Author Archives: Sean Michael Chick

Conrad Wise Chapman and “The Life Insurance Brigade”

After Fort Donelson, Colonel John Eugene Smith of the 45th Illinois Infantry observed “The Boys were constantly wishing they could have a fight. You do not hear any such wishes now.” The soldier’s lament over the horrors of war is … Continue reading

Posted in Personalities | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Some Thoughts on the Status of the Lost Cause

The Lost Cause was at first a subject of scholarly inquiry. It then became one of scorn, used at times as a slur. For a serious student of the war, it is a label few desire as its mythology has … Continue reading

Posted in Memory | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

My Hunt for the C.S.S. Alabama

Among my first introductions to the American Civil War was Robert Paul Jordan’s 1969 book The Civil War. It was a volume in a series of National Geographic Society illustrated books. Most were about regions, but there were the odd … Continue reading

Posted in Navies | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Writing About History in a Manichean Age

Given current events, I find myself asking how one will be able to write about the American Civil War now and in the future. This question has been brewing in my mind since 2015 when the debate over statues began … Continue reading

Posted in Memory | Tagged , , , , | 45 Comments

Gaines Foster and David Blight: Two Views on the Lost Cause

In 1961 the nation celebrated the centennial of the American Civil War with a glorification of battlefield heroics entwined within a narrative of a nation reforged in the fires of war. However, Robert Penn Warren critiqued this vision with The … Continue reading

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Deep South Die Hards vs. James Wilson

1865 saw the Union launch a series of offensives meant to destroy the Confederacy’s last field armies and destroy its remaining industrial infrastructure. Among the offensives was James H. Wilson’s cavalry raid. It was the grandest of the Civil War. … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Campaigns, Cavalry | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Surprise at Shiloh

The western battles of 1862 included three surprise attacks, although only one was planned as such. The opening Confederate attacks at Fort Donelson and Stones River caught the Union forces unprepared. Yet, neither caused a scandal, likely because both battles … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Emerging Civil War | 65 Comments

Drewry’s Bluff: Victory Without Satisfaction

Few campaigns in the American Civil War seemed to hold as much potential as Benjamin Butler’s Bermuda Hundred landings. Butler was expected to threaten and if possible capture Richmond, the long sought brass ring in the Eastern Theater. He could … Continue reading

Posted in Battles, Campaigns | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Civil War & Pop Culture: “Like I said, the war was rough through here.” Thoughts on the film Pharaoh’s Army

Before 2012’s Lincoln, I used to say the big three Civil War movies were Gone with the Wind (1939), Glory (1989), and Gettysburg (1993), or the three Gs (Birth of a Nation is important for history and the evolution of … Continue reading

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

CW & Pop Culture: Robert E. Lee and The Guns of the South: 1992 vs. 2019

In the 1990s it was common enough at my New Orleans high school to see copies of Harry Turtledove’s The Guns of the South. It offered a beguiling and humorous image of Robert E. Lee in his classic pose, only … Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments