Monthly Archives: June 2016

Poles in American Civil War

Why I Wrote Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War

Several years ago while co-leading a WWII tour in Poland I was discussing military history in that part of Europe with my British colleague, Philip Blood. We were considering Polish military successes and setbacks during several periods and at some point I mentioned to him that my real center of historical interest was the American Civil War. As we digressed, I mentioned that I had often wondered about the extent of Polish involvement in that conflict. The later discovery of some written accounts on Poles in America provided impetus. While on a holiday visit to my parents’ home where I grew up, I chanced upon a book entitled, Poles in United States published in Warsaw in 1976. In its chapters devoted to the Civil War period were references to the Louisiana Polish Brigade organized for the Confederate Army as well as the Union’s Polish Legion and many of the characters who took part in the war. As I related this to Dr. Blood, he promptly gestured to me and said, “There’s your book on Poles in the Civil War!” Initially, I planned to do a more encyclopedic work that covered Poles in the war generally. However, as I got further…

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Battle of Second Manassas

Officer Leon Jastremski

Leon Jastremski was an officer of the 10th Louisiana Infantry and one of the main characters in my book, Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation. After entering the army from Lafayette as a private at eighteen, Jastremski rose through the ranks to captain. In the Army of Northern Virginia under Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, he fought in most of the major battles, was wounded twice and captured three times, always returning to his unit. At one point when he was a prisoner, his Union captors used him and 600 other Confederate officers as human shields. After the war Jastremski was mayor of Baton Rouge and a successful political leader in Louisiana. He was in the thick of the fight at Second Manassas when the Louisiana boys ran out of ammunition and continued their repulse of the Union charge by hurling stones. The book cover depicts this episode and the following is an excerpt: Jastremski had fought in five battles over the past two months and was taken prisoner by the enemy twice. Once more he was exchanged quickly and rejoined the regiment again in time for battle. This…

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Mercy Street

White Eagle Channels Mercy Street

The PBS series, Mercy Street, completed its first season this year to great acclaim and with not surprising popularity. The series takes place in Virginia, primarily in Union-occupied Alexandria in the spring of 1862. The Union army has commandeered the luxury hotel owned by the prominent Green family of Alexandria and made it a military hospital. The episodes are based on the actions of real people and events and the challenges that those on both sides of the conflict faced within this city across the Potomac River from Washington. In going through the six episodes, it is interesting to find the numerous links between the series, its characters and actions, and the actual historical events explored in Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War. Seven of the nine Polish-American officers in this study served in or had affiliations with Virginia. Indeed, Gaspard Tochman lived there before the war and had a farm nearby before he went to New Orleans to raise the Louisiana Polish Brigade. Additionally, many of the events detailed in the book take place in Virginia, several of them in Alexandria itself or very nearby. The two major campaigns that rage in the background of…

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Mark Bielski on Civil War Tour

Mark Bielski Interview with Tammy Bruce: Importance of Experiencing History

Mark Bielski had the pleasure of appearing on The Tammy Bruce Show to discuss the importance of experiencing history. As Tammy Bruce noted, “As you all know I’m a big history fan and love the idea of not only reading about it, but experiencing it as well by visiting historical places. It’s a great way for us to connect with the important past of our great nation and is an excellent way to make history fun and interesting for the kids, too 🙂 So I was very pleased to have Mark Bielski with Stephen Ambrose Tours on the show last week. Check out their website and you’ll see what I’m talking about when it comes to the fun and importance of walking in the footsteps of America’s heroes. I spoke with Mark about history, the value of getting immersed in history like that and the impact this sort of adventure has on those who participate. Enjoy!” Listen to the entire show at the following link. “Mark Bielski from Stephen Ambrose Tours on the Importance of Experiencing History” Public Podcast: Mark Bielski from Stephen Ambrose Tours on the Importance of Experiencing History Share This: FacebookTwitterLinkedinemail

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