Military History Word of the Day – Salient
Salient at Spotsylvania

salient ˈsālyənt; -lēənt n. 1. a piece of land or section of fortification that juts out to form an angle. 2. an outward bulge in a line of military attack or defense. (see example below) The word “salient” is used frequently in John F. Schmutz’s The Battle of the Crater: A Complete History (see post […]

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On Geography Lessons and Civil War Cartography

– The highlight of the first five chapters of Two Great Rebel Armies by Richard M. McMurray was hands down the lesson on geography. This is, I fear, an area that receives too little emphasis in our study of the war. Particularly interesting was the reference to the Shenandoah Valley (Valley of Virginia) and the […]

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Solving a Civil War Photograph Mystery

The Library of Congress has a new entry in their always fascinating Civil War Photographs section. They challenge the authenticity of the photo above which the owner of the copyright, Levin C. Handy (1855-1932) and nephew of Mathew Brady, claims to be General Grant at Center Point, Virginia. They step the reader through their discovery […]

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On Know Nothings and Secret Societies – 1

Bits of white paper strewn across a prearranged site announced the meeting of the brotherhood. Held at night, in keeping with the secrecy that shrouded its early years, the sessions of the local chapters of the Order of the Star Spangled Banner were open only to initiates and those about to join them in the […]

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On Slavery – 6 Chattels Personal

Kenneth Stampp’s chapter “Chattels Personal” is excellent. I suspect that “chattel” is not a word most of us learn unless we study law or Antebellum American history in depth. Its meaning in the context of slavery is, of course, that person’s slaves were consider legally as “chattel personal.” Being a person quite taken with words, […]

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Stewards of Civil War Railroads – Part III

This post completes the series, Stewards of Civil War Railroads. Read Part I here and Part II here. Above: Group of the Construction Corps U.S. Mil. R. Rds., with working tools, etc., Chattanooga, Tennessee Courtesy of Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-62364 Millett and Maslowski posit that President Abraham Lincoln did not have Jefferson Davis’ sensitivity about […]

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American Historian: George Bancroft

I’m back from Christmas break and trying to recuperate from a few too many cinnamon rolls. Reading assignments and preparation of a research proposal due Sunday are top of mind. The class is Historiography so the research isn’t to be about the development and proof of a thesis. It’s more about research into the history of […]

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Exploring Causes of the Civil War – Part III – The Antebellum South

The Southern man aspired to a lifestyle that had, as utopian model of success, the English country farmer. Jeffersonian agrarianism was valued over Hamiltonian industrialization. To achieve success, cheap labor in the form of slavery was embraced. The capital of the south was invested in slaves even after modernized farming equipment became available. More land […]

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Capturing the Civil War: The Photographic Record

I am thoroughly impressed with the photographic record of the American Civil War. In my ongoing search for “primary sources,” I have been exploring the National Archives and The Library of Congress. The photographic collections at both are simply excellent. Long time historians in the field are no doubt quite familiar with these. For me, […]

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