The Roberts Guard (Company C, Capers’ Battalion): Georgia’s Convict Soldiers

Emerging Civil War welcomes guest author John N. McDonald…

Governor Joseph Brown of Georgia was a troubled man in November 1864.  Two months had passed since Sherman captured Atlanta and the Union armies were once again on the march with very little in their way.  It soon became obvious that at least a portion of the enemy would be coming right through the state capital at Milledgeville, where the state legislature was currently in session.  As the capital, in addition to the governor’s mansion and statehouse, Milledgeville was home to the state lunatic asylum, as it was called at the time, Georgia Military Institute (GMI), and the state penitentiary.  More important militarily were the arsenal and stores kept there for Confederate forces.

Brown had a solution to one problem that could aid in the lack of troops at hand to oppose Sherman.  On November 18, shortly before adjourning, the Georgia House and Senate concurred on a bill authorizing Governor Brown to enlist as many convicts from the penitentiary as would be willing to volunteer for the duration of the war in exchange for a full pardon.[1]  Promptly going across the public square, Brown appealed to the prisoners himself.  Surprisingly, or perhaps not considering it would get them out of the prison, 124 men volunteered for service.  Twenty-six refused and were returned to the penitentiary.[2]

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Civil War References in President Biden’s Inaugural Address

President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address (photo courtesy of Fox News)

President Biden’s inaugural address today contained a number of Civil War references.

Here’s a run-down: Continue reading

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Presidential Inaugurations: From the ECW Archives

Lincoln’s Second Inauguration

On this historic day, we’ve rounded up some posts from the archives about Lincoln’s inaugurations and addresses: Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: Kevin Pawlak

Welcome back to another installment of our 2021 Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight. Over the coming weeks we will continue to feature introductions of all of our speakers for the 2021 Symposium, as well as you give a sneak peak of their talks. We’ll also be sharing suggested titles that you may want to read in preparation for these programs. This week we feature longtime ECW member Kevin Pawlak. Continue reading

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Suggested Readings for Our Troubled Times

Crazy times. We seem to be living through ’em right now. The temperature is running hot. People feel anxious, confused, hopeful and hateful.

How do we make sense of it all?

Well, in an effort to offer our readers some context for these crazy times, we’ve compiled a “Suggested Readings” list. We asked our historians:

What’s one book you would recommend for people that might give them some useful context for looking at our current troubled times?

Here’s what some of them had to say: Continue reading

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“High upon a hill she stands” – The Civil War History of Jewell Hall in Liberty, Missouri

This engraving of Jewell Hall is featured in the History of William Jewell College. Courtesy of the State of Missouri.

In the heart of Clay County, Missouri sits the historic town of Liberty and one of the oldest colleges west of the Mississippi River – William Jewell College. Located near the state’s contentious, bloody Western Border, Liberty sat at the crossroads of both conventional armies and guerrilla fighters during the Civil War, making it a hotspot of activity. Because of its centrality in town, William Jewell was by no means immune from the action of numerous battles and skirmishes in town. In fact, its “primary classroom building,” Jewell Hall, has its own fascinating history of its role in Missouri’s Civil War.[1] Continue reading

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Before the Battlefield: The Suffering of “Camp Maggotty Hollow”

We Civil War enthusiasts have a fascination with casualties. We rapture over which regiments were bled white on the battlefield and which regiments had the highest casualty figures. We pore over the last, heroic words uttered by officers as they expired. Those are the stories we tell. We don’t often hear stories of the many, many more soldiers who expired from disease in camp or in hospital, in lonely, neglected corners of the war. Many of these soldiers died before they could achieve those perceived glories of the battlefield.

Such was the case for the 8th Ohio, arguably one of the finest fighting regiments of the Army of the Potomac. From Antietam to Petersburg, for three years the regiment was thrown into some of the fiercest fighting of the war in the east. But like so many other regiments who would find their way to the Army of the Potomac, their service would start elsewhere. For the 8th Ohio, this was a lonely hilltop in western Maryland. Continue reading

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day – From The Archives

Leaders of the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial (1963)

We hope you’ve had a safe and relaxed holiday weekend. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here are a few posts from previous years with ties to the Civil War:

Civil War, Civil Rights, and Thoughts on the MLK National Memorial

Reflections on the Emancipation Proclamation

From Civil War to Civil Rights, and Some Thoughts on Sleeping In

A Monumental Discussion: Julie Mujic (2017)


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How a Camp Became a Fort

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Sheritta Bitikofer…

In the panhandle of Florida, a place that is not known for much else besides white sand beaches and prime fishing, sits a little-known and bypassed fragment of Civil War history that shaped a well-beloved city. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 1/18-1/24/21

Who is your favorite regimental historian and/or regimental history book?

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