Christopher L. Kolakowski

kolakowski_chrisChristopher L. Kolakowski, Emerging Civil War’s chief historian, was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. He received his BA in History and Mass Communications from Emory & Henry College, and his MA in Public History from the State University of New York at Albany.

Chris has spent his career interpreting and preserving American military history with the National Park Service, New York State government, the Rensselaer County (NY) Historical Society, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Kentucky State Parks, and the U.S. Army. He has written and spoken on various aspects of military history and leadership from 1775 to the present. He has published two books with the History Press: The Civil War at Perryville: Battling For the Bluegrass and The Stones River and Tullahoma Campaign: This Army Does Not Retreat. His study of the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign, titled Last Stand on Bataan, was released by McFarland in late February 2016. In September 2016 the U.S. Army published his volume on the 1862 Virginia Campaigns as part of its sesquicentennial series on the Civil War.

Chris lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where he is director of the Douglas MacArthur Memorial. He is a regular contributor to the Emerging Civil War blog.



Last Stand On Bataan: The Defense of the Philippines, December 1941 – May 1942. McFarland, 2016.
The Virginia Campaigns of 1862. U.S. Army, 2016.
The Stones River and Tullahoma Campaigns: This Army Does Not Retreat. The History Press, 2011.
The Civil War at Perryville: Battling for the Bluegrass. The History Press, 2009

12 Responses to Christopher L. Kolakowski

  1. Pingback: Welcome Edward Alexander and Chris Kolakowski | Emerging Civil War

  2. Robert J. Conlan says:

    Just watched you on C-SPAN: “Fall of Richmond and Appomattox
    49 minutes – Christopher Kolakowski talks about the experiences of citizens during the fall of Richmond and the decisions by Confederate leaders that led to the surrender at Appomattox.”

    It was informative, insightful and truly excellent. Thank you

  3. Charles Christian says:

    I understand you are writing a book on the fall of Manila. I have a letter my father wrote to my mother on 7 Dec 1941 from the hotel in San. Fran.where he says they are off loading the troops and munitions for Manila and will not sail for Manila tomorrow. They will on load troops and munitions for Honolulu and will sail in a convoy in a week or so. Dad was Chief Steward of the SS Matsonia., Do you want a copy of this letter?

    Sounds like they wrote off the P.I. immediately after Pearl Harbor. He ship was chartered by the War Dept. for this one trip only.

    Loved your Cspan presentation on the fall of Richmond. 40 year Civil War nut and reenactor.

    Charles Christian
    Redding, CA

  4. Jim sherrard says:


    Just watched your Civil War presentation on CSPAN, but I was far more interested in your comments about Admiral King, fall of Bataan, an Corregidor. My father was a USMC on several Marine landing in the Pacific. I visited Saipan in Aug. but trip was cut short by Typhoon, there is a US Park Service, but not sure if I can research the battle. Where can I go for source about the battle. Your presentation was absolutely the best. I have visited the Melinta Tunnel, and read about his PT boat escape to Aus. Gen Wainright must have felt horrible when he saw his boss and lifeline sail away

    • Chris Kolakowski says:

      Thanks very much – glad you enjoyed it. The national park (War in the Pacific NHP) is on Guam. I’d start with the Army Green Books, there’s a volume on the Marianas Campaign (find them on The USMC Historical Center in the late 90s put out some very informative histories of USMC campaigns in the Second World War – I’d look there too. Good luck.
      I have visited Malinta myself. Irving Strobing, in the last broadcast before the Rock’s fall, said, “Corregidor used to be a nice place – it’s haunted now.” He’s right.

  5. Denis J. Warta says:

    Truly enjoyed your SHADES OF BLUE AND GRAY that appears in the Winter 2015 edition of CIVIL WAR TRUST. There is one error in the group of photos of the characters involved in your story, however. The photo that you have of SIBLEY, is Henry Hastings Sibley of Minnesota, involved in the 1862 Indian War in Minnesota who later became Governor of Minnesota. The Sibley that you mention is Louisiana-born HENRY HOPKINS SIBLEY and he led the unsuccessful attempt by the Confederacy to add New Mexico to the Confederacy.
    What is truly unbelievable is that both of these Sibleys have middle names that are also names of towns in our State of Minnesota–Hastings and Sibley. The Sibley referred to in your story has a full beard and not just a little hair growth below the nose.
    Keep up the great writings and research, Christopher.

  6. Spottswood Graves says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Outer Banks Civil War Roundtable tonight. I am interested in Perryville. I very much appreciate General Thomas. I presented a program on him at our Roundtable last year. I am driven through the Tullahoma campaign area. I am working in a program on the Reconstruction in North Carolina for August 2016. I am registered for Emerging Civil War (the second year) Can I call on you for advice?

  7. Kent Belasco says:

    I was at the MacArthur Day exhibit unveiling on Wednesday, April 26th in Milwaukee. I have to tell you your luncheon presentation about MacArthur’s escape from the Phillipines was absolutely riveting! Your ability to tell this story was exceptional and kept me on the edge of my chair. I certainly learned a lot. My father was a sergeant in the US Army and on Leyte in the Phillipinnes when MacArthur returned. He was with the 60th signal corp and established lines at the headquarters of the General, and met him while there and, as my father told it, offered them a beer while they were working in the heat (either MacArthur or his wife). Nevertheless a great remembrance. I am a professor at Marquette University and this day was extra special in that he received an honorary doctorate from Marquette. I just wanted to tell you how good your presentation was, and your command of the information. Most impressive and thoroughly enjoyable. I share your interest in the Phillipines and the Civil War as my family was in this and prior wars and we have some logbooks and other letters in the family. My great great grandfather fought and was wounded at Appomattox.
    Any way, thanks for what you do, you preserve this rich history in a way that keeps on living. My compliments to you.

    • Chris Kolakowski says:

      Thank you very much, Kent. That was a great day and you all were a superb audience. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and took the time to write here.
      That’s a wonderful piece of family history you have too. Great stuff.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!