Last chance to get those Symposium tickets--while supplies last!
From the Editor
A fox darted across the road in front of us. My wife, a big animal lover, gasped and smiled. “They’re such beautiful creatures,” she said, noticeable awe in her voice.
We were walking along Furnace Road on the Chancellorsville battlefield, pushing a baby stroller with our four-month old in it. On most evenings, we park near the Lee-Jackson Bivouac Site, which is just down the road from where we live, and we walk along Furnace Road toward the Matthew Maury homestead site. Other nights, we park at the Maury site and walk past the break in the trees that gave away Stonewall Jackson's men as they began their famous flank march, then down toward Catharine’s Furnace. That route has a long, gentle downward slope toward the bottomlands around Lewis Run; on the way back to the car, I refer to that incline as “Heartbreak Hill.”
We often see deer in the forest around us, and squirrels scamper up and down tree trunks and jump from branch to branch. In the evenings, the chorus of insects ripples back and forth like waves. I often think of my friend Gregg Kneipp, the natural resources manager for Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, who gifted me with an important insight one day:
these battlefields are also vibrant ecosystems
Our son Max watches everything with wide-eyed wonder as we walk. He’s a curious baby, and he particularly loves to look at trees, so his eyes constant rove and scan and watch. He takes it all in—even if he doesn’t know what he’s taking in.
I am pleased that he gets to learn to love this battlefield from his earliest days. Perhaps he’ll one day come to appreciate the history here, too, but at the very least, he’ll love this battlefield for its natural beauty. As we all tramp the fields, following the stories we love, it’s good to remember that the battlefields have so much more to offer if we just take the time to see.
-- Chris Mackowski
Just in case you don't have the details memorized by now:
- Theme: "Great Defenses of the Civil War"
- Keynote: Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan
- Speakers: nine of 'em plus the keynote
- Sunday Tour: Brandy Station with Eric Wittenberg and Dan Davis
10 Questions with . . . Julie Mujic
Aside from her blog posts at ECW, Julie Mujic serves on the editorial board of our collaboration with Southern Illinois University Press, the “Engaging the Civil War” Series. Check out her full bio here.
How did you find your way into the Civil War? What’s your “origin story”?
I think I came to history because I was raised in a family with 8 grandparents and 4 great-grandparents and no cousins my own age. I was always hanging around older people who had lived very interesting lives, and I enjoyed hearing their stories. I originally majored in business in undergrad, but when I decided to go to grad school, I was debating between Civil War and Soviet Union history. I seemed to alternate between reading books on both topics. Honestly, I think the realization that studying the Soviet Union would require long research trips in Russia (when I was newly married) pushed me toward the Civil War, but I have never regretted that choice. I love that the Civil War is when the Midwest came into its own, when it realized its potential importance to the nation.
You recently relocated from New England to central Ohio. What are you doing out there in the Buckeye State to get your Civil War fix?
Our new home rocks. I am very happy to be here. I’ve been to the archives at Ohio History Connection for research, and I taught Ohio History for the first time last fall. I am excited to be back in the Midwest because I can reach so many key Civil War sites from here. I’m heading to Harpers Ferry next week (again!), and I’m making plans for a trip to Fort Donelson National Battlefield soon. Otherwise, I am continuing to read, research, publish, and attend conferences. I’m also listed on
the ECW Speakers Bureau brochure
, and I will be presenting on Civil War loyalty at the Mahoning Valley Civil War Round Table in Northeastern Ohio this fall. There is a lot to do from this vantage point!
You keep yourself pretty involved in the Civil War’s scholarly circles. What does that typically involve for you?
I am a member of several organizations, but I spend most of my time focused on the Society of Civil War Historians and the Southern Historical Association. I am trying to get more involved now in the new Midwestern History Association, but it has been tough to find time. It is on my radar, though. I present at conferences regularly in order to share my research and receive feedback on ideas, and I attend conferences even when I am not presenting. This is important as networking and socializing are key to getting to know who is doing what and how I can contribute, and that has opened many doors to new and exciting projects. I am thrilled that I will be on the Program Committee for the 2018 Annual Meeting for the SCWH that will be held in Pittsburgh next year.
Last summer, during ECW’s “The Future of Civil War History” series, you said, “Civil War historians in the coming generations need to learn to teach outside of the classroom” and “find ways to pepper ordinary daily experiences with historical context and, in that way, become teachers to a broader American public.” What are ways you’ve put that into practice?
Civil War historians often only talk to each other. There is a broad gap in communication between academic Civil War historians and history buffs. This gap is evident in book sales, conference participation, and at reenactments. Since the election, historians of all genres have become much more vocal about the connections between today’s events and the past. Civil War historians have participated much more than they have before, but still it seems we struggle to figure out how to express why what we study is relevant today. Historians will argue that the Civil Rights Movement began with the Civil War and they will talk about the links between Reconstruction and the racial issues in today’s societies—but those conversations happen too often in a conference room or across drinks. I don’t think enough of our books or lectures or op-eds take Americans back to the Civil War as a key piece of evidence in understanding how we have arrived at our current circumstances. There has definitely been improvement lately, but we have a long way to go. I don’t think I have figured it out yet myself. I have been publishing blog posts about history and politics on a number of websites, but I still struggle to find a voice that I feel is the most appropriate for this situation. I want to figure out how to make Americans appreciate the war as something other than a novel fascination.
You recently posted about your experience as a freelance book indexer. What’s fun about that job for you?
I am really enjoying it. I like that I get to see new scholarship before it is out, and it keeps me focused on new trends in the field. I like that it is detail-oriented, and I don’t mind the minute triple-checking that it requires. I’ve created a process for myself, and I continue to refine it with each project. I like that the work is independent and yet I get to collaborate with the author. But, most of all, I think I enjoy that my completion of it brings joy (and relief) to authors who did not want to do the index themselves. Index creation has an awful reputation—authors dread it most of the time. So in a way, it lends itself to my “helper/fixer” nature.
Lighting round (short answers):
Who’s the most overrated person of the Civil War era?
Robert E. Lee
What’s your favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
I don’t have one yet—I have only been to Vegas in that region!
What’s your favorite regiment?
Right now I am interested in the 126th New York.
What’s one Civil War book you would recommend as indispensable?
by Stephanie McCurry
What’s one question about the Civil War no one’s asked you but you wish they would?
What happened to families of deserters when they never came home again?
Behind the Scenes
Dwight Hughes on
What the Editorial Board Looks for When It Evaluates Guest Posts
The Emerging Civil War editorial board reviews proposed blog posts from guest authors. As a member of that board, I apply the same criteria I seek to achieve in my own writing: quality, substance, and style.
Quality, also called mechanical editing, is the easy part. We catch spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Although most submissions are well written, all writers benefit from external reviews. This calls for attention to detail, but consistency in quality promotes readability and the respect of readers.
Concerning substance or content editing: ECW is a history forum, which requires accuracy of verified information from reliable sources, logical deductions, and clean delineation between the known and the deduced. History also demands clarity of context; human nature doesn’t change but circumstances do.
People and events can be judged within their historical framework, within our contemporary framework, and/or in consideration of timeless values. These contextual frameworks frequently differ. It is incumbent on the historian to be unambiguous concerning them because conclusions might deviate significantly.
Evaluation of style is more subjective. One of my favorite actors, Russel Crowe, said that he is primarily a storyteller; to tell good stories is most important. ECW is a public history platform, its mission to attract, entertain, and thereby inform the widest possible audience. Historical knowledge and understanding—too often lacking in the public—are crucial to good citizenship and to maintaining fundamental values of this nation.
Therefore, public historians also must be good storytellers applying the best narrative techniques (character, dialog, setting, plot, viewpoint, beginning, transitions, ending) to verified information and responsible analysis. Other goals include clarity, concision, tone, cadence, and flow. I make suggestions for improvement in these subjects while respecting the author’s uniqueness of style.
Quality, substance, and style. Finally, editorial review is a two-way street. I look for good technique and turn of phrase to inspire my own writing and often find them.
News & Notes
Sarah Kay Bierle has been traveling in the southwest. Between learning about a Union veteran who explored the Colorado River and studying a 600-page biography on John C. Breckinridge, she's explored WWII and Vietnam Conflict history at the U. S. Air Force Academy. While there, she hiked to Eagles Peak, which stands about 2,000 feet above the Academy!
will travel to North Carolina next month as he participates in Fort Fisher's
Beat the Heat
summer lecture series. Bert will be speaking on Saturday, August 29. You can find more information on the lecture series, Fort Fisher, and Bert's presentation
Dwight Hughes continues to wow audiences with his depth of knowledge and spirited presentations on the CSS
Shenandoah. He recently traveled to the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, where he spoke on the topic to the Richmond Civil War Round Table, who "were blown away by [his] expert use of graphics...and the [stories of the] men who sailed in her."
Kevin Pawlak is not only working on his upcoming ECW release about the Maryland Campaign (co-written with
Rob Orrison) but also has recently become editor of the Civil War Regiments series. Look for the inaugural release of the revived series soon.
On July 1, Ryan Quint offered a tour of Civil War sites in downtown Frederick, Maryland, for the Museum of Civil War Medicine.
Over the Gettysburg anniversary, several ECW historians sat on a panel about the future of Civil War scholarship and the current state of Civil War history. The panel consisted of
Dan Davis, Dwight Hughes, Ryan Quint, and
Chris Mackowski moderated. The panel was filmed by CSPAN. Look for future updates for its airdate.
ECW Author Launches Freelance Indexing Business
Are your page proofs arriving soon and you do not have the time or desire to create your own index? Contact ECW’s own
Julie Mujic! Julie contributes to the ECW blog and also sits on the Editorial Board for the “Engaging the Civil War” book series with SIU Press. She earned her Ph.D. in History from Kent State University in 2012 and currently teaches at Capital University.
Julie recently began soliciting indexing work and has already completed index projects for historians such as David Blight, Jim Downs, and Ryan Keating. She has competitive rates, detail-oriented service, and guarantees completion in a timely manner. Email Julie at
email@example.com for more information.
Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge
“Great Defenses of the Civil War”
Bert Dunkerly, Pamplin Historical Park, Petersburg, VA
Dave Powell, “The Battle of Chickamauga,” Bull Run Civil War Round Table, Manassas, VA
Kristopher D. White, “The Second Day at Gettysburg,” at the
Rappahannock Valley Civil War Roundtable
Steve Davis, “Neither Genius Nor Great: Gen. John B. Hood in 1864,” Civil War Education Association’s Spring Mill Indiana Civil War Symposium, Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell, IN
: Sarah Kay Bierle, Civil War Field Hospital Living History Presentations at Twain Literature Festival, San Diego, CA
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