Campaign Season: Antietam

As the hints of autumn arrive in the air and mid-September approaches, it’s the anniversary season for the Antietam Campaign. We’ve got some new material coming over the weekend and early next week, but for this morning may we offer a solid series from the ECW Archives?

In 2017, Kevin Pawlak wrote a series that last almost three weeks! Daily posts with primary sources from the important campagin. (You’ll find the entire series here.) Or explore this re-publication of the September 12 Voices of the Maryland Campaign post: Continue reading

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Kolakowski on TullahomaThe first of our segments from the Sixth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge airs this weekend on C-SPAN 3.

Our theme was Forgotten Battles, and this week’s forgotten battle comes from central Tennessee. The Tullahoma Campaign, presented by Chris Kolakowski, debuts this Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET on C-SPAN 3’s “American History TV.” It will re-air Sunday morning at 4 a.m. ET.

Here’s a preview:

After the segment airs, it’ll be available on C-SPAN’s website.


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Lost Shoes: A Historical Perspective

Cannon overlooking “Field of Lost Shoes” at New Market

Missing shoes. Symbols of a hurried movement or a panic. Symbols left behind when the person has vanished suddenly from the scene.

In Civil War history, lost shoes are often associated with New Market’s battlefield even though it was not the only place with deep mud and missing footgear. On May 15, 1864, when the Corps of Cadets from Virginia Military Institute advanced into the muddy field separating them from a Union battery, the deep boggy soil pulled the shoes from their feet. The name “Field of Lost Shoes” has become synonymous with New Market, drawing from veterans’ stories and primary source accounts. Thinking about the Field of Lost Shoes prompted larger perspective about other times in the past when people have left behind this all important pair of items, usually as a silent testimony of their murder or a tragedy of epic proportions. Continue reading

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Acts of violence against America

The Texas book depository overlooking Dealey Plaza in Dallas

Acts of violence against America.

That’s the context an exhibit panel challenged me to consider as I neared the end of the self-guided tour of the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The site had, for decades, been near the top of my bucket list of places I wanted to visit.

Later in the day, I planned to visit another destination on that list: the site of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. My interest in that tragedy sprang from the work of Daniel Herbeck and Lou Michel, reporters from the Buffalo News who wrote the first in-depth book about the bombing, American Terrorist. Dan is an alum of St. Bonaventure University, where I teach. Through excellent reporting, the two reporters earned exclusive access to the bomber, Timothy McVeigh, who was from the Buffalo suburbs. Dan and Lou’s thorough and thoughtful work years ago inspired me to someday visit the memorial.

Yet there in the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, I suddenly and unexpectedly found Dealey Plaza and the Oklahoma City Federal Building tied together in a single exhibit. Continue reading

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Ursula Le Guin, Huckleberry Finn, and Monument Controversies

In class last week, I was talking with my writing students about assumptions we, as writers, sometimes make about our audiences. (Moral of the story: We, as writers, should not make assumptions about our readers.) For the day’s reading, I assigned an essay by novelist Ursula Le Guin, “Unquestioned Assumptions,” from her book The Wave in the Mind: Tales and Essays. LeGuin, a fantasy writer best known for her Earthsea books, evokes a fable-like quality in her writing. Her work is wonderful.

The essay, however, written for aspiring writers, urges them not to make assumptions about their readers. Near the essay, she uses Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn as an example of a book that makes people uncomfortable because it challenges people.

“Look again at Mark Twain,” she writes. “Huckleberry Finn is still getting bad-mouthed, banned, and censored, because it’s characters use the word nigger and for other reasons, all having to do with race.” Continue reading

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Podcast Additional Resources: “Rock Star Egos”

April 1862. Confederate leadership. Braxton Bragg – the odd man out. Today, we’ve collected some blog posts from our archives to pair with the new podcast from last week.

Did you have a chance to hear Chris M. and Chris K. discuss this leadership situation? Access your Patreon account or “enlist” to hear this new episode.

Rock Star Egos and the Army of Tennessee’s Most Important Inferiority Complex

Albert Sidney Johnston’s Death and Legacy Continue reading

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Book Review: “Lee is Trapped, and Must be Taken: Eleven Fateful Days after Gettysburg: July 4 – 14, 1863”

Are we firmly in the golden age of Gettysburg publishing? The past 15 – 20 years have produced a wealth of essential Gettysburg reading for those of us interested in the climactic battle of the American Civil War. That’s not to discount the many important studies that  were produced in the 135 years following the battle, but over the past twenty years we’ve seen a rise in digitization and accessibility of previously unknown or inaccessible collections that serve to enhance our understanding of the battle. Savas Beatie has taken the lead in Gettysburg-related publishing, each year pushing out a number of exhaustively researched, high quality books, often addressing overlooked aspects of the battle and the campaign. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 9/9-9/15/19

In your opinion…in the western theater, what was the most Confederate raid into Northern states or territories? Why?

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Week In Review: September 2-8, 2019

This week we’ve had a variety of posts, including a book review, 1865 account, navy history, artillery notes, travel suggestions, and preservation perspective during hurricane season.

There have been some major natural disasters this week, and as we look back on the ECW week, we also want send best wishes for safety to all our readers in affected areas. You’ve been in our thoughts. Stay safe! Continue reading

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Saving History Saturday: History Versus Hurricanes

Just days ago, eyes were glued to national news as Hurricane Dorian set its target on the Bahamas and the southeastern seaboard. A Category 5, Dorian wreaked havoc, destroying not only property and infrastructure, but the lives of millions. Fortunately, countless emergency personnel, meteorologists, climatologists, and national and local leaders are trying to predict, plan, and prepare for hurricanes. But, what about our historic sites in the path of these catastrophic storms?

Dorian billows over Fort Pulaski. Courtesy of Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Continue reading

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