ECW June 2021 Newsletter

From the Editor

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One of the best things I love about writing for a blog is that the feedback from readers is immediate. It’s like giving a tour or speaking to a roundtable: questions and conversations ensue, which are always a lot of fun. Sometimes people like to play “stump the historian,” and sometimes people can disagree quite vehemently with an idea or perspective. I have to be quick on my feet, I have to know my material, and I have to be able to defend my position publicly and immediately. That’s part of what make public history so invigorating!

If there’s a downside to writing for a blog, it’s the impermanent feeling a piece often has. Yes, as the old saying goes, once something’s on the internet, it’s there forever, but nothing quite beats the satisfying feeling you get when you hold a tangible document in your hand.

For ECW’s tenth anniversary this year, we get to have the best of both worlds.

As I was trying to think of an appropriate way to celebrate our milestone, publisher Ted Savas suggested we round up some of the best pieces from the blog and put them into book form—and he didn’t want to stop with just one. Think “series,” he told me.

Thus the ECW 10th Anniversary Series was born!

Our first two books, published by Savas Beatie and due in June and July, stand in conversation with each other: The Summer of ’63: Gettysburg and The Summer of ’63: Vicksburg and Tullahoma. Dan Welch and I co-edited the volumes, which feature the work of dozens of our ECW colleagues.

We gathered our best blog posts on those topics and updated them with footnotes and new information. We included edited transcript from a few symposium presentations and podcasts. We commissioned a few original pieces. And we threw in some new maps and a bunch of photos.

We have a few more volumes in the works, which we’ll sprinkle out over the course of the rest of our anniversary year, with Grant vs. Lee next on deck. This has been a rewarding experience for both Dan and me, particularly because we’ve had the pleasure to work with so many talented writers and historians. The books have also served as fun reminders of just how far ECW has grown in its first ten years—thanks, in large part, to readers like you.

Thanks for your ongoing support. We hope you’re as excited about our anniversary as we are!

-- Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.


Tickets Still Available for the ECW Symposium

at Stevenson Ridge (very limited!)

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We're less than a month and a half away from our August 7 - 9 ECW Symposium at Stevenson Ridge and only a handful of tickets remain available.

With a theme of "Fallen Leaders," this year's symposium includes two tours, nine speakers, and the camaraderie that only ECW can deliver.

More information, including a link to purchase tickets, is available here. We can't wait to see everyone! 

ECW Bookshelf

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The Bermuda Hundred Campaign constituted an important part of Ulysses S. Grant’s overall grand strategy for the war in 1864 when he set the north’s armies into motion all at once in an attempt to tie down Confederates from shifting reinforcements from one theater to another. The plan for Bermuda Hundred was especially important for Grant because it served to run interference for Grant himself as he moved overland from the Rapidan River through Virginia’s interior. It also pit two of the war’s most colorful characters against one another, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler and Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard.


Sean Chick’s Grant’s Left Hook: The Bermuda Hundred Campaign, May 5-June 7, 1864, the latest offering from the Emerging Civil War Series, tells the story of this oft-overlooked phase of Grant’s plan. Find out more from publisher Savas Beatie.

ECW News & Notes

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Sarah Kay Bierle (right) was caught wearing the ECW logo in Colorado's Garden of the Gods during a family visit. She later bribed her family to drive through the estate of a Civil War general so she could get photos and write a blog post about the veteran and his castle later this summer! 

The Midwest Book Review offered a strong endorsement of Diana Dretske’s recent contribution to the Engaging the Civil War Series: “An welcome and original contribution to the growing body of American Civil War histories and biographies, The Bonds of War: A Story of Immigrants and Esprit de Corps in Company C, 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry is a meticulous and informative study . . . [that] will have immense appeal and value for both scholars and non-specialist general readers.”

Bert Dunkerly has been exploring gaps: Keys Gap, Snickers Gap, Ashby's Gap, and Manassas Gap, as well as hiking the Appalachian Trail. He has also joined the ECW Social Media Team—at least until he messes up and Paige, our social media manager, kicks him off.

Meg Groeling says she’s “hanging in there and trying to be a good patient. After her health problems this spring, she trying to walk on her walker more, and she is also writing more. “Some days are better than others,” she says, “but I am very grateful for all of her ECW friends. Thanks for the cards and good wishes.”

From Chris Kolakowski: The Wisconsin Veterans Museum will reopen to the public July 1. I've also signed a contract with Casemate Publishers for Nations In The Balance: The India-Burma Campaigns, December 1943 - August 1944. It is expected to be released in spring 2022.”

Chris Mackowski and Kris White (below) conducted a tour of the Slaughter Pen Farm on the Fredericksburg battlefield for the American Battlefield Trust on Friday, June 18. It was the first of a series of “Twilight Tours” the Trust will be offering this summer, featuring land they’ve helped preserve. ECW’s Kevin Pawlak and alum Dan Davis will be among those presenting tours later this summer, along with a White/Mackowski tour at Payne’s Farm on the Mine Run battlefield in July. For details, check out:

On June 7 Derek Maxfield gave a book talk about his work Hellmira: The Union’s Most Infamous Civil War Prison Camp – Elmira, NY for the New Jersey Civil War Roundtable. On June 16, he gave the same talk to the Genesee Valley Civil War Roundtable in Pavilion, NY.

From Terry Rensel: “As more things open up, I continue getting out on the road. I went on a tour of the North Anna Battlefield Park conducted by Gordon Rhea and put on by the Hanover Tavern Foundation. Also visited Appomattox Court House and the D-Day National Memorial with young Maxwell Mackowski and his dad.”

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10 Questions . . . with Sean Michael Chick

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Sean Michael Chick, writing from New Orleans, is the author of the newest book in the Emerging Civil Wart Series, Grant’s Left Hook: The Bermuda Hundred Campaign. He was first profiled in the July 2018 ECW newsletter. You can read his full ECW bio here.

What do you find most interesting about the Bermuda Hundred Campaign? 

I liked that it showed Grant at his best as a strategist, and for the first two weeks, it worked in keeping troops away from Lee’s army. One wonders what could have been accomplished if Butler had not been in command or he had more troops.


How did a guy from New Orleans find himself interested in Bermuda Hundred? 

Mostly because of my earlier work on Petersburg and the New Orleans connection to Beauregard and Butler.


Butler and Beauregard both certainly made their stamps on New Orleans. How do you think those two men changed over the course of the war, from their time in New Orleans to the time when they lock horns in Virginia? 

Butler spent 1863 scheming to undermine Lincoln and get his New Orleans command back. By 1864, it was obvious the war was coming to an end and he needed to play a role to get any glory. Beauregard, meanwhile, had become a bit more realistic in his tactical plans by 1864.


You have an Emerging Civil War Series biography about Beauregard coming out later this year. Can you tell us a little about that? 

There has not been a Beauregard biography since the 1950s, so it felt time to give him a fresh look. Also, being from New Orleans, I felt I had some insights into his personality that other authors dismissed.


What else do you have in the hopper? 

The Maps of Shiloh. I am working on the April 7 fighting right now.


Lightning Round (short answers with a one-sentence explanation) 

Favorite primary source? 

Liddell’s Record. It was not written for publication, so it is very honest.


Favorite Civil War-related monument? 

Hazen Brigade Monument at Stones River. An impressive piece of work, particularly considering it was made during the war.


Favorite unsung hero of the Civil War era? 

David Stuart. He led he brigade ably at Shiloh and was going to be promoted but political rivals blocked his advancement, much to Sherman’s disgust.


What’s a bucket-list Civil War site you’ve not yet visited? 

Pickett’s Mill. I hear the entrenchments are among the best preserved.


Favorite ECWS book that’s not one of your own? 

Let Us Die Like Men. Lee White’s account of Franklin is the most gripping I have ever read.

Emerging Revolutionary War News

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By Phill Greenwalt


June marks the start of summer. In 1778, the month also marked the end of a transition period for the Continental army that survived the winter at Valley Forge. On June 19, General George Washington led his forces out of their encampment to embark on the next campaigning season. Nine days later, on June 28, Washington's forces collided with the rearguard of Sir Henry Clinton's British forces on their retreat through New Jersey. This action prompted the Battle of Monmouth.


As it happens, the latest Emerging Revolutionary War Series volume, just released, covers the winter period at Valley Forge: The Winter that Won the War (by yours truly). And don’t forget the previously released volume, which covers the battle of Monmouth, A Handsome Flogging.)


The final "Rev War Revelry" for June will be on The Winter That Won the War. Check Emerging Revolutionary War's Facebook or blog for details on this free bi-weekly historian happy hour. For those who cannot tune in to the Facebook Live on Sunday evenings, the videos are posted to Emerging Revolutionary War's YouTube page shortly thereafter.


For those already looking toward the cooler months, remember to secure your tickets for the first annual Emerging Revolutionary War's bus tour of the Trenton and Princeton campaign November 12-14, 2021.

You Can Help Support Emerging Civil War

Emerging Civil War is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. If you’re interested in supporting “emerging voices” by making a tax-deductible donation, you can do so by clicking here or by visiting our website:

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