Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, 150 years after it occurred. Written and maintained by Daniel J. Vermilya, a Park Ranger at Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg National Military Park.

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overulling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Now Available...

Very proud to say that my book, The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, is now available!!!

If you are interested in ordering a copy, you can learn more by visiting the new "Buy the Book!" page at the top of the blog. It is currently available through The History Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and will soon be in bookstores!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

One Week to Go...

Only one week to go before the publication date for The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain...

You can pre-order your copy today at amazon.com or historypress.net.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

One Month To Go...

Just wanted to let everyone know that the official publication date for my book on Kennesaw Mountain is April 8, 2014, meaning that as of today, there is one month to go before my first book is published!

After many months of hard work, this is very exciting, and I am looking forward to having my own book sitting on my bookshelf next to so many others which I have read for so many years.

For those who are interested, The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain is currently available for pre-order from Amazon and The History Press.

Hope you enjoy the book!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kennesaw Mountain Book Cover!

It has been quite some time since I posted on here, and lots has been going on.

For example, last fall, I was married. This winter, I finished my book on Kennesaw Mountain, and this spring, I am starting back at Gettysburg to lead education programs for school groups, before returning to Antietam for the rest of the season.

Look for me to make a few more posts on here this year. For now, I wanted to share this picture. It is the cover of my Kennesaw Mountain book, which is being published in the first week of April!

You can order a copy now by going to Amazon, where it will be available in paperback and Kindle form.

As some of you probably now, I have started another blog, devoted solely to Kennesaw Mountain and the Atlanta Campaign. You can find it here: www.kennesawmountain.wordpress.com

Thanks to so many of you who have followed this blog for what is almost three years now. Your friendly comments, visits, and support have been a great encouragement to me. I hope you enjoy the book, and I hope you all enjoy some warmer weather which will hopefully be on its way soon after this bitter winter!

For now, here is the cover for my upcoming book on the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Blog

Happy New Year!!

Now that it is 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Atlanta Campaign and Kennesaw Mountain is here. Because my book on Kennesaw will be out in a few months, I am starting and launching a new blog on Kennesaw Mountain and the Atlanta Campaign: www.kennesawmountain.wordpress.com.

Please check out the new site, which will have a definite focus on Kennesaw Mountain, as the title states, as well as William Tecumseh Sherman, Joseph Johnston, and the others who fought in Georgia during the summer of 1864. 

Don't worry, I will still be posting regularly on here as well, and probably posting some things on both blogs. Thanks for your comments and continuing to visit this site. I really enjoy maintaining this blog, and look forward to starting a new one in this new year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 1863: An Illinois Colonel's Letter 150 Years Ago

41 year old Colonel Luther Bradley of the 51st Illinois wrote a letter home to his sister on December 24, 1863, 150 years ago today. His regiment was a part of the Army of the Cumberland, and had taken part in the grand fight at Missionary Ridge just one month prior. Colonel Bradley had missed out on the Battle of Missionary Ridge, because of wounds received at Chickamauga two months before. Bradley's letter home tells of a soldier's desire to see an end to the bloodshed, and hope of peace on earth and good will toward men. The upcoming year, however, would be far from peaceful, and by next Christmas, Bradley's regiment had suffered many losses in the Atlanta Campaign. A part of Charles Harker's brigade, the 51st Illinois took part in the charge on Confederate lines at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Bradley himself assumed command of his brigade that day, as Brigadier General Charles Harker was mortally wounded during the fight. By Christmas 1864, Bradley was a Brigadier General, and the war was not yet done...
Col. Luther Bradley

My dear Buel,

This is the most beautiful Christmas Eve I ever saw. Clear bright moonlight and warm enough to sing carols without taking cold. One year ago today we started on the march which ended with the battle of Stones River. I hope we shall have a quieter New Years than the last. I had begn to think there was a leak in the mail bag for until I got your letter of the 13th I had not heard from home but once since leaving Nashville—Just now a band in an adjoining camp is playing “When this cruel war is over”, and I feel like (echoing) it with all my heart. I hope that next Christmas will see us all at home again.

Yesterday General Thomas offered e the command of a column of 3,000 men and a long train of Wagons going to Knoxville. But as it was to be a long trip of 10 or 12 days, which the prospect of fording streams every day and being pretty constantly wet I declined it. The first time I have ever asked to be relieved from any duty in the field. So you see, I am getting prudent.

As my regiment is at Knoxville and little prospect of its returning I shall join it by steam boat in a few days. I quite like the idea of mutering there as there is nothing of interest doing her and we can return in time for the spring campaign.

Chattanooga is simply a huge entrenched camp and for some time will be poorly supplied with rations. My Christmas dinner will be a piece of smoked bacon and hard crackers, with perhaps a potatoe.

Many a man here will not have so liberal a spread as this.

Col. Davis is getting along but slowly. He is suffering terribly from the injury to the bone and nerves of the leg and this keeps him down. He lacks the muscular power to withstand the drain on the system occasioned by wounds. He will get well but I doubt if he has a sound leg in a long time. I shall try and get him off to Nashville before I go as he has friends there who will take excellent care of him and he will be altogether more comfortable there than he can be here. He often speaks of you all and wishes to be kindly remembered. He may call on his way home in a few weeks.

Enclosed I send a letter which I found here on my return and which I think you will like to read. I need not tell you that I have answered the request contained in it. You may keep the letter for me.

So you are glad I was not at “Mission Ridge” that’s mean of you. It was the finest thing that has been done during the war and I’d not have missed it for a hole in my jacket. I have been to see all my wounded boys in the hospital and when they say, “Oh! Col. You ought to have been at Mission Ridge” I feel envious of their pride. You should see their eyes glisten when they tell of it.

A Merry Christmas to you all.
With love and remembrance,
Yours ever,



Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Reviews- Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection

This review is much different from others that I have done. While most books that I review on here are typical monographs, where an author is either presenting a history or an argument of some kind, the latest book from the Smithsonian on the Civil War is more of a picture/coffee table book.

That being said, don’t miss it. It is incredible.

The book highlights the best from the Smithsonian’s Civil War collection, as well as short pieces describing the artifacts and what their meaning or significance is to the larger war. I spent some time going through it with my wife the other night, and we were both hooked. It is a very well done book, with a fantastic hard cover exterior and clean, bright pages with great design and amazing photographs. These are high quality pictures of Smithsonian items. It is almost as if you have the item in front of you.

Among the high resolution pictures of Smithsonian items are an image of a shattered tree trunk from Spotsylvania, cut down by musket fire; the masks worn by the Lincoln assassination conspirators during their imprisonment; the famed painting Grant and his Generals by Ole Peter Hansen Balling; the sword of Union Colonel Strong Vincent, mortally wounded at Little Round Top on July 2, 1863; a uniform coat, pistol, and chess set belonging to George McClellan; and the sword which Sherman wore at Shiloh. 

I found these after just a few minutes of flipping through the pages.

The accompanying text is a nice addition, but for me, the artifacts pictured in the book, as well as its nice layout, are enough to make this an awesome addition to my library. Having recently moved in with Alison in our apartment in State College, I set up a few small book shelves in the living room with some nicer books that I like having out. This book is certainly one of them.

The book is a timely reminder of the most compelling artifacts from our nation’s most important war. During the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we need to look back and remember the war in its reality. Seeing dramatic photographs and artifacts such as these bring the war to us in a very real way. If you can’t visit the Smithsonian to see these items, buying the book is a great way to have them with you at home. Jon Meacham’s Forword for the book lays out a case for the importance of the Smithsonian’s Civil War collection, and this book, quite adeptly:

Americans of the twenty-first century need books like this and institutions like the Smithsonian, for without photographic images of the brutally scarred back of a slave or of the dead on battlefields and in trenches that we tend to associate more with the Somme than with our own land, the Civil War risks receding into fable rather than urgent fact.

If you need a Christmas present for the Civil War buff in your life, Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection, is a perfect choice.