Category Archives: Material Culture

John A. Dix, Troubleshooter

ECW welcomes back guest author Leon Reed A single patriotic envelope with an enigmatic message led me to the story of one of the Civil War’s more interesting figures. John A. Dix was a New York politician and businessman who … Continue reading

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Patriotic Covers and Northern Attitudes about Slavery

ECW welcomes back guest author Leon Reed Patriotic envelopes (also known as covers) provide important insights into public opinion in the Civil War. These envelopes were made for profit by commercial printers, who would have carefully tracked what was selling … Continue reading

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Fences

I recently re-read Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War, the alternate history by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, and I wanted to share a couple lines from the first page that really struck me: “As [Lee] approached the … Continue reading

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What Doomed the Crew of the HL Hunley?

On February 17, 1864, the Confederate submarine H L Hunley became the first combat submarine to sink a warship when she snuck up on and rammed her spar torpedo into the hull of the screw sloop-of-war USS Housatonic outside Charleston … Continue reading

Posted in Material Culture, Navies, Preservation, Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Burning Bridges to Baltimore

It’s always fun when researching obscure primary sources to come across a good story that has nothing to do with the original search. One such source is the memoir of a Union telegrapher published in 1910 in which he addresses … Continue reading

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Faulty Philately

Say what you will about the Confederate Constitution, but in one respect it got things right. The C.S. Postal Service, for example, after a year had to be financially self-supporting. Not so the USPS, as we all know. And for … Continue reading

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Supporting the Cause: Union and Confederate Patriotic Envelopes

ECW welcomes guest author Leon Reed About three years ago, my cousin, Jim Reed asked if I’d like to see a scrapbook that had been kept by a civil war ancestor of his. What I got was an incredible collection … Continue reading

Posted in Material Culture, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Question of the Week: 4/20-4/26/20

Let’s hear some true stories… Have you come across a mystery Civil War artifact in your research or a museum collection? Have you discovered what it was?

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Saving History Saturday: Civil War Recruitment Flag

The Ellicottville Historical Society has had a mystery and material preservation task on their hands. And it involves a flag from the Civil War era! The preservation saga began in October 2018 with the question: “Would you like your flag … Continue reading

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History in Pieces

History comes in many pieces. My good friend Hal, a retired navy captain, collects Civil War naval artifacts. He acquired items that caught his eye over the years without any particular theme in mind only to find threads and connections … Continue reading

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