Over the course of this year, we’ll be interviewing some of the speakers from the upcoming 2018 CWI conferenceabout their talks. Today we are speaking with Kent Masterson Brown. Mr. Brown is a Lexington, Kentucky-based historian and attorney who has
practiced law for forty-three years. He was the creator and first editor of the national magazine, The Civil War, and is author of many books, including Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander (University Press of Kentucky, 1998); The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State (Savas Publishing Company, 2000); Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign (UNC Press, 2005); One of Morgan’s Men: The Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry (University Press of Kentucky, 2011); and The Confederacy’s First Battle Flag (Pelican Publishing, 2014). Most of Kent’s books have been featured selections of the History Book Club and Military Book Club; Cushing of Gettysburg, Retreat From Gettysburg, and One of Morgan’s Men have also received numerous national awards. His current book project, George Gordon Meade and the Gettysburg Campaign, will go to press in early 2018. Kent is also President and Content Developer for Witnessing History, LLC. He has written, hosted, and produced numerous award-winning documentary films for public and cable television, including: “Long Road Back to Kentucky”; “Retreat From Gettysburg”; “Bourbon and Kentucky: A History Distilled; Henry Clay and the Struggle for the Union”; “The Southern Cross; Unsung Hero: The Horse in the Civil War”; “Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West”; and “ ‘I Remember The Old Home Very Well’: The Lincolns in Kentucky” (all of which were Telly Award recipients). “Unsung Hero” was also nominated for an Emmy Award. Kent was the first chairman of the Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission and the first chairman of the Perryville (Kentucky) Battlefield Commission, a seat he held for eleven years while overseeing the expansion of the Perryville Battlefield. He currently serves as a director of the Gettysburg Foundation.
The stuffed head of Old Baldy, General George Meade’s favorite horse, can be found mounted on the wall of the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Philadelphia. General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveler, received gifts and international adoration even after the war’s end, and General Ulysses S. Grant’s three war mounts, including one pony stolen from a plantation belonging to Jeff Davis’ brother, rested comfortably in fame and verdant pastures until the ends of their lives.
Ignoring blissfully the morbidity of Old Baldy’s taxidermization, I might speculate that these heroic animals and their dedicated riders demonstrate an ideal camaraderie between soldier and mount in the American Civil War: respect, trust, compassion. But unfortunately, it is just so: an ideal, not a reality. The truth behind the war horse is that its wartime life was a hellacious one; it fell victim to a systematic neglect, and the unspoken bond, the one that every equestrian shares, was abandoned in the desperation of the war. Continue reading “Say “Neigh” to Abuse: On the Treatment of Horses and Mules in the Civil War”
Tucked away off the coast of central New Jersey on the small stretch of land called Long Beach Island is a little piece of Civil War history. It is here that a largely unknown monument highlights a figure so well known by those four hours away in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. I have been visiting Long Beach Island since I was young, and yet had no knowledge of this Civil War connection that had been staring me in the face until my mother enthusiastically shouted to me, “Brianna! Gettysburg!” As I climbed the sandy hill towards a monument somewhat removed from the beaten path, I was shocked at what the monument was for, but more importantly, at the man to whom it was dedicated.
As our readers certainly remember the summer of 2013 was the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. On the days of the July 1-3, 1863, the pivotal battle of Gettysburg was fought between the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, possibly to decide the fate of the nation. By 1863, the death toll had reached catastrophic levels and both North and South were growing fatigued by war. Confederate General Robert E. Lee was looking for a final knockout blow against the Union Army. After his victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863, Lee took his army of 80,000 men north into southern Pennsylvania, slowly being pursued by Union Gen. Joseph Hooker’s army of 93,000 men. On June 28th, Hooker was replaced by Gen. George Gordon Meade.The two armies collided in Gettysburg two days later.
The first two days of the battle were extremely costly for both sides, racking up close to 15,000 to 20,000 casualties total every single day. The events that took place on the night of July 2, 1863 shaped the decisions and outcomes on July 3. General Meade called a council of war among his generals to find out what condition his army was in and whether they should continue to defend Cemetery Hill/Ridge. This pivotal meeting during this pivotal battle happened in the small quarters of the Leister farmhouse on Cemetery Ridge. It’s hard to imagine that people like Lydia Leister lived on the land that turned red with the blood of men in blue and gray. Continue reading “Inside the Leister House – July 2, 2013”