Volume 1 | December 2016
Emerging Civil War  ·  December 2016
Food Comas  ·  10 Questions with Steward Henderson  ·  News & Notes  ·  Look Who's Talking
Hello, Civil Warriors!

We’re running a little late on the newsletter this month because, frankly, most of us are in food comas because of the holidays. Whatever tradition you celebrate at this time of year, we hope it’s been as great for you as it’s been for all of us at ECW.

As usual, we’re wrapping up the year by looking back at 2016 with our annual Year in Review. Check out our top ten posts of the year, some of our favorite highlights (including our 5th anniversary), and more. You can even chime in with your own favorites.

One of our highlights of the year was a look at “ The Future of Civil War History.” Well, with 2017 just days away, that means the future will be here before we know it! Whatever the future of Civil War history looks like, one thing is for sure: ECW has lots of cool things planned for the year ahead, and we hope you’ll stick with us to enjoy them. Happy New Year, everyone!

Best wishes,

Chris Mackowski
10 Questions with . . . Steward T. Henderson
Steward Henderson, a front-line historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, is a founder of the 23rd United States Colored Troops reenactment unit and a member of the 54th Massachusetts. Earlier this year, he wrote a series about his lifelong connection to Fredericksburg. Once upon a time, in a former life before retiring, he worked in the banking industry.

You used to be a banker. Do you ever use any of your old banking skills as a historian?
Well, if you count working at the battlefield bookstores, then counting money, balancing the cash drawer, and selling products are still skills that I use. So, in the winter, when the park rangers work the Chancellorsville bookstore, I get to use those skills. Otherwise, I only use the customer-relations skills when waiting on visitors or interactions with colleagues.

You grew up as a kid loving the battlefields around Fredericksburg, and now you get to work as a historian at those battlefields. What’s that like?
It is great working as a Civil War historian on the battlefields in the Fredericksburg area! W hen I was growing up, I never thought that I would be working here. However, when I was at the CBA Graduate School of Retail Banking, my Civil War reenactor classmate Dan McCown and I gave a tour of all four of our battlefields (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House) to our roommates. Maybe that was a sign of things to come! 

You’ve also been very involved as a living historian. How does that work differ from your work as a front-line historian at a national park?
As a living historian, I portray a corporal in the 23rd USCT or the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers. When at an event, the overwhelming majority of questions that I receive are about black soldiers and slavery. As a front-line historian, the living history assists me in my tours and presentations because I have actually participated in reenactments, drills, parades, and fired muskets. I can add in the experiences of blacks during the period into my tours and talks. So, in essence, many times I combine my roles as both front-line and living historian.

You’ve been instrumental in bringing to life the story of the 23rd USCT. What is it about their story, in particular, is so fascinating to you?
Several years ago, I participated in the “To Freedom” program, which program honored more than 10,000 slaves that escaped the Fredericksburg area during the Union occupation of the spring and summer of 1862. Many of those men came back to fight in the 23rd USCT. The fact that these ex slaves became the first blacks to fight against the Army of Northern Virginia, on one of our battlefields, made their story very significant to this area. Their story is fascinating to me because none of the white troops expected them to fight against their former masters. I feel proud that [local historian] John Cummings and I, with the help of the members in the 23rd, have brought their story to life, which is now recognized with an exhibit in the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center, a Virginia state historical marker, and their picture on the Spotsylvania County mural.

You married a woman equally interested in history. How has that shared interested played a role in your relationship?
Malanna and I met at a Civil War symposium, and she was interested in African Americans in the Civil War.  It took a few months before we became a couple, and she became a member of Women of the Civil War. In November 2013, the 23rd USCT, 54th Massachusetts Co. B, and the Women of the Civil War had a two-day Civil War living history program at Yorktown, which was the site of a contraband camp. Lillian Garland of Women of the Civil War, made our relationship part of the program. Whenever, I dropped by their camp, she told the audience that she had to watch the soldier who was engaged to her granddaughter. At the same Yorktown program, several friends convinced Malanna to have a Civil War wedding ( check out the video online). We have supported each other at the many events in which we have participated.  Our shared interest has helped create a loving, wonderful and educational relationship.

Lightning round. Short answers:
Favorite regiment?
I am sure everyone thinks that I will say the 23rd USCT and it is one of my two favorite regiments. The other favorite is the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. I knew about the 54th long before the 23rd, and I almost joined the 54th Co. B in 1994, but I finally joined them in 2012.

Favorite Trans-Mississippi site?
Battle of Island Mound, Missouri, where the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry became the first black regiment to fight a battle against the Confederate army.

Most overrated person of the Civil War?
Major General George McClellan. He should have been court-martialed for insubordination.

What is one Civil War book you would recommend as indispensable?
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson. It is the best one-volume history of the war. For info on the USCT: History of Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1865 by George Washington Williams, a black Civil War veteran, turned historian.

What is one Civil War-related question no one has ever asked you that you wish someone would?
There are many pictures of Civil War soldiers that look as if they are in “blackface.” I wish someone would ask me why so that I can tell them that their faces are black due to the gunpowder, when firing weapons. When you bite off the cartridge tips, pour the gunpowder into the muskets, and fire them continually, you get the powder all over your face.
Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge
Early-bird tickets for the Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge are still available through December 31 at $110. Starting on the first of the year, tickets will be available at $125.

This year's theme, " Great Defenses of the Civil War," features a line-up of ten speakers, including keynote speaker Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan, finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History.

Details on the Symposium  ·   Register Now
News & Notes
Civil War Monitor has offered Emerging Civil War a lot of love over the past month. Their latest issue gave a great shout-out to  Eric Wittenberg  and  Daniel T. Davis ’s  Out Flew the Sabres: The Battle of Brandy Station. According to the magazine, Nielsen Bookscan lists the book as #7 on the list of the ten best-selling Civil War books published in 2016. The magazine gave the book a great review back in early November. The list of best-sellers also included Eric's Second Battle of Winchester, co-authored with ECW friend Scott Mingus.
Civil War Monitor also gave a glowing review to ECWS authors Bill Backus and Rob Orrison for their book A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign. The magazine called V igilance “a fun little book to read” and “readable and entertaining.” Check out the review online.

The magazine  also reviewed Don’t Give an Inch: The Second Day at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863—from Little Round Top to Cemetery Ridge by Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, and Daniel T. Davis, calling it “ideal as an introduction for those just starting to study the battle.” Check out the review online.

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Sarah Kay Bierle  has been keeping extra-busy with book signings for her new holiday fiction book "With Gladness: A Christmas Story Collection." One of her favorite events in the last few weeks was "A Civil War Christmas" at the Drum Barracks in Wilmington, CA. The 1862 structure was beautifully decorated for the season, and living history, kids' crafts, historical tintype photography, and book signings contributed to make the event family-friendly and full of educational fun!

The American Heroes Channel is running a six-part series called Blood & Fury: America’s Civil War. The episode on Fredericksburg features ECW’s Chris Mackowski.

Kevin Pawlak recently gave a tour of the Shepherdstown battlefield to the Phil Kearny Civil War Roundtable and spoke on the same topic to the Cumberland Valley CWRT in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Ryan Quint had a featured article in the winter 2016 issue of The Civil War Trust’s Hallowed Ground. “ Nobody Gets Through: The Heroic Stand of the 14th New Jersey Infantry at the Battle of Monocacy” serves as a prelude to his upcoming ECWS book Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy, which hits bookstores soon!
Behind-the-Scenes at ECW
From Chris: 

As a younger man aspiring to someday be writer, I used to imagine how cool it would be to do book signings and give talks. It’s a vision filled with small book stores and atmospheric coffee shops, and somewhere off to the side there’d be a table with a stack of my books piled on top and a tabletop sign that said “Tonight!”

What no one told me when I dreamt of such things is that I’d have to schlepp my own books—boxes of them, kept permanently in the trunk of my car, along with a small hand-cart to truck them. Neither did anyone tell me about making effective tabletop displays or keeping enough cash on hand so I can make change or tracking my inventory or any of a myriad of other unsexy business-related details. Thank heaven my wife has a head for such things. I’m a writer; nobody told me there’d be business involved.

But much of what we do is a business, actually. I know dozens of brilliantly talented writers who have manuscripts on the shelves collecting dust because, as creative types, they focused on the art without considering the business of writing. The creative stuff is only half of it; the business stuff makes up half of it, too.

In future editions of the newsletter, we’ll offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the business of what we do at ECW, sharing with you a little bit of what goes into being historians, writers, editors, presenters, and special events organizers. It’s a great privilege to do what we do—but there’s a lot more to it than most people realize!
Upcoming Presentations
January 2017

3rd: Sarah Kay Bierle, “Awakened Hearts: The Power & Patriotism of Civilians,” at Bonnie Blue Flag Chapter #2140 U.D.C. (Redlands, CA)

9th: Kristopher D. White, “The Battle for Burnside’s Bridge,” at the Mahoning Valley Civil War Roundtable (OH)

11th: Chris Mackowski, “The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson,” at the Lynchburg (VA) Civil War Roundtable

12th: Bert Dunkerly, “To The Bitter End: The Surrenders of the Civil War,” Montgomery County Civil War Round Table, MD

13th: Ryan Quint, “Fire in the Bay: The Battle of Portland Harbor,” Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table

14th: Chris Mackowski, “Stonewall Jackson Gets to be a Dad,” S.C.V. Lee-Jackson Symposium, Lexington, VA

15th: Chris Mackowski, “Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness,” Manassas Museum, Manassas, VA

19th: Steward Henderson, "The Importance of the Fredericksburg Area in the Civil War,” the Regency at Chancellorsville, 10:00 am.

25th: Dwight Hughes, “The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah,” Fredericksburg Civil War Round Table, Fredericksburg, VA

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