“I helped…to pack haversacks and cartridge boxes”

Susie King Taylor

Susie King Taylor accompanied the 33rd United States Colored Troops (originally designated as the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment) during their service. Her husband served in the unit, and she was officially listed as a laundress, though she also worked as a nurse and teacher and had other adventures along the way. Later, she wrote a book and self-published it in 1902: Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers. The book is available online through the program Documenting The South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Here is an excerpt about the regiment’s attack in summer 1864 and the aftermath according to Susie King Taylor: Continue reading

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Book Review: Caught in the Maelstrom: The Indian Nations in the Civil War, 1861-1865

Once in a while, someone will comment on just how there can be so many books about one topic–the American Civil War. There is a definable reason for this phenomenon: fighting the Civil War was a job undertaken by many, and each group saw the war from its individual perspective. Historians have been slow to acknowledge that elite women, enslaved people, politicians, abolitionists, volunteer hospital workers, poor whites, and Native Americans all participated in the national upheaval of the 1860s–and many more besides. Each group fought a war of its own. To understand this, finally, is to begin to understand America’s adolescence. Continue reading

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A Member of the 8th Missouri Infantry Reflects on Why He Enlisted

Sgt. Phillip A. Smith, Company H, 8th Missouri Infantry. Courtesy of the Peoria Historical Society.

One of the most thorough and remarkable diaries I have come across from a Missouri soldier is from a non-commissioned officer in the 8th Missouri Infantry. A German immigrant and Peoria, Illinois resident, Phillip A. Smith joined the “American Zouaves” regiment in St. Louis in the summer of 1861. Like many Missouri Union regiments, the 8th Missouri was largely composed of German immigrants (even though Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon wanted more native-born Americans for this unit, hence the name) and built primarily of Missourians and Illinoians.

On July 22, 1861, just days after mustering in at the St. Louis Arsenal and encamped at Jefferson City, the state capital that had been occupied by Federal forces at the start of the 1861 Missouri Campaign, Smith laid in bed and penned this diary entry about why he enlisted for three years of service in the Union Army. He reflected on the developing crisis, the rebellion, and “the slave question.” At that time, Lyon’s Army of the West was on an offensive campaign in pursuit of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard into southwestern Missouri. Smith, fervently pro-Union and antislavery, was deeply disturbed and angry toward Confederates, as seen below. Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Primary Sources, Trans-Mississippi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Question of the Week: 2/10-2/16/2020

Since it’s so wonderful to have all our subscribers back and the comments working again (huzzah!), let’s ask one of those popular questions we haven’t asked for a while…

Who’s your favorite Civil War general? Why?

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Week In Review: February 3-9, 2020

This week wrapped up the Civil War & Pop Culture series and included a few other feature articles.

The big news is…the major tech issues ECW has been experiences have been solved and the team is now able to access and finalize fixing the other troubles. We’re finally getting back to normal and able to focus on writing (and distributing) blog posts in a much easier way. Celebration week! Continue reading

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A Gathering of Minds: ECW Retreat

Just wanted to say thank you to our blog and brand followers. There are so many things we love about researching, writing, and sharing history with you!

Yesterday, a bunch of ECW authors gathered in person or called-in with modern technology for a leadership and planning retreat. We didn’t get a photo with everyone, but we did manage to snap one with a few folks before the day was completely finished. Thank you to everyone who attended and called in. We’re pleased with the conversations, ideas, and new goals set for 2020.

(Left to Right) Terry Rensel, Dwight Hughes, Edward Alexander, Rob Orrison, Sarah Kay Bierle

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CW & Pop Culture: It’s A Wrap!

The ECW blog series always end with a post featuring links to all the articles in the recent series. So, today we’re wrapping up “The Civil War and Pop Culture” features and here’s the collection.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Entertaining History—our newest book in the Engaging the Civil War Series! Continue reading

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Saving History Saturday: Nearly $1 Million Allocated to Save 12 African-American History Sites in Maryland

There is no better way to honor Black History Month than to preserve the sites related to African American heritage and history. Last week, it was announced that the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, as well as the Maryland Historical Trust, had awarded nearly $1 million in grant funds to assist in the renovations of twelve African American historic sites in their state.

According to the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, the goal of the African American Heritage Preservation Program is “to identify and preserve buildings, communities, and sites of historical and cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland.” Funding is available for projects that need assistance for “acquisition, construction, capital improvement, and certain predevelopment costs.” In their 8+ years of existence, the program has awarded $8 million in grant funds to over 100 different projects.

Here is the list of each of the twelve projects awarded for FY2020:

  • Fairmount Heights World War II Monument – Prince George’s County
  • Liberty Grace Church of God – Baltimore City
  • Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church – Cambridge, Dorchester County
  • Warren Historic Site: Church and School – Dickerson, Montgomery County
  • Emmanuel Episcopal Church: Tunnels – Cumberland, Allegany County
  • McConchie One-Room School – La Plata, Charles County
  • Zion United Methodist Church – Federalsburg, Caroline County
  • Robert W. Johnson Community Center – Hagerstown, Washington County
  • Sotterley Plantation: Slave Cabin – Hollywood, St. Mary’s County
  • Ellsworth Cemetery – Westminster, Carroll County
  • Asbury M.E. Church – Easton, Talbot County
  • Fruitland Community Center – Wicomico County


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If It Takes All Summer…

We don’t usually do “behind the scenes” posts about things that happen within the ECW admin team. But there is a scene that happened in the last few weeks that may provide a chuckle to a few of our loyal followers. Now that it’s all over, I find myself able to smile at it too…

Picture these scenarios: Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: From Enslaved to Soldier – A New Tour in Fredericksburg

On February 22, 2020, from 1 to 5 pm, Fredericksburg Tours will present a new tour that I have created, entitled “From Enslaved to Soldier.” This tour will explore slavery in the Fredericksburg area, from the City Dock on the Rappahannock River, through the city and the surrounding communities, and to a place where slaves escaped the area, during the first Union army occupation. Many of the enslaved men who escaped returned in 1864 as soldiers in the United States Colored Troops, the USCT.

There have been several news stories about the slave auction block, which inspired many people in the community to take part in several discussions led by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience on behalf of the City of Fredericksburg. I was personally interviewed about the slave auction block and participated in the various meetings. This led to the Fredericksburg Memorials Advisory Commission to form a committee for the presentation of African American History of which I am a member. Continue reading

Posted in ECW Weekender, Slavery, USCT | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment