Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

A Legacy of Freedom: Nimrod Burke Provides a Link Between Two Emancipations

Robert Carter III’s 1791 Deed of Gift, which gradually freed 452 of his enslaved laborers, was the largest private emancipation of slaves until the American Civil War. Some of the descendants of the enslaved men, women, and children freed by … Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Slavery, USCT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Bridge for Whiskey: The 51st Pennsylvania and Its Famous Request Examined

It is one of Antietam’s most memorable stories. After two unsuccessful tries to seize the Lower Bridge, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside turned to one of his 9th Corps brigade commanders Col. Edward Ferrero and—through an orderly—told him to “take the … Continue reading

Posted in Battles | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Book Review: “A Volunteer in the Regulars: The Civil War Journal and Memoir of Gilbert Thompson, US Engineer Battalion”

Published soldiers’ letters and diaries are nothing new to Civil War bookshelves. But editor Mark A. Smith’s latest addition to The University of Tennessee Press’ Voices of the Civil War series stands out among thousands of enlisted men’s published letters, … Continue reading

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Observing the Hanging Hour: John Brown’s Death 161 Years Ago Today

When John Brown’s body dropped through the gallows’ trap door in a field outside Charlestown, Virginia, at approximately 11 a.m. on December 2, 1859, only about 1,500 Virginia militia, Virginia Military Institute Cadets, and a handful of United States soldiers … Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Personalities | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Christie, Cox, Crook, Confusion, and the Burnside Bridge

Sometimes, going down rabbit holes of research will lead you to unexpected places. Occasionally, they lead nowhere. But every once in a while, you get rewarded. Hence, the case of Lt. Samuel L. Christie of Jacob Cox’s staff during the … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Federal, Personalities | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Maj. Hilary Herbert’s Antietam After-Action Report

While the actions of Richard H. Anderson’s division on September 17, 1862 are generally known, pinning down specifics has always been difficult. Mostly, that is due to the fact that only one after-action report from the entire division (and it … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Drought to Doctor’s Creek: The Opening Fight for Water at Perryville

A battle starting over water sounds about as fantastical as one starting over shoes (the latter assertion that the Battle of Gettysburg began over footwear has been disproven many times). But it is not a stretch to say–far from it, … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Antietam Anniversary in the Soldiers’ Words

At 7 a.m. every September 17, the National Park Service holds a program in David Miller’s cornfield, forever after immortalized as The Cornfield, to commemorate the opening of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American military history. … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Primary Sources | Tagged , | 2 Comments

“The Morrow Would Be a Day of Blood”: The Eve of the Battle of Antietam

The evening of September 16 always draws my mind to the Antietam battlefield. 158 years ago tonight, Union and Confederate soldiers settled down for a tense night around Sharpsburg, Maryland. In some cases, they lay within earshot of one another. … Continue reading

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To Spurn the Southern Scum? Union Soldier Motivation to Liberate Maryland in September 1862

Accounts abound of Union officers exhorting their men during the Battle of Gettysburg to fight ferociously as if the safety of their loved ones and their homes depended on it. On July 1, 1863, retreating Union cavalrymen passed through the … Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Common Soldier | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment