Civil War Talk Radio: September 25, 2009

by Brett Schulte on September 25, 2009 · 1 comment

Air Date: 092509

Subject: The Ewing Family

Books: Thomas Ewing, Jr.: Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General

Guest: Ronald D. Smith


Summary: Lawyer Ronald D. Smith discusses his biography of Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr.

Brett’s Summary: Mr. Smith first became interested in Thomas Ewing when he was looking into writing an article about the Ewing, Sherman, and McCook law office and the four lawyers who became Union generals in the Civil War.  His research led to more than enough information to write a full book on the topic, with an emphasis on Thomas Ewing.

Smith discusses a lot of Ewing family members in his book.  Thomas Ewing’s sister Ellen eventually ended up marrying William Tecumseh Sherman.  Sherman was raised by the Ewing family and made it to West Point based on the recommendation of Thomas Ewing’s father.  Smith indicated that he concentrated on Thomas Ewing and Hugh Ewing in the book.  Dan McCook, a member of the famous McCook family, was also a law partner of Sherman and the Ewing brothers.

Hugh Ewing had military training prior to the Civil War, but missed the Mexican War.  He was named the colonel of the 30th Ohio at the start of the Civil War, eventually becoming a brigadier general at Antietam.  His brigade was one of those flanked by A.P. Hill’s famous appearance.  He later went west and was a member of Sherman’s Corps in the Vicksburg Campaign, becoming a division commander.  His best effort, according to Smith, was at Tunnel Hill on Missionary Ridge.  When Sherman later refused to promote Ewing to corps command, it led to a strained relationship between the two men.  Smith believes Sherman was at fault at Tunnel Hill, feeding Ewing’s brigades in piecemeal.  He postulates that Sherman had a bad day in part because of the recent death of his son Willie.  Part of Sherman’s refusal to promote Ewing was his belief Ewing’s politics would prevent Congress from approving him.

Thomas Ewing, Jr. was involved in pre-war Kansas politics.  Ewing was a moderate who wanted to fight slavery politically rather than militarily challenge the U.S. government.  Men like John Brown were more radical members of the Free State government movement in Kansas.  Ewing raised the 11th Kansas in the summer of 1862. 

The third segment opened with talk of preserving Civil War sites, especially the controversial Wilderness Wal-Mart.

Ewing fought at Prairie Grove, but after the sack of Lawrence Ewing’s career took off.  Ewing retaliated by forcibly moving people from four Missouri counties bordering Kansas.  Smith called this a major, controversial event.  The move was effective in preventing future raids, according to Smith.  Ewing was also involved in the fighting at Pilot Knob, Missouri, during Price’s Invasion of Missouri in 1864.

Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.

In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.

Check out more summaries of Civil War Talk Radio at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.

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