Saving History Saturday: Tennessee Battlefields Receive Grants For Preservation

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A Conversation with Carol Reardon (part five)

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Reardon Field Guides(part five of a series)

To help commemorate Women’s History Month, I’m talking this week with Carol Reardon, one of the profession’s great public historians. Although she’s had an illustrious academic career, she mentioned yesterday how important it is to her to get out onto the battlefields. To me, that’s one of the things I’ve found so wonderful about working with Carol: not only her deep interest in being on the battlefields, but helping people connect with the battlefields. She’s written tour guides, given public programs and tours conducted staff rides—there’s a whole huge component about helping people connect.

Carol Reardon: That was a conscious decision on my part. You know the academic world, and you know what a department expects you to do, and you know what annual evaluations are like. If I had tried to do the field guides early in my career, I probably would never have gotten tenure or a promotion. Those field guides were not part of a plan. They were a fortuitous accident. Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: Museum of the Middle Appalachians (Saltville, Part 1)

Please note: travel is not advised at this time due to COVID19, but we want to continue sharing weekender trips to give ideas of places to visit in the future.

If you take Exit 29 or 35 off Interstate 81 in southwest Virginia, you can drive the winding mountain road to Saltville. This historic community nestles between mountains and gets its name from the salt flats in this unique Appalachian area.

Starting at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians is a great introduction to the area and its history and when I visited in 2019, I was thrilled to chat with the museum’s volunteers who have a wealth of local stories about the town’s history and Civil War connection. Located in the downtown area and clearly marked with signs, this small museum has wonderful exhibits and interactive displays. Continue reading

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The Unending War for Ten Union Generals

In a blog post published last July about Brigadier General Thomas W. Egan, I stressed how countless disabled Civil War veterans endured decades of chronic pain and emotional distress long after the guns of the Civil War fell silent. In her groundbreaking book Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North (2019), Dr. Sarah Handley-Cousins used Union Major General Joshua L. Chamberlain – among many others – as an example of a high-ranking officer who suffered non-visible disabilities (not easy to spot with the naked eye, like amputees) that physically and emotionally tormented him for years after the Civil War. An infection ultimately took his life 50 years after being wounded.[1] Continue reading

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A Conversation with Carol Reardon (part four)

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(part four in a series)

I’m speaking this week with historian Carol Reardon, who mentioned a few of her role models earlier in the conversation: Jay Luvaas, Charles Roland, and George C. Herring. “[T]hey provided me with a template of different things that I want to think about doing in my professional life,” Carol told me. I asked her to elaborate.

Carol Reardon: First thing they did, of course, was they made sure I met all the standards of the profession. I mean, they were tough. I can’t say I really minded. I mean, that’s why I wanted them. So they put me on the path to being as good a historian as I could possibly make myself into.

Chris Mackowski: They delivered.

Carol: They did. No question about it. Continue reading

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Civil War Nurse’s Book available for FREE!

Got internet? Then you’ve got access to a Free E-Book via Google books and just in time for Women’s History Month. Continue reading

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Second Saturday Lecture Series: An Interview With Diane Klinefelter

Even though I spent several years living and working in Pittsburgh it always feels something like going behind enemy lines each time I visit. I had the good fortune to be raised in a strong Cleveland sports household and proudly wear my Cleveland Browns fandom on my sleeve, which can be downright dangerous in the city of our divisional rivals. Even still I am lucky to live just a short drive from all Pittsburgh has to offer, including what I consider the hidden gem of Civil War destinations, located in the Pittsburgh bedroom-community of Carnegie. Continue reading

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A Conversation with Carol Reardon (part three)

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(part three of a series)

To help commemorate Women’s History Month, I’m talking this week with Carol Reardon, one of the most recognizable women working in military history today. Yesterday, Carol talked about her work not only as a Civil War historian but also as a historian of the Vietnam War (check out her book Launch the Intruders). At the end of the segment, she recounted a story about a time she withheld a name during one of her writing projects.

Chris Mackowski: I want to circle back to that for a moment because it touches on something a lot of people don’t necessarily think about when they think about what we do as historians. There’s an ethical component about what you’re doing and the choices you have to make. How do you see that tying into your work as a historian in general?

Carol Reardon: It’s funny: I just told my class within the last few weeks that our integrity is one of the hallmarks of what we do. Without it, we become poor historians. We make ourselves irrelevant. We do a disservice to our profession. Continue reading

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Drewry’s Bluff: Victory Without Satisfaction

Few campaigns in the American Civil War seemed to hold as much potential as Benjamin Butler’s Bermuda Hundred landings. Butler was expected to threaten and if possible capture Richmond, the long sought brass ring in the Eastern Theater. He could at least tie up forces that would otherwise reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia as it grappled with Ulysses S. Grant and George Meade’s Army of the Potomac further north

Benjamin Butler

That is at least how it appeared on the surface. Butler had over 30,000 troops in the Army of the James and the support of a large array of warships. Yet, the Army of the James suffered from severe deficiencies. His corps commanders were Quincy Gillmore and William Smith, superb engineers but mediocre tacticians with a penchant for dissension. The division commanders were veterans, but many brigades were led by amateurs and the regiments were more experienced at garrison work and raiding instead of combat. Then there was Butler himself, timid and relatively inexperienced. His only great strength as a military commander was in administration. Continue reading

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Symposium Spotlight: Leonidas Polk

Leonidas Polk

Welcome back to another installment of our 2020 Emerging Civil War Spotlight series. Each week we have introduced you to another preview of our outstanding presentations that will be shared at the Seventh Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium August 7-9, 2020. Today we look at Dave Powell’s topic in our Fallen Leaders theme, Leonidas Polk.

Braxton Bragg’s controversial tenure as head of the Army of Tennessee was marked by conflicts with a number of his subordinates. No relationship was more contentious than the one he had with Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk. Polk, however, who maintained a firm friendship with his old West Point classmate, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, remained largely immune from Bragg’s efforts to replace him. Even when Bragg managed to oust Polk in the fall of 1863, Polk returned to the army after Bragg’s own ignominious departure in December. Continue reading

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