Author Archives: Kevin Pawlak

“Now I suppose you would like me to describe a battle”: Henry Lyon Writes of His Feelings in Battle

Whether it was the summer of 1862, 1863, or 1864, early July is the climax of military campaigns in all three of those deadly summers. Soldier descriptions of what the experience of participating in a battle was abound in Civil … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Emerging Civil War, Primary Sources | Tagged , | Leave a comment

An Equine Casualty on the Road to Gettysburg

The citizens of the Loudoun Valley awoke on Sunday morning, June 21, 1863, not to the sound of church bells. Instead, the thunder of cannon ripped through the region as the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia sought to … Continue reading

Posted in Cavalry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

June 17: The 1st Massachusetts Cavalry at Aldie

Every regiment that served in the Civil War had one day that exemplified the rest of their wartime service. For the men of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, June 17 was their day. In particular, it was June 17, 1863. That … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Cavalry, Memory, Monuments | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Friendly Rivalries at the Brandy Station Grand Review

Rivalries between military branches are well-known (Army vs. Navy, anyone?). Throughout the Civil War, jabs between infantrymen and cavalrymen of the same armies can be found in letters, diaries, and postwar accounts of soldiers. On June 8, 1863, at the … Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Cavalry, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Dress Upon the Colors!”: The 8th New York Heavy Artillery at the Battle of Cold Harbor

Early on the morning of June 3, 1864, a light mist moistened both armies bunched in their respective earthworks. Private Nelson Armstrong of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery peered above his trench and stared across the open field in … Continue reading

Posted in Battles | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

“As glorious a death as a man can die”: Col. Guilford Bailey at the Battle of Seven Pines

Silas Casey’s Federals huddled behind their breastworks constituting the division’s main line of defense and listened to the growing cacophony of musketry and artillery to their front. For nearly two hours, they heard Confederate attacks slam against Casey’s front line … Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Federal, Personalities | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Posted in Artillery, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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