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,

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This first biography of Civil War General Irvin McDowell, who commanded the largest army in American history to that time at the First Battle of Bull Run, has been published by Savas-Beatie and will be issued later this month. It is available for pre-publication orders now.

My co-author, Frank Simione, Jr., and I are very pleased with the final product which Ted Savas and his skilled team put together with us. Thanks Ted!!

Read details about the book, the first chapter, and some advance reviews at:

My talk on Thursday Feb. 9 about General Irvin McDowell

This Thursday at 10:30 AM, at the Hylton Center, Prince William campus of George Mason University, I will be speaking about “The Forgotten Union Commander Who Almost Won the First Battle of Bull Run, Irvin McDowell.” This event is part of the Manassas Lifelong Learning Institute’s spring program, and is open to the public.

Union General Irvin McDowell was a major actor in the Civil War for a short, but critical time.  At the First Battle of Bull Run, this Ohio-born general commanded the largest army in American history to that time.  He was a dutiful, dependable, and diligent military officer.  But in hindsight he may have been called upon to perform duties which were beyond his capacity and which served to enhance his peculiarities, including impulsiveness. 

My talk will be based on the book, “Searching for Irvin McDowell, The Civil War’s Forgotten General,” which Frank Simione and I wrote. This is the first full-length biography of McDowell, and it is going to be published this spring by Savas-Beatie publishers:

Bio: Gene Schmiel is a retired U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer who also was an Assistant Professor of History at St. Francis University (PA).  He holds a Ph.D. degree in History from The Ohio State University. Gene has written 20 books about the Civil War.  His first, “Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era,” was published in 2014 by Ohio University Press.  Gene is a native Ohioan who lives in Gainesville, Virginia, on the border of the Manassas battlefields. 


The 16th book in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 at a time,” entitled, ‘”Civil War Pennsylvanians,” was published earlier this week on Pennsylvania produced some of the most famous Civil War personalities, including Meade, Hancock, Meigs, and, for different reasons, John Pemberton. In this book you can read about these men and 46 other personalities from the Keystone State. And, as always, I include suggestions for further reading for in-depth studies.

The book is available in paperback or ebook form at:,

or either of these via my web-sites:

civilwarhistory – geneschmiel.comhtt

Below is the cover of the book, depicting eight of the personalities, from left: Montgomery Meigs; George Meade; David Dixon Porter; Marie Tepe; the Pennsylvania monument on the grounds of the Gettysburg battlefield; Winfield Scott Hancock; Jonathan Letterman; John Pemberton; and Sallie Broadhead.

“CIVIL WAR MISSOURIANS” available now!!

The fifteenth book in my series, “Civil War Personalities 50 At a Time,” entitled, CIVIL WAR MISSOURIANS, is now available in both ebook and paperback formats.

It was a real education writing this book. Missouri was a border state where all the forces which brought and wrought the Civil War came together and created an internecine conflict likely unmatched in any other state.

On the cover I’ve featured nine representative individuals: Sterling Price; Mark Twain; Nathaniel Lyon; Dred Scott; Mary Meachum; Claiborne Jackson; the James Brothers, Frank and Jesse; and Franz Sigel. In the center of the cover is the Missouri monument at the Vicksburg Battlefield Park. It underlines the divisiveness of the war in the state as it, unlike the other state monuments, is dedicated to both sides in the conflict since its citizens fought on both sides.

Please check on the web-site,, to get this book. Thanks!!

“CIVIL WAR IN STATUARY HALL ” revised again as Monument Momentum Continues

On Sep. 29 a statue of President Harry Truman was unveiled in Washington’s Congressional Statuary Hall. Truman’s memorial replaces that of 19th century political leader Thomas Hart Benton as one of the two chosen by the state of Missouri.

This event was the fourth in the last few months in which statues of important figures from the Civil War era have been replaced in Statuary Hall. This “monument momentum” began with the removal of the statue of Virginia’s Robert E. Lee in December 2020, which will soon be replaced by Barbara Johns. In July 2022 statues of two men, staunch Unionist James Ingalls of Kansas and Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith of Florida, were replaced by two women, Amelia Earhart and Mary McLeod Bethune, respectively.

Several legislatures have decided to replace other Civil War era figures, but have yet to formalize the process by providing a new statue. Among those new figures will be Billy Graham of North Carolina and Johnny Cash of Arkansas.

As before, I have updated my book, “Civil War in Statuary Hall” to reflect the changes. The only book ever written about this topic, it is available at:


Most historians agree that the United States army could (and some have said “should”) have won a decisive victory at the Battle of Antietam and devastated the rebel army. Several times during the day Robert E. Lee made and won desperate gambles to save his beleaguered army. His opposite number, George McClellan, fixated on the chimera of over 100,000 troops facing him, failed to take advantage of several opportunities to win that overwhelming victory. The war went on, and tens of thousands more died.

My book, “Lincoln, Antietam and a Northern Lost Cause” discusses one of those opportunities, a “What If” scenario. It is available at:


The first book to look at the Civil War careers of the men who finished at the top and the bottom of their West Point classes.

The graduates of West Point led or played major roles on both sides in the Civil War. Some of these men excelled at the academy, and others were indifferent or barely-mediocre students. Two of those who finished at the bottom of their classes, called the “Goats,” were well-known Generals George Custer and George Pickett. One who finished at the top of his class, James McPherson, was on his way to great fame as a general before his untimely death at the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

This is the first book to assess the battlefield performance of these men, and it will be a key reference book about them. The book is available at:


For the second time this year, a person immortalized by a statue in Congress’s Statuary Hall because of his exploits during the Civil War has been replaced by a statue of a renowned American woman. But this time the person replaced was NOT a Confederate, but rather a stalwart Unionist.

Earlier this month, a statue of Civil Rights activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune of Florida replaced that of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. Last week, a statue of renowned aviator Amelia Earhart of Kansas replaced that of John James Ingalls. The latter was a staunch Unionist who served during the Civil War as a Judge Advocate in the Kansas militia and editor of a pro-Unionist Atchison newspaper.

The Kansas legislature had voted to make this change in 2010, but it took 12 years for it to happen. Interestingly, in 2003 Kansas replaced another Unionist, George Washington Glick, that time with a statue of President Eisenhower.

Read about these changes and the evolving situation in Statuary Hall in my updated book, “The Civil War in Statuary Hall.,” at:

Below are images of the new statue and my updated book:


My latest book, “Civil War Characters of the Low Country,” has been published. It is a look at the Civil War in the Southeast through the lives of 50 key actors, from Fire-Eater Robert Rhett to Freedom Fighter Robert Smalls, and many others.

The war began there with the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. But the region quickly became a military backwater as the Union seized control up and down the coast and implemented its blockade. Ironically, the next four years would see this firmly pre-war secessionist region become a leader, via the Union army’s protection, the vision of reformers from the North, and advancement and hard work of the formerly-enslaved, the site of more socio-economic reform than any other.

The book is available at on


The stereotypical view of the First Battle of Bull Run, whose anniversary we note on July 21, is that is was a rousing Confederate victory and that the Union troops all ran away like proverbial scared rabbits.

In fact, at one point in that mid-afternoon in 1861, Union commander Irvin McDowell had victory in his hands, but he let it slip away. He had the Confederates on the run, but he hesitated to follow up his early advances, and his inexperienced men panicked.

Last August my colleague Frank Simione, Jr., and I published on the first-ever biography of McDowell. Now, I am pleased to say, renowned Civil War published Savas-Beatie has contracted with us to re-publish the book. We hope it will be available in the fall. In the meantime, see the book at:

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