Week In Review: January 7-13, 2019

Welcome back for another Week in Review! These last seven days there’s been a variety of posts on the blog, including several articles focusing on Civil War veterans after the war – a presidential election, roles later conflicts, and one famous general’s trip to Egypt.

Also, don’t miss the newest episode of the ECW Podcast which focuses on the Gettysburg Campaign… Continue reading

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Primary Sources: Thoughts and Favorites

A primary source is defined as one produced by an eyewitness to an event offering their recollections. Some primary sources provide just basic facts with limited additional details. Other sources, like battle reports, provide more details but often offer little in terms of context, analysis, or human feeling. Some are also unreliable for myriad factors, but many are superb.

The best, and usually most useful, primary sources get at the human element. They tell the story in such a way as to peel back the curtain and delve into what a person was thinking and feeling at the moment. Fortunately, there are plenty of sources that do this; many of which are well-known. I offer my favorite published ones below.  Continue reading

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Primary Sources: An Introduction

Primary Source – a document, book etc that contains information that has been obtained from people’s experiences and not taken from other documents, books etc (Longman Dictionary, online)

We’re very pleased to start our first official blog series for 2019, and we’ll be taking you on a journey through archives and materials that stack on researchers’ desks. As our writers share about their favorite primary sources from the Civil War era, they’ll be sharing about the documents and their personal favorite that they’ve read or used for reference. Watch for new posts every day for the next couple of weeks! Continue reading

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Preservation News: Shutdown Impacts Civil War Battlefields and How You Can Help

For nearly three weeks so far, the national government has been under a partial shutdown, heavily impacting all levels of American government, especially affecting the National Parks. Since it is only a partial shutdown, many parks remain open to visitors, but are limited in services and maintenance. Unfortunately, all across social media platforms and news outlets, there are photographs of overflowing trashcans along the National Mall and further stories of vandalism and unsanitary restroom conditions at Joshua Tree, Muir Woods, Sequoia, and countless other parks. In terms of battlefields, many wonder how the shutdown has impacted Civil War battlefield sites under National Park Service jurisdiction.

A visitor at Antietam National Battlefield reads the “Area Closed” sign at the Visitors Center in January 2019. Courtesy of The Herald-Mail

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ECW Weekender: Wisconsin Veterans Museum

While home for the holidays in Wisconsin, I always try to do something historic like visit a museum, explore a city, or go to a brewery. This year, with the World War I centennial and the newly released documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, I decided to go to Madison to the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum to see their temporary exhibit, Beyond The Trenches: Stories from the Front. But while in Wisconsin’s capitol city, I was able to explore the state’s Civil War history as well. 

The Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum is a must for every history buff’s visit to Madison. It is a state-run organization through the Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and while small, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum provides a detailed overview of Wisconsin’s involvement in all major American wars. Continue reading

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Grant In Egypt

The painted eyes stared back at me from the centuries old alabaster face. The face of a king, a human believed by his subjects to be a god on earth. The Civil War did not feel so far away when placed on the timeline of world history. That conflict of the 1860’s occurred a couple thousand years after the ancient artisans completed this image, a couple thousand years after a boy king ruled for nine short years, a couple thousand years after a tomb was sealed – full of treasures from a by-gone time.

Wandering through the exhibit halls and studying the details on the artifacts found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, I indulged in my interest of history eras beyond the 1860’s. However, I couldn’t help wondering if there could be a connection between the American Civil War and ancient Egyptian history. Between exhibit halls, I fired off a text message to one of my colleagues at ECW: “Didn’t Grant go to Egypt during his world tour?”

When I went home and started returning from the history of thousands of years past, I did a little fact checking. Sure enough, former Union general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant visited Egypt during his world tour…and absolutely loved that country’s ancient history. Continue reading

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The Final Legacy of the Civil War Generation

The Civil War reshaped and defined the United States in ways still very visible today. That is enough for one generation, right? Yet the Civil War generation also led the United States throughout the late 19th Century of industrialization, expansion, and development. Still, that generation’s final legacy seems underappreciated: world power status, which was gained between 1898 and 1903 in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine War, and the China Relief Expedition during the Boxer Rebellion.

The young officers of the Civil War served as the leaders of the Spanish-American War era, which covers the period from 1898 through the effective conclusion of the Philippine War in 1903. A few years later most of them had passed from the scene, having in their lifetimes seen the United States undergo dramatic changes with the promise of more to come.

Who were these leaders who ushered the United States onto the world stage? Here is a list of the most familiar. Their Civil War connections are noted next to their names in parentheses:   Continue reading

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Collecting Civil War General CDVs

CDV of Brigadier General Francis E. Patterson. 

Ever since elementary school, I’ve been fascinated with studying the American Civil War, particularly its generals. I’m most interested in the generals who died during the course of the war—either from wounds, illnesses, or accidents. I’ve been collecting antique photographs since I can remember—my father is a full-time antique dealer and his father bought and sold guns, knives, and watches for a living. Antiquing is in my blood. I’ve combined my interests for Civil War generals and antique collecting into a satisfying and unique hobby.

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Symposium Spotlight: Chris Kolakowski

In this week’s edition of our 2019 Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight we feature longtime ECW member and ECW Chief Historian, Chris Kolakowski. Chris has written numerous books and articles over the years, as well as given many presentations at our annual Symposium. If you haven’t had the chance to get to know him yet, read on to learn more about this historian. We can’t wait to hear his presentation this year! Continue reading

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A Father’s Legacy: Simon Bolivar Buckner Sr. and Jr.

220px-Simon_Bolivar_Buckner_SrOn January 8, 1914, Simon Bolivar Buckner died. He was the last surviving Confederate lieutenant general, and was buried in Frankfort, Kentucky’s cemetery with considerable ceremony. Born in 1823, in Munfordville, Kentucky, he was named in honor of Simon Bolivar, the famous South American revolutionary.  Continue reading

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