Civil War

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House

Mark goes back to Good Friday April 1865 and President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre in Washington with Dorothea Barstow, the curator of the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum. Later that night, assassin John Wilkes Booth, on the run and in desperate need of medical attention for his broken leg, stopped at the home of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd in Southern Maryland. Mark visits the home and grounds, now a museum, with Barstow to learn about the conspiracy, Booth and Dr. Mudd.

Photo: Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Historical Marker

Samuel Mudd

The Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House

The Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House

Dr. Samuel Mudd

Where Dr. Mudd Set Booth's Leg

Where Dr. Mudd Set Booth’s Leg

The bed where Booth rested.

The bed where Booth rested.

Autumn Events in History

On this week’s podcast, I take a look at some events that happened in autumn during WWII and the Civil War, as well as WWI and the American Revolution. I discuss the 1918 Meuse-Argonne offensive by the America Expeditionary Forces and the French army. Launched against the Germans on the Western Front, this final campaign led to the Armistice. I also look at the momentous events that took place at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. Again, with the aid of the French, this battle proved to be the final military blow for the British in the American war for independence.

Photo: By John Singleton Copley – First Foot Guards, Public Domain

Antietam with Historian Jack Mountcastle

Historian Jack Mountcastle returns to discuss the momentous battle of Antietam in September 1862. It was the single bloodiest day of warfare in American history. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, emboldened by the victory at Second Manassas in August 1862, had crossed into Maryland. Near the little town of Sharpsburg, they clashed with the Union Army of the Potomac under George B. McClellan. Somehow Lee’s battle plans fell into Union hands. Would that make a difference?

Image: The Battle of Antietam, by Kurz & Allison (1878), depicting the scene of action at Burnside’s Bridge

Antietam Campaign map

Antietam Campaign map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornfield fight at Antietam

Cornfield fight at Antietam

The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog with Vince Dooley

Mark has a conversation with Vince Dooley about his book, The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog: The Civil War Correspondence of William Gaston Delony. Through the letters of Delony and his wife Rosa, we get human insights into the struggles of the war both on the battlefield and at the home front.

Coach Dooley is an avid student of history, and well-known for his legendary career as head football coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years.  Vince won Six SEC titles and the National Championship in 1980 and served as Athletic Director until 2004.

William G. Delony raised a cavalry company in Athens, Georgia, in the summer of 1861, and was commissioned Captain of Company C of the Cavalry Battalion, Cobb Legion. He was later promoted to command the battalion and survived a serious wound on his face when slashed by a sabre at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863). Returning to duty, he was wounded in a leg and captured at a skirmish at Jack’s Shop, Virginia. He died in a hospital in Washington, D.C., in Oct. 1863. – from Find A Grave

Photo: Delony’s gravestone at Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia. Credit: Michael Dover

Battle of Second Manassas

General James Longstreet, CSAGeneral Jack Mountcastle joins Mark to discuss the Battle of Second Manassas, the major Confederate victory in August 1862 that gave Lee the thrust to invade Maryland that September. Jack also details the extensive tour he leads for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours that covers Manassas as well as the other key events in the Eastern theatre. We explore the strategies, leaders on both sides and specific actions in the battle and leading up to the fight. It’s the closest thing to going to the battlefield itself.

General James Longstreet, CSA

 

 

August History Happenings and Fall Preview

This week Mark takes a look at some events that happening during the month of August in WWII and the Civil War, including the Siege of Leningrad, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the infamous Quantrill’s Raiders and Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on Memphis. He also previews upcoming fall episodes that cover Antietam, the Allied Bombing of France in 1944, and a new WWI book by one of Britain’s foremost WWI experts.

History with Mark Bielski Tentative Fall Schedule

This fall, Mark will be interviewing some fascinating guests for his History with Mark Bielski Podcast. From legendary football coach Vince Dooley to an onsite visit with the curator of the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum, you won’t want to miss these episodes.

Sept. 6 – General Jack Mountcastle – Touring Civil War Battlefields in the East

General Jack Mountcastle joins Mark to discuss the Battle of Second Manassas, a major Confederate victory in 1862 that gave General Lee the momentum to invade Maryland in September. They will also talk about the Civil War: Hallowed Ground Tour that Jack leads for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. The tour covers Manassas as well as the other key events in the Eastern theatre. They will explore the strategies, leaders on both sides of the war, and specific actions taken during the battle and leading up to the fight. It’s the closest thing to going to the battlefield itself.

Sept. 13 – Professor Steve Bourque – Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France

Mark and Professor Steve Bourque will discuss his new book, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France, a subject rarely studied. The book is a survey of events, destruction and civilian casualties caused by Allied bombing.

Sept. 20 – General Jack Mountcastle – 150th Anniversary of Antietam

In September, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, Mark and General Jack Mountcastle will cover the battle, the bloodiest day of combat on U.S. soil. More than 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were reported killed, wounded or missing during 12 hours of fighting with no clear winner.

Sept. 27 – History Happenings for September

Mark will talk about some of the interesting historical events that occurred during WWII and the Civil War in the month of September.

Oct. 4 – Dorothea Barstow – Curator of the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum

Mark visits the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum, where he interviews the curator, Dorothea Barstow, at the Mudd home where the Doctor who set John Wilkes Booth’s leg lived. They discuss the doctor’s life, career, trial and possibly unfair imprisonment and release.

Oct. TBD – Vince Dooley – The Legion’s Fighting Bulldogs

Mark is excited to chat with legendary football coach Vince Dooley. They will be discussing Dooley’s book, The Legion’s Fighting Bulldogs and football history. During the 25 years he was the University of Georgia football coach, his teams won six SEC titles and the 1980 national championship. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the American Battlefield Trust/Civil War Trust.

Oct. TBD – Gary Sheffield – World War I

Mark and Professor Gary Sheffield, a noted British military historian, discuss Sheffield’s comprehensive new book, Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and Realities. Prof. Sheffield is a frequent contributor to the BBC.

Oct. TBD – History Happenings for October

Mark will talk about some of the interesting historical events that occurred during WWII and the Civil War in the month of October.

 

 

July History: WWII and Civil War

Some cursory but analytical looks at a few key July historical events. We discuss WWII, including the Einsatzgruppen SS mission in the Soviet Union, as well as the Civil War battle of First Manassas (Bull Run). We also take a look on the lighter side—how Louisiana took an innovation from the 1930’s and raised it to a higher level.

(Above photo: P.G.T. Beauregard, formerly at City Park, New Orleans)

Beauregard, a Louisianan whose first language was French, graduated second in his West Point class of 1838 and served with distinction in the Mexican War.  He briefly was commandant at West Point when the war began, but left the post for his home state.  Beauregard was in charge at Fort Sumter when the first shots were fired. As said above, he commanded the forces at First Manassas where the smoke and haze of the battlefield made it difficult to distinguish the Confederate National Flag from the Stars and Stripes.  Afterwards, when home in New Orleans, he designed the battle flag, using the St. Andrew’s Cross on a field of red with thirteen stars.  This became what is generally thought of as the “Confederate Flag,” and first flew over troops at Shiloh in April 1862.  Here Beauregard served and took the reins as senior field officer after Albert Sidney Johnston died shortly after a mortal wound.  After the war, Beauregard returned home and worked for civil rights and reconciliation.  After the war he wrote, “With regard to the suffrage of the freedmen, no matter how objectionable it may be at present, it is an element of strength for the future.”

1941

17 July – USSR. SS Gruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich gave the orders for four SS Einsatzgruppen to follow the Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union with the invasion. Their purpose was not tactical nor military, but part of Nazi party ideology.  They were to exterminate Jewish and Roma/Sinti or Gypsy communities as well as any political opposition. This especially meant any communist party members.

One of the effective players in this operation was Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski.  He would fly from town to town and have his aides gather up records from city halls.  There they would find a listing of officials as well as classification by ethnicity of local citizens.  The good record keeping made the job much easier for the SS.

1942

31 July – Moscow. As the German armies pushed toward Stalingrad and into the Caucasus, Stalin gave the orders that no Red Army units were to retreat.  “Not one step backwards,” the orders read. “Commanders, commissars and political workers who abandon a position without an order from higher headquarters are traitors to the Motherland and will be treated accordingly.”  The communist party news organ, Red Star, emphasized that any soldier who fails and does not do his duty “on the battlefield instead of standing to the death will be condemned as a traitor selling his country into Germany slavery.”

“Accordingly” apparently translates a “shot” in the original Russian.  This brings to mind the quote from Joseph Stalin, “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.”

Leningrad was already in the eleventh month of its 900-day siege.  It began on 8 September 1941 and lasted 2 years, 4 months, 2 weeks and 5 days, until 27 January 1944.

1943

17 July – Solomons Islands. In the Pacific, the Allies staged a heavy 12-hour air raid on Japanese naval and air positions.  Wave after wave of Liberators and Flying Fortresses bomved the Kahili airfield and paralyzed or destroyed the enemy planes on the ground.  Torpedo bombers, the Avengers, attacked ships at Bougainville while their support fighters tangled with the Japanese Zeros. The Allies sunk seven ships in the harbor, including a light cruiser and two destroyers.  After shooting down nearly fifty Japanese aircraft, all but six Allied planes returned safely home.

1944

20 July – Wilczy Szaniec or Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair in NE Poland, what was East Prussian, was the scene of the famous von Stauffenberg plot to kill the Fuhrer.  At 12:42 pm in the Conference center of the compound, Hitler was poring over maps with his General staff when a huge explosion blew the room apart.  Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg had been in the meeting and left his explosive-laden briefcase strategically placed under the conference table.  By all logic, this should have done the trick.

Hitler and Mussolini

Hitler shows Mussolini the bomb damage from the assassination attempt. July 1944.

Von Stauffenberg had excused himself from the meeting and had plans to proceed to Berlin to carry out the plot.  In the meantime, one of the officers moved the valise, having accidently hit it with his foot.  Although four officers died from the explosion, Hitler was relatively unscathed considering the impact.  He was left with temporary deafness and physically shaken, but was able to receive his ally, Benito Mussolini, later that day.  The famous photo shows the two inspecting the aftermath of the blast together.

Touring Civil War New Orleans

Nic Clark of Civil War Tours New Orleans, feels that he gives guests a “great way to see the city.”  We discuss the intriguing people and places guests visit on his guided tours about the Civil War. From the French Quarter to the famous cemeteries, we see how guests can experience history in New Orleans.

The Civil War: Early July 1863

A quick look at the two major Civil War events that took place in early July 155 years ago and some characters who played key roles. The man who initiated the battle of Gettysburg, one of the most controversial generals who took part in it and the General who could have saved Vicksburg for the Confederacy. (Above photo: Henry Heth)

General Daniel E. Sickles

Daniel E. Sickles

May Historical Events: Civil War

In this episode, Mark takes a look at some significant events that took place in May from the Civil War era, even considering these events in light of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous (yet unrelated) quote “What potent blood hath modest May” which Mark will show is an applicable description when considering the outcome of some such events from this time in history.

1856

Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, an outspoken abolitionist, gave an oration attacking not only the institution of slavery, but two Senators personally, Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina for supporting it in his “Crime Against Kansas” speech. Three days later, South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks, Butler’s cousin, entered the chamber and severely beat Sumner with a cane. The bleeding and unconscious Sumner had to be carried from the floor, while Brooks walked away unscathed. The “Caning” incident made Sumner a martyr in the North, while many Southerners proclaimed Brooks a champion for defending the honor of his relative.

1863

On 2 May in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, General Stonewall Jackson executed a brilliant flanking attack on the Union right. In a surprise attack, his Confederates smashed into and routed the Union XI Corps under General Oliver O. Howard. That night, while leading a group of officers on a night reconnaissance ride, Jackson was mistakenly wounded by friendly fire.

After the wounding, the ambulance wagon took him some twenty miles away to a home at Guinea Station. The surgeons amputated his left arm, but the bed-ridden Jackson subsequently contracted pneumonia and died on 10 May.