Volume 03 Issue 12 | July 2019
June 2019 Newsletter
A Train Ride with Grant · 10 Questions with Robert Lee Hodge · News & Notes
ECW (Audio)Bookshelf · ERW News · Speakers Bureau Spotlight: Dan Welch
From the Editor

On June 16, 1885, as the dying Ulysses S. Grant made his way northward toward his rendezvous with destiny atop Mt. McGregor in upstate NY, he rode in a private train provided by his friend, William Vanderbilt. “[T]he party was so large no persons were permitted on the train excepting members of the family, the help, Mr. Arkell, a representative of the Albany Journal and of the associated press,” wrote the reporter from Albany in his dispatch for the newspaper.

However, shortly after the train left Manhattan, he reported, an additional journalist appeared. “After the train had started, a reporter for the New York Times, who had thoughtfully stowed himself away in the baggage car, came out from his hiding place and was left undisturbed,” he wrote.

Grant’s health was major national news, and competition to cover the story was fierce, so reading this anecdote didn’t surprise me. But how are we to interpret this incident? Was this an enterprising journalist who went to great lengths to get an important story, or was this an intrusive trespasser sticking his nose in where it didn’t belong?

Grant’s response tells us much: He could have had the reporter put off the train at any number of stations but did not.

As a general, Grant never harbored the deep animosity toward reporters the way his colleagues William T. Sherman or George Gordon Meade did. However, once elected president, Grant became an intense political partisan. Furthermore, his administration endured plenty of scandal and controversy. Both developments made him frequent targets of the press. The failure of his financial firm Grant & Ward in 1884 also subjected him to unflattering news coverage. In short, he had plenty of reason to be unhappy about the press.

But Grant also recognized that the free press played a vital part in the proper functioning of a democracy. People cannot govern themselves from ignorance, so the press played a role in helping them make informed choices. The press also played role in the government’s system of checks-and-balances as an important external check.

The press still fulfills these crucial functions. Although it has become fashionable to indiscriminately bash the media—which, as an institution, is not without fault—discerning media consumers can develop the skills and wisdom to look past the folly and understand the value. I think Grant’s forbearance on the train serves as a good example.

After all, he not only didn’t eject the reporter, he spent part of his trip reading a newspaper.

— Chris Mackowski
Editor-in-Chief, Emerging Civil War
10 Questions . . .
with Robert Lee Hodge

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome Robert Lee Hodge to our ranks. You can read his full bio here . (In the photo: Robert Lee Hodge, Bud Hall, and Chris Mackowski)
Many people know who you are from your exploits in Confederates in the Attic , but who is “Robert Lee Hodge” beyond the version of you portrayed in the book?
Ha. Well, the way I see myself and the way others see me is I assume a lot different. I am full of flaws that some of my friends can attest to. That being said, I think I often disappoint folks who have read “the book” and meet me to find I have read "The Myth of Sisyphus," drool over Rembrandt and Frederick Church, and love old architecture. I tend to think they expected a neo-Confederate caveman, clad in a homespun loincloth carrying a club, or a Glock, perhaps on a Harley. Horwitz was a sensationalist, but I am thankful to have been written about.

Who am I? I have great concern for historic greenspace and culture—it makes me hurt and gets me angry. The person you read about in the book does not exist, but parts certainly do, or did.

How have you seen the Civil War landscape, as a whole, change since Confederates was published?
Just recently—June 17, 2019—the Confederate monument to the dead in Nashville was vandalized with red spray paint that said, “They were racists.” By today’s standards, everyone was—and probably everyone still is, to some degree, racist—whatever that term really means. I thought the red paint splashed on the face of the faded bronze Rebel was somewhat oddly artistic and meaningful—it reminded me of the Confederate blood spilled. I wanted to take a picture of the bloody bronze Reb, not only because I wanted to document it, but because it strangely added to it. Of course I was hurt and upset by the cowardly action, but this is nothing new anymore—these childish efforts have been going on in the anti-history/anti-art war camp since June 17, 2015.

It has been rough to see the massive authoritarian anti-Confederate memory aggression. The self-righteous judgment of the dead is hurtful to witness. However, there is also something healthy about these juvenile moves that add to the kids’ social resume—it also creates definition as to who they are, and makes one wonder where and how the indoctrination took place. It also reminds us of how topical the Civil War is. The bullying is rough, but I have to try to be like Gandhi or King and take the lumps for the time being. I have been going to Rebel monuments since I was 4. In my mind I never saw an evil person at them in almost 50 years of visiting—and I have been to hundreds of Confederate monuments. The lack of nuance is interesting, and the press fuels this in a partisan way. Simplistically put, I feel the vandalism is an example of technology damaging civility.

How did you get hooked on the Civil War?
My name, of course did it, juxtaposed to being born on Stonewall Jackson’s 143rd birthday, juxtaposed to the Marx/Sears “Blue and the Grey” figurines, juxtaposed to The Golden Book of the Civil War. The Rebel aesthetic is what I was all about. The popular Romanticism of the Confederate with the visual-history aspect made me an addict. Tony Horwitz once said, “Never grow up.” I think he was jealous of my “Confederate Peter-Pan” approach to history, and to life in general. This journey would not have happened without the library—my favorite place in town. When I would not show up for dinner, my mother would call the librarian to get me out of the Civil War books to go home and eat.

You’re a deeply passionate advocate for battlefield preservation. Why is preservation so important, and why is it so important to you ?
Preservation boils down to math perhaps: add limited space to a population explosion nobody will address because it would be political suicide to do so, to how much time we have until huge amounts of land are overrun with aesthetically abysmal abominations called “developments,” to local government simply often doing bad things to help developers, etc. Thus, you see a real crisis of epic proportions. Water quality is compromised, air quality, ingress and egress, quality of life, habitat, etc. all effected by a few folks—the cronies of local government that chase avarice. Perhaps this is just human nature and I should give up on idealism.

For me I “woke up” in June 1991 when I saw The Wilderness battlefield being compromised for homes just a few feet from the earthworks. It was B.S., and it really numbed me. I did not get angry for about a week because I was still in shock. Then I started calling the National Park Service, and I became an intern for the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission. I learn how powerful local governments are to destroy the Nation’s battlefields. My love for Civil War memory, but more specifically Confederate memory, turned me into a “tree-hugger.” I wish Teddy Roosevelt was eternal, and a dictator—a fusion of nationalism and environmentalism.

What do you see as the next Civil War frontier?
Civil War memory is a huge “evergreen” frontier that will continue to expand because the “the information age” really started in the 1850’s. It is fascinating that this 150+ year old subject has so much data sitting in archives all over the country (and in grandma’s attic) that is waiting to be discovered. For instance, Record Group 94 at the National Archives is over 13,000 feet long. Another example is the fighting at Spotsylvania Court House, in the area of Po River—only Bill Matter and Gordon Rhea have really dug into it. Bringing deeper associations to what happened there is something I hope to do. The resources are available, but bringing the connectivity to all the mass data is of course the challenge.

Lightning Round (short answers):
Most overrated person of the Civil War? Joshua Chamberlain? Abraham Lincoln? I like both figures, but the masse focus makes me yawn. The unknown I want to get to know—the privates in the ranks, blue and grey. The civilian aspect helps paint the picture also—but go beyond, for example, two authors I am fond of, Fremantle and Mary Chestnut.

Favorite Trans-Mississippi site? Wilson’s Creek, by far. They have a decent chunk of land saved, a great library, a great museum, and a great Friends group.

Favorite regiment? Often the 17TH Virginia Infantry, but it depends what day it is. Tomorrow it may be the 16th Alabama Infantry, or maybe the 9th Alabama Infantry. It always shifts.

What is the one Civil War book you think is essential? The kids book from American Heritage Publishing, The Golden Book of the Civil War. It had a huge impact on tens of thousands. On a more cerebral level: anything from Bill Styple at Belle Grove Publishing— Writing and Fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia, and Writing and Fighting the Civil War come to mind .

What's one question about the Civil War no one has ever asked you that you wish they would? What is the wildest courts-martial you have ever read?
Douglas MacArthur and the Civil War:
“The Reunion of Blue & Gray Personified”
In 1951, Douglas MacArthur referred to himself as the “reunion of blue and gray personified.” The American Civil War was an immediate and formative experience for both of his parents and their families, and their experiences helped inspire and shape Douglas MacArthur and his older brother Arthur. General MacArthur’s wife, the Tennessee-born Jean Faircloth MacArthur, also had a significant Civil War pedigree. Between them, General and Mrs. MacArthur had ties to virtually every major land campaign east of the Mississippi River.

The MacArthur Memorial and Emerging Civil War are co-sponsoring a symposium with four scholars exploring the Civil War activities of Douglas and Jean MacArthur’s ancestors. Speakers include Chris Mackowski, Charlie McKnight, Dan Welch, and Brian Steel Wills.

Join us on September 28, 2019, from 9:15 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the MacArthur Memorial, 198 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA, 23510. The event is FREE, but registration is required. Call 757.441.2965 to reserve a seat or register online: https://goo.gl/ndrPLL
ECW News and Notes

Edward Alexander is finishing up a couple map projects around the globe, from Bristoe to Burma.

Sarah Kay Bierle spoke at the Inland Empire Civil War Round Table, sharing about Virginia Military Institute history and the lives of eight cadets who fought at New Market and later moved to California after the war.

Doug Crenshaw and Drew Gruber are trying to finish up their book on the Peninsula Campaign. Doug will also be working the NPS anniversary event at Gaines' Mill.

Dwight Hughes has been requested to author an article for the Essential Civil War Curriculum, a sesquicentennial project of the Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech, on the subject of Riverine Warfare in the Civil War.
Dwight presented a paper at the North American Society of Oceanic History annual conference in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on May 17. The conference theme was “Connecting the Global and Local: The Sea and Maritime Cities.” Dwight’s talk, “Global War, Local Impact: In the Wake of CSS  Shenandoah ,” discussed the commerce raider’s visits to Melbourne, Australia, and the Pacific island of Pohnpei, and her destruction of New Bedford whalers in the Arctic in June 1865.

Chris Kolakowski  spoke and gave tours at the American Battlefield Trust Conference in Kentucky. He also read at the D-Day 75th Anniversary at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA.

Chris Mackowski joined Sarah Kay Beirle at the Gazette 665 Civil War Symposium in Temecula, California, in early June (and then Chris and his wife enjoyed some fantastic wine tasting for a couple days, too!). The following weekend, Chris spoke at the Oklahoma Civil War Conference hosted by the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. Amidst his travels, he also visited Joshua Tree National Park (now pretty much cleaned up follow the vandalism that plagued the park during last winter’s government shut down); Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas; the site of the last Confederate surrender of the war near Fort Towson, OK; the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial; and Hershey, PA, “the sweetest place on earth.”

Julie Mujic has accepted a new position teaching in the Global Commerce department at Denison University starting in Fall 2019.

Kevin and Kristen Pawlak recently attended the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
ECW Bookshelf

If you love audiobooks, Emerging Civil War has a treat for you: the Emerging Civil War Audio Series. Our publisher, Savas Beatie, has released nine titles so far, with more on the way. (Our goal is to get all of them out in audio by the year’s end, including our forthcoming fall titles—more on them soon!)

·       The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead by Meg Groeling, narrated by Joshua Saxon

·       Battle Above the Clouds: Lifting the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle of Lookout Mountain by David A. Powell, narrated by Joseph A. Williams

·       Fight Like the Devil: The First Day at Gettysburg by Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, and Daniel T. Davis, narrated by Joseph A. Williams

·       The Great Battle Never Fought: The Mine Run Campaign by Chris Mackowski, narrated by the author

·       Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness by Chris Mackowski, narrated by Bob Neufeld

·       Let Us Die Like Men: The Battle of Franklin by William Lee White, narrated by Bob Neufeld

·       The Most Desperate Acts of Gallantry: George Custer in the Civil War by Daniel T. Davis, narrated by Bob Neufeld

·       Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White, narrated by Joshua Saxon

·       That Furious Struggle: Chancellorsville and the High Tide of the Confederacy by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White, narrated by Bob Neufeld

All audiobooks are available from Audible.com, Amazon.com, and SavasBeatie.com.
Emerging Revolutionary War News

As summer season hits the U.S., it’s a great time to visit some of the battlefields of the American Revolution. In fact, in June 1778, the Continental Army marched out of Valley Forge and fought one of the hottest (temperature wise) engagements ever fought on American soil: the Battle of Monmouth Court House on June 28. Temps soared into the mid-90s, with a heat index well in excess of 100 degrees.
Coincidentally, books on both Valley Forge and Monmouth Court House will be slated for publication this summer and fall as part of the  Emerging Revolutionary War Series  by Savas Beatie LLC. But, while you wait, check out the initial two volumes, published last year and available wherever books are sold. You can find the titles of those books at www.emergingrevolutionarywar.org 
Also, tickets are now on for the "Before They Were Americans" Symposium featuring  Emerging Revolutionary War  historians in Alexandria, Virginia at Gadsby's Tavern / The Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum. Information about the day long event can be found on the Emerging Revolutionary War's website
Speakers Bureau Spotlight
Spotlighting different speakers and their topics from our Emerging Civil War Speakers Bureau. See the full brochure online!
Dan Welch currently serves as a public school teacher in northeast Ohio and continues to serve as seasonal Park Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park where he has worked for the past ten years.
·       “A Fitting Tribute”: Memorial Tributes to Abraham Lincoln
·       “Rally ‘Round the Flag”: Colorbearers at Gettysburg
·       How Did They Get Here: The Gettysburg Campaign
·       “Boys, give them rocks”: Jackson’s Defensive Stand at Second Manassas
·       William Child, the Smoketown Hospital, and the Aftermath at Antietam, 
·       “Acting as an Agent for Governor Curtin”: David Wills and His Mark on Gettysburg,
·       Martyrs of the Race Course: The Forgotten Decoration Day
Descriptions for each talk are available in the speakers bureau brochure.
Upcoming Presentations
6th: Kevin Pawlak and Rob Orrison, “The Antietam Campaign,” Pry House at Antietam National Battlefield, MD, 11 a.m.

8th: Dwight Hughes, “USS Monitor,” Western North Carolina Civil War Round Table, Waynesville, NC

11th-14th: American Battlefield Trust Teacher Institute, Raleigh, NC

11th: Dan Welch, “Color Bearers at Gettysburg,” Lancaster Civil War Round Table, PA

11th: Sarah Kay Bierle, “From California to Gettysburg: The Hancock Family,” Old Baldy Civil War Round Table, NJ (via Skype)

15th: Dan Welch,“Boys give them rocks!” Stonewall Jackson’s Defensive Stand at Second Manassas, Charlottesville Civil War Round Table

17th: Rob Orrison, “Lexington and Concord,” Richmond American Revolution Round Table


12th: Chris Kolakowski, “1864: Decision at Sea,” Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table, Fredericksburg, VA

12th: Edward Alexander, “Battle of Rappahannock Station,”Western North Carolina Civil War Round Table

22nd: Julie Mujic, “Desertion & Abandonment in the Civil War,”  Peninsula (OH) Civil War Lecture Series