Fredericksburg Memories »

It’s the anniversary of Fredericksburg, that horrific and senseless battle in which Burnside sacrificed 10% of his army for nothing. I’ve read a little about the battle, but with the exception of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s recollections in the Ken Burns series, had never read a firsthand account of the fighting. Here’s one from a member […]

Thanksgiving in the Field »

Another Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, and as Civil War buffs it’s worth remembering that Lincoln established the nation’s official observance of the holiday. I was surprised to read, in these soldiers’ letters, that gluttony has been a traditional part of Thanksgiving since before the war, but that so too was sombre gratitude. (Funnily enough, […]

Book review: Marching Home »

A new book deals with a subject I’ve been musing on lately: The effects of the war on the social life of postbellum America.  Millions of men coming home – some with severe physical and emotional scars – to a world that was profoundly changed.  This one sounds like a good read. Jordan’s handling of civilian […]

A Broken Regiment »

The Smithsonian article I posted previously mentioned a new book that sounds fascinating: A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War.  The author has researched one badly mauled regiment to gauge how its veterans did after the war. Predictably, they didn’t do too well. At war’s end, the emotional toll on returning soldiers was often compounded by physical […]

Alonzo Cushing, MOH »

Breaking my travel-imposed silence to post this news about Alonzo Cushing being awarded the Medal of Honor.  Cushing’s one of the lowest-ranked Gettysburg veterans I can name, and almost every book on the battle will mention his brave actions in the face of his mounting wounds. I wonder if this opens the door to his […]

John Yates Beall »

I find the conspiracy theories around Lincoln’s assassination pretty fascinating. There is so much we don’t know – due in large part to Stanton’s interference with evidence in the case – that many connections or ideas become plausible. I noticed a mention of John Yates Beall while perusing Wikipedia, and found this little tidbit in […]

Haskell’s Gettysburg »

Union Major Frank Haskell served with the big name generals on the hottest part of the field during Pickett’s Charge. A few months later, he wrote this epic, vivid, picturesque description of the full battle for Gettysburg to his brother.  It’s a long read but well worth your time – beautifully written and full of […]

The ‘Early Memoir’ of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain »

To commemmorate the sesquicentennial of Gettysburg, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s alma mater has published Blessed Boyhood! The ‘Early Memoir’ of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain I’m not sure how useful this will be for Civil War buffs, but it’s probably more enjoyable an experience than the Star Wars prequels. Bowdoin College wanted to do something permanent to mark the […]

William B. Hazen »

This article purported to be about battlefield promotions, but instead offers a history of William B Hazen’s service in the war.  Hazen is one of those characters who served nobly but isn’t mentioned a lot. It was a nice surprise to read the article and pay him a bit of overdue respect. Civil War promotions […]

The Scourge of the South »

I couldn’t find space in my podcast calendar for Champ Ferguson, but in fairness there are more pleasant stories to tell.  His short biography here, though, is worth a read – it reminds us that, while some joined for honor or patriotism or social values, others signed up to avenge themselves and settle old scores. […]