Cushing’s Daring Exploit

Sinking of Albemarle

On this, the 150th Anniversary of the sinking of the CSS Albemarle, it is worth quoting Lieutenant William B. Cushing’s report in full:

I have the honor to report that the rebel ironclad Albemarle is at the bottom of the Roanoke River. On the night of the 27th, having prepared my steam launch, I proceeded up toward Plymouth with 13 officers and men, partly volunteers from the squadron. Continue reading

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Demonstration at Decatur

Charles C. DoolittleAt 1:30 in the afternoon of October 26th, 1864, Union Colonel Charles C. Doolittle of the 18th Michigan Infantry, the Federal commander of the defenses at Decatur Alabama, observed an alarming sight. Several thousand Confederate soldiers were marching up the Somerville Road and deploying to face his defenses.

Their appearance was not unexpected. Doolittle’s 1,800 man garrison was part of Brigadier General Robert S. Granger’s District of Northern Alabama, tasked with defending the line of the Tennessee River and with protecting Sherman’s supply lines. Since the capture of Atlanta, Confederate General John Bell Hood had been trying to savage those same supply lines in hopes of drawing Sherman back north. Having met with only limited success in North Georgia, Hood now conceived of a more ambitious goal: slip across the Tennessee in Alabama and strike towards Nashville Tennessee. Taking Nashville would do immense damage to Sherman’s logistics, and almost certainly draw the Federals out of Georgia. Continue reading

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Picket Line


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The Richmond Bread Riots, Conclusion

Today, we welcome back guest author, Ashley Webb.
(part two of two)

The Richmond Bread Riot. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Richmond Bread Riot. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On April 1, several women met at Belvidere Hill Baptist Church in Oregon Hill, Richmond, to discuss their plans. Starting peacefully, the group planned to march through the streets, intent on “the purpose of saving themselves from starvation,” making their demands known, and if not by negotiation then by force.[i]  To illustrate this force, the women decided to carry weapons, and many wielded axes, hatchets, clubs or knives.  Several accounts outline what transpired the following morning.  Gathering in Capitol Square, women, children, and a few men quietly proceeded through the streets, all “saying they were hungry, and must have food.”[ii]

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The Richmond Bread Riots, Part I

Today, we welcome back guest author Ashley Webb.

By 1863, Richmond was a major railway hub, an industrial center of the South, and the burgeoning capital of the Confederacy. With the continuation of the Civil War, large influxes of soldiers came and went, and people crowded into the capital looking for work.  With the blockade on Southern ports, the deterioration and destruction of Southern railroads, and the confiscation of food for soldiers, shortages continued, raising prices on necessities.  Many families struggled to survive, widening the gap between Richmond’s elite and poor.  The culmination of these factors led to a riot on April 2, 1863, composed of women, children, and a handful of men.  They marched through several of downtown Richmond’s streets, looting stores and calling for an audience with the governor.  Despite being written off as a comical occurrence in years after the war, this riot reinforced and emphasized the hardships of the Civil War on the Confederate home front.

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A Letter from William Childs

The following post by guest author Dan Welch is one of a series of posts that will chronicle a Union surgeon’s letters leading up to the end of the Civil War, 150 years later.

One of the best sets of soldier letters from the Civil War, only recently published and largely ignored by scholars and historians today, was written by Union army surgeon William Child. What makes this collection so noteworthy are the many years of the conflict they cover and Child’s detailed notes about combat, battlefields, the aftermath of war, medicine, and the unimaginable hardship of leaving a wife and family at home during his service. Continue reading

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Never Mind the Helmet, Here Comes the Cavalry!


Me and Cat, out for a stroll.

The riding helmet was small for me, so it looked like black puffball mushroom on my head. It was good enough for my purposes, though. I would be taking a couple horseback laps around an indoor ring, going only at a walk. My daughter, who has some professional experience training horses, would be walking alongside me.

This wasn’t my first rodeo—if you call walking around an indoor arena a “rodeo.” We’ve owned a horse for years—Reilly, named by my daughter after her dear friend and fellow Stonewall Jackson groupie, Frank O’Reilly. Continue reading

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Sketches from the Shenandoah: Union Hospital in Middletown

Hospital in MiddletownJames Taylor captured the aftermath of the Battle of Cedar Creek in this sketch. Here, Union surgeons operate on the wounded in Middletown.

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Sketches from the Shenandoah: Sheridan’s Rally

Sheridan Rallying TroopsJames Taylor’s was one of many nineteenth century drawings of Philip Sheridan rallying his men on the battlefield of Cedar Creek.

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Civil War Echoes: Douglas MacArthur and the Return to the Philippines


70 years ago today, General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, fulfilling his famous pledge to return to the Philippines. The photo of him at that moment (shown here, center, with his staff) is one of the iconic images of World War II in the Pacific. It is also an echo of the Civil War.

Douglas was the youngest son of Arthur MacArthur, who as a 17-year-old boy became a Lieutenant and adjutant of the 24th Wisconsin in 1862. A year later he earned the Medal of Honor at Chattanooga for leadership under fire, and in 1864 commanded his regiment at the age of 19. Staying in the Army after the war, he married a Virginian (Mary Hardy, from Norfolk) in 1875 and had three sons. Arthur fought on the frontier and then in the Philippines, retiring in 1909 as a Lieutenant General. He died on September 5, 1912, while addressing the 50th Anniversary reunion of the 24th Wisconsin. “My whole world changed that night,” wrote Douglas in 1963. “Never have I been able to heal the wound in my heart.” Continue reading

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