STONE COLD KILLERS

STONE COLD KILLERS By Doug Coleman In Ambrose Bierce’s short story One of the Missing, we have a hint of how Civil War soldiers felt about snipers.   Bierce fought for the Union and speaks first-hand. The subject of the story is a Union scout sent out to reconnoiter retreating Confederates. I won’t spoil the story […]

Fort Worth

CIVIL DISCOURSE By Doug Coleman FORT WORTH Most Alexandrians are familiar with Fort Ward, but fewer are aware that Alexandria was protected by nine other forts and many smaller batteries.  The first was Fort Ellsworth, constructed on Shuter’s Hill after the occupation of Alexandria in May of 1861 and named after the first Union combat […]

A LEGION OF UNKNOWNS AND THE ORIGINS OF MEMORIAL DAY

By Doug Coleman The Civil War was America’s bloodiest conflict; about as many died in the Civil War as all of our other wars combined. Typically the dead were buried on the battlefield where they fell in shallow graves; visiting the Manassas battlefield a week after the first fight, Vaucluse’s Constance Cary commented upon the […]

HELTER SKELTER AT HARPERS FERRY

CIVIL DISCOURSE By Doug Coleman HELTER SKELTER AT HARPERS FERRY Less than a year ago, Dylan Roof murdered nine people and wounded one more at a black Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This was not a random act of violence. Roof had an agenda, as set forth in his manifesto on his website, the Last […]

SECEDING FROM THE CONFEDERACY

SECEDING FROM THE CONFEDERACY By Doug Coleman          One of the ongoing themes of this column is to remind folks that the Civil War was not a contest between two monolithic nations.  There were divisions within the divisions.  West Virginia seceded from Virginia.  The North had its Fifth Column of Copperheads.  The mountains of […]

UNSUNG SOLDIERS: BLACK CONFEDERATES

By Doug Coleman UNSUNG SOLDIERS: BLACK CONFEDERATES In 1831, a black preacher named Nat Turner led a slave revolt in Southampton County, resulting in the massacre of perhaps 65 whites, including women and children.  The rebellion broke upon the rock of Dr. Blunt’s plantation.  Blunt’s slaves, armed with muskets and standing shoulder to shoulder with […]

Defending the Potomac

By Doug Coleman DEFENDING THE POTOMAC On March 8, 1862, Lincoln’s cabinet convened to discuss an emergency. The Confederate ironclad ram Virginia, assisted by boats of the James River squadron, had just handed the naval blockade in Hampton roads an unequivocal disaster, destroying two Union warships, the Cumberland and the Congress, and running another three […]

BLACK MILITIAS VERSUS KLANSMEN

By Douglas Coleman January of 1870 was a bad time for my family. On a Saturday night late in that month, David Coleman, a 72 year-old planter who had fought with Old Hickory at New Orleans at age 16, was gunned down on his front porch. He had not sold any cotton from his five […]

Hospitals

By Doug Coleman Alexandria was truly the hub of the American Civil War in the East. It was a major port in those days and a railhead for central Virginia and the Valley. Almost every soldier in the Army of the Potomac spent some time here, whether in camp, building fortifications, in hospital or in […]

Horseflesh

By Douglas Coleman     HORSEFLESH We tend to think of the Civil War in human terms – we write the history books. But we did not fight alone. Hundreds of thousands of horses and mules moved the army wagons, ambulances and artillery. They made the cavalry mobile. Commanders commanded from horseback and messengers rode […]