Author Archives: JoAnna McDonald

Civil War Myth-busting: Did General Lee inherit a genetic marker that made him more aggressive on the battlefield?

If Lee wasn’t a warmonger, why was he so aggressive on the battlefield?  One historian suggests that this combative behavior was passed down through his father’s bloodline.[1]  Aggression, though, isn’t exactly inherited. Today’s geneticists acknowledge that heredity “may predispose” an … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Leadership--Confederate, Mexican War, Revolutionary War | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Civil War Myth-busting: R. E. Lee, Warmonger or Peacemaker?

When I initially uploaded this article, it was called “Myth-busting.” The concept is in honor of one of my favorite non-history shows, Mythbusters (with the original cast). I had not seen Ryan Quint’s ECW blog, “Civil War Myth busting: The … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Leadership--Confederate, Personalities | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

A Vignette: General R. E. Lee, Wine, Whiskey . . . and Buttermilk?!

It may sound odd, but laughter is an essential element in the military. Of course, during the Civil War just like now, there existed various senses of humor. Some senior officers were definitely known for being grumpy pants while others … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Confederate, Personalities, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sound of Freedom: Confronting Slavery in the 21st Century

As speakers for the dead, historians shout at the top of our lungs what our forefathers warned us about decades ago. One of those admonitions was “Don’t ignore slavery!” Well, dear reader, I’m here to say we’ve ignored it too … Continue reading

Posted in Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

First Manassas/Bull Run Campaign, July 21, 1861: Uniforms

Civil War uniforms tend to be a specialty subject. This may be because the photographs are in black and white or sepia-toned. Hence the student must dig through letters and memoirs to get a clear idea of what each uniform … Continue reading

Posted in Battles | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Two Distinct Legends: George Washington and Robert E. Lee

Understanding who did, or did not, influence General Robert E. Lee allows historians tobetter comprehend his military and command decisions. The problem is misperceptions can get passed down through the generations. Many Lee advocates and critics would agree with Michael … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Confederate, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Kraken: U.S. Grant’s Grand Strategy, 1864-1865

During the Civil War era, grand strategy consisted of a strategy and a military plan.[1]  Strategy in broad terms is a comprehensive idea or set of ideas that seeks to establish a lasting solution to large-scale crises.  Now, strategy, in … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Leadership--Federal, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Face of Battle: Responding to Fear (An Addendum)

On Wednesday, I posted a blog, “Face of Battle: Responding to Fear,” which I subsequently shared with a former Special Forces soldier. He made an insightful comment that I would like to share:

Posted in Common Soldier, Ties to the War | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Face of Battle: Responding to Fear

Michael Flynn (Lt. Gen. USA. Ret.) recently published a message meant to encourage American citizens as we go through these traumatic times.  One thing he said reminded me of conversations I have had with my combat veteran friends.  “Let us … Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War | 7 Comments

The Civil War and General Jim Mattis: Command relationship “trust up and down the chain” (Part 3)

This series was inspired by Jim Mattis’s Call Sign Chaos.  In Part II, we looked at the relationships between Lincoln, Grant and Sherman to see how trust, respect, and communication aided senior Union leadership in their use of a multi-directional … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Campaigns, Leadership--Confederate | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments