Volume 03, Issue 01 | June 2018
Emerging Civil War · June 2018
From the Editor · Behind the Scenes: Hiring a Battlefield Guide
10 Questions with . . . Frank Jastrzembski · News & Notes
From the Editor
What obligation do we have to those who have given “the last full measure of devotion” on our behalf? I had the opportunity twice last month to give that question concentrated attention.

The first time, I stood atop the Indian Mound in Vicksburg National Cemetery, with the long rows of headstones stretched out below me, curving along the hillsides. I was there with Kris White and the American Battlefield Trust on a Facebook LIVE broadcast, and former park historian Terry Winschel offered some incredble stories about the history of the cemetery. What made the experience particularly impactful for me was the fact that Kris and I and a number of colleagues had just followed the footsteps of many of those men from the banks of the Mississippi through the state’s interior to the gates of the beleaguered city. Many of the men buried in that cemetery had died along that route, far from home. No matter how beautiful the cemetery was—and it is beautiful—it was still far from home.

Later in May, I was privileged to once again participate in the annual luminaria at Fredericksburg National Cemetery. To commemorate the centennial of the First World War, Park Service historian Pete Maugle put together an inspired program that focused on the veterans of that war buried in the cemetery. For my stop on the tour, Pete asked me to share the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrea.

Although written specific to World War I, the poem’s central theme touches on the sacrifices made by all soldiers of all wars. The poem is best known for its opening couplet, “In Flanders fields, where poppies blow / between the crosses, row on row....” Poppies were once widely believed to be a sleeping agent (think of the famous scene from the Wizard of Oz, for example). Coupled with the eternal sleep of the dead, poppies take on an especially powerful symbolism in the piece.

That symbolism comes back in at the end, in poem’s last lines, which struck me as the poem’s most poignant: “If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders fields.”

If we break faith with those who have died. . . . That thought has stuck with me. Let it serve to us today as both a warning as well as a call to action.

We have an obligation.

Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.
Symposium Nearly Sold Out!
We're down to our last handful of tickets for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge, Aug. 3-5. We're focusing on "Turning Points of the Civil War."

You can learn more about our keynote speaker, Scott Hartwig, and his talk here.

You can see the full schedule here.

You can order a copy of our Turning Points book here.

And you can order tickets ($155 each...if there are any left!) here.
ECW Behind the Scenes
Hiring a Battlefield Guide
by Dan Welch
“What direction was that brigade coming again?” “Why were they ordered to attack this position when they could have attacked the flank?” “I wonder what Lee was thinking at that moment?” These are just some of the numerous questions I have overheard from visitors tackling battlefield visits by themselves. Even the most well-read and well-traveled Civil Warrior can be challenged by putting the pieces of a large battle together when they visit that field for the first time. 
Enter the role of a guide. Battlefield guides have been around since many of these now-historic clashes ended. David Wills, prominent Gettysburg citizen who was later instrumental in the creation of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, gave a tour of that battlefield to Governor Andrew Curtin just seven days after the firing stopped.
Guides offer ways to orient visitors and students of these battles to both the large picture and small micro tactical actions in easy-to-understand and memorable ways. Their job is to know the ground and the heroic stories that occurred there in intimate ways. 
So how do you find a guide? The first step would be to reach out to the historic site or battlefield you intend to visit to see if they offer a guide service. For example, both Gettysburg National Military Park and Antietam National Battlefield offer tours by Licensed Battlefield Guides. If the site does not, reaching out to an author or historian on the subject is the next step. Many have websites or blogs and offer private tours or special tours throughout the year.
Many of our authors at ECW have been leading individuals and groups for years across these fields. There is no better way to follow Jackson’s final footsteps then with the authors that wrote the book on it, or pursuing the Confederates into Pennsylvania with the book and their authors of the Gettysburg campaign. Click here to find out more ways ECW historians can join you on the battlefields of the Civil War.
10 Questions with . . . Frank Jastrzembski

Because our two Polish Chrises (Mackowski and Kolakowski) weren’t enough, ECW has bolstered its Polish Pride with the addition of Frank Jastrzembski to the ranks this year. Frank came to ECW as a contributor to our Mexican-American War Series, but he has wide-ranging and eclectic interests that have added a rich diversity to the blog. You can read his full bio here .

What’s your Civil War “origin story”? In other words, how did you get hooked on the war?
My obsession for the Civil War really started from a fifth-grade book report. Each student in my class had to write a report on one of the U.S. Presidents. I chose to do mine on President Ulysses S. Grant.

I became fascinated with Grant’s role in the American Civil War. I found it remarkable how a seemingly average, ill-fated man rose to be, next to President Abraham Lincoln, the most important man in the United States in 1864-65. Grant should be an inspiration to anyone who has ever been depressed, felt self-conscious, or repeatedly failed at something in their lives. When I think of Grant, I think of resilience. 

Studying Grant naturally led to an interest in the war. I found it so strange that a civil war was fought in this country. I also really liked Civil War uniforms, especially the French-inspired kepi. Besides reading everything I could get my hand on about the Civil War, for countless hours I played the PC games Robert E. Lee: Civil War General (1996) and Grant, Lee, Sherman: Civil War Generals 2 (1997), Sid Meier’s Gettysburg! (1997) and Sid Meier’s Antietam! (1999). I am a visual learner, and these games, while they entertained me, helped me learn about the different commanders, campaigns, battles, and the organization of the Union and Confederate armies.

I soon turned my attention to studying the lesser-known generals of the war. I have continued to study and write about them to this day. There are so many generals who have played important roles in the war that are overshadowed by the big three (Grant, Lee, and Sherman).

You first came to ECW via our Mexican-American War Series, where you wrote some fantastic pieces. What are some of the connections between that war and the Civil War that fascinate you most? Are there connections between the two conflicts that Civil War buffs should be more aware of?
I wrote my graduate thesis on the psychological experiences of American volunteers who fought in the Mexican War. I was stunned by how many names of future Union and Confederate generals popped up in my research (regular and volunteer).

I was fascinated by the friendships these men maintained from their days at West Point or that they forged during the war. They formed bonds while collectively dealing with hardships, the enemy, or the dullness of camp life. You start to realize that these men were not that much different than 20 and 30-year-olds today.

Tragically, these relationships were broken when these officers were forced to choose sides in 1861. Some resumed their friendships after the war, like Heth and Burnside, while others could not, like Hancock or Armistead, or chose not to. I sometimes try to imagine what I would have done if I had to go to war against my best friends.

I am interested in their experiences and how they were shaped by the war in Mexico. I see so much of General Zachary Taylor in Grant (hopefully a future ECW piece). Each of them took away new experiences from the war—meeting the elephant, directing men in combat, learning new strategies or tactics, suffering wounds, or witnessing the death of a friend or comrade.

All experienced the loss of a friend or relative in the war. Two Grant’s his messmates died during the war (Lieutenants Jenks Beaman and Sidney Smith) and he lost one his best friends, Lieutenant Robert Hazlitt, when he was killed at the Battle of Monterrey. “I have just been walking through camp,” Grant wrote home to Julia, “and how many faces that were dear to most of us are missing now.” Others, like Richard S. Ewell and Edmund Kirby Smith, lost siblings in battle. Ewell had to bury his brother. Robert E. Lee sent his cousin-in-law’s sword a letter home attempting to console his favorite cousin.

I am currently working on a book dedicated to the officers killed in the Mexican War. I plan to look at how some of their deaths emotionally affected future Civil War generals like Grant, Lee, and others. 

You’ve also done work on the history of cemeteries in America. What got you interested in that?
Besides studying the Mexican War, another part of my graduate research focused on the history of cemeteries in North America. I discovered that a tombstone is just as valuable as a letter or journal found in an archival collection. It can tell you so much about a person just by its epitaph and iconography.

When one of my graduate classes was canceled at Cleveland State University due to the professor taking a job at another school, I pitched a cemetery internship to my advisor. I volunteered with Chris Garrett, a local historian, engineer, and founder of Adopt-A-Tombstone. I worked with her on a local cemetery in Fairview Park, Ohio, learning the dos and don’ts of cemetery preservation and restoration.

The first part of my project entailed writing a research paper examining the social and cultural attitudes towards death in the nineteenth century reflected through evidence of cemetery iconography, epitaphs, and architecture of tombstones in Northeast Ohio (published in the Northeast Ohio Journal of History). The other half of the project consisted of actual fieldwork. I cleaned tombstones in a neglected cemetery and wrote a report on the proper preservation and restoration methods of tombstones.

I have retained this passion and appreciation for cemeteries. I am always visiting them when I have a chance or when I am on vacation (I must thank my wife for putting up with it). 

You’re working on a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), with an eye on applying geographic technologies to historical research. What connection have you discovered so far?
I am still early in the process of learning to use the software (ArcGIS), but I have already seen the potential of GIS for historians. It is an excellent tool to present a large amount of spatial data visually that may be hard to express in writing. I have seen it used by historians to look at migration, religion, and fatalities, such as cholera outbreaks in cities. It can be used to look at anything dealing with location.

I have even seen it used for studying military history. One of its most famous samples is Charles Minard’s Map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812. Six different sets of data are all displayed in one map: the size of Napoleon’s army, location, temperature, distance, the direction of travel, and location relative to specific dates. What you get is a map looking at the decay of Napoleon’s army over time taking all these factors into consideration. A map like this could easily be adapted for use of any Civil War campaigns. If you have the data, the possibilities are limitless.

Two terrific books I recommend to anyone interested in learning how historical technologies can be applied to history are Mapping Time: Illustrated by Minard’s Map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812 by Menno-Jan Kraak (2014) and Toward Spatial Humanities: Historical GIS and Spatial History edited by Ian N. Gregory and Alistair Geddes.
Lightning-Round (short answers):
Most overrated person of the Civil War? No one specific person comes to my mind as being overrated. There are many more that I feel are underrated or underappreciated (such as Richard Taylor, Slocum, Kearny, Richardson, and Ord). The list goes on. I have a fair share of generals that I don’t like (McClernand, Banks, and Butler).

Favorite Trans-Mississippi site? I haven’t had the chance to visit the site yet, but it would have to be Mansfield. I will get there one day. This was the Waterloo of the Trans-Mississippi.

Favorite Regiment? 20th Maine or any of the Iron Brigade regiments.

What one Civil War book do you consider to be essential? There are so many. I don’t know where to begin. If I had to choose only one Civil War book to read for the rest of my life, it would be a tie between Bruce Catton’s Grant Takes Command or Ezra J. Warner’s Generals in Blue.  

What’s one question no one has ever asked you that you wish someone would? Well, it would have to be more of a dream: “How would you like your own TV series visiting historic cemeteries?”
ECW News & Notes
Dan Davis flew all the way to California to join one of our resident West Coasters, Sarah Bierle, as presenters at an amazing conference sponsored by Sarah’s Gazette 665. ( Meg Groeling also made an appearance!) A lot of interesting perspectives on “The War in 1863 “were examined. Here’s a recap. If you’re in the area, this is a future event worth checking out!

Steve Davis had plenty to write about in the July 2015 issue of Civil War News. His “Fact or Fiction” column focused on how Stonewall Jackson got his name, and his “Critics Corner” focused on George R. Stewart’s Pickett’s Charge. Steve also provided special coverage from the Baton Rouge Civil War Symposium. Steve also writes the “Small Talk Trivia” column, too. The July column focused on “Johns” in the war.

Prior to his presentation to the Capital District Civil War Roundtable in Watervliet, NY, (just outside Albany) last April, Chris Mackowski sat down with the roundtable’s Nick Thony for a conversation about the battle of Spotsylvania Court House, which Nick recorded for the roundtable’s podcast series. You can hear their conversation here.

ECW and ERW author Rob Orrison has been quite busy sharing the history of Prince William County through numerous Facebook live videos. Check them out at Prince William Historic Foundation on Facebook. You will even see ECWS author Bill Backus and guest blogger Paige Gibbons-Backus. Watch here.

Dan Welch has returned to the Gettysburg battlefield for the summer season. If you see him on the battlefield or in the visitor center, stop by and say hello. 

Many ECWers are currently hard at work on the final details of our Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge. There is still time to register and join us this August for an in-depth look at the many turning points of the war. You will not want to miss keynote D. Scott Hartwig and our full lineup of historians over the weekend. For more details, click here.
Upcoming Presentations
12-15th: Chris Mackowski, Dan Welch, Kris White, Civil War Trust Teachers Institute, Valley Forge, PA

16th: Chris Kolakowski, “Stones River,” Charlottesville CWRT

19th: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Last Battle,” Powhatan Civil War Roundtable, Pawhatan, VA

3-5th: The Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge: “Turning Points of the American Civil War.”

9th: Chris Kolakowski, “The Kentucky Campaign,” Bull Run CWRT, Manassas, VA

17th & 18th: Chris Mackowski, keynote, Civil War Roundtable Congress, National Civil War Museum, Harrisburg, PA

26th: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Next Chapter,” Grant Cottage State Historic Site, Mt. McGregor, Wilton, NY