Two Union Veterans: The Election of 1880, Part 2

The front door and porch of the Garfield home (NPS)

Part 2 of 2 in a short series. Find Part 1 and details about the presidential candidates here.

During the presidential campaign that followed, both Garfield and Hancock attempted to follow the era’s tradition that candidates did little actual campaigning. The parties did most of the heavy lifting. Garfield remained at home in Mentor, Ohio, where nearly 20,000 people descended on his farm between his nomination in June and the November election. Garfield eventually began giving speeches from the front porch of his home, and today this is considered the first-ever “front porch” presidential campaign. Garfield spoke little about himself; his speeches were mostly about general patriotic themes and the great deeds and history of the Republican Party. He also masterfully tailored his speeches to the groups there to visit him, which included businessmen, ladies’ organizations, first-time voters, German immigrants, African American Civil War veterans, and others. On the Democratic side, Hancock also remained at home for most of the campaign. As commander of the U.S. Army’s Division of the Atlantic, his home was on Governor’s Island in New York City. Reporters and others made their way as well, though not in the same numbers that traveled to Garfield’s home in Ohio.  Continue reading

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ECW Podcast “The Last Road and New Co-Host” Is Now Available

It’s the first ECW Podcast of 2019!

We’re welcoming a new co-host on the podcast and talking about one of the most studied campaigns of the Civil War.

Join Chris Mackowski for a conversation with ECW’s Dan Welch, co-author of “The Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign” and a new co-host of the Emerging Civil War podcast. Find this latest podcast exclusively on the Patreon platform. Continue reading

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Two Union Veterans: The Election of 1880, Part 1

1880 Republican Poster with Garfield and Arthur

Ever heard the old joke that in order to be President of the United States after the Civil War, you only needed to be Republican, be a Union veteran, and have a beard? You can be forgiven for thinking it might be true. After all, look at the post-war presidents: Ulysses S. Grant (bearded Republican veteran); Rutherford B. Hayes (bearded Republican veteran); James A. Garfield (bearded Republican veteran); and Chester A. Arthur (mutton-chopped Republican veteran; still counts).

The country detoured to Grover Cleveland from 1885-89, who had the nerve to wear just a mustache AND be a Democrat. Cleveland was also not a veteran: he paid a substitute to take his place in the Union ranks during the Civil War. Bearded Republican veteran Benjamin Harrison ousted Cleveland and served 1889-93, only to lose his reelection bid in 1892 to… Grover Cleveland. We finished out the century with William McKinley, who was a Republican and a Union veteran but was also clean-shaven. McKinley was the last Civil War veteran to be president. Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 1/7-1/13/18

It’s a new year…so what’s on your 2019 Civil War History bucket list?

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Week In Review: December 30, 2018 – January 6, 2019

Happy New Year! What a week as we finished our Year in Review with the final countdown to the #1 most read blog post of 2018 and kicked off 2019 with a wonderful week of blog posts on a variety of topics.

We’ve got maritime history, thoughts on the Emancipation Proclamation, a crime story, tour notes, stories with Mark Twain, a movie night selection…and more. As usual, all the links are below, and we invite you to enjoy this week in review. Continue reading

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Reconsidering “Gettysburg”

Gettysburg movie poster (IMDB)

ECW welcomes guest author Tom McMillan

I was at a movie theatre in suburban Pittsburgh on an otherwise forgettable rainy Tuesday night in the fall of 1993.

“I left my spectacles over there,” General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army said to his ranking subordinate, James Longstreet, as they pored over a map of Pennsylvania, anxiously plotting strategy for their great invasion of the North. “What is the name of this town?”

I knew the answer but leaned forward anyway in anticipation.

“Gettysburg,” Longstreet said. Continue reading

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Preservation News: South Mountain Battlefield at the Center of Controversial Proposal

On September 14, 1862, portions of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia dueled for possession of three passes through South Mountain in Maryland. A Federal victory, both sides together lost around five thousand casualties in the battle that precluded the single bloodiest day in American history: Antietam. Today, the battlefield sits on land owned and preserved by the State of Maryland. However, that may change.

The War Correspondents Memorial sits in Crampton’s Gap at Gathland State Park and South Mountain Battlefield. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

The Washington Redskins of the National Football League hope to build a new stadium in Prince George’s County, Maryland along the Potomac River. Sadly, the land they hope to develop is currently under control of the U.S. Department of the Interior as Oxon Cove Park.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Oxon Cove not only includes the early-19th century Flemish and Italianate Mount Welby home, it also has many historic structures and equipment that tell the history of farming and medicine in the United States. The park is also notable for its natural resources and wildlife. Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: Looking for a Civil War Museum in New York?

Since the wintry weather continues for a few more months, we thought we’d kick off 2019’s weekender posts with a feature from the ECW Archives.

Echoes Through Time Learning Center in Springville, New York, offers a hands-on look at Civil War history, and it’s definitely a site you’ll want to check out. Continue reading

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Twain, the War and Life on the Mississippi

Grant-MemoirWritingFor Civil War News I recently wrote a piece on how Ulysses S. Grant managed to finish his Personal Memoirs just before his death in 1885. My article proved so long that CWN Publisher Jack Melton split it for two issues (December 2018 and January 2019).

My good friend Chris Mackowski asked how, with my “Southern sensibilities,” I chose to write about the general who had arguably brought about Union victory. Continue reading

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January-February 2019 Presentations


8th: Chris Kolakowski, “MacArthur and the Remaking of Asia after WWII,” Kempsville Lodge, Virginia Beach, VA

9th: Chris Mackowski, “Strike Them a Blow: Battle Along the North Anna River,” Central Rappahannock Regional Library, Porter Branch, Stafford, VA

10th: Chris Mackowski, “Second-Guessing Richard Ewell,” Montgomery County (MD) Civil War Roundtable Continue reading

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