CW & Pop Culture: Those Books of Paintings In My Childhood

Civil War paintings created in the 20th Century. They introduced me to Civil War generals. They captured my imagination and made me want to know the stories.

When I first became interested in the Civil War, I was eight years old and it was all about the pretty dresses. Two years later, I visited my cousins and my older cousin Caleb was really interested in military history. He let me look through his collection of Civil War painting books. Some he turned me loose to explore on my own, others we paged through together, and he shielded me from the more violent paintings. I started to wonder and want to know more about the heroically painted men in blue and gray. Continue reading

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pope’s “Headquarters in the Saddle.” Sort of…

John Pope as he appeared less than one week after the Battle of Second Manassas.

“Headquarters in the Saddle.”

For a man that uttered many phrases that often make him the main course of mockery for Civil War historians, John Pope’s infamous dateline certainly receives its fair share of jokes. It did too in 1862. Supposedly Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee even made light of those four words.

So did the soldiers under Pope’s command. Pvt. James Sullivan of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry remarked of Pope, “He issued his first order dated ‘Headquarters in the saddle,’ and the soldiers, with their usual aptitude to ridicule all attempts at self-glorification on the part of generals, said that he must have his brains where most persons have their hindquarters, and immediately dubbed him ‘Hindquarters in the saddle Pope,’ and after events fully justified their judgement.” It might be one of Pope’s most enduring lines, but, for the first month of his stint as Army of Virginia commander, it is not one of his most accurate.

John Pope took command of the Army of Virginia on June 26, 1862. Pope’s army itself was something new–a conglomerate of multiple Federal entities in northern Virginia meant to bring cooperation between those disparate forces that would win victories. And when Pope came east, he entered into a sort of vacuum of high command for the United States Army. Since March 11, the Federal government had been fighting the war without a General-in-Chief to lead and coordinate its armies. This remained true until Henry Halleck’s arrival in the capital on July 23. In the meantime, Lincoln held Pope in Washington for counsel and would not release him to his field army until Halleck filled that vacuum. Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Campaigns, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

CW & Pop Culture: Civil War Rock and Roll, or, Who was Larkin Poe?

When it comes to the Civil War and popular culture, I admit I am hard to please. For example, with a couple of notable exceptions, I am generally disappointed by film portrayals of the American Civil War. Even the ones I like I find periodically a little to “Hollywood” for my tastes. I doubt there will ever be a Civil War movie that rings all my bells.

And yes, I am familiar with the various period music efforts and musicians, ranging from Johnny Horton to the 97th Regimental String Band and David Kincaid (above) who recorded the first of his two solo albums of period music – “The Irish Volunteer” – back in 1998. I’m also familiar with Kincaid’s guitar-rock efforts via his band, the Brandos, with which he periodically dipped into Civil War territory: the song “Gettysburg” was included on their 1987 album Honor Among Thieves. Continue reading

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture, Ties to the War, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Symposium Spotlight: Matt Atkinson

Happy New Year! In this installment of our 2020 Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight we feature longtime friend of ECW, Matt Atkinson. You will not want miss this presenter this year! Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Symposium | Tagged | 1 Comment

Podcast Additional Resources: “Chickamauga: Federal Leadership”

Last week on the ECW Podcast, Dave Powell shared his insight on Federal leadership during the Battle of Chickamauga. A respected-researcher and prolific author on this battle, Dave’s episode is one you won’t want to miss. (This podcast is available to all ECW Podcast subscribers via Patreon.)

Today, we’ve collected some additional resources about some of the Union commanders at the battle. For a complete list of other articles about Chickamauga, check out this other list of resources. Continue reading

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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 this time sporting an AK-47 assault rifle. I avoided reading it, only to decide in 2019 to see how Turtledove approached the subject in 1992.

The central figure of The Guns of the South is Lee. In 1864 he accepts Ak-47s from the time-travelling “Rivington Men” who turn out to be the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), a Neo-Nazi group from South Africa. The AWB think a Confederate victory will halt the spread of racial equality, but Lee foresees that slavery must be gradually abolished if the Confederacy is to survive and thrive in the wider world. The AWB tries to kill Lee, only for them to be defeated by Nathan Bedford Forrest. Lee, as president of the Confederacy, oversees the narrow passage of gradual emancipation. Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

CW & Pop Culture: I Will Always Love “Little Women”

My name is Meg, so that should be enough said, but I was not–alas!–named for author Louisa May Alcott’s oldest daughter in the March family of Concord, Massachusetts. I never miss an opportunity to see a movie based on this novel, and the 2019 offering starring such luminaries as Meryl Streep and Laura Dern as well as Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlon, is simply magnificent. Directed by Greta Gerwig and costumed by veteran designer Jacqueline Duran, the “hallowed ground” that is Little Women is treated with respect and love. Because women themselves are always evolving, forever intriguing, and continuously among us, Alcott’s book–never out of print since its initial debut in 1868–and its various theatrical incarnations continue to be taken seriously. Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Question of the Week: 1/13-1/19/20


We’re talking about the Civil War and Pop Culture, so…do you have a favorite movie about the Civil War or with an 1860’s setting? Why?

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture, Question of the Week | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Week In Review: January 6-12, 2020

We’ve completed the first full week of January 2020, and here on the blog, we’ve already announced a new book release and started a new blog series—both focusing the Civil War and Pop Culture. You’ll also find a variety of primary sources, notes on Round Tables, travel ideas to see history, and more…

Continue reading

Posted in Week in Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

CW & Pop Culture: College Football

It’s Game Day! And Chris Kolakowski wrote a post in 2014 about college football and Civil War ties. Since we’re talking about ties between history and pop-culture, this seems like the perfect day to feature a re-run: Continue reading

Posted in Civil War in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments