Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

Shamed at Sharpsburg: The Court Martial Case of Alfred Ransom Courtney

As September 17, 1862, wore on, Robert E. Lee realized he would need as much help as he could find. Robert Chilton, a staff officer of Lee’s, wrote a dispatch in the midst of the battle to artillery chief William Nelson … Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War | 2 Comments

Atop Reel Ridge: Examining Lee’s Fallback Position North of Sharpsburg

By 8:30 a.m. on the morning of September 17, 1862, the left end of Robert E. Lee’s line on the Sharpsburg Heights crumpled under repeated Federal blows. The Confederates of Alexander Lawton’s and J.R. Jones’s divisions had been forced back … Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maryland, My Maryland? Jefferson Davis and the Maryland Campaign of September 1862

Confederate soldiers splashing across the Potomac River in early September 1862 jubilantly bellowed out the tune “Maryland, My Maryland” as they marched into the Old Line State. Just months earlier, with the war escalating around the Confederate capital of Richmond, … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Heroics of Capt. John Woodward, 1st Vermont Cavalry

On March 2, 1863, fifty-nine troopers of the 1st Vermont Cavalry trotted into Aldie and stopped at the village’s prominent mill to rest. Suddenly and unexpectedly, two Vermont scouts on the northwest end of town stumbled into an advancing force … Continue reading

Posted in Cavalry, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Historian Stops Being A Historian When…

When I first picked up James McDonough’s 2016 William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country, A Life, some of the first words I read jumped off the pages immediately. McDonough, a seasoned historian and author of five previous Civil … Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Book Review: The Battles and Campaigns of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 1861-1865

In Ken Burns’ nine-part documentary The Civil War, Shelby Foote notably described Nathan Bedford Forrest as one of “two authentic geniuses” generated by the Civil War. At another point in the series, Foote lays out Forrest’s maxims of war after calling the … Continue reading

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Searching for George Brinton McClellan

In preparation for Rob Orrison’s and my upcoming ECWS book, To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862, we closed the books and hit the trails and cement roads zigzagging through northern Virginia and central and western Maryland. At … Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War Series, Leadership--Federal, Lincoln, Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Was Lee’s “Lost Order” a Turning Point? (part three)

(part three of three) What exactly the Lost Order told McClellan has been the subject of much heated debate and controversy almost from the moment he glanced its contents. From an intelligence standpoint, the Lost Order was important to McClellan, … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Engaging the Civil War Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Was Lee’s “Lost Order” a Turning Point? (part two)

(part two of three) On September 10, 1862, as he advanced deeper into Maryland, Robert E. Lee began splintering his forces, as outlined in Special Orders No. 191. That day, all of his forces, mustered into five separate columns, started … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Engaging the Civil War Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Was Lee’s “Lost Order” a Turning Point? (part one)

(part one of three) Civil War campaigns could often turn on a dime in favor of one army or the other. A sudden change in initiative marked the turning points of the war that scholars love to toss around the … Continue reading

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