Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

Capt. Samuel Jones Ridley at the Battle of Champion Hill

Just after noon on May 16, 1863, Federals of John Logan’s and Alvin Hovey’s divisions smashed into the left flank of John Pemberton’s Army of Vicksburg on the Champion Hill battlefield. Pemberton’s left threatened to buckle under the pressure. If … Continue reading

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Music on the Spotsylvania Earthworks

By May 11, Ulysses S. Grant’s Virginia campaign had been underway for one week. The men of both armies went through the blazing inferno of the Wilderness only to find themselves now huddled behind substantial earthworks ringing the landscape around … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Campaigns, Emerging Civil War | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Firing the First Shot: George James Begins the Civil War

His watch in hand, Capt. George James followed the seconds tick towards 4:30 a.m. He had a deadline to meet. It was one he surely was not going to miss. No doubt, the weight of the moment rested heavily on … Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Battles, Common Soldier, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Mexican War, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Indian Aid: Ely Parker and the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia

Four months before giving birth to her son Ely, expecting mother Elizabeth Johnson Parker (Gaontguttwus to the Tonawanda Seneca tribe) awoke one night after experiencing a dream. Her mind’s vision showed a rainbow broken in two. The bottom of one … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Federal, Personalities | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

ECW Weekender: An Irish Brigade Hike at Antietam

For St. Patrick’s Day weekend, there is hardly a better connection to this holiday and the Civil War than the famous Irish Brigade. The story of this brigade has been told countless times and numerous works cover the annals of … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, ECW Weekender, Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Benning’s Breastworks at the Burnside Bridge

People visiting the Antietam battlefield often wonder why the Confederate defenders did not entrench or build breastworks to strengthen their positions. After all, Antietam’s landscape is not marred by miles of trenches and extant earthworks. “Why not?” they wonder. Answering … Continue reading

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World War I sparked the memory of a Civil War hero’s funeral

With the centennial anniversary of the armistice effectively ending World War I having recently passed, it seemed fitting to stumble upon the article reproduced below from the September 21, 1918 issue of the Watertown Daily Times (NY). The article is titled “Funeral of Civil … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Federal, Memory, Newspapers, Primary Sources | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Railroads – Tracks to the Antietam: The Railroad Supplies the Army of the Potomac, September 18, 1862

“We can distinctly hear firing again this afternoon in the direction of Harpers Ferry,” wrote a Union soldier in the Washington defenses on September 17, 1862.[1] Closer to the Antietam battlefield, one onlooker attempted to count the number of Federal … Continue reading

Posted in Arms & Armaments, Artillery, Battles, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Did Alexander Gardner photograph Charles Tew’s corpse in the Sunken Road?

Charles Tew’s story is compelling. Daniel Harvey Hill called him “one of the most finished scholars on the continent, and [who] had no superior as a soldier in the field.”(1) Indeed he was. Tew graduated first in his class from … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

“A Fury Unequaled”: A North Carolinian’s Account of Antietam

Finding personal accounts of battlefield experiences always raises my eyebrows, as it does for many of you. The details and immediate stories they contain are the stuff historians crave. When I read the account of James W. Shinn, a soldier … Continue reading

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