ECW's 5th Anniversary opens the door for more cool stuff
Emerging Civil War — August 2016
5th Anniversary News  ·  2017 Symposium  ·  10 Questions with Edward Alexander 
News & Notes  ·  ECW Bookshelf  ·  New Speakers Bureau
Thank you for five incredible years!

This month’s Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge offered us a chance to celebrate Emerging Civil War’s 5th Anniversary. That celebration spills over onto the blog starting this week, so watch for reminiscences, recollections, and other treats from some of our contributors. (No treat so yummy as the ECW cake Kris White and I got to cut at the symposium, right.)

We’re also using our 5th Anniversary as an excuse to roll out some exciting new projects. New month, we’ll tell you more about our ECW Digital Shorts series, edited by Edward Alexander. We’re also cooking up some podcasting, which we’ll be rolling out soon. And the first installments of the long-awaited Civil War Regiments series are nearing completion. It’s been a busy summer!

We made it to five years because of the support of a whole lot of people (including YOU). To recognize the work of folks who share our public history mission, we inaugurated several awards this year.

As it happens, this month is also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We have a little catching up to do, I guess, but based on our first five years, it’s been a gratifying experience. So, here’s to at least 95 more years of Emerging Civil War connecting people with the story of America’s defining event!


Chris Mackowski
Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge
Tickets are now on sale for the Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge, Aug. 4-6, 2017: “Great Defenses of the Civil War.”

Our keynote speaker will be Brian Matthew Jordan, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history and author of Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War and Bloody Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain.

Check out the full line-up and order tickets. Among those on the docket: Lee White (pictured, right, from this year's symposium) and the defense of Kennesaw Mountain.
10 Questions with . . .  Edward Alexander
Edward Alexander is a historian at Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg, Virginia, and author of the ECWS book Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg. He's also editor of the upcoming ECW Digital Shorts series.

Edward, It’s our understanding you’re a so-called “Edward-of-all-trades” at Pamplin Historical Park. What’s it like having such a hands-on role in so many aspects of the park’s operations?

I wholeheartedly believe that every up-and-coming public historian should take on such a role. I hear young self-proclaimed aspiring people in the field always complain about how hard it is to find suitable employment, but then they limit their knowledge, skills, and abilities to just being a tour guide or just being an archivist. There will always be plenty of volunteers, interns, and the like who can give a battlefield tour. Show that you can do more. You don’t have to chop down trees—though dropping a dead pine with a perfect fall is quite the thrill—but you can still look out for the overall appearance of your historic resource. And you’ll have a resume that stands out from the rest. Further, many of the themes and theories for my talks, tours, and writing have come from discoveries or inspirations had while out working on the battlefield.

How did you get hooked on the Civil War?

I was fortunate enough to have a family who vacationed from our home in Illinois out east or down to Florida. I had read a little about the Civil War on my own, I believe in an encyclopedia as a youngster, but then we stopped at Vicksburg on the way to Pensacola one spring and I became enamored with the subject. Soon every vacation had to include a battlefield visit.

What's an experience you had with a Civil War book that turned out to be particularly important to you?

Earl Hess’s  The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth revealed how our understanding of the Civil War is still evolving, even on the battlefield level.

Do you ever feel like Petersburg gets no love? Why is that?

Oh where do I begin! This is certainly the case. All too often I’ll have tours where the participants just want to talk about Stonewall Jackson—dead thirteen months before the campaign begins—or they’ll mention spending a week at Gettysburg and then ask how much they can see of Petersburg in four hours. The excuse of Petersburg being given no love because Civil War historians themselves ignore it is no longer valid. Richard Sommers wrote a campaign masterpiece about the Fifth Offensive 35 years ago! In the past decade or so, we have had excellent books written—Earl Hess’s book on the design and role of the fortifications, Will Greene’s narrative of the final offensive, John Fox’s textbook example of how to write a microtactical (Fort Gregg), Kevin Levin’s thought-provoking study on the legacy of the Crater, superb maps in the two Ed Bearss volumes—the list can go on, and there’s still so much room for growth in the subject. I’ll go ahead and say that—aside from driving a tractor or working a brushmower—the next thing an aspiring historian should do is hunker down in the Petersburg trenches and further your knowledge of the campaign.

Time for the lightning round:
Eastern or Western Theatre?

Army of the Potomac or Army of the James?
Army of the Potomac

Favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
Wilson’s Creek

Most over-rated person from the Civil War era?
Robert E. Lee, although I feel compelled to elaborate: I’m not saying he was a bad general, he just doesn’t belong on the Mount Rushmore of American generals like many feel.

What’s one Civil War book you would recommend as essential?
James McPherson’s  For Causes and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War

What is one Civil War-related question no one has ever asked you but you wish someone would?
“How did the north win the war?” – a considerably different question than the more common “why did the south lose?”
News & Notes from ECW
Sarah Kay Bierle (right): After the Symposium, I got to spend about 10 days in the Shenandoah Valley and Maryland, visiting battlefields, historic homes, and research libraries. It's so hard to chose a favorite place: New Market Battlefield, Old Town Winchester, and Maryland Heights (Harpers Ferry) were a few special highlights. Watch the ECW blog in the coming weeks and months for weekend trip suggestions. I found fun and awe-inspiring places (some off the beaten path) that Civil War buffs should definitely visit!

Chris Kolakowski: The MacArthur Memorial has open until October 2 a special exhibit called “A Better World,” a collection of origami cranes made by students in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Click here for details.

Rob Orrison and his wife, Jamie, are expecting their second child this fall. Their son, Carter, eagerly awaits his sibling.

Kevin Pawlak is leading a tour of the Shepherdstown Battlefield (including a river crossing at Boteler's Ford) on Saturday September 24 at 2:30 pm. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

New on the Bookshelf
Traces of the Bloody Struggle: The Civil War at Stevenson Ridge, Spotsylvania Court House is a special edition ECWS booklet that tells the story of Spotsylvania’s forgotten front: the fighting along the Fredericksburg Road. During the two-week battle in May 1864, three-fourths of the Union army occupied and crossed over Stevenson Ridge as Federals looked for ways to break Confederate defenses.

Today, Stevenson Ridge is one of the most historic properties in Spotsylvania County. Extensive earthworks crisscross the landscape. Stories abound. Traces of the struggle remain everywhere.

At 60-pages, saddle-stitched, the booklet—written by ECW's Chris Mackowski—looks like a mini version of the usual books in our Emerging Civil War Series, complete with one of Ian Hughes’s fantastic covers and five original maps by cartographer Hal Jespersen. Hard copies are available only through ECW and Stevenson Ridge. For ordering information, email Traces of the Bloody Struggle will be available in digital format from Savas Beatie beginning in September.
September Speaking Engagements
12th: Chris Mackowski, "Grant's Last Battle," Mahoning Valley Civil War Roundtable

13th: Edward Alexander, "The Battle of Rappahannock Station," First Defenders Civil War Round Table, Reading, PA

13th: Rob Orrison, "The Potomac Blockade," Richmond (VA) Civil War Roundtable

14th: Chris Kolakowski, "The Kentucky Campaign," Wilmington North Carolina Civil War Roundtable, Cullowhee, NC

20th: Sarah Kay Bierle, "Awakened Hearts: The Power & Patriotism of Civilians," Orange County Round Table, Costa Mesa, CA

23rd-25th: Kristopher D. White, Tour of the Chancellorsville and Wilderness Battlefields, with the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable

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