Tag Archives: First-Experiences-Under-Fire

Under Fire: Mark Twain’s Experiences in the Confederate Militia

As I explored in a previous blog, Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens lived a complex life. One of the lesser-known facets of his life is his limited service during the American Civil War. Though it may not be a purely non-fiction retelling … Continue reading

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Question of the Week: 10/25-10/31/21

If you had to pick a Civil War officer to lead you (and a regiment) for a first experience under fire, who would it be?

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Under Fire: Battlefield Guide Map for the Charge of the First Maine Heavy Artillery

The First Maine Heavy Artillery famously participated in the last desperate attempt in June 1864 to simply seize Petersburg by direct assault. Many incorrectly assume the battle was the first for these callups from the Washington defenses, though a Sesquicentennial … Continue reading

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Under Fire at Ball’s Bluff: “You Have Established Your Reputation”

“We crossed the river…under command of Colonel Lee, in all one hundred men, in a whale boat that would carry sixteen, and two small boats holding five and four respectively. I went over first, and found a steep bank one … Continue reading

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Under Fire: Just Before the Battle Mother?

While the majority of Civil War soldiers bravely stood their first experiences under fire, there were always those few looking for a quick retreat. A musical parody on the solemn tune “Just Before the Battle, Mother” poked threatening fun at … Continue reading

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Under Fire: “The Yanks on Top of the Hill North of the Creek Saw Us and Began Shooting Cannon at Us”

Over the past weekend, I’ve been reading the newly released book Rebel Correspondent, transcribed and annotated by Steve Procko. The highlight of the book is the post-war reminiscences of Private Arba F. Shaw who served in the 4th Georgia Cavalry. … Continue reading

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Under Fire: “You Did Not Wear The Marks Of The Muddy Trenches”

In May 1901, veterans of the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery journeyed to Central Virginia, returning to the battleground at Harris Farm, north of Spotsylvania Court House. Thirty-seven years early these men had come under battle fire for the first time, … Continue reading

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Under Fire: “Till My Heart Sickens and War Is Not Glorious” — John Pelham at First Manassas

It had been three months since John Pelham of Alabama left West Point Military Academy under the cover of darkness and began his circuitous journey into the heart of the newly formed Confederacy. His months of waiting, asking for advice, … Continue reading

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Under Fire: First Ironclad Shots at the Head of Passes

In May 1861, New Orleans river captain John Stevenson travelled to Montgomery, Alabama, proposing to “adapt some of our heavy and powerful tow-boats on the Mississippi” by armoring them and “preparing their bow” with a ram “capable of sinking by … Continue reading

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Under Fire — Feeling Something Warm: A Gunner on USS Congress in the Battle of Hampton Roads

The fearsome Rebel ironclad CSS Virginia (ex USS Merrimack, aka Merrimac) materialized in Hampton Roads, Virginia, that calm and clear Saturday morning, March 8, 1862. “The ‘Merrimac’ was steaming slowly towards us,” recalled Seaman Frederick H. Curtis of the wooden … Continue reading

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