Emerging Civil War

Blog Postings Featured on the Emerging Civil War Website

"The US Marine Corps' Greatest Defeat ... and Greatest Defiant Act in the Civil War", December 2022.

On December 7, 1862, 140 US Marines surrendered on the civilian steamer Ariel to CSS Alabama. It was the largest Civil War era mass-surrender of the USMC, but also contained a major act of defiance that characterizes the culture and espirit-de-corps of US Marines.

"Reality vs. Myth Regarding Abraham Lincoln's War Elephants", November 2022.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln received a letter offering to send Thai elephants to the United States. Dive into the reality and the mythology surrounding these elephants, whom many ranging from politicians to Hollywood believe were intended to be war elephants to crush the Confederacy.

"Repurposing Captured Enemy Vessels Part 4: Star of the West", October 2022.

During the US Civil War, both sides captured enemy vessels and repurposed them for use. This article in a small series explores the steamer Star of the West.

"Repurposing Captured Enemy Vessels Part 3: US Vessels Flying the Confederate Flag", October 2022.

During the US Civil War, both sides captured enemy vessels and repurposed them for use. This article in a small series explores three US vessels captured and later used by the Confederacy.

"Repurposing Captured Enemy Vessels Part 2: Confederate Wooden Vessels Flying the US Flag", October 2022.

During the US Civil War, both sides captured enemy vessels and repurposed them for use. This article in a small series explores three Confederate wooden vessels captured by the United States and commissioned into the US Navy afterwards.

"Repurposing Captured Enemy Vessels Part 1: Confederate Ironclads Flying the US Flag", October 2022.

During the US Civil War, both sides captured enemy vessels and repurposed them for use. This article in a small series explores three Confederate ironclad warships captured by the United States and commissioned into the US Navy afterwards.

"Civil War Medicine: Andrew Henderson, John Pope, and a Challenging Medical Decision at Sea", September 2022.

Mental health among military and naval commanders is often pushed aside because of operational commitments. Here is one case where a medical officer recommended the relief of his commanding officer for the sake of that officer's mental well-being.

"Loyalty in a Lighthouse on the Confederacy's Fringe", August 2022.

Loyalty can be complicated in the Civil War, especially if you are stuck along the coast isolated from the conflict's major events and locations. Explore how one lighthouse keeper at the Mississippi River's delta managed shifting loyalties as the war escalated.

"Reflections from the Mule Shoe", August 2022.

Some reflections I had while walking the battlefield at Spotsylvania Court House in 2022 where I think back to a previous trip there in 2006.

"Shellbacks, Polliwogs, and Crossing the Equator Amid Civil War", July 2022.

For centuries, sailors have celebrated crossing the equator as an important career milestone. Learn how that celebration was made during the US Civil War.

"Unexpected London Run-In with President Lincoln", July 2022.

While visiting London, I found a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the center of British government institutional power. Learn about the statue and how it got there.

"Unpublished: A Trio of Favorite Unpublished Primary Sources from the Civil War and Beyond", June 2022.

Examination of three of my favorite unpublished primary sources, one from the Civil War, one about my family's history, and one I love using with students in my classes.

"A Newly Uncovered Letter in the Most Ungentlemanly Porter-Miller Exchange", June 2022.

A new letter in the William D. Porter-Marshall J. Miller naval feud of 1862 is uncovered... and it packs a punch.

"Symposium Spotlight: Goals of the Confederacy's European-Built Ironclad Fleet", May 2022.

Exploration on how the Confederacy's leadership wanted to use European-built ironclads to recapture New Orleans, Louisiana.

"Blockade, Privateering, and the 1856 Declaration of Paris", May 2022.

Examination of the 1856 Declaration of Paris for Maritime Law and its impact on privateering, blockading, and blockade running operations of the US Civil War.

"George N. Hollins' Fall From Grace", April 2022.

Examination of the rise and fall from grace of navy Captain George N. Hollins, commander of the Confederacy's Mississippi River Squadron.

"On the March to Sailor's Creek with Tucker's Naval Battalion", April 2022.

Exploration of how Captain John R. Tucker's naval battalion handled a field march at the end of the Civil War.

"The First Draft of Naval History: USS Minnesota's Deck Log and the Battle of Hampton Roads", March 2022.

Exploration of the role of USS Minnesota in the 1862 battle of Hampton Roads as shown through that vessel's deck log.

"The Invasion of Ukraine and the U.S. Civil War: Comparative Watersheds in Portraying War", March 2022.

Exploration of how the U.S. Civil War and the Russian invasion of Ukraine act as watershed moments in how people gather information about war and about how war is portrayed to the public at large.

"Symposium Spotlight: Ambitions and Challenges of a Confederate Navy European Ironclad Squadron", February 2022.

Introduction to my presentation topic for the 2022 Emerging Civil War Symposium. My presentation will explore attempts by the Confederacy to build an ironclad fleet in Europe, as well as its potential impact on the U.S. blockade.

"Attrition Rates of City-Class Ironclads", February 2022.

Examination of the U.S. Navy's city-class ironclads, their operations on the Mississippi River, and their overall effectiveness and attrition rates.

"Memorials and Memory on a French Quarter Dog Walk", January 2022.

Examination of the monuments, placards, and memory of the Civil War in the French Quarter, as experienced by myself and my dog Mouton on a dog walk.

"Holiday Village Reenactments and Reflections",
December 2021.

Examination of numerous aspects of the Civil War that made me interested in the conflict as a child, as well as how I represent those aspects in my annual holiday village display.

"The Trent Affair's Diplomatic Winners and Losers", November 2021.

Examination of the Trent Affair on its 160th anniversary, including its naval aspects, its diplomatic implications, and its ultimate winners and losers.

"Under Fire: First Ironclad Shots at the Head of Passes", October 2021.

Examination of the Battle of the Head of Passes on its 160th anniversary, including a look at the Confederate ironclad Manassas, the first armored warship in North America.

"Purge of the Second Louisiana Native Guards",
September 2021.

Examination of the purge of African American military officers from the Second Louisiana Native Guards Regiment in 1863.

"Unexpected Challenges of California Officers Going East by Sea in 1861", August 2021.

Examination of how U.S. military officers stationed in California often improvised defenses on Panama Route steamers while travelling east to join major field armies in 1861.

"The Persistence of the Mardi Gras Spirit in Civil War New Orleans", February 2021.

Examination of the Mardi Gras holiday during the Civil War, efforts by citizens to rejuvenate it after the conflict's conclusion, and a look at how the memory of the Civil War has impacted modern Mardi Gras traditions and activities.

"A Most Peculiar Target of Naval Gunnery", July 2020.

Examination of a chance encounter of USS Rhode Island with a waterspout in the Caribbean Sea in 1863, including how the warship ultimately fired on the phenomenon in an effort to avoid it.

"Tracking the Lost Silver of the Benjamin F. Hoxie", September 2019.

Examination of the Confederate commerce raider Florida's capture of the Benjamin F. Hoxie, as well as a look at the seizure and transportation of silver seized from the captured ship.

"The Confederate Navy's Order of Battle at New Orleans: A Reflection of Political Tensions", March 2019.

Examination of the numerous naval and military organization the Confederacy operated at New Orleans in 1862, as well as their impact in the campaign to control that city.

"Beyond the 13th Amendment: Ending Slavery in the Indian Territory", July 2018.

Examination of efforts by the United States to implement Reconstruction policies into the Indian Territory, including formally ending of the system of African enslavement there.

"Sailors, Diplomats, Tycoons and the Campaign to Control California's Gold in the Civil War", August 2017


Examination of the naval conflict to control the Panama Route, the transportation network moving bullion from California to New York by sea in the Civil War.

"Archibald Wilson's Infernal Submarine Armor", July 2017

Reprinted in Civil War Navy, Vol. 8, No.4, Spring 2021, 59-61.


Examination of prototype submersible armor proposed Confederate Navy Boatswain Archibald Wilson.