Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

“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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Antietam Eve: The Night of September 16, 1862

“The quiet that precedes a battle has something of the terrible in it,” wrote an Ohio soldier recalling the night of September 16, 1862. That night in the fields and woodlots surrounding Sharpsburg was an awful night for those who … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Books & Authors, Emerging Civil War | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Book Review: “September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield”

War transforms a landscape. It turns peaceful farm fields into battlefields and burial grounds. Homes and churches become riddled with shot and shell and serve as hospitals in the gruesome aftermath. Some of those landscapes and buildings were forever altered; some … Continue reading

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Symposium Fallout: Is Leading from the Front All that Bad?

This weekend’s symposium gave me a lot to think about on my drive home from the Jackson Shrine on Sunday. The thought bubbles did not stop popping up when I got home either. There was a lot to think about … Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

“The numbers of cannoneers is so small”

Lt. Edward Williston commanded Battery D, 2nd United States Artillery at the Battle of Antietam. While at the National Archives, I found this revealing letter about the issues Williston’s battery encountered on the Antietam battlefield due to a shortage of … Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Battles, Leadership--Federal, Personalities, Primary Sources | Tagged , | 6 Comments

“Moulded in the form of a spread eagle”: Mosby’s Rangers, the Fourth of July, and a Dispute Over Cake

Independence Day in 1864 seemed like it could have been the last such celebration for the United States. The Presidential Election of 1864 loomed four months in the future, and a Lincoln reelection seemed very much in doubt. Jubal Early’s … Continue reading

Posted in Cavalry, Holidays, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Artillery: Sticking to his guns – Lt. Charles Parsons at the Battle of Perryville

Napoleon Bonaparte himself once said, “It is with artillery that war is made.” So too could it then be said that it is with artillery that war is lost. Such was the case atop a ridge outside of Perryville, Kentucky … Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Battles, Common Soldier | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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 , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments