A Recap of our Facebook LIVE Interviews from the 2018 Symposium

RobChrisDan 2018 Symposium FB LiveIf you missed out on our Facebook LIVE broadcasts from the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge, here’s a chance for you to catch up. Hosted by ECW’s Chris Mackowski and filmed by Paige Gibbons-Backus, our segments offered interviews with some of our speakers, insights from some of ECW’s historians, previews and recaps of different aspects of the Symposium, and more. (You don’t need to be a Facebook member to watch, either!)

A preview with Symposium coordinators Rob Orrison and Dan Welch.

Rob and Dan’s stunt doubles, Bert Dunkerly and Steven Phan, step in for a minute.

Bert Dunkerly offers a preview of his kick-off address, “Turning Points.”

Kevin Pawlak talks about Antietam as a turning point of the war.

A post-panel powwow with Drew Gruber, Steven Phan, Kevin Pawlak, Bert Dunkerly, and Paige Gibbons-Backus.

A Saturday-morning kick-off with Dan Welch and a look around the event hall.

Legendary Park Service historian Scott Hartwig talks about his keynote address and his current writing projects.

Greg Mertz talks about the wounding of Albert Sydney Johnston at Shiloh.

Jim Morgan talks about the battle of Ball’s Bluff and the creation of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

ECW’s chief historian, Chris Kolakowski, talks about his take-aways so far about “turning points of the Civil War.”

Spotlighting a pair of ECW’s friends, the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust and the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield

Talking Emerging Revolutionary War with Mark Malloy, Rob Orrison, and Phill Greenwalt

Joking around with one of the great one-man comedy shows in history, Matt Atkinson

Chris Kolakowski and Dan Davis talk about Ulysses S. Grant

Wrapping up at the “afterparty” at the 1781 Brewery/Wilderness Run Winery, with guest appearances by a whole bunch of folks!

Plus, watch ECW’s 2018 Awards Presentation


The ECW Symposium on Facebook LIVE

Facebook at 2018 SymposiumThe Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge has been roaring along with a sold-out crowd, but even if you’re at home, you can join in on some of the fun. We’re offering a slew of Facebook LIVE broadcasts on our Facebook page. You can join along here.

On our Facebook page, we have exclusive interviews with a number of our speakers, including our keynote speaker, legendary Park Service historian Scott Hartwig. There’s lots of great stuff to check out. AND, we want you to join in the conversation with your own comments and observations. 

We’ll be posting more interviews throughout the day, so keep watching.

C-SPAN was here last night, and they’ll be here again this afternoon. The episodes they record will appear beginning this fall. We’ll keep you posted as they let us know when the episodes get scheduled.

Scenes from Vicksburg (postscript)

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After my two and a half days in Vicksburg, I’m safely ensconced back home in the heart of the Eastern Theater of the Civil War. But wow, what a time I had. I had a few extra shots I wanted to share that didn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the collection, so I thought I’d add a quick postscript.

I also wanted to offer a huge thank-you to the American Battlefield Trust for inviting Emerging Civil War to partner with them on this fantastic Facebook LIVE excursion—with a particular shout out to the Trust’s education manager, Kris White. The Trust has been a fantastic partner to work with, and we’re so glad we’re able to help support their important preservation work. (Thanks, too, to the Trust’s Connor Townsend for all her great camera work, directing, and social media management!)

I also want to offer a big thank-you to Vicksburg National Military Park. I was honestly stunned by how many people who followed along on the Facebook broadcasts said things like, “I didn’t know that much about Vicksburg.” It’s every bit as important as Gettysburg and worth just as much close study. I also saw a lot of people say, “I’ve never been there, but I want to go now that I’ve seen this.” I assure you, it’s an impressive park that will not disappoint. If you make the trip to Vicksburg, you will not be disappointed!

Vicksburg front sign

Vicksburg Superintendent

Historian extraordinaire Parker Hills, Vicksburg NMP Superintendent Bill Justice, Vicksburg NMP Superintendent Scott Babinowich, and the Trust’s Kris White plan out the action for our Thursday shoot. Scott spent all day with us, and he really impressed me with his enthusiasm, knowledge, and smooth, polished delivery.

Cairo Bell

The ship’s bell from the USS Cairo, recovered with the ship and cleaned up, now sits on display in the Cairo museum. The artifacts on display there tell a fascinating story about the ship’s life, loss, and recovery. Our thanks to NPS Historian Ray Hamel for sharing that story with us!

Vicksburg Illinois Monument

If there’s a temple anywhere on any battlefield, it’s the Illinois Memorial near the Shirley House. It’s a highly symbolic structure: the 47 steps to get inside, for instance, represent the number of days of the siege. Lincoln, Grant, McClernand, and Logan (whose division attacked along this avenue) all had Illinois connections, and the state had more men participate in the siege than any other state. The gold eagle is NOT “Old Abe” of the 8th Wisconsin, BTW–wrong state.

Breckinridge Bust

My wife is a collateral ancestor of Confederate general John Breckinridge, so I had to stop at his monument to pay my respects.

Kentucky Monument panorama

I really love the concept of the Kentucky monument, which has a plaza-like feel between the lines, where Kentuckians of both sides squared off against each other during the battle. However, the central figures–Lincoln and Davis, both Kentucky born–have freakish proportions and look especially awkward and un-life-like. The sculptor originally wanted them shaking hands to replicate the figures in the state seal who are shaking hands (and the seal is inscribed at their feet), but Lincoln and Davis never actually met, so a handshake, no matter how much artistic license one might excuse, would’ve been too historically inaccurate.


Scenes from Vicksburg, Day 3 (part two)

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For most of the day on Thursday, we concentrated on sites in Vicksburg National Military Park. Here’s a little promo Kris shot. And here’s an introductory piece we did about artillery, featuring Parker Hills and the artillery display outside the park’s visitor center.

From there, we went to one of the most recognizable spots on the battlefield: the Shirley House and the Illinois monument, near the 3rd Louisiana Redan. We shot a video in front of the Shirley House–which Federal soldiers called “the white house”–and one in the redan itself, then we went down the road a piece to the Stockade Redan to talk about the action that took place there, too.

Shirley House historians

Historians Tim Smith Kris White, Scott Babinowich, and Parker Hills, with the Trusts social media guru Connor Townsend in front of the Shirley House

Shirley House rose

The Shirley House is the only wartime structure along the line that still stands. (see the link below for more info)

Illinois Monument-Scott

Scott Babinowich, Vicksburg National Battlefield’s Chief of Interpretation, explains the symbolic nature of the Illinois State Monument. (see link below for more info)

Orion Howe Dash of Courage

14-year-old drummerboy Orion Howe earned the Medal of Honor for actions in front of the Stockade Redan, relaying information to Gen. Sherman.


Click here for more information on the Shirley House, including a look at one of Vicksburg’s most iconic images.

Click here for more information on the Illinois State Monument

Click here for more information on Orion Howe.

Click here for more information on the Stockade Redan.

Scenes from Vicksburg, Day 3 (part one)

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I’ve been in Vicksburg for the American Battlefield Trust and Emerging Civil War to commemorate the 155th anniversary of the Vicksburg campaign. We actually started Thursday’s adventures with a holdover from Wednesday: a Facebook LIVE shoot from Grand Gulf. Water in the Mississippi was so high that it came up to the historic riverbank, so we got to stand along the water’s edge just where we would have in April of 1863. Parker Hills filled us in on the action.

Grand Gulf along the riverbandk

With the high water of the Mississippi just behind them, Kris White and Parker Hills explain to our Facebook audience just how point-blank Federal gunships came to the shoreline during the battle of Grand Gulf on April 29, 1863. Connor Townsend is behind the camera.

Grand Gulf Military Park

Grand Gulf Military Monument Park preserves the sites of the former Confederate Forts Cobun and Wade. The park also features a number of historic buildings.

Grand Gulf Museum

The museum at Grand Gulf Military Monument Park features a really cool and eclectic collection of stuff. (see the link below for more info)

Grand Gulf House on Stilts

You know you live right along the Mississippi River when….

Click here for more information about the Grand Gulf Military Monument Park, including a virtual tour.

Scenes from Vicksburg, Day Two (part 4)

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We capped off the day with a visit to Champion Hill on the 155th anniversary of the battle. Kris White and Connor Townsend and I were joined once again by Parker Hills and by the guy who wrote the book on the battle, Tim Smith. I admit, I was in full “Civil War Nerd” mode to be out on the field, on the anniversary, with some of the world’s greatest experts on the battle. It was awesome.

We started at the Crossroads and then made our way up to the top of the hill. Because of connectivity issues, we shot the segment in two parts (one and two).

Champion Hill historians

Historians Tim Smith, Kris White, and Parker Hills, and the Trust’s social media guru, Connor Townsend

Champion Hill anniversary

Someone decked out the Crossroads for the 155th anniversary of the battle.

Champion Hill-Historic Plaque

The plaque on the historical marker at Champion Hill had been stolen once upon a time, and apparently, the thief, feeling guilty, sent the plaque back from Florida!

Champion Hill-Bowens Counterattack

Another of the markers at Champion Hill tells the story of Bowen’s Confederate counterattack through the area–fierce but unsupported and so, ultimately, unsuccessful.

Champion Hill-Hill of Death

At the very top of Champion Hill, a sign marks the peak of the “hill of death.” Much of the top of the hill has been stripped away, though, because of a gravel-mining operation early in the 20th century. “There are parts of Champion Hill scattered all across the county now,” Parker Hills suggested.