Battlefielding on the Anniversary of the Battle

Earthworks 050916

Stevenson Ridge’s earthworks

from Chris

It’s been a rainy few days to be out on the battlefield, but 152 years ago on May 9, the Federal army moved into the area that is now Stevenson Ridge, so of course, I had to go out onto the field, rain or shine!

Fortunately, I had some great company: three fellow historians who had never had the opportunity to explore Spotsylvania before. One was colleague from Emerging Civil War, James Brooks from the …



Chris Publishes New Book, “Seizing Destiny”

SD-coverCongratulations to our historian-in-residence, Chris Mackowski, whose latest book project is now available. Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac’s “Valley Forge” and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union was a collaborative writing project with Stafford County historian Al Conner, Jr.

Seizing Destiny looks at the grim winter of 1862-63 that the Union army spent in Stafford County—and the remarkable transformation it underwent, from the brink of collapse to a fighting force finally able to achieve victory.

“Al …


Chris’s Latest Book: The Battle of the Wilderness

Layout 1Historian-in-Residence Chris Mackowski has a new book coming out this spring that touches on one of the area’s most notorious battles. Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864, covers the opening engagement of what became the 1864 Overland Campaign. (The battle of Spotsylvania Court House, where Stevenson Ridge is located, followed on May 8-21, 1864.)

Chris has written books about Spotsylvania, as well as the next phase of the campaign, at the North Anna River, and …


Lee-Jackson Day 2016

Lee-Jackson 2016 03from Chris

Today is Lee-Jackson Day in Virginia. As a state holiday, it’s formally observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. The actual day is today, though, because it falls between the birthdays of two of the Confederacy’s most famous generals, Robert E. Lee (Jan. 19) and Stonewall Jackson (Jan. 21).

For years, the day went observed without much controversy, but its gathered more and more criticism in recent years because of Lee’s and Jackson’s associations with …


Improving SR’s Hiking Trails

Red Trail Blazefrom Chris

My son and I spent time last weekend doing upgrades to Stevenson Ridge’s trail system—part of a long-range plan we have to do more interpretation of our Civil War sites.

The trails have largely remained unmarked, visible easily enough in the summer and fall, but once the dead leaves start piling up, there are places where the trails vanish entirely, lost beneath a blanket of crispy brown leaf-fall.

Courtesy of a couple cans of spray paint, we now …


Register now for the Third Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium

from Chris

It seems like we just wrapped up our successful Second Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge—but already we’re gearing up for next year. Registration is now open (already!) for our Third Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge.

The Symposium will run Aug. 5-7, 2016. The theme this year is “Great Attacks of the Civil War.” Keynote speaker will be Jim Ogden, chief historian for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Our line-up also includes …


Meeting Grant’s Great Great Grandson

Chris Mackowski (left) stands with Grant descendant John Griffiths

Chris Mackowski (left) stands with Grant descendant John Griffiths

from Jenny

Chris recently had the opportunity to meet a descendant of former President Ulysses S. Grant. A couple weeks ago, Chris spoke at Ellwood Manor for the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield about his recent book Grant’s Last Battle: The Story Behind the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. One of the attendees was one of Grant’s great-great grandson’s, John Griffiths.

Chris wrote about his experience at Emerging Civil War


Symposium Success

2015-crowdfrom Chris

We’re still catching our breath from our Second Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge. Attendees came from as far away as Illinois and Indiana, New York and New Jersey, and South Carolina (and ECW’s Meg Thompson came from California!), spending the weekend discussing the legacies of the Civil War. We posted a recap, as well as a bunch of pictures, at Emerging Civil War.

C-SPAN taped several of the sessions. Once those segments begin to …


151 Years Ago Today

One hundred and fifty-one years ago today, Stevenson Ridge became a battlefield. It wasn’t known as Stevenson Ridge back then, of course—that’s the name my family gave the property after we purchased it in 2001. In 1864, it was part of a plantation owned by the Beverly family.

Just two miles to the east, the Union and Confederate armies clashed along the Brock Road just outside the village of Spotsylvania Court House after fighting for days in the Wilderness. The …