Monthly Archives: October 2015

My Presentations for November 2015

I will soon be making presentations on my book, Trading With the Enemy, to the following Civil War historical organizations

Host: Milwaukee Civil War Roundtable
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2015
Time: 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Location: Wisconsin Club
900 Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
Topic: Trading With the Enemy

Host: Chicago Civil War Roundtable
Date: Friday, November 13, 2015
Time: Dinner 6:30PM, Presentation 7:30PM
Location: Holiday Inn O’Hare
5615 North Cumberland
Chicago, Illinois 60631
Topic: Trading With the Enemy

Host: Metropolitan New York Civil War Forum
Date: Monday, November 16, 2015
Time: Dinner 6:00PM, Presentation 6:45PM
Location: Draught 55 Restaurant
55th Street (Between Second and Third Avenues)
Topic: Trading With the Enemy

Host: Rhode Island Civil War Roundtable
Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Time: 6:00PM
Location: William H. Hall Library
1825 Broad Street
Cranston, Rhode Island
Topic: Trading With the Enemy

Host: Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable
Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Time: 6:00PM
Location: Grand Army of the Republic Building
53 East Middle Street
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Topic: Trading With the Enemy

I’d be delighted to see you at any of the meetings.

My Civil War Books:

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated

A fourth book, The Confederacy at Flood Tide, is currently under contract.



The Right Way to Study Civil War Reconstruction

By focusing almost entirely upon the South, Present Civil War Reconstruction histories fail to take into account how simultaneous Northern events shaped – and sometimes dictated – Southern Reconstruction.

One example involves Amos Akerman who was one of President Grant’s five attorneys general. He served for about a year from November 1870 to December 1871. Although born in New Hampshire, at the age of twenty-one in 1842 he moved to North Carolina. By 1850 he was a Georgia lawyer. Although initially opposed to secession he remained loyal to the South and served as a Confederate officer during the Civil War.

Amos Akerman

Amos Akerman

In prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan, Akerman was the most vigorous of President Grant’s attorneys general. He expanded the powers of the then newly created Federal Justice Department to expedite prosecutions. About 600 convictions were obtained and two-thirds of the offenders went to jail.

Grant, however, evidently revealed the Republican Party’s secondary priorities on racial justice when Akerman was unexpectedly asked to resign in December 1871. In addition to opposing Southern racial violence, Akerman was critical of federal subsidies to railroads and may have suspected the long-festering Crédit Mobilier scandal that would soon explode into public awareness. In June 1871 Akerman had denied land and bond grants to the Union Pacific Railroad, which was intimately connected with Crédit Mobilier, which in turn had paid bribes to both of Grant’s vice presidents as well as future President James Garfield who committed perjury when he denied it. Continue reading

Fourth Book Now Under Contract

Today I signed a contract with Westholme Publishing for my fourth Civil War book.

The Confederacy at Flood Tide was selected as a title in order to distinguish the book from the popular notion of the Confederacy at High Tide. The latter expression is generally associated with Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, or secondarily, the Rebel attack on Starkweather’s Hill at Perryville, Kentucky. However, the June-to-December, 1862 story of the Confederacy’s most opportune period for winning independence was not an isolated surge in Maryland or Kentucky.

Entrance to the hotel dining room during my visit to Corinth, Mississippi battlefield

Entrance to the hotel dining room during my visit to the Corinth, Mississippi battlefield.

For example, at Prairie Grove, Arkansas in early December 1862 more Missourians fought to win their state for the South than fought to keep it in the Union. Nor was the Flood Tide limited to military elements. It also swelled within the sectors of diplomacy, politics, and espionage. For instance, on July 4, 1862 the Confederacy signed a secret contract with a leading British warship builder for two deep-water ironclads superior to anything in the US Navy and capable of crossing the Atlantic.

The Confederacy never came closer to diplomatic recognition than in the autumn of 1862. After learning of the Union rout at Second Bull Run, British Prime Minister Plamerston advocated intervention in mid-September. In a written exchange with Foreign Secretary John Russell — who held a post comparable to the US Secretary of State — Palmerston wrote: “The Federals got a very complete smashing, and it seems not altogether unlikely that still greater disasters await them, and that even Washington or Baltimore may fall … If this should happen, would it not be time for us to consider whether … England and France might not address the contending parties and recommend an arrangement upon the basis of separation?” Russell agreed and added that if mediation failed, “we ought ourselves to recognize the Southern states as an independent state.”

A valid comprehension of the Flood Tide period requires an integrated understanding of superficially unconnected elements. The book compiles such seemingly discrete components into a cohesive picture much like a never-before-assembled puzzle.

Thanks for your continued interest.


My books:
Trading With the Enemy
Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated

Book Review of “Trading With the Enemy”

Provided below is a review of my book, Trading With the Enemy, Charles H. Bogart and published in Civil War News.


Trading With the Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War. By Philip Leigh. Illustrated, photos, maps, 182 pp., 2014, Westholme Publishing,, $26.

This book is part history and part exposé. One of the significant but overlooked aspects of the Civil War is that there was divided loyalty throughout both the North and the South.

A number of individuals put their fiscal well-being before duty to their country. This attitude was shared by civilian and military individuals.

Trading Cover

Readers will wonder how much earlier in the war the Confederate ports would have been closed by the Union Navy if not for its officers becoming rich through prize money. If all the Confederate ports had been closed to commercial shipping by use of the technology available, the Navy hierarchy could not have enriched itself by capturing blockade runners.

The Red River Campaign is another example of military leaders seeking private wealth instead of closing with the enemy. As Gen. Nathaniel Banks advanced up the Red River, Union navy and army officers lost their focus. Instead of seeking to defeat the Confederates, they concentrated on seizing cotton Continue reading

To Speak at Arkansas Civil War Roundtable

I’ll soon make a presentation on my book, Trading With the Enemy, to the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas.

When: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Where: Second Presbyterian Church
Interstate–430 and Cantrell Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72227

Time:     7:00 p. m.

TopicTrading With the Enemy

For more information contact:

Trading With the Enemy concerns intersectional commerce between the North and South during the Civil War, excluding the minor trade among fraternizing enemy soldiers.

Such commerce was large and scandalous. About twice as much cotton went to Northern states as was shipped through the blockade to Europe. Aside from gold, cotton was the best international exchange medium available in America. Although Civil War shipment tonnage dropped sharply, cotton prices soared over ten-fold thereby sustaining a large monetary volume.

When Northern traders purchased cotton with specie, the gold invariably found its way into markets where it bought weapons for the Confederacy. Contrary to popular belief such markets were not necessarily overseas. Union Major General William T. Sherman complained that Rebels purchased weapons in Cincinnati from the cotton they sold for gold to Memphis traders after Memphis was occupied by Federal soldiers.

Trading Cover

Evidence suggests a number of notable Civil War personalities were involved in dubious – perhaps treasonous – conduct. Examples include Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Major General Benjamin Butler and Rhode Island Senator William Sprague. One cotton trader became the largest shareholder of New York’s National City Bank. His son, grandson, and great-grandson served sequentially  as the bank’s Board Chairman, the last as late as 1967. The bank is currently known as Citicorp and the great grandson, James Stillman Rockefeller, lived until 2004.

Perhaps because the story provides no heroes, little has been written about inter-belligerent trade. Nonetheless, an 1865 joint Senate-House investigation led by Illinois Congressman Elihu Washburne concluded: “[The trade] is believed to have led to a prolongation of the war, and to have cost the country thousands of lives and millions upon millions of treasure.”


My Civil War books:

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated