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Mayfield Fort

A few weeks ago, presidential historian Brooks Simpson and I were in the DC area attending the Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History. On the first day of the conference, we entertained and enlightened (Brooks as chair; myself as one of the presenters) a packed house of our fellow historians in a session on “Union Generalship and the Politics of War: Three Case Studies”. The next day, we field checked sections of my forthcoming Manassas guide in the University of Nebraska Press’s This Hallowed Ground series. We started at Cedar Mountain, the first stop on the section of the guide devoted to the Second Manassas Campaign, and worked our way back to Manassas.

Among the places we stopped was Mayfield Fort in Manassas, which is where the guide discusses the rout of George W. Taylor’s command on the morning of 27 August 1862, and its effect on the campaign.

It is a site well worth visiting, not least for the interesting artillery display there.

Anyone can look distinguished on their book jacket picture standing next to a smoothbore Napoleon or Parrott Rifle; only a real scholar can pull it off with a Quaker gun.

Corinth

A guest post by LTC Charles R. Bowery Jr., Chief, Doctrine Division, U.S. Army Aviation Center.

During a recent visit to Shiloh National Military Park, I had the opportunity to visit the park’s Corinth Interpretive Center. This beautiful facility is located near the site of Battery Robinett, one of the primary Federal defensive positions around the key railroad junction of Corinth and scene of bloody fighting during the October 1862 battle there.

The award-winning Interpretive Center is an exceptional combination of history, memory, and education about the causes and consequences of the wider Civil War, the war in the Western Theater, and the impact of the fighting on the population of this northern Mississippi community. It uses art, multimedia, and artifacts to tell these stories in an engaging and informative way. The building itself and the reconstructed artillery position call to mind the fortifications that both sides constructed in and around Corinth.

The walkway leading to the main entrance features an outdoor installation entitled “Detritus of Battle,” with bronze replicas of soldier equipment scattered on the pavement, walls, and surrounding grass.

This display culminates in a wall-size depiction of soldiers moving to battle on the double-quick.

The museum tells the story of Corinth as a growing railroad town, and then as a strategic crossroads. The carved adjutant’s field desk of the 76th Ohio Infantry and the distinctive battle flag of the 6th Missouri Infantry (C.S.) are among the artifacts on display. A reconstructed army supply boxcar also highlights why Corinth was so hotly contested in 1862.

Corinth was also the site of one of the largest Contraband Camps in the South. The Interpretive Center highlights the town’s place in African-American emancipation and examines the war’s outcome and legacy from various viewpoints.

A water feature in the building’s courtyard, entitled “The Stream of American History 1770-1870,” symbolically depicts the birth and expansion of the United States, the rise of sectional tension over slavery, the Civil War, and reconstruction. The water’s flow originates from the Preamble to the Constitution, flows over the states of the Union and the Confederacy and over blocks inscribed with the names of 117 prominent battles and campaigns, and ends with the three Civil War-era amendments to the Constitution.

Just outside the courtyard, numerous graves of known and unknown Union and Confederate soldiers remind the visitor of he human toll of this turbulent century.

Downtown Corinth contains numerous sites of significance to the war in the West. A small park stands on the site of the wartime Tishomingo Hotel, next to the vital railroad crossing, and contains period photographs.

The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center should be on any Civil War traveler’s “must-see” list, especially as we approach the 150th anniversary of the battles in and around the city.

LTC Bowery is a former military history instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and has served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as an Apache pilot, including a tour in Afghanistan in 2010-11 as commander of Task Force Dragon, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade. He has led numerous staff rides of battlefields in Europe and North America and is author of Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. His forthcoming works include a CMH Commemorative Monograph on the War in the West, 1862-1863 and The Army War College Guide to the Richmond and Petersburg Campaigns of 1864-65.

Get Thee to the George Tyler Moore Center Seminar!

The folks at Shepherd University’s incomparable George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War have finished putting together the program for their annual seminar. It will run 28 June–1 July 2012, and be based out of Petersburg, Virginia. The theme is “McClellan’s War: The Peninsula Campaign of 1862.”

As always, the highlight of the program is the tours the GTM Center puts together. This year A. Wilson Greene, Executive Director of Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier will be leading a half-day tour that will cover the campaign on the Peninsula prior to the Seven Days, followed by an all-day tour of the Richmond Battlefields of 1862, including Beaver Dam Creek and Malvern Hill, photos of which appear below. If you have an interest in the Civil War and have yet to have the great pleasure of walking a battlefield with Will, here is your chance!

The tours are complemented by a full schedule of lectures, with the scholar-in-residence this year being . . . yours truly! In addition to helping keep Will on the straight and narrow in regards to the virtues of George B. McClellan, I will also be giving a lecture on “Little Mac’s Grand Campaign: The Struggle on the Peninsula and Its Enduring Significance.” Mark Snell, who in addition to being the director of the GTM Center is also the author of an outstanding biography of William B. Franklin, will then complement my presentation on the broader contexts that shaped and were shaped by the campaign by providing an overview of its course and conduct. Following us on the stage will be Susannah J. Ural of the University of Southern Mississippi. If you are an enthusiast of the Texas Brigade, this is one lecture you are not going to want to miss, as it will draw on the extensive research that has gone into her forthcoming Hood’s Texans: A History of the Texas Brigade and Southern Society in the American Civil War to offer fresh information and insights on that unit’s history. Then (as if this were not enough) Joseph Stahl, a former member of the staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses, will also be offering what is sure to be a fascinating examination of the progress of the Peninsula Campaign through the ID discs that were recovered from various camps and battle sites.

Mark and his staff have been doing this seminar for several years and have refined their skills as hosts and logisticians to a fine point. More information on the GTM Center and the seminar are available here.

Tramping the 150th

Some photos from a trip last week to the Virginia peninsula for a Yorktown Staff Ride with our satellite campus at Fort Lee, from which I took some time out to celebrate the 150th anniversary of George McClellan’s 1862 grand campaign.

The first photo below was taken along the section of the defensive line near the Yorktown Vistor Center. The cannon posted next to the flag is a French 6 pdr. known as “Le Renard” (“the Fox”). Redoubt No. 9, which was captured by the French on 14 October 1781, is visible to the right of the picture.

It is interesting to look at the maps and see just how much the Confederates followed the outline of Cornwallis’s defenses from 1781 in constructing their defenses around Yorktown itself. (Magruder’s men also constructed fortifications that extended south behind the Warwick River.) Of course, the same terrain features, in particular Yorktown Creek and Wormley’s Creek, essentially dictated that the historic Hampton Road (modern Cook Road/VA 704) be the main avenue of approach for armies conducting offensive operations against Yorktown in both 1781 and 1862. (The first map below of the 1862 lines is from plate 14 in the OR Atlas; the second of the 1781 lines is from the USMA Atlas site.)

The photos below were taken at Fort Darling on Drewry’s Bluff. Both look downstream to where on 15 May 1862 the engagement took place between the Confederate land defenses and the James River Flotilla (which included the ironclads Monitor and Galena) in which the latter were forced to retreat downstream. The engagement resulted in the awarding of the first Medal of Honor to a member of the US Marine Corps, Corporal John Freeman Mackie. Fort Darling was also the site of the Confederate Naval Academy.

From, John Russell Soley, “The Navy in the Peninsular Campaign,” Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. 2: 268-70:

On the 10th, Norfolk was abandoned, and was immediately occupied by the Union forces under General Wool. Early the next morning Commodore Tattnall, being unable to carry out his plan of taking the Merrimac up the James River near Craney Island. Meantime, the Galena and her consorts under Commander John Rodgers had been working their way up the James River. On the first day two batteries were encountered. The first, at Rock Wharf, was silenced, The resistance of the second, at Hardin’s Bluff, was more obstinate, but Rodgers, in the Galena, lay abreast of the enemy’s guns and kept up a steady fire, disconcerting their aim while the wooden boats went by. During the next week Rodgers continued on his course up the James, meeting With no serious impediment until he arrived at Drewry’s Bluff, eight miles below Richmond.

At this time, May 15th, the flotilla had been increased by the addition of the Monitor and the Naugatuck. Fort Darling (Commander E. Farrand, C.S.N.), at Drewry’s Bluff, was a strong position, two hundred feet above the river, and mounting a number of heavy guns. At the foot of the bluff an obstruction had been placed in the river formed of sunken vessels secured by chains. The light armor of the Galena had not as yet been seriously tested, and Rodgers had no great confidence in her ability to stand a severe fire; nevertheless, he decided to make the test. In a private letter written shortly after, he said: “I was convinced as soon as I came on board that she would be riddled under fire, but the public thought differently, and I resolved to give the matter a fair trial.” Accordingly, he ran the Galena up to a point opposite the battery, where the width of the stream was not more than double the ship’s length. According to an officer in the fort, the Galena “steamed up to within seven or eight hundred yards of the bluff, let go her starboard anchor, ran out the chains, put her head inshore, backed astern, let go her stream-anchor from the starboard quarter, hove ahead, and made ready for action before firing a gun.” Nothing could have been more beautiful than the neatness and precision of movement with which Rodgers placed the Galena, as if at target practice, directly under the enemy’s fire. In the words of the officer already quoted, “It was one of the most masterly pieces of seamanship of the whole war.”

In this position the Galena remained for three hours and twenty minutes until she had expended all her ammunition. She came out of the action badly shattered, having been struck 28 times and perforated in 18 places. The Monitor passed for a short time above the Galena, but being unable to elevate her guns sufficiently to reach the bluff, she again dropped below. The wooden vessels cooperated as far as possible, but of course could not accomplish much. The attack made it clear that the obstructions could not be passed without first reducing the fort, and that the fort could not be reduced without the cooperation of the army.

Hemp!! (Bales, Battle of . . . a.k.a. The Siege of Lexington)

If you are in the Kansas City area tomorrow night and have an interest in the September 1861 Battle of Lexington, check this out:

The National Archives at Kansas City will host Dr. Ethan Rafuse on Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m. for a lecture titled “Missouri at War: The Battle of Lexington.” A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the event. Attendees are encouraged to view the Divided Loyalties exhibition prior to the lecture.

The Battle of Lexington in September 1861 marked the high tide of Confederate operations in the state that year. After winning a resounding victory at Wilson’s Creek, Sterling Price led his Missouri State Guard north in an effort to redeem the “Little Dixie” region from Union control. At Lexington, in what became known as the “Battle of the Hemp Bales,” Price’s forces won a rousing victory over a Union force of 3,500 men.

Not only was Lexington the greatest Union defeat of the war in Missouri, it also was one in a series of events that would dash the high hopes Northerners had of Major General John C. Fremont when he assumed command in Missouri. With his record of accomplishment as an officer in the antebellum army, stature as the first Republican presidential candidate, and strong personal connection to the Benton family, the widely celebrated “Pathfinder” had initially seemed to be the right man to lead the North to victory in the state. But within two months after the defeat at Lexington, Fremont’s tenure in command in Missouri would come to an ignominious end. This talk will discuss the fight at Lexington and Fremont’s tenure in command, as well as its larger significance for the war in Missouri.

These events are free, open to the public, and take place at the Kansas City branch of the National Archives and Records Administration, located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108.

This program is part of a lecture series NARA-Kansas City put together that includes three members of the faculty at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. It is designed to support and help promote their current exhibit: Divided Loyalties: Civil War Documents from the Missouri State Archives. A partial description:

Divided Loyalties examines the upheaval and uncertainty that characterized Missouri during the Civil War era. As Missourians divided their loyalties between the Union and the Confederacy, many found themselves facing dire consequences for their decisions. This exhibit focuses on the social conflict that permeated the state for the two decades that followed the Kansas border wars of the mid-1850s. Going beyond the stories of battle and military strategy, original documents demonstrate how even those Missourians who did not serve in the military could be subjected to suspicion, discrimination, and violence.

A full description of the exhibit, which runs through April, can be found here.

I figure emphasizing the hemp angle might help us attract an audience that skews a bit younger demographically than is usually the case.

THE Turning Point of the Civil War!!

Today is the 150th anniversary of one of the truly important events in the military history of the Civil War.

While others might answer Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Antietam, or perhaps Fort Donelson when asked what they think the military engagement that had the greatest impact on the outcome of the Civil War was, I am not among them. First, I do not agree with the contingency theory for explaining the outcome of the war (in sum, the notion that had a particular engagement gone the other way, the outcome of the war would have been different). There is no question, though, that some engagements did have a much greater impact on its course than others. When asked what I think was the most important battle of the war, my unhesitating (and only slightly irreverent) response is this: First Kernstown, 23 March 1862.

In that battle, of course, Stonewall Jackson impetuously decided to set aside his reservations about initiating an engagement on a Sunday and attacked what he thought was only a small Union force posted just south of Winchester. It was a horrible blunder–at least tactically; strategically it turned out to be an inadvertent stroke of genius. In a bitter engagement fought around Pritchard’s Hill and on Sandy Ridge (the first picture below looks north toward Pritchard’s Hill; the second looks west over toward Sandy Ridge from Pritchard’s Hill), the Federals won a crushing tactical victory and drove off Jackson’s command. As the battered Confederates made their retreat, one perceptive—and brave–soldier summed up what had happened when he encountered Jackson afterward, “looks like you cut off more tobacco today than you could chew.” “General Jackson,” another man complained afterward, “was completely taken in. The wonder is why the Yankees didn’t capture our whole army.”

What made this engagement so important in the war was not so much what happened on the battlefield (or that Gary Ecelbarger wrote such a fine book on the battle, though he did), but the impact that it had in Washington. Despite the fact that Jackson’s forces had been crushed and effectively neutralized, the fact that he attacked at all spooked Washington badly. Most important, it reinforced Lincoln’s grossly exaggerated anxieties over the security of the Shenandoah Valley, which would lead him in the months that followed to undermine McClellan’s operations on the Peninsula through gross mismanagement of McDowell’s command. The failure to capture Richmond, of course, was the catalyst for a month of recalibration of the Union war effort, which ultimately led: 1) to the evacuation from the James and two years of frustration for the Army of the Potomac until Grant got it back to the James; and, 2) the shift to hard war, manifest in passage of the Second Confiscation Act, Lincoln’s decision to issue an Emancipation Proclamation, and the tone with which John Pope assumed command of the Army of Virginia. Indeed, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say the road to emancipation passed through Kernstown.

Kernstown was significant in another respect. In his search for scapegoats after the battle, Jackson fastened on Richard Garnett, commander of the Stonewall Brigade, placed him under arrest, and removed him from command. Garnett rightfully resented what was a manifest injustice—as did the men of the Stonewall Brigade—and demanded a court of inquiry. The court finally began meeting in early August 1862 at Liberty Mills near Gordonsville, with the first few rounds of testimony being quite damning for Jackson. Then, fortuitously for him, elements from Pope’s army began stirring around Culpeper, giving Jackson what must have been a very welcome excuse to suspend the proceedings and put his command in motion. The Battle of Cedar Mountain followed shortly thereafter. One can’t help but wonder how much of the aggressiveness and eagerness to maintain a high optempo that distinguished Jackson’s generalship over the next few months was motivated by a desire to keep that court-martial suspended and Kernstown out of people’s minds!

In sum, it is hard to think of many, if any, battles that had such significant consequences for the course of the American Civil War. Happily, it is a pretty cool battlefield also. If you ever get a chance when you are in the Winchester area, it is well worth your time to check it out.

Pea Ridge Staff Ride – Pt. 2 (long overdue)

Here is the long-awaited follow up to the initial post on the CGSC Pea Ridge Staff Ride.

After completion of the prep phase of the course, we headed to Arkansas. After an evening settling in at the hotel in Fayetteville, the class begins the execution phase of the ride by heading north to the Pea Ridge National Military Park to link up with Daniel Sutherland, who accompanied us on the ride. The student readings for the staff ride itself were (of course) from this guide.

The instruction team and students then headed over to Little Sugar Creek to check out the fortifications there. We also did the strategic and operational overview, discussed Curtis’s and Van Dorn’s plans, analyzed their respective forces, and assessed their plans.

After this, the group headed back to the battlefield and did stops at Curtis’s headquarters near Pratt’s Store, where we discussed Curtis’s response to the successful Confederate maneuver around his army and plan for countering it. From there, the group continued along the park road to Leetown, where we did two stands. In these the fighting around Leetown was discussed, as was its effect on the plans of both commanders, and what enabled the Federals to prevail.

After lunch at the “East Overlook” shelter on Big Mountain (the ONLY point during the ride when there was a break in the rain), we stopped at Elkhorn Tavern to discuss the fight there on 7 March 1862.

The next step was a short walk over to the Iowa light artillery position.

The fighting on 8 March 1862 that finally drove the Confederates from the field was addressed in stands at Ruddick’s Field. The initial plan was to walk out to Welfley’s Knoll, where Franz Sigel skillfully pounded the Confederates around Elkhorn Tavern with artillery during the morning of 8 March and set up the assault that drove them from the field, but the rain was so bad that we decided to drop that plan and headed over to the visitor center.

Group photo at the Pea Ridge Visitor Center.

Interesting . . .

Of course this is something I have been lamenting for some time. And not just because of this.

Compared with Gettysburg, no one goes to Antietam
An American in Ireland

Two weeks ago I did a two day tour of the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields. The contrast in what I experienced at the two battle sites was incredible.

If you can say this about a battlefield, Gettysburg is ‘hot’. A massive visitor center, a multitude of parking lots, loads of bus tours all add up to thousands of daily visitors. {I’m guessing, but I was there on July 22 and I’m sure in excess of 10,000 visited that day.}

The gift shop at Gettysburg is a supermarket-sized store full of tee-shirts, baseball caps, books, videos, knickknacks, replica weapons and uniforms. It’s huge. Even the fee for the visitor center is big – $10.50 per adult and $6.50 per child. That’s $34 for a family of four.

Antietam is only 40 miles from Gettysburg, just across the border in Maryland. Based on official numbers, Antietam gets approximately 25% of the visitors that Gettysburg gets. I don’t know how those figures are derived, but from what I saw 10% would be more like it. When I was there I saw few visitors and no buses at all.

Full story can be found here.

By the way, if you are looking for a good time and a great way to do Antietam, Ted Alexander’s Chambersburg seminar next July will be focused on the Maryland Campaign. Expect great stuff.

(Hat tip to Robert W. Rafuse Jr.)

Happy Wilson’s Creek Day!

If you are in the Kansas City area, tomorrow night my colleague Terry Beckenbaugh will be giving a lecture on the Battle of Wilson’s Creek at the downtown public library. Details on the event, which is part of a multi-year program of Civil War lectures involving the Kansas City Public Library and the Department of Military History at CGSC, can be found here.

The Pea Ridge Staff Ride – Pt. 1

After the success of the May 2009 staff ride of the 1862 Maryland Campaign staff ride chronicled starting here, my partner in instructional crime, Dr. Terry Beckenbaugh was able to secure authorization to teach another staff ride elective at CGSC, this time with the 1862 Pea Ridge Campaign as its focus. (Terry is an uber-expert on the war in Arkansas in 1862, having done his doctoral research at the University of Arkansas under Dan Sutherland on the subject.) The first iteration ran last year with me assisting Terry, while a second was completed a few weeks ago without me, as I was teaching an elective on World War I instead.

battle-of-pea-ridge

Before the actual ride, the instructional team and students went through a prep phase, which consisted of six class meetings in which they discussed the following subjects based on the following readings:

Lesson 1: The Civil War, Causes and Course
William L. Barney, “Civil War (1861-65): Causes,” in The Oxford Companion to American Military History, edited by John W. Chambers II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 126-28

Herman Hattaway and Ethan S. Rafuse, “Civil War (1861-1865): Military and Diplomatic Course,” in The Oxford Companion to American Military History, 128-34, OR Williamson Murray, “The Industrialization of War,” in The Cambridge History of Warfare, edited by Geoffrey Parker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 223-39

William W. Freehling, “Why Civil War Military History Must Be Less Than 85 Percent Military,” North & South 5 (February 2002), 14-24

Lesson 2: The Civil War Soldier: Experience and Motives
Albert Castel, “Mars and the Reverend Longstreet: Or, Attacking and Dying in the Civil War,” in Winning and Losing in the Civil War (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996): 119-32.

Mark Grimsley, “In Not So Dubious Battle: The Motivations of American Civil War Soldiers,” Journal of Military History 63 (January 1998): 175-88.

Lesson 3: The War in 1862
William L. Shea & Earl J. Hess, Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), Chapters 1-4 (1-87)

LTC Charles R. Schrader, “Field Logistics in the Civil War,” in Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson, eds., The U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Antietam: The Maryland Campaign of 1862 (Carlisle, PA: South Mountain Press, Inc. Publishers, 1987), 255-284.

Lesson 4: The War in Missouri
William L. Shea & Earl J. Hess, Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), Chapters 5-13 (88-169)

Lesson 5: Civil War Tactics
William L. Shea & Earl J. Hess, Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), Chapters 5-13 (170-260)

Sharon S. MacDonald and W. Robert Beckman, “Tactics,” in Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000), vol. 4: 1915-19.

Lesson 6: The Opposing Sides
William L. Shea & Earl J. Hess, Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), Chapters 14-15, (261-306)

The next two lessons consisted of students delivering briefs on various Union and Confederate commanders (Curtis, Sigel, Carr, Osterhaus, Davis on the Union side; Van Dorn, Price, McCullouch, Pike, and Hebert on the Confederate) who figured prominently in the campaign. The students were given the following guidance on preparing their briefs:

Lesson 7 and 8: Character Briefs

Each student will be assigned one or more of the major participants in the Pea Ridge Campaign who they will provide a short (about 15-20 minutes) brief on to the rest of the class on 11 or 13 April. The brief will cover the individual’s life and military career up to, including and after the Civil War (skipping the details of the Pea Ridge Campaign), and offer some insights into his character if possible.

You should be able to find all the information you need to put together a satisfactory brief on your subject(s) in general reference works on the Civil War. Those listed below can be found in the reference section of CARL. Of course, you should feel free to go beyond these sources in the course of your research if you wish to do so.

SUGGESTED SOURCES:
Mark Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary (1959)
David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, 5 vols. (2000)
William L. Shea and Earl J. Hess, Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (1997)
Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders (1959)
Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders (1964)

BIOGRAPHIES (optional, but if you really want to dig deep)
Albert Castel, Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1993)
Thomas Cutrer, Ben McCulloch and the Frontier Military Tradition (1993)
Walter Lee Brown, A Life of Albert Pike (1997)
Arthur B. Carter, Tarnished Cavalier: Major General Earl Van Dorn, C.S.A (1999)
Robert G. Hartje, Van Dorn: The Life and Times of a Confederate General (1994)
John F. Marszalek, Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies: A Life of General Henry W. Halleck (2004)
Stephen D. Engle, Yankee Dutchman: The Life of Franz Sigel (1999)
Mary Bobbitt Townsend, Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter J. Osterhaus (2010)
James T. King, War Eagle: A Life of General Eugene A. Carr (1963)
Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes and Gordon D. Whitney, Jefferson Davis in Blue: The Life of Sherman’s Relentless Warrior (2006)

Nice Work, If You Can Get It . . . Here’s Your Chance!

The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) is looking to hire a military historian to join our teaching team at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. A completed PhD in history and teaching experience (especially military history) are the most important qualifications, with publications and engagement in other professional activities being helpful. Field of research and study is completely open.

The job consists of teaching the core Intermediate Level Education course on military history, H100: Rise of the Western Way of War, three times a year, plus other instructional and administrative duties as required by the teaching team. H100 is a twelve-lesson (24 hours total) graduate-level course, developed by the Department of Military History (DMH) here at Fort Leavenworth, that covers military history from approximately 1400 through World War I and is organized around the themes of military change over time, military theory, and the relationship between war and society. The texts are Geoffrey Parker, ed., Cambridge History of Warfare and MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, eds., The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050, plus a book of readings put together by the course and lesson authors at Fort Leavenworth. For each iteration of the course, you will also conduct a one-day staff ride of Chickamauga, with training and support (the picture below is from the train up/recon for the July 2010 ride; photos from the April 2010 ride are further below) provided–with a BIG assist from NPS historian Jim Ogden–by me and other instructors from the Department of Military History.

Lookout Mountain1

The job announcement (Vacancy Announcement Number SWEX11024615) will be posted tomorrow at Civilian Personnel Online and remain up for two weeks only–closing date for applications is 9 May 2011. If you need further information, contact Dr. Richard Barbuto at richard.barbuto@us.army.mil.

The college hopes to get someone hired and in harness with the Redstone Arsenal team in operation in time for the fall iteration of the course, which starts in August or September. Now check out these photos. This could be your future!

IMG_4149
A good day for a Chickamauga recon with Terry Beckenbaugh, Jim Ogden, Christopher Stowe, Greg Hospodor, and Derek Mallett.

IMG_4163
Dr. Greg Hospodor of DMH-Fort Leavenworth, channelling his inner Willich at the Brotherton Field

IMG_4166
Dr. Terry Beckenbaugh of DMH-Fort Leavenworth, making the magic happen on Horseshoe Ridge.

IMG_4091
Dr. Derek Mallett of DMH-Redstone, helping a colleague get pointed in the right direction on Horseshoe Ridge .

IMG_4170
Christopher Stowe of DMH-Fort Lee, bringing it all back to Meade :) on Snodgrass Hill.

On to Richmond!

Off to Virginia tomorrow for a Seven Days staff ride with the good folks at Fort Lee (not exactly Richmond, but close enough). Call me crazy, but for some reason I suspect this will come up in the course of our discussions of battlefield leadership and joint operations:

Gunboat Candidate

I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t. :)

A Happy Story

I think just about everyone can agree this is good–no, great–news:

WALMART ABANDONS PLANS TO BUILD SUPERCENTER ON WILDERNESS BATTLEFIELD

Preservation community pleased with decision by retail giant to drop plans to build a supercenter within historic boundaries of Wilderness battlefield

(Orange, Va.) – In an unexpected development, Walmart announced this morning that it has abandoned plans to pursue a special use permit previously awarded to the retail giant for construction of a supercenter on the Wilderness Battlefield. The decision came as the trial in a legal challenge seeking to overturn the special use permit was scheduled to begin in Orange County circuit court.

“We are pleased with Walmart’s decision to abandon plans to build a supercenter on the Wilderness battlefield,” remarked James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust. “We have long believed that Walmart would ultimately recognize that it is in the best interests of all concerned to move their intended store away from the battlefield. We applaud Walmart officials for putting the interests of historic preservation first. Sam Walton would be proud of this decision.”

The Civil War Trust is part of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, an alliance of local residents and national groups seeking to protect the Wilderness battlefield. Lighthizer noted that the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition has sought from the very beginning to work with county officials and Walmart to find an alternative location for the proposed superstore away from the battlefield.

“We stand ready to work with Walmart to put this controversy behind us and protect the battlefield from further encroachment,” Lighthizer stated. “We firmly believe that preservation and progress need not be mutually exclusive, and welcome Walmart as a thoughtful partner in efforts to protect the Wilderness Battlefield.”

In August 2009, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a controversial special use permit to allow construction of the Walmart Supercenter and associated commercial development on the Wilderness Battlefield. A wide range of prominent individuals and organizations publicly opposed the store’s location, including more than 250 American historians led by Pulitzer Prize-winners James McPherson and David McCullough. One month after the decision, a group of concerned citizens and the local Friends of Wilderness Battlefield filed a legal challenge to overturn the decision.

The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–6, 1864, was one of the most significant engagements of the American Civil War. Of the 185,000 soldiers who entered combat amid the tangled mass of second-growth trees and scrub in Virginia’s Orange and Spotsylvania counties, some 30,000 became casualties. The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, composed of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Piedmont Environmental Council, Preservation Virginia, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, and Civil War Trust, seeks to protect this irreplaceable local and national treasure.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved nearly 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.

Civil Warring in Slate

Looks like an interesting series. Of course, if the author really wants to get the most out of his trip, he would be well advised to look into these.

Civil War Road Trip

The Genius of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign
By John Swansburg

I should start by saying this: I am not a Civil War buff. Not even close. The last time I studied the war was over a bowl of Wheat Chex the day I was to be tested on the material in 11th grade. I don’t know McClellan from McPherson or Hooker from Halleck. Everything I know about J.E.B. Stuart I learned from the short fiction of Barry Hannah. But I am aware that millions of Americans visit Civil War battlefields each year. I also know that the number of Civil War tourists is about to spike: April 12, 2011, marks the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, which even I remember is the event that ignited the hostilities between North and South. Over the next four years, scores of fathers will use the sesquicentennial celebration as an excuse to don their safari shirts and trundle forbearing wives and irritable children off to Gettysburg or Spotsylvania or Chickamauga. What will they see? Will they learn something they couldn’t have picked up from watching Ken Burns or reading Battle Cry of Freedom? Can visiting these places turn a layman into a buff? Is Civil War tourism fun?

The full post is here.

Then and Now

With the 148th anniversary of the battle approaching, I thought I would share these images of the Ox Hill (Chantilly) Battlefield. The first was taken over twenty years ago (1987, I think), when I was taking an undergraduate Civil War course at Northern Virginia Community College with Charles Poland. At the time West Ox Road was transforming from the two lane rural road with large lots on both sides it was when my school bus travelled on it every morning to what it is today with Monument Drive just having been built. The second picture was taken two weekends ago, when I was in the area doing work on the Manassas guide for the This Hallowed Ground series Mark and Brooks edit with Steve Woodworth for the University of Nebraska Press.

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It is sad how little of the battlefield is preserved, but the Fairfax County Park Authority deserves kudos for doing a very good job with what is left in developing the park a few years ago. You certainly get a better understanding of the battle today than you did when all I remember there being was a trail leading to the Kearny and Stevens monuments and Kearny stump. Plus, you can now honor the men who fought there by grabbing a burger, catching a movie, and stocking up at Bed, Bath and Beyond just across the street. I’m pretty sure that’s what Stonewall and Kearny would have wanted.