s short article and featured primary source about the effects of artillery during the Chancellorsville Campaign. (It was originally published in 2016.)

Effects of a Shell

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Maine at War: A Conversation with Writer Brian Swartz (part four)

Brian Swartz and 96th Penn Inf monument at Gettysburg

Brian Swartz, who writes the Maine at War blog, stands beside the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry monument at Gettysburg in early May 1863. Describing Gettysburg as his “Lourdes Shrine,” Swartz visits the battlefield every year. (Photo and shadow courtesy of Susan Swartz)

conclusion to a four-part series

In wrapping up yesterday’s segment, Brian Swartz, author of the Maine at War blog, mentioned Tom Huntington’s new book, Maine Roads to Gettysburg. “He has done Maine history quite a service in articulating the stories of those particular units,” Brian said. But of course, when people think of “Maine” and “Gettysburg,” there’s generally one figure who comes to mind.

Chris Mackowski: Since you mention Gettysburg, I have to pop the Chamberlain question. Do you have any thoughts about Chamberlain?  Continue reading

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Artillery: Crossing a Ford

“Battery of Light Artillery en Route” by William T. Trego (1882) Courtesy of the Michener Art Museum

Walt Whitman wrote a short, evocative poem called “Cavalry Crossing a Ford” that has stayed with me for many years:

A line in long array where they wind betwixt green islands,

They take a serpentine course, their arms flash in the sun—hark
to the musical clank,

Behold the silvery river, in it the splashing horses loitering stop to

Behold the brown-faced men, each group, each person a picture,
the negligent rest on the saddles,

Some emerge on the opposite bank, others are just entering the

Scarlet and blue and snowy white,

The guidon flags flutter gayly in the wind.

Continue reading

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Maine at War: A Conversation with Writer Brian Swartz (part three)

Whenever he visits Fredericksburg, Maine at War blogger Brian Swartz stops by the Slaughter Pen Farm to walk the route taken by the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment on December 13, 1862. (Photo courtesy of Susan Swartz)

part three in a four-part series

I’m talking this week with writer Brian Swartz about his excellent blog Maine at War. In yesterday’s segment, we talked about the connection people in Maine felt—or didn’t feel—to the war taking place so far from home, and how Brian’s blog really gets at those connections on a very human level.

He’s also good at capturing big events from a soldier’s-eye view, like, “Joe Hooker takes command, and here’s what the soldiers think,” “emancipation happens, and here’s what the soldiers think.”

Chris Mackowski: Tying that back to what you just said [in the last segment], I think you do a good job of making the war very personal through the stories of these individuals.  Continue reading

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“Day dreams are . . . the amusement of boys”

I mentioned a few days ago a letter written by Confederate Lt. William Drenner, trapped in Vicksburg by the besieging Federal army. A letter to his wife turned into a running account of his time trapped in the beleaguered city.

155 years ago today, he wrote an entry I found especially poignant:  Continue reading

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Artillery: What’s On The Series Header?

Have you identified the location of the cannon featured on the header image for the Artillery Series? Today, we’ll reveal the location… Continue reading

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