Author Archives: Jon Tracey

Mark Twain’s Internal Civil War

Mark Twain is as famous and talented a writer as Samuel Clemens was a divided man. Haunted by his guilty conscience, deeply torn by contemporary events, and plagued with debt, Sam Clemens did not live the positive life than many … Continue reading

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Reconsidering Barlow’s Knoll

The First Division of the Eleventh Corps of the Army of the Potomac arrived in Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 1, 1863. Only 29 years old, Brigadier General Francis Barlow commanded the division. He resented the men he commanded, … Continue reading

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Aftermath of Battle at Gettysburg’s Spangler’s Spring

While battles themselves are glorified and the focus of most historical coverage, every battle has an aftermath. This aftermath is a horrifying sight, and something that veterans were deeply affected by every time they experienced it. This post explores the … Continue reading

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Is Ambrose Bierce an Accurate Primary Source and Does it Matter?

Ambrose Bierce is certainly one of the most well-known authors of Civil War short stories, and his writing is compelling. Written with biting satire, twisted humor, and a type of sarcastic nostalgia, he earned his reputation as a strange writer. … Continue reading

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“It is a beautiful morning & it finds me well healthy hale hearty & strong:” A Gettysburg Casualty Writes Home on August 14, 1863

158 years ago today, Daniel Shapley lay in bed at the Market Street Hospital in Newark, New Jersey and wrote a letter home. A member of the 157th New York Infantry since his enlistment in August 1862, he had been … Continue reading

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Fallen Leaders: Major Andrew Grover, 76th New York

Historians once focused mostly on “great men,” painstakingly analyzing the Army/Corps/Division/Brigade commanders whose decisions shaped historic events. More recently, pushback against that historiography has led to increased work on the “common soldier” and average enlisted men. Though both approaches certainly … Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: National Museum of the United States Army

Today’s ECW Weekender highlights a new museum that most of our readers have yet to see. Originally set to open in June 2020, COVID-19 delayed the National Museum of the United States Army’s plan. It opened on November 11 that … Continue reading

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The Appomattox (or Shenandoah) Parole Passes and Confederate Cavalry After Appomattox

Following the combat at Appomattox Court House on the morning of April 9, Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia prepared to surrender. Lee and Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant met in the parlor of Wilmer McLean’s … Continue reading

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Book Review: On Juneteenth

On Juneteenth  By Annette Gordon-Reed Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2021, $15.95 Reviewed by Jon Tracey Thanks to current discussions of inequality and increased reflection on the past, Juneteenth has grown from a Texas tradition to one that has garnered attention across … Continue reading

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A Reflection on Historians and Word Choice

Words have meaning. Historical interpreters, whether guiding battlefield tours, designing museums, or writing articles or books, must carefully choose words that both convey a point and do justice to the topic. Poorly chosen words can impact the effect of a … Continue reading

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