It’s estimated that some 50,000-plus books have been written on the war, and that doesn’t count journals, blogs and magazines like Civil War Times, which have published thousands of articles. Despite all that scrutiny, however, new material keeps coming to light—as reflected in the pages of this issue. Dogged researchers Ross Kimmel and Mike Musick have managed to track down the scattered and previously unknown watercolors of Confederate prisoner John J. Omenhausser (P. 38); Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer has determined the president suppressed the media more than was previously realized (P. 28); while photo sleuth Garry Adelman corrects misinformation about a series of Union camp images (P. 52). And anyone can still make new discoveries by doing some battlefield tramping, even at well-explored Virginia battle sites. I recently drove down a dead-end road near Dumfries with Rob Orrison, Prince William County Historic Site Operations supervisor. After parking near an industrial area, we snaked past a chain-link fence and headed into the woods, crossed a railroad cut and scrambled up a steep slope to a wooded plateau scarred with deep, well-preserved earthworks overlooking the Potomac River. From this location a Southern battery threatened Union shipping headed to and from Washington (P. 62). More proof that it’s always worth tilling the well-plowed ground of Civil War history.

 

Originally published in the December 2014 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.