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Emerging Civil War — September 2016
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From the Editor's Desk....
Like a lot of academics, I tend to measure my time by the school year moreso than by the calendar. The start and end of the semesters and the long summer break (perfect for writing!) dictate my rhythm far more than the calendar does.

During the war, something similar was true: the weather, more than the calendar, dictated events. The spring campaign season came around each year as soon as the roads could handle the movement of large armies. Similarly, the fall always bristled with a hurry-up-before-winter-gets-here urgency. The recent back-to-back anniversaries of Antietam and Chickamauga serve as good reminders of that awful rhythm.

We historians also think of the fall as the kick-off for a different kind of season: a renewed round of speaking engagements after so many of us took time off for summer vacations. Similarly, the spring, echoing the war’s campaign season, often brings a surge in tours.

I’m sure you have your own rhythms, too—your own way of marking time. Whatever that might be, thanks for spending some of that time with us: at the blog, at a roundtable where we might be speaking, on a tour, or with a book or article. We appreciate your good company.

-- Chris Mackowski

10 Questions . . . with Meg Groeling
This month, we talk with Meg Groeling, author of Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead , who just wrapped up a full-length study on Elmer Ellsworth, First Fallen . (You can read her full bio here.)

You're a middle school math teacher by day and a Civil War historian by night. What sparked that transformation?
Middle school math teachers are a unique group, and I am proud to be one. I have been on the cutting edge of Common Core & STEAM changes to the math classroom. Being a mathematician is much like being a historian: we look for patterns, we work backward to interpret and solve problems, we read and reread, we constantly revise, we organize information into logical, sequential steps, and we use basic skills to make sense of things. It is really a way of problem solving, and I am a better historian because of mathematics. That, and a mathematician can always get a job.

You've been a strong voice for female historians in ECW. Tell us about that.
As a teacher, I have seen so many smart girls get pushed into “girl stuff” like softer disciplines (languages, literature, etc.) when they could have gone on to become anything they wished to. I am not dissing any academic area, but math and some of the hard sciences are not usually girl-friendly. Where does history fit in? Women bring a unique point of view to history, especially military history. There are wonderful women out there working right now who deserve to be heard—Megan Kate Nelson, Thavolia Glymph, Lesley J. Gordon, and Chandra Manning are only some. Many of them have reached out to those of us in the lower ranks, encouraging us and giving advice. If they had been around years ago, my own journey would have been different. I would like to see ECW really encourage women to get into military history.

You and Elmer Ellsworth—what is it with you two?
I have always loved Ellsworth—he was handsome, young, tragic—what's not to like? As I learned more about him, I began to realize he stood for so many, many young men from what was considered the midwest then—self-made men who struck out on their own to see what fortune had in store. These guys are so emblematic of America. In no other country were the opportunities open like they were here. Amazing. That, and his soul patch . . .

Are you starved for Civil War stuff out in California?
One of the things I plan to do after I retire from the classroom in June of 2017 is explore the Civil War in California. Sarah Bierle and I have already discussed plans for blog posts, talks, etc., concerning the officers who were stationed here just prior to the war, and those who came back afterward. For instance, Rosecrans is a huge Los Angeles thoroughfare; Canby lost his life in the Modoc War at the point of a knife, etc. Prepare to be amazed!

Bonus Round:
Eastern or Western Theater?
I cannot imagine the Civil War without both Eastern and Western armies, or without the Navy—brown water & ocean-going.

Army of the Potomac, Army of the Cumberland, or Army of the Tennessee?
Potomac. I love First Bull Run, McDowell, Letterman, and even the politicos like Sickles.

Favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
Glorietta Pass

Most over-rated person from the Civil War era?
Robert E. Lee. I am not sure it was his fault that the Lost Cause deified him so, but if you look at his field command work objectively, he is a flawed general. No haters, please!

What’s one Civil War book you would recommend as essential?
Bruce Catton told a story no one could forget. His style of writing set military history on its ear, and off into a completely new direction—one of readability. Of course, that is a thorny issue, as well. Is readability necessary for good history? Let's ask Shelby Foote, another brilliant wordsmith.

What is one Civil War-related question no one has ever asked you but you wish someone would? 
What did Yankee women do to help the war effort? No one ever asks that. The Union homefront is not nearly as dramatic as the Confederate one, but it kept two armies in the field for four long years, elected Lincoln, and held things together pretty well. There is a lot to say about Northern belles!
News & Notes
Steve Davis appeared as a guest on Civil War Talk Radio to talk about his book A Long and Bloody Task: The Atlanta Campaign, from Dalton through Kennesaw to the Chattahoochee, May 4-July 18, 1864.  The companion book, All the Fighting They Want, is in the final stages of production.

Steve also recently assumed the duties of book review editor for Civil War News.

Civil War Monitor recently published a review by Chris Mackowski of Sharpsburg: A Civil War Narrative, a book-length poem written by Kent Gramm, a creative writing professor at Gettysburg College.

Dave Powell was honored by the Atlanta Civil War Roundtable with its annual Richard Barksdale Harwell Award—their book of the year award—for The Chickamauga Campaign / Glory or the Grave: The Breakthrough, The Union Collapse and the Defense of Horseshoe Ridge, September 20, 1863.

Eric Wittenberg has been helping the Civil War Trust in their effort to secure more property at Trevilian Station, site of the largest all-cavalry battle of the war.

And from our sister site, Emerging Revolutionary War—which turned one year old on Sept. 16—ERW historian William Griffith published his first bookThe Battle of Lake George, published by Acadia & History Press.

The Essential Civil War Curriculum
If you haven’t yet checked out the Essential Civil War Curriculum, there’s a ton of great reading there. A Sesquicentennial project Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech and “produced by today's foremost Civil War historians,”—including a number of Emerging Civil War authors—the Essential Civil War Curriculum “contains a definitive list of over 325 topics that every student of the Civil War should study.”

Among the ECW historians who’ve contributed to the Essential Civil War Curriculum so far:
In the works: Edward Alexander (Five Forks); Caroline Davis (Riverine Warfare); Daniel T. Davis (Corinth)(Iuka Campaign); Phill Greenwalt (Port Republic)(First Kernstown); Brian Matthew Jordan (Memory of the Civil War)(The Grand Review); Chris Kolakowski (Mobile Bay); Dan Welch (Cedar Mountain); Kris White (The Eastern and Western Theaters); and Eric Wittenberg (Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid)
New from the ECW Bookshelf
The third and final volume of Dave Powell’s magnificent Chickamauga trilogy was released this month: The Chickamauga Campaign—Barren Victory: The Retreat into Chattanooga, the Confederate Pursuit, and the Aftermath of the Battle, September 21 to October 20, 1863 (Savas Beatie, 2016). This full-length hardcover completes work begun in A Mad Irregular Battle and continued in Glory or the Grave. Click here for ordering info.

The latest volume in the U.S. Army Civil War Sesquicentennial Series is out, by ECW's own Chris Kolakowski. It covers the Virginia 1862 operations, including the Shenandoah Valley, Peninsula/Seven Days, and Second Bull Run/Chantilly. It is available for ordering or a PDF download
Upcoming Speaking Engagements

10th: Edward Alexander, “Dawn of Victory,” Rappahannock Valley Civil War Roundtable, Fredericksburg, VA

12th: Sarah Kay Bierle, “To Save Lives: Civil War Medicine,” Inland Empire Civil War Roundtable, Redlands, CA

16th: Dwight Hughes, “The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah,” Thomas Balch Library Lecture Series, Leesburg, VA

18th: Dave Powell, “Two Men of Chickamauga: D.H. Hill and Alexander McCook,” Lincoln-Davis Civil War Roundtable, Alsip, IL