Author Archives: Cecily Nelson Zander

Civilians Under Siege: A Confederate Woman’s Diary of the War in the Trans-Mississippi

I first encountered Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861–1868 in an undergraduate course on the topic of great Civil War writers. Looking at the syllabus at the start of the term, I circled the diary as a text I … Continue reading

Posted in Civilian | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Braxton Bragg’s Beach Vacation – Pensacola in the Early Months of the Civil War

Even the most casual of Civil War buffs knows that the war began in Charleston, South Carolina – when Confederate batteries opened fire on the Union-occupied Fort Sumter and its 85 defenders. Many may also know that war had an … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Confederate | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Civil War Savannah: The View from Two Parapets

On June 1 I defended my dissertation in History at Penn State. One week later, I turned my trusty Subaru Crosstrek south from State College and set my GPS for Savannah. What better way to celebrate six years of intensely … Continue reading

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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