Time for another in my infrequent posts on forgotten Union cavalrymen. Today, we’re focusing on a little-known officer who commanded an even more obscure unit. Erastus Blakeslee was born to Joel and Sarah Marie Mansfield Blakeslee in Plymouth, Connecticut on September 2, 1838. He attended the Williston Seminary at Easthampton, Massachusetts for his college preparatory studies, and entered the freshman class at Yale University in the fall of 1859. He was on his spring vacation in 1861 when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, and he was one of the first from Plymouth to enlist in response to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers.

He enlisted in Company A of the 1st Battalion Connecticut Cavalry Volunteers on October 9, 1861. Nine …

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I have finished my Brandy Station manuscript, and submitted it to the publisher over the weekend. I am waiting for my editor to let me know what the projected release date is, but I am told that there’s a reasonably good chance that they will get it out before the end of the year.

The manuscript features a walking/driving tour of the publicly accessible portions of the battlefield, 11 of Steve Stanley’s superb maps (published with the permission of the Civil War Preservation Trust), and about 50 other illustrations. It will also feature a foreword by Jim Lighthizer, the president of the CWPT, that discusses the fight to preserve the battlefield.

Part of my motivation in writing this book …

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On Thursday, I accepted an invitation that I was honored to receive. I have been invited to be the keynote presenter at the 20th anniversary picnic commemorating the founding of the Brandy Station Foundation, which will be on September 13, 2009, at Berry Hill Farm in lovely Culpeper County, Virginia. The event begins at 1:00, and I will be speaking between 2:30 and 3 on a subject that is near and dear to my heart, “Preservation and the Brandy Station Battlefield.

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In response to yesterday’s post, my friend Bud Hall has weighed in on the loss of the southern end of Fleetwood Hill. This was originally a comment to the post, but it is important enough that I decided to feature it as a main post here.

Back in 1984, I was transferred to FBI Headquarters in Washington, and soon bought a home in Virginia. Growing up in Mississippi on a cotton farm–and descended from a 13th Mississippi infantryman–I of course retained in my genes a compelling interest in the Civil War.

My very first weekend trips took me (and my maps) to Brandy Station. Map and primary source analysis, as well as discussions with land owners, convinced me that

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My friend Clark “Bud” Hall wrote the following piece for his former column that appeared in the Culpeper Star-Exponent newspaper:

Fleetwood Hill: The Famous Plateau

“The Most Marched Upon, Camped Upon, Fought Upon, Fought Over Piece of Real Estate in American History.”

As one enters Culpeper County on U.S. Highway 29 from the northeast, your vehicle proceeds about four miles and soon passes a little knoll on the right. Scooped from the flood plain of the Rappahannock River, this grassy, gentle hillock marks the southern terminus of a two and a half mile ridge that witnessed more fighting, more often, than any other piece of ground in this country—in any war.

Fleetwood Hill—geologically the beach of a primeval sea—overlooks a

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30 Jul 2009, by

An Ugly Spat

The following article appeared in today’s edition of the New York Times:

Civil War Fires Up Literary Shootout

Published: July 29, 2009
LOS ANGELES — History repeats itself. But sometimes it needs a little polishing up from Hollywood.

Over the last few weeks, the writers of a pair of Civil War-era histories about the anti-Confederate inhabitants of Jones County, Miss., have been trading barbs in an unusual public spat. It began when the author of one book, rights to which had been sold to Universal Pictures and the filmmaker Gary Ross, discovered that Mr. Ross had spurred the publication of a new and somewhat sexier work on the same subject.

The encounter has created unexpected bad

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Regular reader Art Fox left me this comment:

Hi Eric,

I read your blog almost daily. Am amazed at how you can manage so many book projects, magazine articles, appearances, in addition to a law practice. I am a semi-retired university professor, and have had only two books published in the past 6 years: Our Honored Dead Allegheny Co.PA in the American Civil War (2008,2009), and Pittsburgh During the American Civil War, 1860-1865 (2002,2004,2009), and will probably be working on my present project – They Served with Honor, Allegheny county Soldiers at The Battle of Gettysburg, a 150 Anniversary Commemoration – for the next 3 years. My question to you brother – Is how do you do it, what is

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Kevin Levin has a post on his blog today about a new book that looks like a finalist for 2009 Neo-Confederate grand champion. Thanks to Kevin for bringing this prize to my attention.

The reasons why this is both preposterous and shockingly offensive ought to be obvious. Then again, Pelican is known for publishing garbage (as this little gem proves), so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

So far, this is my leading candidate for 2009’s grand champion.

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Dan Hoisington of Edinborough Publishing, the publisher of my Ulric Dahlgren bio, informed me today that the books have arrived at the distributor’s warehouse and will ship to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. this week, so for those of you who have been awaiting its release as impatiently as I have, your patience is about to be rewarded. They should have books to sell by the end of the week.

I am also advised that I should have my copies by the end of the week, too. This, much like my history of Rush’s Lancers, was a real labor of love for me, and I have a lot of my heart and soul invested in it, just …

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After the favorable response that my post on Henry Washington Sawyer of last week, I realized that this story was so compelling that I had to tell in full detail. Consequently, I have proposed to Dana Shoaf, the editor of both America’s Civil War and Civil War Times, an article that tells the story in detail. I spent most of the afternoon working on it today, and think that the full version is a very compelling story.

I will keep you posted as to progress. Hopefully, Dana will like it and will want to run it in one of the two magazines.

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