Vol. 1, No. 9  | February 2017
Emerging Civil War  ·  February 2017
From the Editor  ·  Behind the Scenes  · 10 Questions  ·  News & Notes
From the Editor . . .

Few things give a man pause to reflect on life more than becoming a father.

I’ve been blessed thus twice already. I have a 23-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son. I have always lived a creative life, but my two children remain my greatest achievements.

In a few weeks, I will be privileged to experience that miracle again. I’m a much older father this time around, but I’m no less excited than a six-year-old waiting for Christmas. People ask me if I’m ready, as though they’re warning me, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

But I think of that, too, in the most somber of ways. I spend my days writing about sons and fathers and brothers and friends who were all getting shot at. Certainly they were all doing their fair share of shooting, too. I also think of all the fathers back at home, thinking of their sons on the battlefield. And I think, too, of our own troubled times and, yes, I do worry. I worry for my 17-year-old son, and I worry for the son who’ll be coming into the world in just a few weeks.

There is much joy in the world, too, and much goodness. They are easy to see if you just look for them. Fewer things give a man better reason to do so than becoming a father. Suddenly, the best thing in the world is right there in front of you.

— Chris Mackowski
Behind the Scenes: ECW's 2017 Retreat
For as much as the internet connects the world, it can also be extremely isolating. Since Emerging Civil War is an internet-based community of historians, we try to be conscious of that double-edged sword we wield. For that reason, we try a couple times a year to get together for a little “face time.” Our biggest opportunity comes each August at the Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge. However, around this time each year, we’ve also tried to get together for a day-long retreat.

We held this year’s retreat on February 18 at the Riddick House at Stevenson Ridge in Spotsylvania. Phill Greenwalt got the award for “furthest traveled,” making the hike from the Everglades. Hannah Gordon came down from Buffalo. Sarah Bierle Skyped in from California (one of the upsides of technology!). All told, a dozen of us gathered together for a great day of professional development, workshops, and strategic planning. Best of all, we shared some great camaraderie.

We have a lot of great projects in the works (I know, I know—we’re always saying that, but it’s always true!). Stay tuned for details about upcoming releases in the Emerging Civil War Series for 2017, the launch of our new Emerging Revolutionary War Series, the premier of our first book in our “Engaging the Civil War” Series with Southern Illinois University Press, plus the next round of releases in our Emerging Civil War Digital Shorts. We’ll have more things for you to read than you can shake a stick at!

The blog remains the foundation of everything we do, though, and we’re committed to making sure the content remains high-quality, varied, and free. In fact, we spent a good deal of time discussing ways to ensure quality control. We also want to continue our mission to serve as a platform for new, emerging voices in the field, so watch for some fresh new voices in the year ahead.

The best outcome of the retreat, I think, was the reinforcement that Emerging Civil War continues to be a great community to belong to—not just as a community of historians and writers but a community that includes you, too, Faithful Readers. We spend a lot of time talking about our audience and how to best serve you, listen to you, and keep you as a valued part of Emerging Civil War’s ongoing conversation.
Previewing Our Speakers for the
Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge
Beginning in March, we’ll begin spotlighting on our blog the fantastic line-up of speakers we have slated for this year’s Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge.

Our theme is “Great Defense of the Civil War,” and our keynote speaker is Brian Matthew Jordan, finalist for last year’s Pulitzer Prize in history. Brian will speak on the battle of South Mountain—a topic he’s written one book about already, and which he’ll be revisiting in an upcoming volume—featuring tons of new research—in the Emerging Civil War Series.

Tickets for the symposium, which will be held August 4-6, 2017, are only $125. Click here to purchase. For more information, contact mailto:emergingcivilwar@gmail.com.

10 Questions with . . . Ryan T. Quint
Ryan T. Quint, ECW’s book review editor and resident expert on the Mexican-American War, is the author of the newest book in the Emerging Civil War Series, Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864. It’s Ryan’s first book.

What is it about Monocacy that you love so much?
I like small battles with large impacts. Working at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park is an absolute pleasure, but sometimes it's exhausting dealing with these mega-battles with 200,000 people engaged. Monocacy is on a much smaller scale, and that's a nice break. However, I would argue that Monocacy had a larger impact than some of those mega-battles—not just at the FRSNMP, but other large national parks, too. The fact that it's also a battlefield that not too many people have heard of is exciting, too; you get to tell a story that's new to many people. 
Interstate 270 cuts right through the middle of the Monocacy battlefield. How does that impact a visitor’s ability to understand the field?  
Well, the big thing about understanding a battlefield is having the chance to walk the ground. With I-270, you can't follow the exact route of a number of Confederate attacks because they crossed over what today is the interstate. Ccars and trucks screaming through what is prime battlefield shatter the serenity of the park. People will say "How did this happen? How did an interstate get plopped right down in the middle of the battlefield?" But you have to remember that Monocacy wasn't preserved in the 1890s like Gettysburg or Antietam was. Monocacy wasn't created as a park in name until the 1930s; it didn't have funding to start preserving land until the 1970s; its visitor center on the battlefield today wasn't even opened until the early 2000s. So there's a lot of catching up to do on the preservation/interpretive side of things, and I think they're doing a great job. 

Did Ulysses S. Grant give Lew Wallace the shaft?
Oh man, how much time do you have? The convoluted answer is: Yes and No. During the war, after the controversies of the battle of Shiloh, Grant let his staff officers and Henry Halleck do the heavy lifting against Wallace. Grant himself kind of stayed in the shadows of the controversy. And Grant wrote in his memoirs that Wallace's actions at Monocacy changed his mind about Wallace's abilities. But if that were the case, that doesn't make sense because when Grant was asked to write an article for  Battles & Leaders , it was very critical of Wallace on the first day of Shiloh. All kinds of people came to Wallace's aid, including the widow of W.H.L. Wallace (no relation), who explained what W.H.L. and Lew Wallace had planned on the first day of Shiloh. Grant kind of quietly acquiesced. But when it came time to write Grant's memoirs, he was so sick he just kind of copied and pasted his Battles & Leaders  article in, and wrote an endnote explaining, to paraphrase, "I've since learned my take on Lew Wallace on the first day of Shiloh is not correct." But not very many people read the endnote. They just read Grant's main text, where he hammers Wallace. Wallace died almost 20 years after Grant, but still spent most of his life defending himself for his actions. So again, not so much during the war, but definitely after the war. 

You’re also ECW’s book review editor. What do you like about that job?
I like getting my hands on some of the most recent scholarship of the war. There's still all kinds of things to learn, and changing opinions/perspectives. So it's fun to be one of the first people to get to see that new material. 

Have you ever read Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur? What’d you think of it? 
I have. I don't think you can understand Lew Wallace without understanding Ben-Hur. It's a book he wrote trying to answer his own questions about religion and Christianity, and I think that's fascinating. The fact that he wrote it because Robert Ingersoll, a well-known agnostic, kicked his butt in a debate adds another layer that I think is pretty hilarious, actually. Wallace essentially said "Okay, that wasn't fun," and came back with one of the best-selling American novels ever. If you can stick through 1880s prose, I'd definitely recommend it. 

Lightning Round—short answers:
Who’s the most overrated person of the Civil War era?
Stonewall Jackson

What’s your favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
I haven't had a chance to go to any of them. I'd like to make my way to Pea Ridge someday.  

What’s your favorite regiment?
An ancestor of mine was the chaplain and regimental historian of the 2nd Massachusetts, so I'm partial to them. 

What’s one Civil War book you would recommend as indispensable?
James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom  is still the best single book about the Civil War era. 

What’s one question about the Civil War no one’s asked you but you wish they would?
Was the cost of the war worth the outcome?
News & Notes

ECW author Steve Davis, columnist and book review editor for Civil War News, recently scripted a column for the paper titled "The Bell Irvin Wiley Reader." Davis, a student of Dr. Bell Wiley while at Emory, says he sought to express in his column a sense of gratitude and admiration for the historian. For more on Davis’s column about Wiley, click here.

Dwight Hughes recently spent some time with the Fredericksburg Civil War Round Table giving a presentation on the CSS  Shenandoah. “The topic was unique and gave us new information on adventures we rarely explore,” the Roundtable told him. “It was well received and we have had numerous compliments on this program.”  

Kevin Pawlek, Ryan Quint, Dan Welch, and guest ECW blogger Bill Backus recently participated in a panel discussion for the Mosby Heritage Area Association. The panel took place at the historic Unison Methodist Church on the Unison battlefield. They panel was an opportunity for attendees to come and interact and ask questions of the next generation of Civil War historians.

Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness by Chris Mackowski has been selected as a finalist for the Army Historical Foundation’s 2016 Distinguished Writing Award. In addition, Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac’s “Valley Forge” and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union, which Chris co-authored with the later Albert Z. Conner, Jr.,  has been selected as a finalist for the 2017 Richard B. Harwell Award, given by the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta.

In other  Civil War News news, in the March 2017 issue, Jonathan A. Noyalas reviewed Kelly D. Mezurek's work  For Their Cause: The 27th United States Colored TroopsNoyalas, the director of the McCormick Civil War Institute at Shenandoah University, concludes that the “volume does more than breathe life into a once-forgotten regiment; it offers a powerful glimpse into the obstacles confronted, hardships endured, and contributions made by African Americans in our Republic's defining moment.”

Upcoming Events


9th: Chris Kolakowski, “New York City’s Civil War,” Montgomery County Civil War Roundtable, Montgomery County, MD

10th-11th: Dave Powell, Chickamauga Study Group Annual Tour, “Resaca and Chickamauga,” Chickamauga National Park

15th: Chris Kolakowski, “Civil War Echoes in World War I/World War II,” Norfolk County Greys SCV, Virginia Beach, VA

15th: Chris and Jennifer Mackowski are due to have a baby (!)

16th: Chris Kolakowski, “1864: Decision at Sea,” Franklin SCV, Franklin, VA

16th: Bert Dunkerly, “The Seven Days: Savages Station to Malvern Hill,” Chesapeake Civil War Round Table (MD)

18th: Second Bi-Annual Civil War Symposium at the Carnegie Library & Music Hall, Carnegie, PA. Featuring:

  • Dr. Julie Mujic–The Household War: An Examination of the Significance of the Household to the Fortunes of the Battlefield.
  • Daniel Welch–A Fitting Tribute: Memorial Tributes to Abraham Lincoln
  • Kristopher D. White–The Cresting Tide: A Reassessment of Lee’s Leadership from the Seven Days to Chancellorsville
  • Eric J. Wittenberg–“Out Flew the Sabres”: The Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863.  
March is Women’s History Month. To commemorate the event, Emerging Civil War will be profiling several women working in the field of Civil War public history. We’ll give some shout-outs to a few women here at ECW. Please join us in recognizing the contributions of women to the field.
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