Civil War Talks on the Life of Jacob Cox, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Franklin, and the War in West Virginia


My Civil War Blog

This is the post excerpt.

A picture says a thousands words — here is an example. This is the official portrait of Jacob Cox as Governor of Ohio. He was elected in 1865 while still in the Volunteer Army. He chose to be pictured as what I call the consummate “citizen-general.” A self-trained military man, Cox the private citizen had an outstanding military career in the Civil War, but then chose to return to civilian life. In the painting he wears his dress uniform as a two-star Major General, but in his hand is his commission as Governor. On the table behind him is his commission as a general, his sword and scabbard, and his binoculars. The latter are symbols of what he has left behind, but also reminders that they are available if the nation calls again. This is among the reasons why I put this picture on the cover of my biography of Cox, “Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era.” The book is available via amazon. com. See also my web-site,

Image may contain: 1 person, beard


New Book about Battle of Franklin and Ohio Heroes

I am currently working on a new book about how three Ohioans, Jacob Cox, Emerson Opdycke, and Jack Casement “saved the day” for the Union at the Battle of Franklin.  Here is an image of the likely front cover.  (By the way, I chose this cover because the background is of leaves resembling those of the Orange Osage plant, a thorny bush which played a critical role in the battle.  Stay tuned.



Thomas Brawner Gaines of Gainesville, VA and the Civil War

We saw this placard on our way home (we live in Gainesville, which abuts the Manassas battlefields to the West), and thought we should share it with you.  Thanks to the Prince William County Historical Commission for putting it up in 2017.


It is mostly self-explanatory.  The key points are that the railroad for which Gaines sold the rights on his land along the Warrenton Turnpike (today’s Lee Highway, Rt. 29) — with the specification that it be named after him, i.e. Gainesville — was the one used by Joe Johnston at First Manassas.  Their arrival helped turn the tide against the Union that day.

Also, undoubtedly, Lee and Longstreet and their men passed over this land during Second Manassas — the advance that General John Pope refused to believe existed until it was too late.

I researched this question, but found no answer: perhaps my readers can.  Note that Gaines’s middle name was Brawner and the Brawner Farm on the Second Manassas battlefield saw considerable fighting.  One source says the Brawner’s on that farm were in fact tenant farmers and the farm was owned by the Douglas family.  Were the two Brawners related?

Pope’s Pratfalls at Second Manassas

John Pope’s many failures at Second Manassas, as well as those the previous weeks as he was unable to figure out where Lee’s army was at any particular time, are legend.  Over the weekend I strolled through the key points of the battlefield and the environs where Pope’s mistakes nearly destroyed the Army of the Potomac.  Here are some of the pictures.


They are, in order:

  1. Roadside marker of Lee and Longstreet’s advance via Thoroughfare Gap (Pope was told they were coming, but refused to believe it)
  2. Roadside marker where Lee, Longstreet, and Jackson met to plan strategy (just outside the current boundaries of the battlefield park)
  3. A park service explanation of how General Reynolds warned Pope about Longstreeet’s advance on his left and Pope’s (second) refusal to believe it.
  4. A road sign depicting Longstreet’s advance line
  5. A Park Service description of the battle atop Chinn Ridge, where the Union’s forces were overwhelmed by Longstreet’s force that Pope finally believed was there!
  6. A  monument to a New York division, the Duryee Zouaves, who held off Longstreet for a short time.
  7. A park service explanation of how the Union faced a “Vortex of Hell” atop Chinn Ridge.


Lee, Longstreet, and Jackson Meeting Marker
Lee, Longstreet, and Jackson Meeting Marker



Solving the Jackson Square Conundrum

On the last day of my two weeks of Civil War lecturing on the riverboat “America” on the Mississippi, I strolled over to Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans. While I’ve been there many times before, I took a closer look this time at the inscription on two sides of the pedestal of Andrew Jackson’s statue.
It is: “The Union Must and Shall be Preserved.”
Jackson was, of course, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and also a staunch defender of the Union against John C. Calhoun’s threats of secession in the 1830s. The statue was dedicated in 1856, but those words were not on the statue at that time — perhaps it would have been torn down by the secessionists in 1861 if it had been??
It turns out that those words were engraved on the facing of the statue in 1862 by the Union soldiers, led by General Ben Butler, who took control of the city that May. The phrase was a Republican rallying cry in the 1860 election, and it derived from a British song which was sung to the tune of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
To this day Butler is not a popular person in the history of New Orleans, and his image can be found at the bottom of chamber pots sold in the city!
IMG_0737butler chamber pot

Mississippi River Quiz — Prizes

Mississippi River Quiz — Prizes!

Below are two pictures I took on my recent American Cruise Lines cruise on the Mississippi — I was the Guest Speaker about the Civil War and related topics. (I also include a picture of the riverboat on which we traveled–thanks American Cruise Lines)

The first person to identify the location of the pictures, i.e. in what city, will win a prize, i.e. a free copy of my new book in the Kindle/tablet version. If you can identify, in the first picture, the name of the person exemplified in the statue, and in the second, the name of the person who inhabited that apartment where he wrote his first book, you will be applauded loudly and honored by the Facebook community. Happy quizzing! https://civilwarhistory-geneschmiel.com20190427_145134


Free Book — for a limited time

My new book has been selling very well — thanks to those who have bought it — and now, thanks to, I am able to offer a free copy of “Lincoln, Antietam and a Northern Lost Cause” (Kindle version only) to the first few people who e-mail me to ask for it.  All I ask is that you look on my web-site for my e-mail address, make the request in an e-mail (Subject Line: Free Book: Lincoln, Antietam) and promise that once you’ve read it, you will do a review of it on (on the book’s site).  Simple enough.  To remind: here is a picture of the new book:

Copy of Lincoln, Antietam

New Book On Sale! Low Price for Only a Few Days.

New book on sale! and I have begun a sale on my new book, “Lincoln, Antietam and a Northern Lost Cause.” It’s now only $3.99, going up to $5.99 in a couple of days, so act fast: Here is the link:

Here is a precis: “What if, even after the Union had won the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery had remained legal in the United States? In this thought-provoking speculative history, written in a “you are there” style using the words of the participants themselves, award-winning Civil War historian Gene Schmiel shows exactly how that ironic and tragic series of events could have happened. He describes how one changed decision at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, could have created a “Civil War butterfly effect” and irrevocably changed American history.”