A Brilliant Engagement at Hill’s Point

lamsonRoswell Hawks Lamson is one of the lesser known naval officers who served in the Union navy, and yet three warships have been named in his honor. His story, recently published in the Civil War News, details how he became such a respected military figure.

An excerpt:

Lamson leapt into action. He called to the nearby Stepping Stones, the ferryboat with theMount Washington in tow, and had her pull alongside. He transferred all the officers and men to the vessel. The long towlines were cast off and the Stepping Stones moved out of harm’s way.

Lamson remained on the disabled ship with a bare bones crew. They wheeled a small howitzer behind a side-wheel paddle box on the upper deck and returned fire. Some of the men grabbed carbines and they used them to hold the sharpshooters at bay.

Read the full story.

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Surviving Andersonville

landonThe story of James William Landon of the 5th Iowa Cavalry is the subject of my latest New York Times Disunion post. An excerpt:

“During the daytime we hid in the brush and swamps and during the night we would travel,” Landon explained. “About five days of this kind of retreat elapsed when I was wounded by a rebel. We were crossing over a ridge pursued by four men in rebel uniform. They were anyhow four hundred yards behind when one of them fired the shot that wounded me. Though we knew that the enemy was after us we did not know that they were so close until the report of the gun was heard.”

Read the full story.

A Maine Teenager Fights for the Union

Albert Crockett of Durham, Maine, joined the army as soon as he turned 18, which was in 1863. He enlisted as a private in Company E of the Thirtieth Maine Infantry. The regiment played an important part in the failed 1864 Red River Campaign in Louisiana. According to The Union Army, Vol. 1, “It participated in the Red River campaign as a part of the 3d Brigade 1st Division, 19th Corps, and took an honorable part in the battles of Sabine cross-roads and Pleasant Hill on April 8 and 9, respectively. It lost in the two engagements 11 killed, 66 wounded and 71 missing, and during the retreat of the Union forces to the Mississippi river, it took the most prominent part in the dislodgment of the enemy at Cane river crossing, which was perhaps the most gallant action of the disastrous campaign. Its loss here was 2 officers and 10 men killed, 2 officers and 67 men wounded, and 7 men missing.”

Crockett survived the war and lived until 1915.

This carte de visite is new to my collection, and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
A Maine Teenager Fights for the Union

Reflections on the New York Times’s “Disunion” Blog

Disunion will come to an end in 2015, according to Clay Risen, who edits the popular New York Times blog. This is perhaps the biggest news item announced during the panel held Friday afternoon at the Southern Historical Society’s 2014 meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

IMG_4382Organized by Blain Roberts of the California State University at Fresno, the panel included her husband, Ethan J. Kytle, also of the California State University at Fresno, Clay Risen, Staff Editor, Op-Ed, New York TimesSusan Schulten of the University of Denver, Kate Masur of Northwestern University and me.

The two-hour discussion started with brief presentations by the panelists, followed by a Q and A from the live audience and twitter (#sha2014). Subjects ranged from basic questions about the blog and thoughts about how scholars can benefit by this format to a strong plea by historian Masur for Disunion to continue on and examine the Reconstruction era.

Megan Kate Nelson, writer, historian, culture critic, and author of the blog Historista, tweeted the panel. She accurately summarized my role in Disunion:

Not tweeted but mentioned in my opening remarks is the importance and relevance of the portrait photographs of the Civil War period to the country’s visual record.

10626295_966761333352034_7770915906265575458_oI thoroughly enjoyed my visit and was honored to participate. My stay in Atlanta was brief but active. One of my favorite moments was catching up with Bob Brugger of The Johns Hopkins University Press. Bob is my editor, and he was manning the Hopkins Press booth in the exhibitor area.

I will miss Disunion after it wraps up next year, and am very curious to know how Risen will bring it to a conclusion.

Civil War Book Discussion at The Ivy

IMG_4365Last night’s event at The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore was unique and wonderful—four authors and historians gathered to talk briefly about their books, followed by a Q and A period with the audience and book signing. I snapped this photo from my seat at the far left of the table.

Next to me sat Michael C.C. Adams, author of Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War. He’s followed by Lawrence M. Denton, an authority on secession crisis, Claudia Floyd, author of Union-Occupied Maryland, and (standing) Ed Berlin, co-owner of The Ivy.

My thanks to Ed, my fellow authors, the audience for making my visit thoroughly enjoyable. Special thanks to Robin Noonan of Hopkins Press, who arranged my appearance.

Blasting Fort Wagner into Sand Heaps

kenyon-collageMy latest Faces of War column in the Civil War News profiles navy officer Albert J. Kenyon. An excerpt:

Hours before the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and other federal infantry assaulted Fort Wagner, S.C., on July 18, 1863, the Union navy launched a furious bombardment. Six ironclads steamed to within 1,200 yards of the fort and unleashed hell on the garrison. Shell after shell belched from the fiery mouths of the big guns in the turrets of the metal monsters to soften the position, which was critical to the rebel defenses of Charleston.

Read on!