Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

Writing “Antietam National Battlefield” for the Images of America Series

157 years ago, photographers Alexander Gardner and James Gibson first exposed their camera’s lens to the Antietam battlefield. The scene was still raw–Union soldiers and their campfires behind the Army of the Potomac’s lines. Once the Confederate army vacated its … Continue reading

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Antietam Eve: September 16, 1862

Each of the approximately 100,000 soldiers bivouacked in the fields and woodlots around Sharpsburg, Maryland and along Antietam Creek knew what the morrow would bring. With the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac having been in … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Campaigns, Civilian, Common Soldier, Emerging Civil War, Primary Sources | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Gen. Jackson and Mr. Hyde: Which Account of Stonewall Jackson at Harpers Ferry is the Correct One?

On the morning of September 15, 1862, Stonewall Jackson had just completed a profound military achievement. Three separate columns all nominally under his command converged on a single point–Harpers Ferry–nearly simultaneously. They ensnared the Federal garrison positioned around the town … Continue reading

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The Fall of Fort Henry and the Changing of Confederate Strategy

Fort Donelson has “Unconditional Surrender” Grant. It has an early morning Confederate attack, a breakout by Nathan Bedford Forrest and, in short, the stuff that makes good history. But from this outsider’s perspective looking in on the Western Theater, I … Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Battles, Campaigns, Leadership--Confederate, Navies, Politics, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Now I suppose you would like me to describe a battle”: Henry Lyon Writes of His Feelings in Battle

Whether it was the summer of 1862, 1863, or 1864, early July is the climax of military campaigns in all three of those deadly summers. Soldier descriptions of what the experience of participating in a battle was abound in Civil … Continue reading

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An Equine Casualty on the Road to Gettysburg

The citizens of the Loudoun Valley awoke on Sunday morning, June 21, 1863, not to the sound of church bells. Instead, the thunder of cannon ripped through the region as the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia sought to … Continue reading

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June 17: The 1st Massachusetts Cavalry at Aldie

Every regiment that served in the Civil War had one day that exemplified the rest of their wartime service. For the men of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, June 17 was their day. In particular, it was June 17, 1863. That … Continue reading

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Friendly Rivalries at the Brandy Station Grand Review

Rivalries between military branches are well-known (Army vs. Navy, anyone?). Throughout the Civil War, jabs between infantrymen and cavalrymen of the same armies can be found in letters, diaries, and postwar accounts of soldiers. On June 8, 1863, at the … Continue reading

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“Dress Upon the Colors!”: The 8th New York Heavy Artillery at the Battle of Cold Harbor

Early on the morning of June 3, 1864, a light mist moistened both armies bunched in their respective earthworks. Private Nelson Armstrong of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery peered above his trench and stared across the open field in … Continue reading

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“As glorious a death as a man can die”: Col. Guilford Bailey at the Battle of Seven Pines

Silas Casey’s Federals huddled behind their breastworks constituting the division’s main line of defense and listened to the growing cacophony of musketry and artillery to their front. For nearly two hours, they heard Confederate attacks slam against Casey’s front line … Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Federal, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments