Preservation Opportunity in the Western Theater

Our friends at the Civil War Trust sent along this announcement and opportunity to preserve more battlefield ground in the Western Theater. Continue reading for more information about this opportunity and how you can get involved. Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Trails, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Memory, Monuments, National Park Service, Preservation | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

From ECW’s Archives – Black Confederates: Laborers or Soldiers?

In 2016, Emerging Civil War author Steward T. Henderson wrote a five part series, sharing his research about Black Confederates. Were they soldiers or laborers?

We thought it was a discussion to revisit during 2018 Black History Month. Continue reading

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Fortress Washington, Part II

Barton S. Alexander

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Steve T. Phan to continue his discussion of Fortress Washington. You can find his first post here.

In the late afternoon of July 21, 1861, Captain Barton S. Alexander, U.S. Army Engineers, described the Union Army of Northeastern Virginia’s fight along banks of Bull Run in a message to the War Department in Washington D.C. The future chief engineer of the Department of Washington’s communique was concise and alarming:

General McDowell’s army in full retreat through Centreville. The day is lost. Save Washington and the remnants of this army. All available troops ought to be thrown forward in one body. General McDowell is doing all he can to cover the retreat. Colonel (Dixon S.) Miles is forming for that purpose. He was in reserve at Centreville. The routed troops will not reform.[1] Continue reading

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Book Review: “Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer”

Book Review by Emerging Civil War’s Derek Maxfield


In the small Upstate New York city of Batavia, there are no historic heroes bigger than Emory Upton.  You need look no farther than the larger than life statue honoring him and soldiers of the Civil War that sits strategically by the county courthouse at the split of two major highways.  Yet, few can tell you more than that he was a Civil War general.  A new biography by Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Professor of History at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, seeks to bring the life of Upton to a new generation.

Continue reading

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“Because You Was Always True To Me”: A Union Soldier & His Sweetheart

Dear Friend… I should like to sean [have seen] you before I enlisted, but I thought that you had something against me. But if I have said anything against you, I hope you will forgive me, for I thought that we used to be as good friends as could be found. I hope that you will not have any hardness [of] feelings against me, and I hope we may both live to see one another once more…[i]

That’s how Peleg Bradford, Jr. wrote his first preserved letter to his sweetheart in October 1862, several months after he left home and enlisted. He had joined the 18th Maine Infantry Regiment which mustered into service on August 21, 1862, and was assigned to build and defend Washington’s fortifications. In January 1863, the regiment transformed into the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery and continued on fort duty around Washington until the Overland Campaign in 1864.

Bradford’s letters give a glimpse of a realistic “Civil War romance,” challenged by distance and threatened by physical wounds. Due to a full blog schedule yesterday [Valentine’s Day], these primary sources and observations will continue the discussion of romantic relationships during the 1860’s conflict for another day. Continue reading

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An Unusual Valentine: Elmer E. Ellsworth, Esquire

Elmer Ellsworth about 1860

Every biography or biographical article about not-yet-colonel Elmer Ellsworth says the same thing: It is not known if Ellsworth passed, or even took, the Illinois State Bar Examination. I know this is not a bombshell issue for most people, but some of us care. I care. And, I am working like a madwoman to finish up my biography of Colonel Ellsworth before the next full eclipse of the sun. So imagine my surprise when . . . Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Lincoln, Personalities, Politics, Preservation, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The Yankee Soldier and the Belles of “Secession Proclivities”

An image from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1863 (no known restrictions)

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Rob Wilson

With mid-February approaching, I went hunting for a North-South romance story to share on Valentine’s Day. In his well-researched study of Northern troops, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union, Bell Irwin Wiley writes that wartime encounters between Federal soldiers and Southern women occurred, some ripening into romances, and even post-war marriages. There were stories out there. But where to look?

The first stop in my search was close to home. While researching a file of my Yankee great grandfather’s war letters for a different story, I’d noted that he’d written about a series of his visits with a group of unmarried women living in Sharpsburg, Maryland. All three, George A, Marden reported, were of “Secession proclivities,” one a Virginian with two brothers fighting in the service of Jeff Davis. My ancestor was single and a 23-year-old lieutenant at the time, late in October, 1862. His regiment, the Army of the Potomac’s 1st United States Sharpshooters (U.S.S.S.) Regiment, was camped near the town. I sat down for a close read of his October correspondence, hoping for a story worthy of St. Valentine. Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: Edward Alexander


One of our afternoon speakers for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium is Edward Alexander. Our Symposium Spotlight introduces us to this presenter as well as his topic, Grant Crosses the James.
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Bernard Slave Cabins

A new article by guest author Michael Aubrecht

One of the more overlooked spots on the Fredericksburg National Battlefield is the Bernard Slave Cabins. This area was the homestead of a number of enslaved African-Americans and a focal point of the fighting that took place near Prospect Hill and the Slaughter Pen Farm. Today the site is accessible via the Bernard Cabins Trail. According to the NMPS website: Continue reading

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Not the Same African Americans We Always See

Civil War Medal of Honor

I was watching a television show a couple of weeks ago, and the subject of Black History Month was mentioned. One of the characters complained that America always trots out the same four African Americans every year to stand in for all the other African Americans about which no one knows anything. I immediately realized that this also applies to the African Americans we celebrate from the 1800s. This year, I think we
should give Mr. Frederick Douglass, the 54th Massachusetts, Ms. Harriet Tubman, and Ms. Sojourner Truth a break, and learn about some other men and women who made significant contributions to the American Civil War. For instance, Andrew Jackson Smith. Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Common Soldier, Memory, Personalities, Politics, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments