by Jim Hessler
That macho image of wounded Dan Sickles carelessly puffing on a cigar at Gettysburg could be a little skewed.
In an excerpt from his new biography of Dan Sickles (published by Savas Beatie), Jim Hessler looks at the primary sources to see just how much truth there is to the legend of Dan Sickles’ smoking a cigar and rallying his troops as he was being carried from the field on July 2, 1863 at the Battle ofGettysburg.
Fire and Flood…..28
by Winston Groom
As Union ironclads target Vicksburg, their fiercest foe is not the Rebel defense, but a Mississippi bayou.
David Dixon Porter and William Tecumseh Sherman led a combined arms force of ironclads, transports, and 7,000 Union infantry into Steele’s Bayou on March 16, 1863 with the hope of bypassing Fort Pemberton and getting at Vicksburg on the east side of the Mississippi River. Porter made it to Rolling Fork and an Indian mound prior to getting stuck in willows with his massive and all-important ironclads. Sherman’s infantry was forced to rush to his rescue, and high water eventually allowed the expedition to back down the bayou and get back to the Mississippi River. Another attempt by Ulysses S. Grant to get at Vicksburg had failed, but he would keep trying.
The port city has survived storms, recession and Grant. No wonder Jeff Davis dubbed it “Gibraltar.”
A series of vignettes recalls the city of Vicksburg from her founding, through the Civil War, and on into the 20th Century.
by Tim Rowland
That new battlefield visitor center cost a bundle. Was it worth it?
Tim Rowland covers in detail the new Gettysburg Visitor Center, source of much controversy but also a site which tells people about more tan just the three days of fighting in and around the small Pennsylvania town.
Don’t Mess With Stonewall…..54
by John Hoptak
A Rebel discovers it just doesn’t pay to get in the general’s face.
Colonel Andrew Jackson Grigsby had led the famous Stonewall Brigade through the horrific fighting at Antietam, and had also commanded the Stonewall Division there for a period of time. Now the time had come to find a permanent head of the Stonewall Brigade. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Grigsby. Author John Hoptak surmises Grigsby’s famous love of foul language as well as his support of friend Richard B. Garnett after Kernstown may have displeased Stonewall Jackson. Grigsby went to Richmond to complain to Jefferson Davis, but was permanently shelved from an active command. He lived out the rest of his days in the Shenandoah Valley.
by Kim A. O’Connell
You can still hug a tree that witnessed the war, but only a few are left.
Witness trees which were alive at the time of the Civil War and which are still alive today at the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields are profiled in this article. One set of pictures shows a small Sycamore next to Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam in 1862…and the same sycamore, now massive in 2009.
Civil War News and History
Forrest Gump creator returns to history.
Winston Groom, author of the newly released Vicksburg, 1863, answers this issue’s five questions, including why he wrote about Vicksburg, who his favorite Civil War personality is, and the obligatory question about his novel turned famous movie Forrest Gump.
Anecdotes, Legends & Lies…..21
Famously lenient Abe Lincoln is pressured to hang 300 Sioux in Minnesota.
After a Sioux uprising in 1862 in Minnesota which was put down by General John Pope and several Minnesota regiments, 303 Sioux were tried quickly and unfairly sentenced to hang. Abraham Lincoln took the time to review each case, and in the end only 38 of these men were sentenced to death.
The Gathering Storm…..24
The Kansas-Nebraska Act seemed like a good idea at the time. Oops.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was introduced by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. It essentially nullified the Missouri Compromise by allowing the idea of “popular sovereignty”, voting to choose whether a new state was free or slave by its citizens, rather than outlawing slavery north of 36 degrees, 30 minutes. Douglas hoped this compromise would allow a more northerly trans-continental railroad to be accepted by Southerners with a railhead at Chicago. This Act led to bloodshed, specifically in “Bleeding Kansas”, where popular sovereignty turned out to be a very bad idea.
The summer of 1863 saw an independence day like no other with the dual victories of Vicksburg and Gettysburg.
1. America‘s Civil War: The Operational Battlefield 1861-1863 by Brian Holden Reid
2. Thomas Ewing, Jr.: Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General by Ronald D. Smith
3. The Civil War in Loudoun County, Virginia by Stevan F. Meserve
1. Fitz-John Porter, Scapegoat of Manassas by Donald R. Jermann
2. Injustice on Trial by Curt Anders
3. Jack Hinson’s One-Man War by Tom C. McKenney
4. Berry Benson’s Civil War Book: Memoirs of a Confederate Scout and Sharpshooter edited by Susan Williams Benson
5. Stealing Lincoln’s Body by Thomas J. Craughwell
6. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
1. Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point by Lewis E. Lehrman
2. Lincoln‘s Censor: Milo Hascall and the Freedom of the Press in Indiana by David W. Bulla
1. Raintree Country (1957)
1. Cenantua’s Blog: http://cenantua.wordpress.com
A soldier scholar’s last defense.
Note: Harry Smeltzer has a nice review of the July 2009 issue of America’s Civil War up at Bull Runnings.