Note: Misprinted as January 2006.
by Keith Poulter
Letters to the Editor
Do You Know?
Al Nofi’s Knapsack
by Al Nofi
Al Nofi’s Knapsack is a regular column in North & South that features vignettes and other reminiscences of the late War Between the States. In this issue, topics covered include the surrender of Arkansas Post, the War of the Pacific (which I learned was “the largest international war in the history of the Americas”), and the Prince and Princess zu Salm-Salm, among other things.
“Set Your Spades to Work”: Field Fortifications in the Chancellorsville Campaign
by Earl J. Hess
Dr. Hess here provides us with an excerpt from his new book, Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War : The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864. The author takes a look at the use of fortifications during the Chancellorsville Campaign. Just from reading the opening few paragraphs, one learns that Hess sets out to challenge some commonly held beliefs about field fortifications in the Civil War. He notes that, contrary to popular belief, field fortifications were used quite often in the early years of the war, showing up in about 47% of the battles fought during this time. He contrasts this with the use of fortifications only 31% of the time in battles fought between the French and Indian War and the Mexican War. In other words, there was definitely a growing trend towards their extensive use from 1861-1864, setting up the massive siege lines around Petersburg and Atlanta. After briefly describing typical terms used in identifying fortifications, Hess moves quickly into the use of earthworks in the campaign. He goes on to say that Hooker’s fortified bridgehead built on May 3-4, 1863 was the most extensive use of fortifications from 1861-early 1864, with the possible esception of Magruder’s line on the Virginia peninsula anchored by Yorktown. The “first recorded use of headlogs in the eastern campaigns” occurred during the Chancellorsville Campaign as well. The author concludes by examing the ways in which each side had used entrenchments at Chancellorsville, and the relative success of each side.
Loosening The ties That Bind: The Conflicting Moral Visions of Men and Women in the Civil War North
by Nina Silber
Professor Silber discusses the effects the war had on husbands and wives on the Northern home front during the war. She notes that particularly for Northern soldiers, God and “the Union” were placed above mothers, wives, and girlfriends in the list of priorities. This led to a certain moral laxness on the soldies’ part, with women trying, many times in vain, to exert their moral influence over their now-distant loved ones. At the same time, wives of soldiers were held to an even higher moral standard than they were prior to the war. Even dressing up or receiving looks from men still at home risked disgrace for the already overburdened soldier’s wife. Women did use the war as an opportunity to take new jobs as nurses, teachers, and government workers.
Civil War Round Tables
The “Fighting Doctor”: Bernard John Dowling Irwin in the Civil War
by John H. Fahey, M.D.
Dr. John Fahey, who is currently writing a biography of “The Fighting Doctor”, B. J. D. Irwin, here presents us with a condensed view of his Civil War activities. Irwin was present at the Battle of Shiloh, and his excellent care of the wounded under his charge drew rave reviews from the generals in charge after the battle. He was captured at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, but this act saved Gen. William “Bull” Nelson from capture. Irwin later became the Medical Director of the Army of the Southwest, and he later was present at the explosion of the Sultana in 1865. Irwin led a long life after the war eventually passing away in 1917.
July 1, 1863: George Gordon Meade’s Lost Afternoon Re-Examined
by Robert Himmer
Robert Himmer brings us this informative look at General Meade’s actions on July 1, 1863, and he takes a stance opposing the commonly held view that Meade was timid or inactive during the afternoon of that day. In 1864, Meade testified several times before the Joint Committee on the conduct of the War. Himmer notes that Meade’s initial testimony seems to back the commonly held view of a timid, indecisive leader in a pressure-filled moment. However, in subsequent testimony Meade changed his tune. He also indicated he had documents to prove that he had in fact been quite aggressive considering the circumstances if he failed. The author argues that the second Meade was the true Meade on July 1, 1863. He details Meade’s actions and outlines the overall and specific situations on and prior to that day. Himmer argues, I believe successfully, that once Meade had been assured that Lee was indeed concentrating at Gettysburg and was not trying to flank the Army of the Potomac, the Union general took decisive action because he realized that Gettysburg was to be the scene of a major battle. I look forward to Part Two of this two part series, due out in Volume 9, Number 2.
Raising The Blockade: The Nighttime Attack of the CSS Palmetto State and the CSS Chicora
by R. Thomas Campbell
On January 31, 1862, two Confederate ironclads and sister ships, the CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora, steamed over the bar and out of Charleston Harbor. They intended to sink or scatter as many ships of the Northern blockading force as possible. Although they didn’t sink any Yankee vessels, the two Rebel ironclads did manage to badly damage several and drove the entire blockading force far enough away to allow Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard to declare that the blockade had been lifted. Under international law, this meant that technically the Union fleet had to allow vessels in and out of Charleston for a full month. However, the Northern force refused to honor this provision, returning to enforce the blockade within hours. The two Confederate vessels had achieved some success, but it was fleeting.
Best Of… The Gettysburg Battlefield
by D. Scott Hartwig
D. Scott Hartwig brings us exactly what the title says: the best of the Gettysburg battlefield. He mentions Culp’s Hill, the XI Corps line, East Cavalry Field, and Pickett’s Charge as the best places to see for the first-time visitor. The newly cleared areas of the battlefield are then recommended for veterans of the field.
John Brown, the Election of Lincoln, and the Civil War
by David S. Reynolds
David S. Reynolds argues in this thought-provoking piece that John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry was a major cause of the Civil War happening at the time it did. He believes that the anti-Lincoln opposition would not have splintered into three camps had Brown’s famous raid not taken place and points out that the total votes against Lincoln outnumbered the total votes for Lincoln by around 900,000. He further argues that Southern fireeaters used the Harpers Ferry incident to divide the Democratic Party, which resulted in Lincoln’s election and secession.
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. Sheridan’s Lieutenants : Phil Sheridan, His Generals, and the Final Year of the Civil War by David Coffey
2. Lincoln’s American Dream: Clashing Political Perspectives edited by Kenneth L. Deutsch and Joseph R. Fornieri
3. Simon Bolivar Buckner: Beyond the Southern Storm by Stephen Russell
4. Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand: The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker edited by Kirby Ross
5. Following the Greek Cross; Or, Memories of the Sixth Army Corps by Thomas W. Hyde
6. A Crisis In Confederate Command: Edmund Kirby Smith, Richard Taylor, And The Army Of The Trans-Mississippi by Jeffrey S. Prushankin
7. Breaking the Confederacy: The Georgia and Tennessee Campaigns of 1864 by Jack H. Lepa
8. Hell’s Broke Loose In Georgia: Survival In A Civil War Regiment by Scott Walker
9. Lincoln’s Melancholy : How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk