Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

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

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“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 , , | 6 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

Posted in Emerging Civil War | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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