Category Archives: Primary Sources

“Almost Scared Speechless”

Sergeant D. H. Hamilton battled with the First Texas in Hood’s Brigade, a unit known for its fierce courage. But in the autumn of 1863, he had a “creepy” experience that reads almost like a classic ghost story. Read it … Continue reading

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Not a Trick—Walt Whitman Every Week!

In between doing the final edits for First Fallen, reviewing books, worrying about everything in general and nothing in particular, and petting cats, I have been noodling around with some ways of writing about American poet Walt Whitman. He is … Continue reading

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Maj. Hilary Herbert’s Antietam After-Action Report

While the actions of Richard H. Anderson’s division on September 17, 1862 are generally known, pinning down specifics has always been difficult. Mostly, that is due to the fact that only one after-action report from the entire division (and it … Continue reading

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Return to Burgess Mill

“I am now outside the main rebel line, moving southwesterly over the old Boydton Plank Road, which has ceased to have any vestige of a plank crossing it as long ago when the war was on. There is now nothing … Continue reading

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Lessons for 2020 from POWs and Sieges

Being captured in battle can be a dramatic and traumatic experience. Instantly you are cut off from what was familiar and definite, and cast into a situation unfamiliar, out of your control, and with a most indefinite future. The same … Continue reading

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In the Wake of Ball’s Bluff

In his diary on October 22, 1862, John Haley of the 17th Maine recounted his experience camping near the Ball’s Bluff battlefield a year after the battle: “[W]e were sent on picket on a strip of land between the Potomac … Continue reading

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A Short Diary from Elmira

ECW welcomes guest author Ray Stoll The 98th Regiment New York National Guard is known only to those specializing in the Elmira prisoner camp. It was a 100-day unit organized for prison guard duty. An 18-year old farm boy named … Continue reading

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George C. Scott on Robert E. Lee

October 12, 2020, is the 150th commemorative date of the death of Robert Edward Lee in Lexington, Virginia. “This is Election-Year America,” pronounced George C. Scott on the Today show in the spring of 1976, from a script he had … Continue reading

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Give the Devil All He Wants: The 1862 Rebel Raid on Chambersburg

ECW welcomes guest authors Dan Masters and Scott Mingus Fear had long since given way to nonchalance. Constant alarms that “The Rebels are coming” had wearied the residents of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, to the point that by mid-October 1862, most … Continue reading

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Antietam Anniversary in the Soldiers’ Words

At 7 a.m. every September 17, the National Park Service holds a program in David Miller’s cornfield, forever after immortalized as The Cornfield, to commemorate the opening of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American military history. … Continue reading

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