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

Washington Images — Still a Small Town

During the past weekend’s celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary, we took the time (naturally) to take a few Civil War pictures.  Here they are, underlining that then, as now, Washington remains a small town.

The first is the monument to W.T. Sherman, just behind the White House and the Treasury Department.  The second is the Renwick Gallery, across the street from the White House, now part of the Smithsonian, but during the Civil War the headquarters of the Quartermaster of the Union Army, General Montgomery Meigs.  He is one of the most unsung, yet most essential heroes of the Union victory, a  mastermind of supply and logistics.  The third is Blair House, next door to the Renwick, where General-in-Chief Winfield Scott offered Robert E. Lee the command of the Union army.   I know it’s a “what-if” issue, but I think there is very little doubt that Lee leading the Union army would have shortened the war and the bloodshed immeasurably.

Side note re Lee and Meigs.  In the 1830s Lee, a great engineer, was sent to St. Louis to oversee efforts to make the Mississippi River flow more efficiently, removing obstacles, etc.  His assistant in the venture was Montgomery Meigs.  Thirty years later, Meigs would decide to create Arlington cemetery on Lee’s plantation grounds.





Happy 50th Anniversary

This is not related to the Civil War, but here is the picture from our — Bonnie and Mine — 50th anniversary celebration with our family yesterday.  A great family, and we are very blessed.   (That’s us in the middle, with our children David and Jenn to our left and right and the grandsons, son in law and daughter in law on the sides)



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