Episode Archives

The Civil War’s Environmental Impact

What was the environmental impact of the Civil War? Considering that a battle was a major man-made disaster, someone had to take care of the biological mess that resulted. Countless dead bodies of men, horses and mules and amputated limbs were left behind. Whole armies encamped and left spills of gunpowder, lead and other substances. Human and animal waste and polluted water remained for the local people who had to go on with their lives. We discuss the environment in certain areas after major battles of the Civil War and the positive results that our parks and preserved battlefields have yielded.

Photo: Bodies on the battlefield at Antietam (Library of Congress)

First World War with Gary Sheffield – Part II

As the anniversary of the end of WWI nears, Professor Gary Sheffield, one of Britain’s foremost experts on WWI, returns to offer insightful analysis of the conclusion of the War to End All Wars. Mark and Professor Sheffield discuss America’s participation in the Great War, the end of hostilities, the Armistice of 11 November 1918 and the Versailles Treaty. Mark draws from Professor Sheffield’s book, The First World War, published in association with the Imperial War Museum, as well as his earlier work, Forgotten Victory: The First World War – Myths and Realities.

About The First World War

The savagery of the fighting, the appalling conditions endured by the soldiers, and the sheer scale of the carnage have seared images of World War I into the public memory. This book captures the wide sweep of the conflict, describing the development of the fighting from 1914–1918, and spotlighting obscure but important actions, major battles, and the soldiers who risked their lives. It covers such subjects as the Western and Eastern Fronts, US entry into the war in 1917, the war in Africa, the Russian Revolution, the war at sea, the role of women, and diplomacy in war. Combining a vivid narrative informed by up-to-date research with an array of original documents and memorabilia, including photographs, propaganda, newspapers, personal letters, and military orders, The First World War Remembered brings to life one of the most terrible periods of warfare the world has ever known.

Read more about The First World War on Amazon>>

First World War with Gary Sheffield – Part I

WWI ended November 11, 1918. Reflecting on this anniversary, Mark reprises his discussion with Professor Gary Sheffield, one of Britain’s foremost experts on WWI, who wrote the book, The First World War, published in association with the Imperial War Museum. Mark and Professor Sheffield review the War up until the end and American involvement in 1918. They cover the major events in the great cataclysm as well as some lesser known, yet important and intriguing aspects of the war.

About The First World War

The savagery of the fighting, the appalling conditions endured by the soldiers, and the sheer scale of the carnage have seared images of World War I into the public memory. This book captures the wide sweep of the conflict, describing the development of the fighting from 1914–1918, and spotlighting obscure but important actions, major battles, and the soldiers who risked their lives. It covers such subjects as the Western and Eastern Fronts, US entry into the war in 1917, the war in Africa, the Russian Revolution, the war at sea, the role of women, and diplomacy in war. Combining a vivid narrative informed by up-to-date research with an array of original documents and memorabilia, including photographs, propaganda, newspapers, personal letters, and military orders, The First World War Remembered brings to life one of the most terrible periods of warfare the world has ever known.

Read more about The First World War on Amazon>>

Hood’s Texas Brigade

Shortly after organizing on October 22, 1861, John Bell Hood took command of the Texas Brigade. By the end of the Civil War, this unit had fought in all the battles engaged in by the Army of Northern Virginia except Chancellorsville. Mark and Susannah J. Ural, a professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi and co-director of the University’s Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, discuss one of the most effective units to fight on either side of the Civil War in her book, Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit.

About Hood’s Texas Brigade

In Hood’s Texas Brigade, Susannah J. Ural presents a nontraditional unit history that traces the experiences of these soldiers and their families to gauge the war’s effect on them and to understand their role in the white South’s struggle for independence.

The Texas Brigade Civil WarAccording to Ural, several factors contributed to the Texas Brigade’s extraordinary success: the unit’s strong self-identity as Confederates; the mutual respect among the junior officers and their men; a constant desire to maintain their reputation not just as Texans but as the top soldiers in Robert E. Lee’s army; and the fact that their families matched the men’s determination to fight and win. Using the letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper accounts, official reports, and military records of nearly 600 brigade members, Ural argues that the average Texas Brigade volunteer possessed an unusually strong devotion to southern independence: whereas most Texans and Arkansans fought in the West or Trans- Mississippi West, members of the Texas Brigade volunteered for a unit that moved them over a thousand miles from home, believing that they would exert the greatest influence on the war’s outcome by fighting near the Confederate capital in Richmond. These volunteers also took pride in their place in, or connections to, the slave-holding class that they hoped would secure their financial futures. While Confederate ranks declined from desertion and fractured morale in the last years of the war, this belief in a better life—albeit one built through slave labor— kept the Texas Brigade more intact than other units.

Hood’s Texas Brigade challenges key historical arguments about soldier motivation, volunteerism and desertion, home-front morale, and veterans’ postwar adjustment. It provides an intimate picture of one of the war’s most effective brigades and sheds new light on the rationales that kept Confederate soldiers fighting throughout the most deadly conflict in U.S. history.

 

Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France

Mark’s guest is Steve Bourque, whose book, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France, takes on a subject often ignored in historical accounts. Bourque explores the effects of Allied air attacks on French towns and infrastructure in 1944 as part of the D-Day Invasion and war with Nazi Germany. In discussing the book, they examine the different operations, the destruction of military and civilian targets and casualties as well as the results and aftermath of the bombings.

Vire, France, Normandy 1944

Vire, France in Normandy in 1944

Stephen A. Bourque is Professor Emeritus of military history at the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He left the US Army in 1992 after twenty years enlisted and commissioned service, with duty stations in the U.S., Germany, and the Middle East. Mark recently interviewed him in another podcast, “The Cold War in Europe with Steve Bourque,” about his experiences in the Army during the Cold War.

His other publications include Jayhawk! The VII Corps in the 1991 Persian Gulf War (2002), The Road to Safwan (2007), and Soldiers’ Lives: The Post-Cold War Era (2008). Currently, he is writing a history of the Northwest Europe Campaign as experienced by a senior officer who began the war as a corps chief of staff and ended it as an infantry regimental commander.

Dr. Bourque has taught at several colleges and universities including Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, California State University-Northridge, the University of Kansas, and the Command and General Staff College.

Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis

Mark returns to a discussion of the Cold War and the origins of the conflict between superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. He pays special attention to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. This was the two-week confrontation that kept the world on edge and in fear of escalating tensions that could lead to nuclear war. U.S. President John F. Kennedy was in a stand-off with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy’s goal: make Moscow remove nuclear-armed missiles from the island nation of Cuba.

Above photo: CIA reference photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4 in U.S. documents, R-12 in Soviet documents) in Red Square, Moscow.

President Kennedy signs Cuba quarantine proclamation

ST-459-10-62 23 October 1962 President Kennedy signs the Proclamation for Interdiction of the Delivery of Offensive Weapons to Cuba. White House, Oval Office. Photograph by Cecil Stoughton, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Antietam Part II

Historian Gerry Prokopowicz, author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862, returns to discuss the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, its consequences and aftermath, and the response from both sides. We include Abraham Lincoln’s writing the Emancipation Proclamation.

About Gerry Prokopowicz

Gerald J. Prokopowicz is the author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 as well as the online host of Civil War Talk Radio. He served for nine years as the resident Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he helped create the award-winning exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln and the American Experiment,” and edited Lincoln Lore. Dr. Prokopowicz is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Lincoln Studies Center and the Lincoln Forum, and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is currently a professor and chair of the history department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Antietam Part I

Professor Gerry Prokopowicz, author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862, joins Mark to discuss the events leading up to the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. We cover the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) that August, Robert E. Lee’s reasons for taking the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland and the beginning of the battle.

Antietam Part I – Summary

The Battle of Antietam took place near Sharpsburg, MD on 17 September 1862. It is often referred to as the bloodiest day of the war. The battle was the culmination of the Maryland Campaign which actually had its roots in earlier in actions that occurred in Virginia in the late spring and early summer of 1862.

The Antietam Battle itself pitted rising star Robert E. Lee, the Virginian who had recently taken the reins of the Confederate army in the east, against the young, ambitious Union General George B. McClellan. Lee had faced McClellan a few months earlier in southeastern Virginia and had thwarted McClellan at the end of the Peninsula Campaign, his grand plan to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond.

During the spring and early summer, General McClellan had moved his army up the Virginia Peninsula, pushing the Confederates back in a series of engagements that began near Fort Monroe at the Chesapeake Bay and ended near the outskirts of Richmond. The Seven Days battles at the end of June were successive battles in which McClellan had done well—he even could be considered victorious in 4 out of 5 battles. However, Robert E. Lee had taken over the Confederate command after Joseph Eggleston Johnston was seriously wounded at Seven Pines in May. Lee was able to stop McClellan on the outskirts of Richmond and the campaign, in which McClellan had started with great hopes and a massive army ended in failure. Afterwards, President Lincoln replaced McClellan in northern Virginia, with John Pope, who had been fairly successful in the west, capturing Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River. Lee subsequently defeated Pope soundly at Second Manassas, or Bull Run.

Stonewall Jackson waged a brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley in the Spring of 1862. He had beaten and outmaneuvered three Union armies, successfully keeping them away from pressuring Richmond. In June, he led his men on a forced march to join Lee near Richmond for the Seven Days battles.

About Gerry Prokopowicz

Gerald J. Prokopowicz is the author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 as well as the online host of Civil War Talk Radio. He served for nine years as the resident Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he helped create the award-winning exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln and the American Experiment,” and edited Lincoln Lore. Dr. Prokopowicz is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Lincoln Studies Center and the Lincoln Forum, and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is currently a professor and chair of the history department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Cold War in Europe with Steve Bourque

In continuing the Cold War Series, Steve Bourque joins Mark to discuss his experiences in the U.S. Army during those years. We get the perspectives of a young enlisted man stationed in western Europe during the Cold War. We also get to look at the situation from another vantage point—when he returned later as an intelligence officer. The tactical approach to keeping Europe safe and how American and NATO forces counter a threat from the Soviet Union during those uncertain times come to light in the discussion.

Photo: Steve Bourque on the Czechoslovakian border during the Cold War

About Steve Bourque

Steve Bourque, author of The Allied War Against France, is professor emeritus at the Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas. He served for twenty years in the U.S. Army in Germany and the Middle East. Dr. Bourque received his Ph.D. from Georgia State University. He has taught history at Cal State University and the School of Advanced Military Studies at the Command and General Staff College.

George Luz, Jr. Remembers His Dad and the Men of Easy Company

Guest George Luz, Jr. shares stories about his father, George Luz, who was a paratrooper with E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They discuss the experiences of the men of Easy Company who fought with him during WWII, and the training, toil, camaraderie and sacrifices of this storied unit that was immortalized by Stephen E. Ambrose in his best-selling book, Band of Brothers.

Pillar of Easy Company

“One of the pillars of Easy Company,” was how Major Richard Winters described him. George Luz was born into a large Portuguese-American family in Fall River Massachusetts on June 17, 1921. Moving with his family to Rhode Island in search of work, Luz quit school in his junior year to help his parents and eight siblings make ends meet during the Great Depression. Incensed as many Americans were by the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Luz enlisted in the Army and, attracted by its elite status and the extra 50 dollars a month jump pay, volunteered for the newly formed airborne forces. Ordered to Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Luz arrived at the newly created home of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment to begin what he would later call, “the best three years of my life.”

George Luz, Jr.’s journey began when he was 9 years old in 1965 at the 101st Airborne Division Reunion at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. For over 53 years, he has been blessed to spend time with these men, their wives and their children. As we say good bye to each and every one of them, he feels it is his honor and privilege to share their stories.