Two Women Who Influenced My Love of History

As I think of women who influence and encouraged my love of history, two ladies particularly come to mind: my mom and Nancy M.

My mother wasn’t a fan of history. Or at least that’s what she always thought. But then—as she tells the story—she got blessed with a little girl who wanted books read to her all the time and then had big questions about history. Little House on the Prairie and Paul Revere’s Ride were my introductions to the concept that exciting things had happened long before I was born. Then, we progressed to age-appropriate textbooks followed by raiding the library book shelves and hauling off the treasures (after they were properly checked out, of course.) Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: John Pope

Now that you have had a chance to learn more about our presenters for the Seventh Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium, over the coming weeks we will be introducing you to their topics on this year’s theme, Fallen Leaders. First up, Dan Welch previews his presentation on John Pope.

Maj. Gen. John Pope. It is a name that will forever be synonymous with the Federal defeat on the plains of Manassas in August 1862. But Pope’s fall from grace in the eyes of those heading the Federal war effort, men with names of Lincoln, Stanton, and others had begun earlier than the Union army’s retreat towards the Washington, D.C. defenses on the first of September 1862.

Pope had experienced a meteoric rise in the Federal army following the start of the American Civil War. Beginning his professional military career by attending West Point, upon graduation in 1842, he had been commissioned and assigned to the Corps of Topographical Engineers. Like many of his peers, he went to war with Zachary Taylor in the second half of the 1840s. Breveted twice during the Mexican American War, Pope returned to topographical details and assignments in the army following the conflict. His duties included surveying, river navigation, and lighthouse construction. These assignments took him to Minnesota and New Mexico, and the Red River Valley among numerous other locales. During this period, however, Pope witnessed the same glacial rate of promotions in the US Regular Army that had defined it during periods of peace. He also worked through the lack of emotions felt and motivations to fight that combat veterans like himself had experienced during the Mexican American War. With the election of Lincoln in November 1860, though, all of that was about to change. Continue reading

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What Are We Going To Do With the Kids?: Curriculum Support for K-12 Students

Whether or not you are a supporter of homeschooling, the Corona Virus has taken over, and your kids are probably hanging around, sick of Disney movies, and whining about visiting friends. Homeschooling has come to you, and luckily, the history community is at your service. Below are three ideas for getting your young ones off the couch and into the past—check them out. Continue reading

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Two Women Scholars That Made An Impact

Fortunately for me, I have had some outstanding professors during my academic journey. I can think of two specific women professors who had a great impact on me as a historian while pursuing my undergraduate degree in history at John Carroll University. Ironically, neither taught American Civil War courses. However, each helped to shape me as a Civil War scholar. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge them in recognition of Women’s History Month.  Continue reading

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New Articles Will Help You Rethink McClellan

McClellan Magazine CoversProbably the most notable thing about George McClellan’s final month and a half in command of the Army of the Potomac are the zingers Lincoln tosses at the general for the army’s inactivity. By that point in their relationship, even Lincoln’s seemingly bottomless reserves of patience had become noticeably frayed. When Lincoln expressed concerns about McClellan’s “overcautiousness,” McClellan replied that it was his intention “to advance the moment my men are shod & my cavalry are sufficiently remounted to be serviceable.”

Lincoln replied with a zinger that has since attained a fame of its own: “Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?”

“I am just as anxious as anyone, but am crippled by want of horses,” McClellan told his wife, complaining that Lincoln’s snarky note “was one of those dirty little flings that I can’t get used to when they are not merited.” Lincoln later apologized, but the strain between the two men was so great by then they were no longer really listening to each other.

McClellan was hampered during this period by legitimate supply issues, and a pair of coincidental cover articles in the most recent Civil War Monitor and Civil War Times explore this time in interesting detail. Both articles are worth a look. Continue reading

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Women’s History Month: Who Inspired You?

To wrap up March and Women’s History Month, a few of the ECW writers will sharing about the women who inspired them to become researchers, writers, and historians. Maybe it was a family member or a book or lecture by a woman. Maybe it was a biography of a woman in the past.

We look forward to sharing these stories with you this week!

And here are a few quotes from Civil War women to consider: Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 3/23-3/29/20

Many of us are staying home at this time out of necessity or precaution, so if you had to get quarantined for a couple weeks with a person from the Civil War era, who would you choose? Why?

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A Conversation with Carol Reardon (conclusion)


(part seven of a series)

Carol museum

Carol Reardon (right) with Sue Boardman, Chris Brenneman, and ECW’s Chris Mackowski at the National Civil War Museum

I’ve been talking this past week with Carol Reardon, who’s been one of the most successful Civil War scholars to bridge the gap between the academic world and the general public. Carol’s also been a trailblazer as a woman in a profession generally perceived to be male dominated. In that regard, I think she’s an especially effective role model for “emerging” female historians, and one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to her as part of ECW’s Women’s History Month commemoration.

As we conclude our conversation today, I asked her about that specific point.

Chris Mackowski: Before we wrap up, I want to ask one question about something we’ve sort of alluded to a couple times in this conversation, and that’s that stereotype—and I don’t know if it’s true or not—that “women don’t do military history.” Continue reading

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Week In Review: March 16-22, 2020

It’s been a full week of posting on the ECW blog. (We even had four posts in one day!) Be safe and stay well and join us for good history as a distraction from the news outside. Continue reading

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Bucklin’s In Hospital & Camp: “I stood alone in the city of strangers” (Part 1)

In Hospital and Camp, A Woman’s Record of Thrilling Incidents Among the Wounded in the Late War by Sophronia E. Bucklin

So…I decided to read Sophronia E. Bucklin’s memoir over the next few weeks. If you want to get the free e-book and join me for a read-along, we’ll read two chapters each week, and on Sunday mornings, I’ll post my “scrapbook” of notes, relevant photos, and quotes that seemed particularly insightful. Continue reading

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