Longstreet goes West, Part One: Machiavellian or Misunderstood?

Longstreet PortraitConfederate General James Longstreet remains one of the war’s most controversial figures. Detractors see him as a scheming subordinate whose ambition overreached his talents; supporters hail him as a clear-sighted realist who understood the changes in warfare better than most of his contemporaries, and who tried to change with the times.

Short of Gettysburg, no aspect of Longstreet’s Civil War career stirs more controversy than his trip west to reinforce the Army of Tennessee in September, 1863. Was this venture a duplicitous effort to get out from Robert E. Lee’s thumb, undermine Braxton Bragg’s command of that army, and at last let Longstreet take his rightful place in the sun? Or was it a trip motivated by the increasingly disastrous course of the war in the West, a feeling that no matter how well the South did in Virginia, the war was not being won in the Old Dominion State? Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Memory, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

“A Twitter Feed” of the Civil War–What Historians Really Do, Part 2

la-1471386823-snap-photoSometimes things just fall into our laps, and sometimes we have to break down walls just for the chance to be turned away.  This opportunity is one of the former, and a beautiful opportunity it is! Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Campaigns, Civil War in Pop Culture, Emerging Civil War, Internet, Websites & Blogs, Leadership--Federal, Lincoln, Personalities, Preservation | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Question of the Week: 8/22-8/28/16

Question-HeaderIf you could receive a personal letter from a historical person in the Civil War era, who would you like to receive one from?

Posted in Emerging Civil War, Personalities, Question of the Week | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

ECW Weekender: Judah P. Benjamin at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, Florida

ECW Weekender-Header

Tucked away, approximately 40 miles south of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, is the last surviving plantation house in South Florida. Situated near Ellenton, Florida, in May1865, the former Confederate political official found temporary refuge here as he eluded Federal authorities.

IMG_0484Major Robert Gamble, Jr. established his sugar plantation along the Manatee River, a far cry from many a plantation home of like character in the Deep South. Six years later work was completed on his mansion home. Gamble would own the home and the subsequent 3,500 acres until 1859, when he had to sell it to honor debts. Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Memory, Monuments, Preservation | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“And now I am going to tell you what I think about soldiering”

Sheldon-No Time for ProofreadingFrom my ancestor, Sheldon S. Appleby—the letter that began my hunt earlier this week for information about a Civil War ancestor I didn’t know I had.

Suffolk, V.A.
Feb. 6th 1863

Dear Father and Mother, Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Personalities | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Picketing the Army of the Potomac’s Winter Encampment: Union Cavalry at Lamb’s Creek Church

Lamb's Creek Church

Lamb’s Creek Church

Following the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 and the failure of Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s “Mud March”, the Army of the Potomac established winter quarters in Stafford County. Responsibility for guarding the approaches fell to the Union cavalry. Picket lines were established from Dumfries south to the hamlet of Falmouth and then west to the vicinity of Hartwood Church. East of Falmouth it continued into King George County, where  the Federals used Lamb’s Creek Church as an outpost. This position allowed them to patrol south toward the Rappahannock or farther east to King George Courthouse.



Continue reading

Posted in Armies, Campaigns, Cavalry, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Sheldon Appleby

Sheldon Appleby signatureI know Sheldon and Mary Appleby only through their handwriting and by their daughter, Nell—my great-great-grandmother, “Grandma Nellie,” whom I know, in turn, only by name. The handwriting I know Sheldon by isn’t even his own—not really, anyway. Rather, it’s a photocopy of a photocopy (perhaps of a photocopy). That’s how tenuous my connection is to Sheldon and Mary, my great-great-great grandparents.

Shelton served in the 85th N.Y. Volunteers, but until last spring, I never even knew he existed. A great aunt on my mother’s side—the last surviving member of her generation in my family—sent to me a letter Sheldon had written from Suffolk, Virginia, on February 6, 1863, to his parents.

“I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines and let you know that I am well,” he assures them in a hand loopier and less spidery than much of the handwriting of the period. After a couple pages of chitchat, he signs off cheerily: “I hain’t got time to read this over and you must excuse the mistakes as usual.” Continue reading

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Announcing the Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge

All of us at Emerging Civil War are proud to announce the speaker lineup for our Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge (August 4-6, 2017).

This year’s theme is “Great Defenses of the Civil War.

Speaker Line-Up:

Our outstanding line-up of speakers includes:

Matt Atkinson (Ranger-Gettysburg National Military Park) the Confederate Defense of Vicksburg.

Chris Kolakowski (Director of General Douglas MacArthur Memorial) “I Will Die Right Here.” The Army of the Cumberland at Stones River.

Dr. Chris Mackowski (Co-Founder ECW) “Strike Them a Blow!” Lee’s Defense of the North Anna River.

Dr. Kelly Mezurek (Walsh University) an examination of the United States Colored Troops

Kevin Pawlak (Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam) will discuss the Confederate defense of the Bloody Lane at Antietam. Continue reading

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Fredericksburg, My Favorite City in Virginia (part five)

part five of five

At our first Trail to Freedom symposium, I met my future wife, Malanna Carey, who stayed in touch with me after the event. She wanted me to speak about the USCT at her church, St. George’s Episcopal Church. I had been an Episcopalian for more than 45 years in Washington, D.C., so I was happy to do it.

At one event, Denise Benedetto, Chairwoman of the Trail to Freedom Committee, said she felt so much electricity between Malanna and me that she told some of the members of Women of the Civil War group that there was a great attraction between the two of us. When Malanna and I started dating, Denise told us at a meeting of the Trail to Freedom committee that her instincts were correct: she knew that Malanna and I would get together. Malanna joined Women of the Civil War, too. Their group and the 23rd soon participated at an event honoring the 150th anniversary of the contraband and military camp at Yorktown. Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Civilian, Holidays, USCT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

ECW Honors Ted Alexander

Alexander PlaqueAs part of Emerging Civil War’s fifth anniversary commemoration, we are pleased to inaugurate a new annual award: The Emerging Civil War Award for Service in Civil War Public History. This year’s recipient is Ted Alexander, former historian at Antietam National Battlefield and longtime director of the Chambersburg Civil War Seminar.

The Emerging Civil War Award for Service in Civil War Public History recognizes the work of an individual or organization who has made a significant impact on the field of public history in a way that better helps the general public connect with America’s defining event.

“We have a strong public history mission at ECW, and we want to recognize—and offer our gratitude to—the work of others who share that same mission,” explains ECW Editor in Chief Chris Mackowski. “Few people can boast the kind of double-impact Ted Alexander has had at both Antietam and at Chambersburg.” Continue reading

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