Author Archives: Cecily Nelson Zander

Learning Civil War History: The Pandemic Perspective

On January 18, 2021, I began teaching a Civil War history class at Penn State, where most instruction is currently taking place via the (now) ubiquitous Zoom platform. I have been fortunate to teach the department’s Civil War survey in … Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The William Belknap Impeachment – Some Historical Background

When American author Mark Twain referred to the postbellum United States as living through a ‘Gilded Age’ he almost certainly had in mind the excesses exhibited by men like William Belknap, whose term as Secretary of War in the cabinet … Continue reading

Posted in Personalities, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Civil War in Surprising Places – Emily Dickinson’s Poetry and the Pop Culture Delights of Dickinson

As a high school student I always dreaded our annual Emily Dickinson poem assignment, because, to be honest, the nineteenth-century poet from Amherst, Massachusetts didn’t speak to me. One can only consider ‘Hope is the Thing With Feathers’ so many … Continue reading

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Home Libraries: My Civil War Bookshelf – The Macmillan Wars of the United States

While conducting the research for my dissertation I spent more time in one archival collection than any other, a collection that does not appear in a single footnote and provided almost none of the information I had hoped it might … Continue reading

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Assessing the Enemy: James Longstreet and John Pope at Second Bull Run

Union general John Pope’s decision-making during the campaign of Second Bull Run has been justly scrutinized by historians and armchair generals alike. In large part this scrutiny has stemmed from Pope’s bombast upon his arrival in Virginia and his failure … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Vanishing Monuments – The Case of Custer City, Colorado

“Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?” – The Specials In the months and years that followed the battle of the Little Bighorn, dozens of towns and counties named after Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer sprang … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Monuments | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Unintentional Reconciliation  – Memorializing the Cavalry Fight at Gettysburg

Though not far from the Civil War’s memorial epicenter, the cavalry battlefield at Gettysburg National Military Park sits relatively undisturbed by the crowds of tourists who come to see the site of the largest ever battle in the Western Hemisphere. … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Picturing Union Victory – Early Images of the Surrender at Appomattox

Here’s a familiar story: On April 9, 1865, generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in Wilmer McLean’s parlor at Appomattox Courthouse to sign the documents that would dictate the surrender of the most important national institution in … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Second Seminole War as a Civil War Training Ground

In the popular narrative of the coming of the Civil War, the U.S.-Mexico War is often identified as the military crucible through which many of the war’s most famous battlefield leaders first passed—gaining lessons in leadership and combat operations under … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments