Reading and Re-Reading Some Civil War Fiction

I recently reviewed Ralph Peters’ newest Civil War novel, Darkness at Chancellorsville, for Civil War Monitor (you can read that review here). It was an enjoyable read by an author with a gift for capturing the essence of a character and telling a zip-along good narrative.

That, in turn, whet my appetite to revisit some other Civil War fiction recently. Continue reading

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Week In Review: January 13-19, 2019

We’re in full swing with the Civil War & Pop Culture series this week, and you’ll find thoughts, history, and musings about movies, fiction books, music, and fine art. There were also some military articles and news from the history community too. Continue reading

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CW & Pop Culture: Steve Earle’s “Ben McCulloch”

Steve Earle

I’ve been a longtime Steve Earle fan and I’m here today to share something with you…

Steve Earle is cooler than crap.

Here’s a guy who cut his teeth in the music business under the tutelage of the great Townes van Zandt. A guy who has consistently put out high quality albums for more than thirty years. A guy whose talent extends beyond the realm of music.

Continue reading

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CW & Pop-Culture: What’s On The Series Header?

It’s become a little tradition at ECW to feature a post about the images or intentional design for the blog series’ headers. Let’s get started with the images for The Civil War & Pop Culture…

The new book and the blog series covers a variety of history, influences, and forms of entertainment, but for the header images, we decided to just feature movies or TV shows and picked four that are regularly mentioned when asking a group of people how they got interested in the Civil War. Continue reading

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Saving History Saturday: Growing Youth Involvement in Preservation

For those who follow the social media accounts of the American Battlefield Trust, you may have seen the recent posts featuring their Youth Leadership Team (YLT). Made up of ten motivated, preservation-minded high school students from across the country, the YLT  is responsible for helping preserve the history in their own communities. On top of that, they help to spread the word of the Trust’s mission to preserve battlefields of the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War.

The American Battlefield Trust’s Youth Leadership Team. Courtesy of the American Battlefield Trust.

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ECW Weekender: Libraries!

Raise your hand if you purposely plan a stop at the library during your “pre-winter storm” errand trip! One of our editors has admitted to that, and we’re pretty sure others do the same because there’s nothing quite like staying cozy at home when a snow day hits. Continue reading

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CW & Pop Culture: The Gettysburg Soundtrack

Gettysburg had become an obsession. My first trip there had captured my imagination. At the tender age of five, my parents, with a push primarily from my father, had arranged what became the first of many yearly family trips to the small Pennsylvania town. A toy musket, kepi, and my father’s retelling of those historic events at numerous places across the battlefield kept me wanting to come back year-after-year to further explore and re-fight the battle with those accouterments and my imagination in hand. One trip in the early 1990s, however, was different. Continue reading

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CW & Pop Culture: Those Books of Paintings In My Childhood

Civil War paintings created in the 20th Century. They introduced me to Civil War generals. They captured my imagination and made me want to know the stories.

When I first became interested in the Civil War, I was eight years old and it was all about the pretty dresses. Two years later, I visited my cousins and my older cousin Caleb was really interested in military history. He let me look through his collection of Civil War painting books. Some he turned me loose to explore on my own, others we paged through together, and he shielded me from the more violent paintings. I started to wonder and want to know more about the heroically painted men in blue and gray. Continue reading

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Pope’s “Headquarters in the Saddle.” Sort of…

John Pope as he appeared less than one week after the Battle of Second Manassas.

“Headquarters in the Saddle.”

For a man that uttered many phrases that often make him the main course of mockery for Civil War historians, John Pope’s infamous dateline certainly receives its fair share of jokes. It did too in 1862. Supposedly Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee even made light of those four words.

So did the soldiers under Pope’s command. Pvt. James Sullivan of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry remarked of Pope, “He issued his first order dated ‘Headquarters in the saddle,’ and the soldiers, with their usual aptitude to ridicule all attempts at self-glorification on the part of generals, said that he must have his brains where most persons have their hindquarters, and immediately dubbed him ‘Hindquarters in the saddle Pope,’ and after events fully justified their judgement.” It might be one of Pope’s most enduring lines, but, for the first month of his stint as Army of Virginia commander, it is not one of his most accurate.

John Pope took command of the Army of Virginia on June 26, 1862. Pope’s army itself was something new–a conglomerate of multiple Federal entities in northern Virginia meant to bring cooperation between those disparate forces that would win victories. And when Pope came east, he entered into a sort of vacuum of high command for the United States Army. Since March 11, the Federal government had been fighting the war without a General-in-Chief to lead and coordinate its armies. This remained true until Henry Halleck’s arrival in the capital on July 23. In the meantime, Lincoln held Pope in Washington for counsel and would not release him to his field army until Halleck filled that vacuum. Continue reading

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CW & Pop Culture: Civil War Rock and Roll, or, Who was Larkin Poe?

When it comes to the Civil War and popular culture, I admit I am hard to please. For example, with a couple of notable exceptions, I am generally disappointed by film portrayals of the American Civil War. Even the ones I like I find periodically a little to “Hollywood” for my tastes. I doubt there will ever be a Civil War movie that rings all my bells.

And yes, I am familiar with the various period music efforts and musicians, ranging from Johnny Horton to the 97th Regimental String Band and David Kincaid (above) who recorded the first of his two solo albums of period music – “The Irish Volunteer” – back in 1998. I’m also familiar with Kincaid’s guitar-rock efforts via his band, the Brandos, with which he periodically dipped into Civil War territory: the song “Gettysburg” was included on their 1987 album Honor Among Thieves. Continue reading

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