The South Secedes!

by Sarah Becker ©2018   The South Secedes!               More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state. The majority of the clashes occurred between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, an interesting fact given Virginia’s initial reluctance to secede. “In spite of all excitement, rash conduct, and reckless language indulged in […]

Robert E. Lee, the Marble Model

By Sarah Becker ©2018 Robert E. Lee, the Marble Model West Point classmates called Virginia-born Robert E. Lee the Marble Model, the Marble Man. He was nicknamed such probably for reason of heritage; his statuesque quality, dignity and bravura. Lee entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1825, mostly because it […]

An Act to Encourage Immigration

By Sarah Becker © 2017   An Act to Encourage Immigration   Abraham Lincoln, in his 1864 holiday proclamation, praised Almighty God for augmenting “our free population by emancipation and by immigration…” To immigrate: to enter and settle in a foreign country. To naturalize: to admit a foreigner to citizenship. In 1790 naturalization was limited […]

Infernal Devices, Greek Fire and Bioterrorism

CIVIL DISCOURSE, MAY 1865 As the war wound down in April of 1865, 2100 paroled Union POWs assembled at a camp near Vicksburg, Mississippi to await transport home by steamer. On April 24th, they crowded aboard the Sultana for the ride home. About 2:00 in the morning on April 27th, the boat’s three boilers exploded, […]

Alexandria & the Civil War

“Like so many individual participants in the national blood-letting, Alexandrians going to [civil] war were simply fulfilling their duty, upholding personal honor, not caught up in the political argument over a state’s right to secede or the moral argument of owning slaves,” George Kundahl wrote. Until President Lincoln responded to the Confederate firing on Ft. […]

Divisions within Divisions

CIVIL DISCOURSE, FEBRUARY 1865 In most of our minds, 150 years later, we have a notion that the North fought the South, which is true. But it also misleading in suggesting all the Northerners agreed with Lincoln and all the Southerners favored secession. Even the divisions were divided. For starters, count the number of stars […]

Red, Gray, and Blue: American Indians in the Civil War

CIVIL DISCOURSE, JANUARY 1865 A lot of people think that the Civil War ended in April of 1865, when Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Not so – the last fight in the East was at Waynesville, North Carolina on May 6, 1865. West of the Mississippi, the battle of Palmito Ranch on May 12th is often […]

Sex and the Civil War

CIVIL DISCOURSE, DECEMBER 1864 L.P. Hartley once wrote: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” And so it is with the Civil War and American sexual morality during the 1860’s. Things we outlaw, they tolerated. Things we tolerate, they regarded as monstrous crimes. Start with the notion that Americans in the […]

Slaughter at Cold Harbor

CIVIL DISCOURSE, JUNE 1864 May of 1864 has seen Grant break winter camp and move steadily south.  After almost a month of continuous combat, the exhausted armies face off on the old battlefield of Gaines Mill, on parallel lines about seven miles long near the villages of Old Cold Harbor and New Cold Harbor, just […]

Under the Black Flag: Massacre at Fort Pillow

An ugly fact of the Civil War is that the Confederate army on several occasions refused to accept the surrender of uniformed colored troops.  At least three such incidents occurred in 1864: Fort Pillow in April, the Crater in June, and Saltville in October. In the spring of 1864, legendary cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest and […]