“Shoot and Be Damned”: Lawrence Berry at Fort Gregg

For a few early afternoon hours on April 2, 1865, three hundred Mississippi infantrymen and a pair of gun crews from the Washington Artillery of New Orleans clung to Fort Gregg as they held back two full XXIV Corps divisions. The Federals strove to complete Petersburg’s investment and trap the Confederates within the city they had protected for the last nine months. In the ditch in front of the fortification, Union wounded and dead mixed with live northerners still clawing their way up the muddy slopes. Shortly after 3 p.m., Federals outside the northwest corner of the embattled earthwork used an incomplete extension of the parapet as a ramp to enter the fort. At the same time a number of Federal officers and color bearers stuck within the ditch readied themselves for another frantic climb to the top.

As the Union soldiers poured in most Confederates quickly threw down their weapons to surrender. One northern detachment froze in fear as they reached an artillery embrasure below the wall’s summit. A southern gunner waited in front of them with a rope clutched in his palm. “Don’t fire that gun, drop that lanyard or we’ll shoot!” demanded an officer. “Shoot and be damned!” replied the Confederate as he discharged the double load of canister into the bluecoats. Within moments the northerners in the immediate area who survived riddled the defiant southerner’s body with bullets.

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Soldier-Artists and the Battle Experience (Part II)

This is the second of two posts regarding soldier-artists and their depictions of the experience of battle. Part I may be found here.

To appreciate the extent that images such as Adolph Metzner’s Cozy corner defied the conventions of mainstream art, it is beneficial to draw comparisons between his portrayal of the battle and the musician Alfred E. Mathew’s picture, entitled Charge of the first brigade, commanded by Col. M.B. Walker, on the Friday evening of the battle of Stone River, which was intended for a public audience. Mathews had been a landscape drawer prior to the conflict, and his skill won the admiration of many. A surgeon in the 16th Ohio Infantry recorded meeting the soldier-artist, writing: “I saw some of his sketches. They are all good. His lithograph view of “Boon’s Knob”… is very beautiful and true.”[i] General Ulysses S. Grant wrote Mathews of his views of the siege of Vicksburg, commending him by writing: “[I] do not hesitate to pronounce them among the most accurate and true to life I have ever seen. They reflect great credit upon you as a delineator of landscape views.”[ii] Continue reading

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A Poet’s Perspective: Herman Melville and the Civil War

It was November of 1860, and America had a new president. He was highly popular among the northern states, but he was widely disliked in the South. At the same time you have Herman Melville, famous for his 1851 novel Moby-Dick, just returned to New York

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Author, Herman Melville

City after a cruise in the Pacific. It was around this point in time when Melville began writing about the palpable animosity growing between the northern and southern regions of his beloved country.

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Book Review: “Double Canister At Ten Yards”

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 There’s a saying among Civil War historians, it might be old but no one is really sure of it’s earliest origins. The saying goes that if 10,000 books have been written on the American Civil War, 9,000 of them have been about the battle of Gettysburg. Books on the Pennsylvania battle range from general histories to minute, minute-by-minute micro-tactical studies of regiments or even companies. Of the hundreds, if not thousands of books on Gettysburg, few, however, have focused purely on the long arm of each army during the three day engagement.

David L. Shultz’s work, “Double Canister At Ten Yards”: The Federal Artillery and the Repulse of Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863 originally entered the Gettysburg historiography in 1995 by Rank and File Publications. Now, the book has been re-released by Savas Beatie and includes numerous updates, including delineated chapters, new maps by Philip Laino, and index, and expanded images and photographs.

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Soldier-Artists and the Battle Experience (Part I)

This is the first of two posts regarding soldier-artists and their depictions of the experience of battle.

“Pshaw. It’s no use, they can’t picture a battle,” exclaimed the young son of Reverend A. M. Stewart of the 102nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, a recent observer of the battles of Williamsburg and Fair Oaks, as he indignantly threw down a copy of Harper’s Weekly with images depicting those engagements. By 1862’s end, Stewart noted that pictures “of officers with drawn swords riding before their men into battle” led the enlisted men to “shout out with mocking irony; all played out.[i] It seemed that war pictures, to those who had seen war, weren’t all that war-like. Continue reading

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ECW Names Kolakowski as New Chief Historian

Kolakowski_ChrisEmerging Civil War (ECW) has chosen historian Christopher Kolakowski to serve as the organization’s next chief historian.

Kolakowski, who has been with ECW since May 2013, is the author of several books and, on the ECW blog, of a popular series called “Civil War Echoes.” He also currently serves on ECW’s editorial board and management team. By day, Kolakowski serves as director of the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Chris remains a World War II guy by day, overseeing what essentially amounts to a presidential library, considering MacArthur’s role in post-war reconstruction in the Pacific,” explains Chris Mackowski, ECW’s editor in chief, “but Chris remains a Civil War guy at heart. That’s where he cut his teeth, and that’s where he continues to return when the Second World War lets him. Best of all, he sees the clear connections and resonances between the two, which continue to echo on to today.”  Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 11/13-11/19/17

On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. Although some weren’t impressed in 1863, the speech is now cherished by many folks and considered one of the most famous addresses in U.S. History.

Why is the Gettysburg Address important to you?

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One of Sherman’s Pioneers: The Story of Levi Lindsay

Enlistment of Levi LindsayBorn in Caton, NY, on November 15, 1839, Levi Lindsay was the second son of Allen Lindsay, Jr. (1810-1891) and Harriet Benson (1825-1860). He had four siblings: Horace (1837 – 1871), Charlotte (1844 – 1876), Hannah (1846 – 1860) and Helen (1849 – 1908).

When the Civil War began, Levi was just 21 years old and working as a lumberman. In August 1862, young Lindsay enlisted in the Union army for a three year term in Company D, 141st NY Vol. Infantry. From his enlistment form we learn that he had blue eyes, brown hair, a light complexion and stood 5’ 8’’. His service began around Washington, DC before temporary duty at Suffolk, VA.  Continue reading

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ECW Week in Review Nov. 6-12

There is a touch of November chill in the air but Emerging Civil War remains busy. Our series Battlefield Markers and Monuments came to a conclusion and we also had another series on the experiences of a New York officer at Spotsylvania. We also had a major announcement regarding the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium (Early Bird tickets are available here). But before recapping the posts of the week, we would once again like to extend a “thank you” to all of our military veterans.

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Battlefield Markers & Monuments: A Conclusion

Our official blog series “Battlefield Markers & Monuments” concludes this evening, but of course you’ll continue to find articles about historical sites and markers throughout the coming months on Emerging Civil War. We hope you’ve enjoyed the details about markers and monuments.

As blog editors, we like to choose topics for the series and then let our writers interpret the details, writing specific on aspects of their own interest and research. Not all the articles in this series focused on battlefield markers and monuments, but all the posts highlighted historic markers or monuments related to the Civil War. Mission accomplished! We always appreciate the insight of our authors. Continue reading

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