Tag Archives: Kate Chase

Speaking at Huntsville Civil War Roundtable

Provided below are the specifics of my forthcoming talk to the Tennessee Valley Civil War Roundtable

Topic: Trading with the Enemy
Date: Thursday, July 14, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM Dinner, 6:30 PM Presentation

Location: Elks Lodge
725 Franklin Street
Huntsville, Alabama 35801

Additional Information: Contact Kent Wright

Trading Cover


Book Review: Lee’s Lost Dispatch

Earlier this week Civil War author and book reviewer, Fred Ray, wrote the review of my Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies provided below:

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies

By Philip Leigh
Illustrated, photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index, 224 pp. softcover $18.95
Westholme Publishing 2015

Philip Leigh, whose last book, Trading With the Enemy, I reviewed a while back, has produced another volume for the Civil War reader. This one is a series of essays on various controversies, mysteries, and other aspects of the war. Briefly, they are:


• The Biggest Confederate Error. Leigh sees this as Jefferson Davis’ decision to hold Southern cotton off the market to put pressure on England and France to intervene. In retrospect, however, Davis missed a golden opportunity to supplement his meagre war chest while he still could. Had the cotton been sold and the money put into European banks, the Confederacy would have had more money than the United States to buy badly needed war materiel. Once the blockade became effective, it was too late.

To read the rest of the review, please go to the TOCWOC Blog where Ray posts his reviews. 

My Civil War Books

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

To Speak at Charleston Civil War Roundtable: Trading With the Enemy

On Tuesday, September 8, 2015 I will be making a presentation on my Civil War Book, Trading With the Enemy to the Charleston, South Carolina Civil War Roundtable.

When:   Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Where: Ryan’s Steakhouse
829 St. Andrews Boulevard
Charleston, South Carolina 29407

Time:    Dinner: 6:00 p. m.     Speech: 7:00 p. m.

Topic:    Trading With the Enemy

Trading With the Enemy concerns inter-belligerent 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 robust dollar 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 international. Major General William T. Sherman complained that Rebels purchased weapons in Cincinnati from the cotton they sold for gold to Memphis traders.

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. At different times, his son, grandson, and great-grandson all served as the bank’s Board Chairman, the last as late as 1967.

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.”


Amazon links to my three Civil War Books:

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


Book Review: Lee’s Lost Dispatch


Provided below is a book review from Civil War News of my latest book: Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies.

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies. By Phillip Leigh. Illustrated, photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index, 224 pp., 2015, Westholme, http://www.westholmepublishing.com, $18.95 softcover.


Phillip Leigh has produced a thoughtful, thought-provoking and enjoyable book addressing some of the Civil War’s puzzles, scandals, mysteries and “what-if” subjects. It is a delightful “must-read” book.

Leigh makes the following assertions and discusses them in brief and interesting detail:

• The Confederates’ biggest mistake was misplaying its King Cotton advantage.

• The Union’s greatest error was its failure to promptly and massively manufacture breech-loading single-shot and repeating rifles – a failure attributable to Abraham Lincoln, Simon Cameron, Edwin Stanton, Ulysses S. Grant and the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War.

• Opportunities were missed to possibly prevent the war – one of them being Union failure to more effectively reinforce Fort Sumter in January 1860.

• Union Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase creatively financed the war by explosively increasing revenues and deficit spending – and perhaps personally benefitted from his financial maneuverings.

• Chase’s daughter Kate and millionaire Rhode Island senator William Sprague became the Camelot couple of their day, but their marriage crashed as a result of Salmon Chase’s presidential ambitions, William Sprague’s trading with the enemy, and Kate’s infidelities.

• William T. Sherman, in November 1864, was responsible for the unnecessary destruction of most private dwellings in Atlanta, Cassville, Rome, Big Shanty, Marietta and other Georgia towns.

• George “Rock of Chickamauga” Thomas would have been a better choice than Sherman to lead the Union armies in the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, but Grant selected Sherman for several erroneous reasons.

• Union spies may have been responsible for the Spring Hill, Tenn., fiasco, in which John Bell Hood’s army allowed John Schofield’s trapped 23,000-man command to march unmolested past them on the night preceding the Battle of Franklin.

• The loss of a copy of Robert E. Lee’s famous Special Order 191 during the Maryland (Antietam) campaign remains a mystery, but there are several possible explanations.

• After Vicksburg’s fall, Florida became important to the Confederacy because of its cattle industry, but states’ rights, a railroad owner’s financial interests, and the cattlemen’s desire to resume profitable sales to Cuba combined to impede the movement of beef to hungry Confederate soldiers and civilians.

Many will question some of these contentions, but Leigh’s success is in making readers think about, or rethink, these issues. I highly recommend this book for Civil War buffs with inquiring minds.

Edward Bonekemper

If you enjoyed the book review above, consider buying one of my books:

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

Book Released Today: Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies

LeeLostToday Westholme Publishing released my latest Civil War book, Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War ControversiesIt is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores.

More Americans were killed in the Civil War than in any other, despite the fact that our country’s population was only about a tenth of the present 312 million. If Civil War casualty ratios were applied to our current population, the number of deaths would total over six million, compared to about four hundred thousand in World War II. Partly because of the enormous number of casualties and partly because it was fought in our own land, the Civil War is one of the great mythological themes of American history. Thus, it will probably continue to be a rich source of historical writing and literature for decades to come. But viewpoints about it shift unpredictably from one perspective to another and then get stuck in a rut. Thereafter, they follow Newton’s law of inertia until acted upon by a fresh impulse. Consider, for example, how Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels altered opinions about major Gettysburg personalities. Shaara demonstrated that new directions might emerge by inspecting unexamined assumptions, which is one of the aims of this book.

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies revisits eleven episodes of the Civil War era—some lesser known than others—that, upon reexamination, may challenge our received understanding of the course of that conflict. It is hoped that this small volume will promote discussion and debate among those who enjoy Civil War history and contemplating alternatives to conventional conclusions and analyses.