ECW5: Kris White


I’m very proud of what the ECW family has accomplished in five short years: multiple books series, an annual symposium, and our speakers bureau, just to name a few.

But for all that we have done, my favorite memory comes from the Saturday evening after our first symposium. That night, the ECW family was together in one place for the first time. We had really accomplished a great deal up to that point, and the symposium had come off smoothly and successfully. We were all pumped and riding a high. We had a lot of celebrate.

I also think back to the day I pitched the ECW Series to Ted. Chris and I had been working with him on our first “big book,” Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front. Beyond that, he didn’t know us all that well, but he said the blog—just a little over a year old by that point—had already raised enough eyebrows that we had something good going on. He even surprised us by saying that he wanted to name the series after the blog because he thought we were well-branded on line and he wanted to build on that. It was a watershed moment for us.

Finally, I’m always drawn back to the night we started it all on the front porch of the caretaker’s house at the Jackson Shrine: just three friends in it all for the love of the game.

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Question of the Week: 9/19-9/25/16

Question-HeaderDo you have a favorite battlefield monument? Why is it special to you?

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Check Out Dave Powell’s Chickamauga Blog

chickamauga-blogAs you might know, ECW’s Dave Powell has a well-respected blog of his own, Chickamauga Blog. The main focus of the blog, as you might imagine, covers the events and characters associated with the September 1863 battle of Chickamauga. However, the blog also recounts Dave’s personal adventures as a Civil War historian, too.

If you don’t read along, you should. Dave is one of the most insightful historians we know, and you’re bound to learn something new about the war by reading his stuff.

A couple recent highlights: Continue reading

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ECW Symposium on C-SPAN tonight!

C-SPAN 3 begins airing its coverage of the Third Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge tonight. Tune in at 6:00 p.m. for Dave Powell’s talk on Civil War tactics. Here’s a preview, courtesy of C-SPAN:

C-SPAN says it plans to air subsequent speakers at the same time, week after week, through October. Of course, the political season may interrupt that schedule. During the Congressional recess, C-SPAN will look to group them together in bunches for additional airings. We’ll keep you posted!

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The Fog of War–When Modern Weather Gives Us a History Lesson

Col. Lonsdale Hale first coined the now oft-used phrase “fog of war” in 1896.  He termed it as “the state of ignorance in which commanders frequently find themselves as regards the real strength and position, not only of their foes, but also of their friends.”  Hale meant this figuratively, but there are times in war when its fog literally masks the reality of the moment.

The hills and fields on either side of Antietam Creek seem to find themselves in their own microclimate.  Living across the street from the battlefield, I cannot help but notice it.  The incredible part of it all is that still over 150 years after the fighting at Sharpsburg, this unique climate will give you a glimpse into the past.

Take, for example, the morning of September 16, 1862.  Portions of both opposing armies were coming together on either side of the Antietam Creek, ready for whatever might come next.  Army of the Potomac commander George McClellan was confident his army had dealt the enemy a severe defeat just two days prior on the slopes of South Mountain, and he sought to finish the job.  Then entered the (literal) fog of war.

Soldiers from both sides awoke on September 16 to a view that must have looked very similar to what I saw out my front door at 6:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m. in 1862 time) on September 10, 2016: fog-630-am This view typically yields a glimpse of the Piper Farm, a mere quarter of a mile away, as well as the observation tower at the Sunken Road, an additional four-tenths of a mile beyond that.  As you can see, no Piper Farm to speak of in the above picture. Continue reading

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ECW5: Bert Dunkerly


by Bert Dunkerly

Sometimes the best thing is saved for last. You’ll see what I mean. Continue reading

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“An Especial Prize to the Boys:” Union Soldiers and the Illustrated News (Part 2)

This is the second of two posts regarding the relationship between Union soldiers and the emerging illustrated press during the Civil War. Part 1 may be found here.

Soldiers were evidently grateful to receive the illustrated weeklies. Albert O. Marshall of the 33rd Illinois noted the receipt of a “neat box… full of Harper’s and other good and instructive magazines” from the Rockford Female Seminary. The act was described as “true, unassuming kindness… [which] will always be remembered.”[i] Whilst in camp at Whites Ford, Maryland, William Wirt Henry, an officer in the 10th Vermont Infantry, told his wife Mary Jane to ask “King Brown [that] if he has any old pictoral papers… he might put them in to fill the box.” He noted: “we always turn over all the papers and Magazines we officers buy, after reading them to the sick boys in the Hospital, and they are very thankful for them.”[ii] The pictures allowed soldiers to better comprehend and represent their circumstances, providing them a lens through which to observe events otherwise invisible to them.

In recanting their experiences to the home-circle, the pictorial papers provided a visual accompaniment to their textual accounts. Franz Wilhelm von Schilling of the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery wrote to a friend of the innovative “revolving tower[s]” being utilised in naval combat in the war. He accompanied the letter with a personal sketch based upon an image from “an illustrated newspaper showing these vessels in fight against Charlestown and Fort Sumter.”[iii] In 1863, from Morris Island, South Carolina, Alvin Coe Voris wrote of the sight of Fort Sumter. Confident that his wife had been familiar with the images reproduced in the newspapers, he wrote “Sumter looks like a vast pile of ruins – not unlike the views given in the illustrated papers.”[iv] Others applauded the sketch artists for their illustrations in their letters home, George Oscar French wrote to his friends at home in June 1864: Continue reading

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Longstreet goes West, part five: Davis hurries West


Confederate President Jefferson Davis

President Jefferson Davis departed Richmond on the morning of October 6, headed to Atlanta. James Chesnut’s urgent appeal had borne fruit; Davis boarded and early morning train, passing through Petersburg by 8:30 a.m. He made short speeches at stops along the way, at Weldon and Wilson, North Carolina. He was accompanied two aides, William Preston Johnston (son of Albert Sidney Johnston, his godfather and namesake, William Preston, was one of those who signed the petition against Bragg) and G. W. C. Lee. Davis also brought with him Lieut. Gen. John C. Pemberton, the man who surrendered Vicksburg. Davis hadn’t lost faith in Pemberton, and hoped to find that officer a command in Bragg’s army. Continue reading

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ECW5: Dan Davis


Vicks-ArchIf I had to choose one memory (although there are a bunch I could have gone with) it is the Western Tour that Chris Mackowski and I did last May/June. Continue reading

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Now Available: The Third Installment of Dave Powell’s Epic Chickamauga Study

Microsoft Word - Powell New Title Press Release_August 2016.docCongratulations to ECW’s Dave Powell on the release of the third and final volume in his magnificent Chickamauga trilogy, The Chickamauga Campaign—Barren Victory: The Retreat into Chattanooga, the Confederate Pursuit, and the Aftermath of the Battle, September 21 to October 20, 1863.

“The book concludes this comprehensive examination, more than a decade in the making, of one of the most important and complex military operations of the Civil War,” according to a release from publisher Savas Beatie. Continue reading

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