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

Who is the woman in the middle of “Civil War Baptism of Fire?”

On the cover of my latest book, Civil War Baptism of Fire: First Battle of Bull Run, which notes that many major Civil War figures first stepped on the Civil War stage at that battle, I placed a relatively-minor figure, Kady Brownell, in the center. This is because she was unique.

That is, while an estimated 400 women disguised as men fought in the Civil War, at the First Battle of Bull Run, everyone in her regiment, the 1st Rhode Island, knew Kady was a woman. Further, she actually engaged in the fighting. As one author put it, “wearing a red sash with big tassels and letting her long hair flow freely over her shoulders and back, the color-bearer of the 1st Rhode Island advanced boldly with her men.”(Webb Garrison, Amazing Women of the Civil War).

Later, Kady would be the only woman officially discharged from the army, and she would be granted a military pension.

You can read more about Kady and the other 49 personalities in the book, available at:

Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, and the Forgotten West Point Highest Ranking Graduate

Charles Mason, class of 1829, still holds the record for the most points of any graduate of West Point. The point system, based on a variety of factors, including academics and discipline, determined that Robert E. Lee would be second ranked in that class behind Mason.

After graduation, Lee stayed in the army, and the rest of his life is well known. Mason, a native of New York state, resigned from the army in 1831 and moved to Iowa. There he became a lawyer and, from 1838 to 1847, was Chief Justice of Iowa’s territorial and state courts. In 1839 he ruled that a slave who had been brought to the Iowa territory was free because slavery was illegal there.

Mason, a Democrat, would take another politically-enlightened step in 1853 after President Franklin Pierce appointed him as U.S. Commissioner of Patents. In a first for the federal government, he decided to hire female clerks at the same salaries and under the same conditions as men.

One of those clerks hired in 1854 was Clara Barton. She had been a teacher in New Jersey. When she interviewed for the job, Mason was so impressed that he hired her the same day. She and Mason would stay at the Patent Office until 1857, when she was fired by the Buchanan administration. Mason returned to Iowa, where he resumed his legal career and ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1861 and 1867. Barton returned to the Patent Office as a clerk in late 1860, after Lincoln’s election.

During the Civil War, Mason, a Unionist Democrat, perhaps looked back with a bit of remorse about leaving behind a military career. He once observed in his diary, “General Lee is winning great renown as a great captain. Some of the English writers place him next to Napoleon and Wellington. I once excelled him and might have been his equal yet perhaps if I had remained in the army as he did.”

As for Barton, the serendipity of Lee’s academic superior having an enlightened approach to civil service employment would lead to her becoming perhaps the most famous woman of the Civil War era. On April 19, 1861, having heard that wounded soldiers from the Baltimore riots were arriving at a Washington, DC train station, she left her government office to help care for the men. That action was the springboard for her career, which ultimately led to her leadership of the American Red Cross.

Below are pictures of Barton and Mason.


The latest book in my series, “Civil War Personalities: 50 At a Time,” entitled CIVIL WAR BAPTISM OF FIRST: FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN, is now available in both paperback and ebook versions via my author’s page at

The book notes that this battle saw dozens of people who would make their mark on history in the next four years step on the stage of the Civil War for the first time: Sherman, Custer, Burnside, Johnston, Jackson, Beauregard, Logan, McDowell, Longstreet, Fitzhugh Lee, A.P. Hill, Hampton, Ewell, Early, Hunt, Howard, Jefferson Davis, and many others .

The book consists of both an introduction to the battle and 50 short essays about each person, complete with photos, maps, and lists of books for further reading about each. Here is an image of the front cover.


Recently I published two books which are, in a sense, “bookends of the Civil War’s Hallowed Ground.” That region, between Gettysburg to the north and Appomattox Court House/Bennett Place to the south, saw the major Civil War battles of the eastern front as well as the two most important surrender events.

The two books, the latest volumes in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time,” are titled Civil War Baptism of Fire: First Battle of Bull Run and Civil War Last Rites: Appomattox and Bennett Place.” Bull Run is where it all began; and Appomattox and Bennett Place are where it all ended. The books are now available at:

Christmas Gifting with Civil War Books. Here they are!

I am pleased to see that sales of my books are really picking up for the season. For those who have delayed your purchase, here is a reminder, complete with pictures of the books in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time.” (Those of you from Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee will especially be interested in the books about the men and women from those states). Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Buy them at:

“McDowell Book” Authors and the General Himself

Last Thursday Frank Simione, Dutch Schneider, and I gave our presentation to the Bull Run Civil War Round Table about our book,. “Searching for Irvin McDowell.”

As you can see from this picture, we were fortunate that General McDowell himself, in the person of Dutch, was able to make a guest appearance! The uniform was made for him during the Sesquicentennial by the Manassas Museum, which generously allowed us/him to have it for this presentation.

If you would like to buy the book, it is available at:

Irvin McDowell Presentation on Facebook Tonight (Dec 9) 7 PM EST!

My co-author Frank Simione and I will be presenting a talk about our book, “Searching for Irvin McDowell, Forgotten Civil War General” this evening at the Bull Run Civil War Round Table. You can view the talk on Facebook at that Round Table’s web-site:

Hope you enjoy it!!


The paperback and ebook editions of “Civil War Tennesseans” are now available at

This book, like my previous volumes “Civil War Virginians” and “Civil War Ohioans,” looks at 50 key people, 25 on each side, and how they had an impact on the Civil War.

Like Virginia, Tennessee was divided on the issue of secession. In Virginia that led to the creation of the state of West Virginia. In Tennessee, where many in the eastern part of the state too wanted to “secede from secession,” that division led to four years of internecine conflict and many battles.

Here is the cover of the book, and I look forward to your comments and thoughts.


The tenth book in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time,” namely, CIVIL WAR TENNESSEANS, will be published very soon via

Like my books, Civil War Ohioans and Civil War Virginians, this volume focuses on 50 key men and women from that state, 25 on each side, who emerged during the Civil War as leaders in many directions. The fact that Tennessee was divided on the issues of secession and Union led inevitably to divisions within its populace. The term “internecine warfare” was never more apt during the Civil War than in Tennessee. There was even a serious movement by eastern Tennessee to secede from its secessionist brethren in central and western Tennessee!

Below is a photo of the cover of the book. Pictured on the cover are nine of the people in the book, from top left, Admiral David Farragut; President Andrew Johnson; Union Guerrilla leader Tinker Dave Beaty; Governor and Senator “Parson” Brownlow; the Tennessee state flag; Confederate General/Episcopal Bishop Leonidas P0lk; Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest; the statue commemorating the U.S. Colored Troops which was unveiled in October, 2021; and Carrie McGavock, the “Widow of the South.”

The book will be available at


On Sunday Nov. 14, at the beginning of my latest stint as a speaker aboard American Cruise Lines ships, I was strolling through downtown Memphis when I came upon two historical markers. They are representative of the evolving discussion of the Civil War and related matters.

The first marker, placed by the Tennessee Historical Commission on an unknown date, stated that Forrest lived on the site and that “his business enterprises made him wealthy” before the war. No details were given about those “enterprises.”

About 50 yards from that marker was another, placed in 2018 by a local church and the National Park Service, which described in detail, on both sides, those enterprises, e.g. buying and selling slaves, violating the law about importing slaves for sale, etc. etc.

Below are photos of the signs.

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