Emerging Civil War · May 2018
A challenge from the editor · New partnership with
Civil War News ·
10 Questions with...Eric Wittenberg · News & Notes
One of the things I love most about doing Facebook LIVE events for ECW is the interactivity with viewers. As they watch, many people type in questions and comments and share stories, and we can in turn respond to those messages in real time. It really helps build a connection with the audience and adds to the fun.
Our partnership with the American Battlefield Trust on those Facebook LIVE events in May took us to
. While in Mississippi for the 155th anniversary of the Vicksburg Campaign, one recurring theme in the comments really struck me. I’ll paraphrase, but it goes something like this: “I didn’t realize how important Vicksburg was.” That floored me!
A lot of people chimed in with Gettysburg stories—wrong “burg,” but they were trying to make a connection with the war, I suppose—but many, many people admitted they didn’t really know much about Vicksburg.
Many other people said, “I’ve never been there but now I can’t wait to go” or something similar. Vicksburg’s not easy to get to, but if you do ever go—and I strongly urge you to—you won’t be disappointed. It is
a magnificent battlefield
, with as much to see (or more) than Gettysburg. And if you follow Grant’s entire campaign, there’s even
to explore. It’s well worth the trip for any serious Civil War buff.
While summer is prime battlefielding season, I’d like to offer an additional suggestion. Think of it as a challenge, really: Pick a battle you don’t know that much about and read up on it. Pick several books, not just one, and dive in. There’s comfort in reading about your favorite Civil War battle, of course, but challenge yourself to learn a bunch of new stuff this summer about something beyond the familiar. Maybe even make a visit. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.
Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge
Tickets are still available for this year’s ECW Symposium, Aug. 3-5. This year’s theme, “
Turning Points of the Civil War
,” with keynote speaker
, former supervisory historian at Gettysburg National Military Park. We have ten speakers, plus a roundtable discussion and a Sunday tour focusing on the wounding and death of Stonewall Jackson.
Tickets are just $155 for all three days. For more information, or to order,
visit our website
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
Starting with this month’s newsletter, Emerging Civil War is pleased to enter into a new partnership with
Civil War News
. The monthly newspaper of Civil War current events will be featuring ECW in a monthly column.
If you haven’t checked out
Civil War News in a while, be sure to pick up a copy or, better yet, subscribe. Publisher Jack Melton has really invigorated the paper. Aside from the excellent array of book reviews, each issue has great regular features like
Black Powder, White Smoke
by Joe Bilby,
Through The Lens
by Stephanie Hagiwara,
The Watchdog, The Source
by Michael Shaffer, and the
by ECW’s own Steve Davis. The paper also features a comprehensive listing of
of Civil War-related events around the country.
Our thanks to
Civil War News for this exciting partnership!
10 Questions with . . .
Award-winning author Eric Wittenberg is an attorney by day and Civil War historian, author, speaker, blogger, and preservationist by night (and on the weekends and in any other spare moment he can eek out, too!). You can
read his full bio here
You’re best known as “
guy” when it comes to Union cavalry, but lately, you’ve spent a lot of time and attention on the last months of the war for the Western armies—which by then had moved into the Carolinas. What’s been so fascinating to you about this period of the war?
I have long been a student of the Carolinas Campaign. It demonstrates the paradox that was William T. Sherman: a brilliant strategist but a poor tactician. Sherman’s plan for his march through the Carolinas was brilliant, but he got outgeneraled badly at both Averasboro and at Bentonville. Had the Confederates had sufficient manpower, they may well have defeated Sherman’s campaign. These events fascinate me.
Why does Appomattox get so much attention but events at, say, Bennett Place do not?
Because Lee and Grant were at Appomattox, and because Lee and his army had been brought to bay. The events at Bennett Place were entirely different. Johnston’s army not surrounded by Sherman’s as Lee’s was by Grant’s. Lee was compelled to surrender, Johnston was not. Johnston and Sherman decided to try to make peace and end the war, rather than Johnston simply surrendering his army. The story of the negotiations between Sherman and Lee is one of the most fascinating incidents of the war. Johnston disobeyed a direct order from Jefferson Davis in surrendering his army to Sherman. Sherman greatly exceeded his authority in an atmosphere where the Radical Republicans sought revenge against the South for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and he paid for it: he was excoriated in the Northern newspapers and accused of being a traitor in the process. Only the greatness of Ulysses Grant prevented his friend from being completely humiliated. Grant refused to allow his friend to be humiliated and instead permitted Sherman to finish the job, even though Grant had been sent to relieve Sherman and then to resume the war if Johnston declined to surrender on the same terms given to Lee by Grant.
The list of books you’ve written is as long as the arm of a basketball player. Do you have a favorite book from among them? Why?
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite toe. :-)
Probably my 2014 book,
The Devil’s to Pay: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour
. That book represents more than twenty years of my work, and it is, in many ways, the culmination of my life’s work. It tells a story that I spent much of life wanting to tell.
You have a pair of book due out soon. What are they about, and when should we expect them?
The first one is the first detailed tactical and strategic study of the February 11, 1865 battle of Aiken, South Carolina, which was one of the early engagements of Sherman’s 1865 Carolinas Campaign. Aiken was a tactical victory by Joe Wheeler’s cavalry, but a strategic disaster for the Confederacy because Wheeler’s determination to bring Judson Kilpatrick to battle left a significant portion of the main Confederate defensive position in South Carolina—the line of the Edisto River—unmanned, which, in turn, left the door to Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, wide open and led to the city’s capture. That one will be out soon—I have the final page galleys to review this week.
The second one will be out late this summer. It’s the first monograph on the stands at Reed’s and Armstrong’s Bridges across Chickamauga Creek by the brigades of Col. Robert H. G. Minty and Col. John T. Wilder, respectively, on September 18, 1863. This book is intended to be a companion volume to the Buford book, as it described similar delaying actions. My good friend Dave Powell made this book possible and saved me a ton of work by giving me the bulk of the research that I needed to tell the story.
You usually have multiple irons in the fire at once. Are you able to share any details about anything you’re currently working on?
Dave Powell and I are working on the first detailed tactical study of the crucial Tullahoma Campaign of June 1863. That’s my current project, but I have other research projects going on, including the research to do a study of the November 7, 1863, Second Battle of Rappahannock Station.
Lightning Round (short answers):
Most overrated person of the Civil War?
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, also known as Rush’s Lancers
What one Civil War book do you consider to be essential?
The American Heritage Centennial History of the Civil War, with text by Bruce Catton and the coolest maps ever made.
What’s one question no one has ever asked you that you wish someone would?
Why aren’t you a history professor?
News and Notes
Civil War Monitor
gave a glowing review to ECW’s
Turning Points of the American Civil War
, which the magazine called a “finely crafted anthology.” Reviewer Gordon Berg said, “Together, these essays enrich the historiography of what is certainly a turning point—perhaps
turning point—in the evolution of the United States as a modern nation.”
is the inaugural book in ECW’s “Engaging the Civil War” Series with Southern Illinois University Press. You can
read the full review here
Civil War News
a favorable review in its June 2018 issue. Reviewer Larry Peterson said, “this book is provocative and is recommended reading for anyone with interest in the Civil War.”
The June 2018 issue of
also featured a review by
Confederate Generals in the Western Theater: Essays on American’s Civil War
(Vol. 4), edited by Lawrence Lee Hewitt and Thomas Schott.
's first published maps are finally appearing in print. Will Greene's
A Campaign of Giants: The Battle for Petersburg, Volume 1
has shipped from UNC Press. The 700-page book contains 34 original maps Edward created that show the first few months around Petersburg.
Sarah Kay Bierle
is coordinating Gazette665's Third Annual Civil War History Conference on June 2, 2018. Hosted at the conference center in Temecula, California, this event brings historians to Southern California for an all-day event, encouraging exploration and education about America's divisive war. This year's theme is "1863: Battling For Freedom." Both Sarah and
Daniel T. Davis
will lecture at the conference.
More details are available here
Sarah has also been doing research at The Huntington Library for her upcoming Emerging Civil War Series book about the battle of New Market and collecting some cavalry reports for ECW colleagues. She says it's been an amazing experience, and that if she disappears and we can't find her to start looking in the basement where the Civil War and medical history books are kept!
published an article in the spring 2018 issue of Civil War Book Review, published by Louisiana State University Libraries. “
Civil War Obscura: Diaries from Dixie
” offers a new look at different editions of Mary Boykin Chestnut’s famous Civil War diary.
Also in that same issue,
both published reviews. Dan reviewed
Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer
by David Fitzpartrick, which Dan calls “the most comprehensive” biography of Upton to date.
Read his review here
. Chris reviewed
Inglorious Passages: Noncombat Deaths in the Civil War
by Brian Steel Wills, which Chris calls “an incredible feat of research endurance.”
Read his review here
Our resident naval historian,
, visited the Sailor’s Creek battlefield with a fellow retired navy officer whose ancestor fought there. Of special interest was the fierce engagement of Commodore Tucker’s Confederate Marine Brigade embedded with what remained of Ewell’s corps. These maritime refugees from Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah—sailors and a few marines reorganized into provisional infantry companies—made a fierce last stand on April 6, 1865, near Farmville, VA, until surrounded and forced to surrender, a few miles and a few days from Appomattox. The creek’s name, whose origin apparently is unknown, was in this instance appropriate.
Sailor’s Creek is a Virginia state park
and a great place to visit.
A Confederate Biography: The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah
(U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2015) is favorably reviewed in the 40th annual edition of
, Osprey Publishing, May 22, 2018), Naval Books of the Year. “The author provides a gripping first-hand account of
is a well-researched story about an obscure part of naval history and provides an intriguing closing chapter on the American Civil War. It is a fascinating and engaging read, and highly recommended.” Dwight’s website: www.CivilWarNavyHistory.com.
recently published an article on the North Burma Campaign that appeared in
magazine. You can
read/download it here
were invited earlier this month to serve on the board of directors for the
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust
. They will each serve three-year terms.
gave a tour of battle of the Wilderness on its 154th anniversary to members of the Mahoning Valley Civil War Round Table. The group experienced great weather and saw many overlooked parts of the battlefield and campaign sites. Many of our ECW historians and authors give tours regularly, so be on the lookout on the battlefields for them and come say hi!
just signed a contract to begin work with Arcadia Publishing on a book in their Images of America series titled
Antietam National Battlefield
. Kevin is also in the process of restarting his long-dormant blog, Antietam Brigades, an in-depth blog on all things related to the Maryland Campaign, but specifically focusing on the actions of the fighting brigades in both armies during the Maryland Campaign. In preparation he recently spent some time in the National Archives working to compile the armament of each infantry and cavalry regiment in the Army of the Potomac during the Maryland Campaign.
: “I conducted my own Seven Days campaign in May, on the road from the 13th to 19th, 2018, thanks to speaking invites from the New Orleans and Austin, TX, Civil War Round Tables. The dates were scheduled back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday, so rather than spend three days schlepping books and bags between airline terminals and hotel shuttles, I chose to turn the whole shebang into a road trip. And what a road trip it was. Myself and fellow road warrior Pat McCormick departed Chicago early Sunday Morning. We visited Fort Pillow, Tennessee; Jackson, Raymond, Champion Hill and Vicksburg, Mississippi; the WWII Museum (how did that get in the mix?) and Confederate Memorial Hall, New Orleans; made a passing stop at BB-35, the battleship
in Houston (an old friend, now sadly in need of much help) before reaching Austin. Once headed home, we found time to hit three more sites I’ve long desired to see: Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge in Arkansas, and Wilson’s Creek, Missouri. Whirlwind? At 2,500 miles, clearly a definitive “yes.” Fun? Absolutely. It’s the only way to travel.”
was featured in an article in
University of Mary Washington Magazine
, the alumni publication of his alma mater. “Senior Thesis Leads to Civil War Book” chronicles the road to publication for Quint’s ECWS book Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy. You can
read the article here
You heard it here first: Emerging Civil War is preparing a special blog series for June that will focus exclusively on Civil War Artillery! Stay tuned....
- Daniel T. Davis – “First Command: George A. Custer in the Gettysburg Campaign”
- Sarah Kay Bierle – “A City at War: Richmond’s 1863”
2nd & 3rd:
Chris Mackowski, North Anna and Mine Run battlefield tours, Robert E. Lee Civil War Roundtable of Central New Jersey
Chris Kolakowski, “MacArthur as Military Leader,” Kennesaw State University Dooley Leadership Series
Daniel T. Davis, “The Battle of Yellow Tavern and the Death of Jeb Stuart”, Powhatan Civil War Roundtable, Powhatan, VA
Todd Arrington, “Let Us Not Shrink Now: James Garfield, Civil Rights and the Legacy of the Civil War, Great Conversations at Gettysburg, Gettysburg National Military Park
Chris Mackowski, Civil War Trust Teachers Institute, Valley Forge, PA
Chris Kolakowski, “Stones River,” Charlottesville CWRT
: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Last Battle,” Powhatan Civil War Roundtable, Pawhatan, VA
The Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge: “Turning Points of the American Civil War.”
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
Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Next Chapter,” Grant Cottage State Historic Site, Mt. McGregor, Wilton, NY