Meade’s Account of Mine Run

One of my favorite pieces of correspondence from the war is a Dec. 2, 2863, letter that George Gordon Meade wrote to his wife in the wake of the Mine Run campaign. The commander of the Army of the Potomac, facing immense political pressure to engage the Army of Northern Virginia in battle, called off an attack at the last moment. I’ve always considered it one of the greatest acts of moral courage of the war. (For more about Meade’s decision, check out a post I wrote last year, “At the Center of Nothing, Meade’s Greatest Moment.”)

Meade fully expected to get sacked for his lack of action, not only because Washington had urged him onward but because his counterpart in the Western Theater, Ulysses S. Grant, had recently scored a major victory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Meade, in contrast, had retreated from Mine Run with nothing to show.

Ever candid with his wife, he poured out his thoughts, along with his account of the campaign, in a long letter home: Continue reading

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A True “Legend” that “Perfectly Describes the Character of the Army of the Potomac”

On the morning of November 30, 1863, as the Army of the Potomac prepared to assault the Confederate position west of Mine Run, the men in the ranks understood the grim task laid before them. “After leaving the wood the ground sloped to the run, then up a slope to where the rebs had their works; their batteries showed their teeth at every favorable place,” wrote Sgt. Austin C. Stearns with the 13th Massachusetts’s Co. K. “[F]rom the time we left the woods we should have been under their fire, and the run lined with briars and bushes with steep banks and water three feet deep and freezing cold was a barrier not easily surmounted.”

It was, Federals realized, a perfect killing field. Continue reading

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ECW’s November 2016 Newsletter Now Available

november-2016Be on the lookout for Emerging Civil War’s November newsletter. It hit email inboxes at 11:15 a.m. EST. If you were expecting one and didn’t get one, check your spam filter or your junk mail box (and adjust your computer’s settings so we don’t end up there again).

This month, aside from our usual News & Notes, you’ll find a profile on Rob Orrison, an ode to our interns, details about ECW’s Digital Shorts, and more. Continue reading

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The Affable Archie Botts

Mexican War-header

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome guest author Frank Jastrzembski

Nestled in the Shockoe Hill Cemetery of Richmond, Virginia, is a discolored marker with a heartfelt epitaph that reads:

Sacred to the memory of
Lieut. Archibald B. Botts
of the 4th U. S. Infantry,
who died at Camargo, Mexico
Jan. 1, 1847
He graduated at the U. S. Military Academy
in June 1846. Continue reading

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Book Review: “Decision at Tom’s Brook: George Custer, Thomas Rosser and the Joy of the Fight”


Decision at Tom's BrookIn the autumn of 1864, Maj. Gen. Phillip Sheridan and Lt. Gen. Jubal Early engaged one another in an effort to control Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A Union defeat might well have offset gains made by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman out West and impact the Presidential election in November. Sheridan, however, prevailed. In a little over a month, he defeated Early in four separate engagements and destroyed the logistical value of the region for the Confederates. Author William J. Miller has added to the literature of the campaign by writing a narrative of its only all-cavalry battle at Tom’s Brook.

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Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Book Review, Books & Authors, Campaigns, Cavalry, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Woman Who Claimed to Dress as a Soldier “A Con Artist” and Kardashian, Says Jack Davis

jack-davisby ECW Correspondent Amelia Kibbe

After having written and published more than 50 books, it’s pretty safe to say William C. Davis has done a lot of research.

But, he said, to him, that’s one of the best parts of being an author. So he was ready for the research challenge his latest book presented him with: taking on a minor Civil War icon.

Earlier this month, Southern Illinois UNiversity Press released Inventing Loreta Velasquez: Confederate Soldier Impersonator, Media Celebrity, and Con Artist. Velasquez, born around 1842, claimed she dressed as a man to fight for the Confederacy and later became a Confederate spy in the North. Her 1876 memoir, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velázquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army, is one of only two written by women soldiers posing as men.

The book, which focuses on the story of the Civil-War-era woman Loretta Velasquez, highlights the controversy surrounding the validity of many of Velasquez’s claims. In Davis’s opinion, her work is more fiction than fact. “She knew how to manipulate the press,” he said. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 11/28-12/4/16

Question-HeaderWhat’s your favorite historical account/story from a winter encampment?

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ECW Weekender: The Virginiana Collection at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library

ECW Weekender-Header

crr-library-brochureUsually, our ECW Weekenders profile battlefields and historic sites to visit. This weekend, I want to share word about a groovy little spot to do some research.

This past week, I had the opportunity to our through some of the files in the Virginiana Room at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s headquarters on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

“The Virginiana Collection specializes in genealogy and local history,” the library’s brochure explains. “Although its primary focus is on the central Rappahannock region, the collection includes a wide collection of materials covering the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as the surrounding states.”

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Small Business Saturday

small-business-saturdayIf you are looking for a great holiday gift, and to support a small business, think of Emerging Civil War this Small Business Saturday. Our early-bird pricing of just $110.00 is still available for tickets for the Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge.

This three day event will be held August 4-6, 2017, at Stevenson Ridge. Stevenson Ridge is located just north of the village of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia.

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards
Our outstanding line-up of speakers includes:
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Civil War Cookin’: What To Do With Leftovers (According To Major Pendleton)

civil-war-cookin-happy-thanksgivingIf you had a feast yesterday, there’s a good possibility you have left-overs today. You might not believe it, but I have a story about left-overs during the Civil War.

First, let’s clarify – there wasn’t a lot of extra food in the armies or on the Southern homefront. The phenomenon of left-overs likely didn’t occur often…but what if on that rare occasion a Confederate officer had food he didn’t want to eat, no comrades to share with, and didn’t want to waste the food.

Oh, it’s really quite simple. Feed the left-overs to your horse! Continue reading

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