Volume 03, Issue 3 | September 2018
September 2018 Newsletter
Books and Children · The Emerging Civil War Podcast · 10 Questions with Paige Gibbons Backus
ECW Bookshelf · News & Notes · Symposium on C-SPAN
From the Editor
Truman Capote, the novelist who wrote In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s , once said that when you finish writing a book, it’s “just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.”

Capote, who had no actual children, knew he was exaggerating—but for a man who lived inside his work the way he did, immersing himself in research and writing and revising, it wasn’t an exaggeration by much. It is a hard thing to live so closely with a writing project for so long and then have to be done with it, just like that.

A book starts as not just an idea but the spark of an idea, and you develop it and nurture it and help it grow and get better and stronger until, finally, it leaves the nest: it goes off to a publisher and gets printed. It’s out of your hands. It has a life of its own. It spends time with other people—a lot of other people—and you’re left to wander around your empty study, wondering what to do with yourself now that your baby is all grown up and gone.

About a decade ago, I started collecting research for an eventual book on Mine Run. I’ve been amassing info since, sometimes actively but usually in dribs and drabs while I’ve worked on other projects. In late 2016, I decided to move the project to the front burner. My wife and I were expecting a baby in March 2017, so I planned to hammer out the book in the first three months of the year. I had pretty much everything I needed except the time to sit down and weld it all together, so I would start the new year by writing the book.

That didn’t happen, and when Maxwell James Mackowski safely arrived on March 16, the book went back onto the back burner—for fourteen more months.

Capote isn’t the first writer to compare books to children. I’ve felt that way myself—you can put that much of yourself into a book. Books don’t throw up on you, though, or wake you up in the middle of the night or need diaper changes.

But I wouldn’t trade a single one of those experiences with Maxwell for the chance to work on my book. Mine Run had waited 150+ years—it could wait a little longer.

Last summer, Mine Run did finally come together. As I expected—because I’d already gathered and sorted my research, and I’d been thinking about the themes and the structure literally for years—the book almost wrote itself. It came together, BOOM, and already it’s on its way to the printer. My baby grew up fast and the nest is already empty again.

Sort of.

After all, Maxwell is still only 18 months old. There's plenty of growing up yet for this baby.

Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.

Tune In to the New Emerging Civil War Podcast
We’re living in the Golden Age of Podcasting, and Emerging Civil War is glad to now add its voice to the mix.

We are pleased to announce the launch of The Emerging Civil War Podcast, available each month through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/emergingcivilwar .

Co-hosted by Chris Mackowski and a revolving cadre of ECW’s contributors, the Emerging Civil War Podcast taps into an award-winning line-up of historians from a wide variety of backgrounds with a wide variety of interests.

“This is an idea Kris White came up with that’s been a couple years in the making,” Mackowski said. White serves as co-host on a number of the programs. “We’re super excited about this,” Mackowski added.

For $1.99 a month, subscribers get a new ECW podcast on the first Tuesday of each month. For $3.99 a month, subscribers get two podcasts—one on the first and one on the third Tuesday of each month.

As soon as we launched, someone said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be charging for your podcast when so many others are free.” Indeed, we gave that much consideration. But since we already give away so much free content on our blog—and since we need to pay for our podcast equipment and engineering somehow—we figured it wasn’t too much to ask folks to pitch in a couple bucks for each episode.

For a complete list of episodes, or for more information, click here. We’d love to have you listen along and join in the conversation!
10 Questions . . .with ECW’s Paige Gibbons Backus
Paige Gibbon Backus is the site manager for Ben Lomond Historic Site in Prince William County, Virginia, site of a Civil War hospital following the battle of First Manassas. You can read her full bio here .

Who is Ben Lomond, and why do you spend so much time with him?
I get that question a lot actually, but it is a trick question! Ben Lomond is not a person, it’s actually a place. Ben Lomond is a mountain in Scotland, near Loch Lomond National Park. The mountain also shares its name with the historic house that I manage in Manassas, Virginia. The plantation house was built in 1832 and was used as a Civil War hospital after the battle of First Manassas in July 1861. The house received the name Ben Lomond from Edmonia Randolph Carter Chinn, who was the wife of Benjamin Tasker Chinn, who inherited the 1,700-acre plantation and had the house built. 

You've done an incredible job making Ben Lomond an immersive museum experience, including sounds and smells. Tell us a little about that.
I can’t take sole credit for Ben Lomond’s immersive exhibits because the plan to add the immersive elements had been in place since before the site opened in 2011. Rob Orrison and Bill Backus did a lot of the work planning and implementing the exhibits so that it would look like a hospital when the site reopened to the public for the sesquicentennial of First Manassas. They also did a lot of the work planning the smells, which where installed in 2015 right when I came on board. Then I worked on adding the sounds in 2017.

Our goal at Ben Lomond is to try and create as much as an immersive experience as possible so that when visitors come to the site, they feel like they are stepping back in time. Through this experience, we want visitors to understand the cost of war and the impact of these battles on friends, family, and health, as well as how it really impacted the medical care that we take for granted today. I love taking visitors through the site to see everyone’s reactions because it is something people don’t experience often, and the type of sounds and smells for visitors can be overwhelming. If someone gets queasy, that means we did our job right! 

How did you get interested in Civil War medicine?
As a social historian, I’ve always been drawn to the more gruesome parts of history, including death studies, murder, and scandal, as well as medical studies. I’ve always found it interesting how these types of issues were dealt with, historically, compared to today. I also like to think I have a strong stomach, and so looking at images, talking about these subjects, visiting museums with specimens, etc., never really bothered me. I actually find it much more fascinating than sickening. To me, it makes perfect sense and was a natural fit that this has become my interest in study because my other career choices were actually going to be a mortician or a forensic scientist, but I was awful at science. 

Did  Mercy Street  bring extra business your way?
There certainly was an increased interest in Civil War medicine with the showing of Mercy Street . Unfortunately, the show aired when Ben Lomond was closed for the winter so it did not immediately increase visitation during the closed season. We did, however, see an increase in visitors who came over the course of the summer, and many of them actually did mention the show and asked good questions about it. It was also interesting to see how much it is still having an effect. The show actually aired very recently in the UK, and so we did actually have a few international visitors this season who came to the site mentioning the show and asking if they were going to bring it back! 

Your husband, Bill, co-author of the ECWS title  A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign , has had his own battlefield to manage. Do you ever get battlefield envy? Does he get historical house envy?
Not at all. While I am very interested in the Civil War, I do not consider myself a military historian but instead a social one. One of the reasons for this is because I can relate much more to the social aspects of the war: how the war affected and was affected by the home front; women during the war; the medical aspect of the Civil War ;and how families dealt with the death toll are just a few examples. I am not a military historian because of the way my mind works. While I can very easily explain the causes and effects of battles throughout the war, it is very hard for me to follow the play-by-play of a battle and be able to say “who was where, at what time, doing what.” It takes me a very long time to learn the specific timeline of a battle, and the best way for me to learn it is to be at the battlefield with Bill, maps, and a lot of patience where he can walk me through and answer questions. I just can’t remember it all in that specific of a detail, but if you ask me the procedure of amputating a limb or some other medical question, I can answer that to the point where visitors think I went to medical school. 

Lightning-Round (short answers):
Most overrated person of the Civil War?
Dorothea Dix— while she was incredibly important to the advancement of mental health and the nurse corps during the war, she was kind of a B*.

Favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
Civil War? San Francisco—Alcatraz

Favorite Regiment?
20th WI—the unit my 4th great grandfather was in. 

What one Civil War book do you consider to be essential? 
This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust 

What’s one question no one has ever asked you that you wish they would?
I quite honestly have no idea—I’ve been asked a lot of odd questions! 
ECW Bookshelf
We have not one but two releases from ECW’s authors to crow about this month:

To Hazard All , the latest release in Savas Beatie’s Emerging Civil War Series, is a summary of the events of the Maryland Campaign, including its prelude and aftermath. Co-authors Rob Orrison and Kevin Pawlak take readers and tourists to 67 different stops in five tours. While summarizing the events of September-November 1862, the book is meant to bring people to the sites where the Maryland Campaign unfolded, from the well known to the obscure. There is something new in it for everyone, so grab a copy and hit the road!

Eric J. Wittenberg ’s newest title, Five or Ten Minutes of Blind Confusion: The Battle of Aiken, South Carolina, February 11, 1865 , has been released by Fox Run Publishing of Burlington, North Carolina. This marks Wittenberg’s third book on some aspect of the Civil War in the Carolinas in 1865, a topic that continues to fascinate him.

Aiken was the sole Confederate battlefield victory in the Carolinas in the dark days of 1865, but Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s tactical victory over the cavalry of Bvt. Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick was a strategic disaster for the Confederacy. Wheeler disobeyed orders to assume and hold a position along the Edisto River, south of Columbia, South Carolina, to go after Kilpatrick, and the absence of his Cavalry Corps left insufficient men to hold the line of the Edisto, leading to the fall and burning of the South Carolina capitol at Columbia. Even though Wheeler soundly defeated Kilpatrick’s horsemen and saved the lovely town of Aiken from the Union torch, it also hastened the fall of South Carolina to the tender mercies of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army.

Wittenberg has written the first detailed tactical narrative of the battle at Aiken, as well as the first strategic analysis of Aiken’s role in grand scheme of Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign. He has also mapped the battle for the first time, featuring fine maps by master cartographer Mark Anderson Moore.
ECW News & Notes

The Summer 2018 issue of LSU’s Civil War Book Review featured an excellent review of Turning Points of the American Civil War , edited by Chris Mackowski and Kris White, ECW’s first book in our “Engaging the Civil War” Series with Southern Illinois University Press. “[T]he editors intend only that their volume serve as a point of departure for readers in search of their own conclusions,” said reviewer John L. S. Daley of Pittsburg State University. The “happy result” of inviting readers to ponder the concept for themselves, he said, is that “this volume will force at least some readers to rethink their preconceptions.” You can read the full review here .

Edward Alexander is a part of the American Battlefield Trust's Richmond Battle App. He can be found in the app at the Dabbs House and Second Deep Bottom stops. Download it today!

On Saturday, September 15th Sarah Kay Bierle joined Meg Groeling at a Civil War Conference at The Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Hosted by Dr. Joan Waugh and Dr. Gary Gallagher, this academic conference took a new look at Civil War turning points, offering new perspectives and insightful research.

Doug Crenshaw and Bert Dunkerly are hard at work on their next ECW project,  On To Richmond , a guide to sites in and around the city. Doug is also finishing up a book on the Peninsula Campaign with Drew Gruber, researching some background for a yet-to-be announced work, and (somewhere in there) is looking to find some time to write some articles for the blog! 

Meg Groeling  is putting the finishing touches on her newest presentation: "Base Ball, John Wildey, & the American Civil War."

Chris Kolakowski sends his regards from India, where he’s researching his next book, which will focus on the WWII Burma campaign. He says he is having a fantastic trip so far.

Kevin Pawlak and Rob Orrison had the pleasure of giving a tour of and visiting historic Harrison Hall in Leesburg this month. Robert E. Lee stayed in the house from September 4-6, 1862, and met with Generals Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart before crossing the Potomac River into Maryland. In this issue's masthead photo (top), Rob sits at the table Lee used to map out his strategy. Kevin says, "It was one of the best historic houses I've ever experienced!"
ECW's 2018 Symposium on C-SPAN
C-SPAN 3 has been running segments from the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge. So far, they've aired our historians' panel, Matt Atkinson's talk about Gettysburg & Vicksburg, and Scott Hartwig's keynote address about Antietam. Here's a preview. Stay tuned to the ECW blog for more details on future segments.

If you’re feeling like you missed out on this year’s fun, tickets are already available for the Sixth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge. The event will be held August 2-4, 2019, and the topic will be “Forgotten Battles of the Civil War.” Our keynote speaker will be A. Wilson Greene. Early-bird registration, now through December 31, is only $135. Order here.
Upcoming Presentations

2nd: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Last Battle,” Brunswick (NC) Civil War Roundtable

3rd: Derek Maxfield & Tracy Ford perform “Now we stand by each other always,” Hornell Public Library, Hornell, NY, 7:00 PM

5-7th: Eric Wittenberg, “The Second Ride Around McClellan,” Middleburg Civil War Conference, Middleburg, VA

6th: Kevin Pawlak, "‘Today You Must Fight Harder’: The Confederate Defense of the Sunken Road,” Mosby Heritage Area Association Civil War Conference, Middleburg, VA

9th: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Last Battle,” Southern Maryland Civil War Roundtable, College of Southern Maryland, LaPlata, MD

11th: Chris Kolakowski, “The Two Georges: Marshall and Patton,” George Marshall Foundation, Lexington, VA

12th: Paige Gibbons-Backus, “Revealing the Chaos and Carnage of the Hospitals of First Manassas,” the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s Annual Conference of Civil War Medicine, Gettysburg, PA. 

13th: Kevin Pawlak, “’They persevered in their glorious work’”: The Army of Northern Virginia’s Medical Corps in the Gettysburg Campaign,” National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s Annual Conference of Civil War Medicine, Gettysburg, PA

16th: Sarah Kay Bierle, “To Save Lives: Civil War Medicine,” Colony Cousins Genealogy Society, Murrieta, CA

17th: Meg Groeling, “Civil War Base Ball,” North Bay Civil War Round Table, Santa Rosa, CA

1st: Chris Kolakowski, “Life and Times of Arthur MacArthur,” North Shore CWRT (Long Island)

9th: Chris Mackowski: Hershey (PA) Civil War Round Table bus tour of the Wilderness

11th: Julie Mujic, “Hidden Monuments: War Memorialization and the Search for World War I in Columbus, Ohio,” Franklin County Memorial Hall, Columbus, OH

13th: Kevin Pawlak, “Antietam Endgame: September 18-20, 1862,” First Defenders Civil War Round Table of Berks County, Reading, PA

14th: Sarah Kay Bierle, Topic TBD, Inland Empire Civil War Round Table, Redlands, CA

14th: Kevin Pawlak, “Hunting the Gray Ghost,” Phil Kearny Civil War Round Table, Wayne, NJ

20th: Sarah Kay Bierle, “Then Christmas Came: The Justification & Condemnation of War,” Los Angeles Civil War Round Table, Los Angeles, CA