Category Archives: Common Soldier

Antietam Eve: September 16, 1862

Each of the approximately 100,000 soldiers bivouacked in the fields and woodlots around Sharpsburg, Maryland and along Antietam Creek knew what the morrow would bring. With the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac having been in … Continue reading

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Willie Preston: “Who Thinks of Victory Now?”

He was nineteen. Full of life. Full of ideas of soldiering. He left Lexington, Virginia, joining up with the Fourth Virginia Infantry and soldiering with other friends from his home town. Before long though, he was anxious to secure a … Continue reading

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Yellowhammers and Environmentalism: Following the Path of Law’s Alabama Brigade to Gettysburg

Ten Days in Culpeper From Raccoon Ford, Joe and I drove into nearby Culpeper, A.P. Hill’s hometown. Law’s Brigade camped with Hood’s Division south-east of Culpeper, near Pony Mountain, and paralleling the Fredericksburg Pike (modern-day Virginia Route 3) from Friday, … Continue reading

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“I Felt Keenly All the Horrors of War”: Psychological Experiences of Civil War Generals During the Mexican War

There is no shortage of connections between the Mexican War (1846-48) and the American Civil War. When Lee and Grant met at Appomattox in April 1865, the two adversaries eased the tension by evoking memories of the Mexican War. Lee … Continue reading

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The Text Message Correspondent

Last month I compiled a selection of material written during the Gettysburg campaign by members of the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery. The unit began its service as the 11th Vermont Infantry but spent the first year and a half of … Continue reading

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He Wrote What? Health and Weight in Civil War Letters

“You stated that you had been weighed, what is your weight?”[i] asked Private Walter Dunn in a letter to his fiancée. It’s a little shocking to modern readers! There are a few questions that are usually considered taboo to ask … Continue reading

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Life Lessons from a Civil War Veteran

The Civil War offers us many perceived lessons. Lessons in leadership, in tactics. Lessons in victory and defeat; division and reunification. These lessons are imparted to us through a wealth of records, letters, diaries and newspapers as recorded by the … Continue reading

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In Search of the dreaded Andersonville

I have seen the ugly photos of the crowded pen. And like many others, I have recoiled in horror at the sight of the skeletal men released from the Andersonville POW Camp, but now it was time for me to … Continue reading

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A Conversation with Philip Gerard on The Last Battleground (conclusion)

Part six of six We’ve been talking this week with Philip Gerard, author of The Last Battleground: The Civil War Comes to North Carolina (UNC Press, 2019). During the course of my conversation with him, one thing theme that has … Continue reading

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A Conversation with Philip Gerard on The Last Battleground (part five)

Part five of six Good storytelling can get at aspects of history that can otherwise end up overlooked. Yesterday in our conversation with writer Philip Gerard, he talked about the importance of that in his new book, The Last Battleground: … Continue reading

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