Volume 02 Issue 5 | Nov. 2017
November 2017 Newsletter
Living the Dream · Chief Historian · Turning Points · 10 Questions with Phill Greenwalt
ECW Bookshelf · Things We're Thankful For
From the Editor
As a kid, I aspired to be a writer when I grew up. I made up superheroes and drew them in their own comic books. Later, I wrote my own short stories—most of them of a Twilight Zone-ish variety. I wrote for my high school and college newspapers and edited the college paper and literary magazine.

As an undergrad majoring in broadcast communications, I minored in writing, and as a graduate English major, I enrolled in the writing concentration. I worked in broadcast journalism by day, and later, in public relations. I earned an MFA in creative writing and, as my midlife crisis, a PhD with a creative writing emphasis. All the while, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

I don’t remember when, but one day, I woke up and realized I was a writer. By that point, I’d written a couple books, a bunch of magazine articles, tons of newspaper features and columns, and even a couple produced plays. And yet, after all that writing, all those words, even all those degrees, becoming a writer had somehow just sorta snuck up on me. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit,” Richard Bach once said, and it seems he was right. I had written my way from being an enthusiastic amateur to being a professional writer.

People often tell me, “I can’t believe you write as much as you do.” However, I can’t not write—which is why I do it. I guess that’s what makes me a writer.

These days, I don’t get to write as much as I’d like because most of my emphasis is on editing, which cuts deeply into my writing time. However, the significant upside is that, for instance, I helped Ryan Quint get his first book published this year, and I helped Steve Davis finish his two-volume set on the Atlanta campaign, and I gave Doug Crenshaw the first real collaborative experience he’s ever had with an editor for his book on the Seven Days. I got to work with a seasoned writer whom I really respect, Dave Powell, on his Lookout Mountain book. The good experiences for me went on and on.

As a writer, I get to live my dream every day; as an editor, I get to help other writers achieve that same dream. That's what one of our principal missions at ECW—to help nurture emerging voices in the field—and one of my main motivations as an editor.

So, that’s what I’m thankful for this holiday: I get to live my dream and help other writers live theirs. 

— Chris Mackowski
ECW's Kolakowski Promoted to Chief Historian
Christopher Kolakowski has been chosen to serve as ECW’s next chief historian.

Kolakowski, who has been with ECW since May 2013, is the author of several books and, on the ECW blog, of a popular series called “Civil War Echoes.” He also currently serves on ECW’s editorial board and management team. By day, Kolakowski serves as director of the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.

As chief historian, Kolakowski will oversee quality control for ECW’s historical content. 

Turning Points: The Book & The Symposium
You’ll be hearing a lot about “Turning Points” from ECW over the next few months. On the blog, we’ll be offering content to coincide with the upcoming release of the first book in our new “Engaging the Civil War” Series, published by Southern Illinois University Press, Turning Points of the American Civil War. Watch for the logo (left).

And of course, our Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge ties into the book, too. Our theme this year is "Turning Points of the Civil War." Early bird tickets, which are only $130, are available now through the end of 2017. You can details about our line-up of speakers, our Sunday tour, and more—and you can register—by visiting our website.
10 Questions with . . . Phill Greenwalt
Maryland native Phill Greenwalt is a National Park Service supervisor currently stationed in the Everglades, but he’s worked at George Washington Birthplace and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. With Rob Orrison, he’s co-founder of ECW’s sister site, Emerging Revolutionary War .

Is there a lot of Civil War history in the Everglades? If not, how’d you end up down there? You make someone mad at you?

Yes, to the last question, of course. ;-) No, in all seriousness, there are opportunities within the National Park Service to expand your knowledge, take on new and unique challenges, and grow in your career. The position I have now at Everglades National Park presented me with the chance to do all three of those things. I’m embracing a new challenge to grow within the Park Service, and hopefully one day I’ll come back to a more cultural history-centric park.

There is some Civil War history in the immediate area, though: Stephen Mallory surveyed part of the Everglades. Dry Tortugas National Park is mostly Fort Jefferson, which was one of three forts not captured by the Confederates in the South that were installations prior to the conflict. There is also a bit of Seminole Wars, World War II, and Cold War History down here. There are also a lot of connections to the Civil War throughout the state to explore—one just has to look.

You have a background in both Civil War history and Revolutionary War-era history. Do you see a connection between those two periods?

Absolutely. Paraphrasing the historian John Buchanan, the “Civil War was just unfinished business left over from the American Revolution.”

The fighting that erupted in the Southern colonies during the Revolutionary War was a “civil war” within the larger conflict. The questions left from the war and the peace that followed reverberated through the decades until war erupted again in 1861. What’s poignant is that there were still veterans alive in 1861 that fought in the American Revolution. What were their thoughts, seeing a county they had bled, froze, starved, and suffered for torn asunder within their lifetime?

Also, there is a reason a lot of history classes in college are titled “United States History to 1865” as the split between the two halves of the country’s history. Many Southerners called the Civil War the “Second American Revolution,” as they thought the ideals they were fighting for were akin to what their forefathers fought for. For the North, men joined to “Save the Union” that their own forefathers strived for.

To fully cement the two periods together, look at the “Battle of Baltimore”—the April 19, 1861, riots that caused the deaths of a few members of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry and a few citizens of Baltimore. The action happened on the 86th anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord and, interestingly, the men from the 6th Mass hailed from those two towns. These boys had grown up cloaked in the history of the Revolution. What an interesting connection there!

Each era must present its unique challenges and rewards when it comes to writing about them. What’s the biggest challenge and biggest reward for you?

If one peruses Amazon online or in-store at Barnes & Noble, you are bound to come across diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and reminiscences from common soldiers to general officers in the Civil War. For the Revolution, primary sources for the rank-and-file are fewer and require more digging. Obviously, a few factors play into that: more soldiers fought in the Civil War than the American Revolution, there was a more literate population, and it’s closer to modern times so easier to capture memories on paper. But, constructing the history from the “bottom-up,” meaning from the common soldier, is more difficult.

But, that leads to the rewarding part: when you do you find those accounts, you can peer back through the passage of time and find out what life was like in the Continental Army or as a loyalist in the Southern colonies, for two examples. For me, the collection of personal accounts from the general population helps fill in the picture and gives a lens to look into their world.

Tell us more about Emerging Revolutionary War.

Emerging Revolutionary War was crafted out of Emerging Civil War back in 2014, starting with “Rev. War Wednesday” posts. Then it grew into its own blog in 2015. We have embarked on providing the same public history forum that has made Emerging Civil War so popular. We have a few of the same authors who provide great posts and insights, and we’ve uncovered some great new talent to add to the group.

Our goal is to provide a portal into the Revolutionary War era, from the French and Indian War through the War of 1812—and from there, enthusiasm, understanding, and interest can grow. We look for posts that run the gambit from military to political to economic to social, from reenacting to book reviews and preservation. We also sprinkle in places that are preserved and beckoning for you to visit during your travels. Check us out at www.emergingrevolutionarywar.org!

What are your plans for ERW in the short-term future?

Our short-terms plans are to continue to provide content on the blog and grow the interest for the Revolutionary era. Also, we have our first two publications in the Emerging Revolutionary War Series scheduled for release in early 2018. They are:

  • Victory or Death, The Battles of Trenton and Princeton, December 25, 1776 – January 3, 1777 by Mark Maloy
  • A Single Blow, The Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Beginning of the American Revolution, April 19, 1775 by Phillip S. Greenwalt and Rob Orrison

A few other titles are currently in the works, as well, so stay tuned to the blog!
Lightning Round:
Who’s the most overrated person of the Civil War era? Philip Sheridan

What’s your favorite Trans-Mississippi site? I’ve not been to many. Galveston, New Orleans, and a bit of the Red River Campaign is all I’ve seen, so far. On the bucket list, though, is Glorieta Pass, Valverde, and the sites related to Sibley’s 1862 campaign.

What’s your favorite regiment?  1st Maryland or 2nd Florida

What’s one Civil War book you would recommend as indispensable? To not copy some of the previous months’ picks, I am going to say 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart. If I get a second, This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust or What this Cruel War Was Over by Chandra Manning. Okay, that’s three—oops!

What’s one question about the Civil War no one’s asked you but you wish they would? What was it like for the men of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia—or any Southern armies—the day after the surrender was final? After all those months and years of service, what went through their minds as they faced their first day outside the confines of the Confederate army?
ECW Bookshelf
We’re pleased to announce the release of a new, third edition of Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White. Now at 192 pages (instead of the original 168), the new edition of Simply Murder features
  • 38 new photos
  • 4 new maps, including two Civil War Trust maps
  • a new appendix on Fredericksburg National Cemetery by Donald C. Pfanz
  • a new appendix on the civilians of Fredericksburg during the war by Ryant Quint, with an expanded section of civilian-related sites
  • a new appendix on the battle of Second Fredericksburg by Chris Mackowski
  • a new appendix on the Civil War Trust’s preservation of the Slaughter Pen Farm
  • tour updates to reflect changes on the battlefield since the book was first issued in Dec. 2012.

Simply Murder has been out of print since the early summer while we’ve prepared the new, expanded edition, so we're glad to finally have it hit the shelves. Check it out!
News & Notes Thanksgiving Style
For News & Notes this month, we thought we'd deviate from our normal offerings. We asked our contributors, "What's something Civil War-related that you're thankful for this year?" Here are their responses:

Edward Alexander is thankful for Ton Ledoux's website Vermont in the Civil War, vermontcivilwar.org . “I have probably used this resource four or five times per week this year as I work on projects,” he says.
Todd Arrignton is grateful for the opportunity to grow up in Gettysburg, PA. Being surrounded by the battlefield and history there is unquestionably what fostered my love of history and the Civil War.
Sarah Bierle is thankful for our U.S. military members who continue to protect our country, defend the ideals of freedom, and remind us that true heroes don't just exist in history books.
Doug Crenshaw is grateful for hooking up with and being published by ECW.
Dan Davis is thankful he had the opportunity to co-lead the Brandy Station tour at last summer’s symposium.
Steve Davis is thankful that he can contribute to  Civil War News  as both Book Review Editor and contributor of his monthly column, "Critic's Corner." He adds, “The Secretary of Interior...er...my sweet wife complains that I work harder for Jack Melton's newspaper now than I did in my day-job all those years before retirement. But it's so much more fun fighting Yankees than (as Jackson Browne put it) working for the legal tender.”
Bert Dunkerly says, “This may sound cheesy but I'm going to say ECW. We can all research and write, but having the collective wisdom of this group is a game changer: people who share the passion and can push us when we need it; people to bounce ideas off of and who are as active in education and preservation as I am.”
Phill Greenwalt is thankful that he had the opportunity to take his dad, who has dementia, to Gettysburg and walk part of Pickett’s Charge with him where the Floridians attacked. “That’s something we did when I was young and I was able to do recently,” Phill said. “Not sure how many more times we will be able to do that.”
Meg Groeling is thankful for the opportunities ECW has given me. “If that’s too cheesy to say,” she said, “then I’m thankful that studying the Civil War and warfare in general has given me a sense of the military continuity that extends forward to our service members today, for whom I am very, very thankful.”
Steward Henderson is thankful that CSPAN 3 continues to show Civil War lectures, discussions, and events. It is extremely important, in the nature of the current controversies over Confederate monuments that Americans are able to hear Civil War historians explain the complexities of this era in our history.
Dwight Hughes is thankful for a dedicated and talented team of public historians with which to share a passion for our Civil War heritage and a mission to pass it on to future generations.
Chris Kolakowski is thankful the Union was preserved.
Jennifer Mackowski is thankful that so many people continue to come to Stevenson Ridge to explore the area’s great Civil War history.
Julie Mujic is thankful for how the Civil War engages students in the classroom in engaging discussion about key issues in our nation’s history.
Kevin Pawlak is definitely thankful that we have Civil War battlefields to walk on that enable us to learn more about the war and the people who experienced it firsthand.
Dave Powell is thankful for the forthcoming National Tribune Index.
Ryan Quint is thankful to work for the NPS and to be able to tell our collective stories that remind us from where we’ve all come from.
Dan Welch is thankful for the many friends and colleagues with whom he gets to learn and grow by studying this turbulent period in our history.
Eric Wittenberg is grateful for the superb work being down by the Civil War Trust in preserving battlefields and our heritage.