Saving History Saturday: This Veterans Day, Preserve Their Legacies

Two Union veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic with a Boy Scout at a parade in 1910. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

This Veterans Day in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the National Park Partners and Chattanooga Area Historical Association are hosting a lecture series on the 1889 “Blue and Gray Barbecue” that helped spark the preservation of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. This gathering of veterans in 1889 spearheaded an entire movement to preserve their legacies, stories, and sacrifices for generations to come. While not every one of us can partake in an event in Chattanooga, we can honor veterans in a similar way. Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Preservation | Tagged | Leave a comment

ECW Weekender: Mary Todd Lincoln House (from the archives)

If you follow Civil War related anniversaries on social media, you may have seen the reminder earlier this week marked the anniversary of Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s wedding on November 4, 1842. Here are two 1840’s photos of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd. Continue reading

Posted in ECW Weekender | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Surprises in William Hoffman’s Photo

I’ve been working on Derek Maxfield’s upcoming ECWS book on the prison camp in Elmira New York, Hellmira, and I came across something fun while prepping the photos for layout.

The photo in question: “Washington, D.C. Gen. William Hoffman, Commissary General of Prisoners (at right) and staff on steps of office, F. St. at 20th NW.”

Hoffman and Staff.jpg

Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War | 5 Comments

Bud Robertson: In Memoriam (part one)

Bud Robertson

photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

Like so many Civil War historians of my generation, I first knew James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., as the talking head on Civil War Journal. With his distinctive drawl, the silver-haired Virginia Tech professor lent color and personality to the Arts & Entertainment network documentary series that I consumed each morning before heading off to school. With a glint in his eye, he rehearsed in vivid color the feats of Confederate generals—the same men he brought to life on the page.  

Years later, I got to know and spend some time with “Bud” Robertson.  In 2013, we both spoke at a Civil War symposium in Washington, D.C.  Our host tasked me with reflecting on Civil War memory in light of the ongoing sesquicentennial commemorations.  I dutifully prepared remarks that reflected on the shortcomings of previous anniversaries—completely unaware that Bud, who had served as executive director of the United States Civil War Centennial Commission, would be on the program that afternoon.  To say the least, it was a humbling experience. Yet Bud was amiable and gracious. He was the very picture of a gentleman scholar, and we shared a memorable dinner together that evening.   Continue reading

Posted in Personalities, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

New Market: Lee’s Message to Breckinridge


Today, I’m prepping notes for another Battle of New Market presentation, and as I went through General Lee’s letters to General Breckinridge again, the wording grabbed my attention. Take a look: Continue reading

Posted in Campaigns, Leadership--Confederate | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

ECW Podcast “McClellan’s Last Days in Command” Is Now Available

Union General George McClellan is a controversial figure in Civil War history, and November 5 marked the anniversary of his final removal from command in 1862. He’s been the source of history jokes ever since, but more recently has been getting a leadership re-evaluation.

In the newest (and awaited) episode of the Emerging Civil War Podcast, Kevin Pawlak and Chris Mackowski talk about McClellan’s last weeks in command. They also tackle the question: Who was George McClellan’s toughest enemy? Robert E. Lee? Abraham Lincoln? Himself? Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Federal, Podcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

ECW on C-SPAN: Secessionville

Welch Symposium 2019“American History TV” on C-SPAN 3 continues its coverage of the Sixth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge this weekend.

Dan Welch spoke about the “forgotten battle” of Secessionville. His talk debuts this weekend at 6 p.m. ET this Saturday and re-airs at 1:55 a.m. Sunday. You’ll then be able to see it online here:

Drew Gruber’s talk on the battle of Williamsburg re-airs Sunday at 10:05 a.m. ET. You can find that online here:


Posted in Symposium | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

November 1862 in Fredericksburg: “Continued reports of the enemy approaching”

A couple mornings ago I headed into historic downtown Fredericksburg to shoot some photos before the streets got busy. My walk took me toward the city dock which in 1862 became one of the crossing points for Burnside’s Union troops. For the first half of the walk, I kept trying to image the scene in an 1862 historical appearance around the time of the battle – fewer leaves on the trees, colder weather, overcast sky. For the second half of the stroll, I realized it was better to take in the early November scene and know that I can come back to see the area again in December.

Then, I started wondering what the civilians in Fredericksburg thought as the armies gathered near their town in November 1862. I’m familiar with their writings related to the battle, but what about the weeks leading to it. Fortunately, I have my copy of Jane Beale’s journal and I referred to her writings for a reference.

Here’s what she recorded about November 1862, and it’s another fine example of a civilian reporting on military details: Continue reading

Posted in Civilian, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Looking Back…1860’s Politics

As we’re preparing this post, it’s the evening of Election Day, and by tomorrow morning when this post appears, results will be headlining in the newspapers, online, and in social media feeds. 155 years ago citizens of the United States voted in a presidential election during a war. Federal soldiers – including African Americans – got to cast their ballots. We know how that election ended. Abraham Lincoln won a second term, but a term he would barely have begun when the war ended and he was assassinated. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Artillery Manual Coloring Book?

A few weeks ago, I sat in the reading room at The Huntington Library combing through old books on artillery. I’d been through Hunt’s tome on an earlier visit and had started perusing an 1850 manual of similar content, when I made a surprising discovery.

Somebody, a long time ago, used a few of the artillery sketch diagrams for coloring pages! Take a look… Continue reading

Posted in Artillery, Books & Authors | Tagged , , | 5 Comments