Dads & The Civil War

Happy Father’s Day!

As we think about fathers and Civil War history, many images come to mind. Dads saying goodbye to their children and marching off to war. Civil War veteran fathers telling their children about fighting for freedom. Modern-day dads taking their children to the “fields of history” or telling them true stories about the past.

Here at Emerging Civil War, many of our authors are fathers, and we definitely believe that dads made history and dads can find time to write history!

Our Editor in Chief, Chris Mackowski, shared his thoughts about fathers and history in this excerpt from the April 2018 Newsletter: 

…[At Spotsylvania’s Mule Shoe]…we passed along the rubberized walking trail, and I told Maxwell a little bit about what took place there.

How do you tell that story to a 13-month-old?

Well, for me, at that moment, walking through the Bloody Angle with my youngest son, the story became one about all the fathers who lost sons in the fight, and all the sons who lost fathers…about all the men who didn’t go home to their families…and about those lucky men who did.

“Last Leave” by Mort Kunstler (

For all the different ways and reasons we all study the war, for me, it always comes down to one thing in the end: these were guys just like me. They were stuck in places they didn’t really want to be, trying to do their duty as they best saw it. At the Mule Shoe, how many of those men, on either side, really wanted to be there? How many were thinking of home and family just before the storm broke on May 12, 1864? How many of the wounded and dying afterwards?

That’s why I keep studying the war and telling these stories: For all those fathers and sons.

Looking for some historical accounts about fathers and their children from the Civil War Era? We combed through the archives and found a couple articles for the day…

Fathers and Daughters: Writing About Stonewall Jackson as a Dad

An Adventure With Dad (U.S. Grant and his son Fred)

A Father’s Influence (Robert E. Lee and his son “Rooney”)

5 Responses to Dads & The Civil War

  1. Father’s of the Civil War fighting for freedom and others fighting for independence.

  2. My dad was a WWII vet–he never told stories, but I know the lyrics to “that “paratrooper song!

      1. “Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die.
        He ain’t gonna jump no more.”

  3. This reminds us of Samuel Wilkeson’s report on the Battle of Gettysburg for The New York Times, which he wrote after finding the body of his son, 19-year-old Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson of the 4th US Artillery. Here is the opening sentence of his article, which the Times published on July 6, 1863.

    “Who can write the history of a battle whose eyes are immovably fastened upon a central figure of transcendingly absorbing interest—the dead body of an oldest born, crushed by a shell in a position where a battery should never have been sent, and abandoned to death in a building where surgeons dared not stay?”

    You can read more about the Wilkesons at Gettysburg here, courtesy of Dickinson College:

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