Civil War Battlefields
List of Major Civil War Battlefields
Battle Of Gettysburg
Battle Of Fredericksburg
Battle Of Petersburg
Battle Of Spotsylvania
Battle Of Fort Sumter
Battle Of Chickamauga
Battle Of Antietam
Second Battle Of Bull Run
Battle Of Vicksburg
Battle Of Shiloh
Battle Of Chancellorsville
Articles Featuring Civil War Battlefields From History Net Magazines
Civil War Battlefields: They’re Called Killing Grounds for a Reason
Does the ground where soldiers are fighting have any real bearing on the number of casualties they take? During a 10-year study of the geomorphology of Civil War battlefields, two geologists found that in some cases it did.
Analyzing the action at Sharpsburg, Md., and several other sites, Radford University’s Robert Whisonant and Judy Ehlen discovered that the shape of the land could actually put soldiers more at risk in some areas of a given battle than in others. They already knew that flat, open land was pretty much guaranteed to be hell for advancing troops and that rough, high terrain created good hiding places for infantry and artillery, but according to a story in EARTH magazine, their research showed how differences in geological composition of those areas contributed to differences in the numbers of casualties incurred in different sites.
“We’re not really contributing new historical information,” Whisonant explained. “We’re taking known history and trying to give it more context.”
Sharpsburg, also known as Antietam, was the single bloodiest one-day battle in the war, with more than 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing. The troops that day had another common enemy besides bullets, however: carbonate rock. Millions of years of rain will reduce soft carbonate rock to relatively flat, open terrain. The battle’s notorious Cornfield, which is located on a deposit of almost pure limestone, is an example of how carbonate rock can become a relatively smooth surface, good for farming. Casualties there were at least three times higher than in other parts of the battlefield. When carbonate rock is mixed with harder dolomite and slate, the result of weathering is different. That is the composition of the land near Burnside Bridge, where the limestone had dissolved away, leaving an uneven terrain with hills and ridges that provided good hiding places. Casualties were consequently lower in that area.
The geologists presented their conclusions in a talk, “No Place To Run, No place To Hide,” at a meeting of the Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy and Gulf Coast Association of Geographical Societies.
Army Loans Artifacts to Kentucky Museum
The U.S. Army has become a partner in the new Battle of Richmond Visitors & History Center in Richmond, Ky. The Blue Grass Army Depot occupies a large section of the 6-by-8-mile battlefield, where fighting between Maj. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson’s Federals and Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith’s Confederates occurred on August 29-30, 1862. Several archaeological excavations at the post have produced an array of artifacts, including horse and mule shoes, scabbard tips, Minié balls, round shot and pieces of canister shot. An impressive collection of those artifacts, made available through a 30-year loan, is now on display in the new museum, which is located in the historic Rogers House.
Once used as the depot post commander’s quarters, the Rogers House served as a hospital following the battle. The historic structure, ownership of which was transferred to Madison County in 2005 along with three acres, has since been restored to its 1862 appearance.
The new museum, which opened on October 4, 2008, features multimedia exhibits as well as traditional displays. Visitors can also see specially designed laser topographical maps, showing the armies’ movements on the battlefield before, during and after the engagement. Center spokesperson Paul Rominger points out that the laser maps are a unique feature rarely seen at other museums.
The battle, a decisive Confederate victory, was the second largest engagement in the state, behind Perryville. Included in the Union’s 4,900-man casualty count were 4,000 soldiers taken prisoner. The Confederates suffered only 750 casualties.
The Army’s artifacts are displayed on the museum’s second floor, along with an exhibit honoring Union Brig. Gen. Mahlon D. Manson, who commanded troops on both days of the battle. Some of his papers and belongings—including his saber, pistol, china, footlocker, field desk and other furniture—were donated by the general’s great-great-granddaughter.
Since the history center cannot accommodate large crowds, visitors should call 859-624-0013 before planning a trip. Hours are from 9:30 to 4 Monday through Friday. Walking trails and a 16-mile driving tour should also be big attractions for the museum, which is within easy driving range of Lexington.
Trail Marks Site of ‘Conceity Dunce’ Nonduel
For Civil War buffs, Alton, Ill., is probably best remembered as the site of the seventh and last congressional debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Today on the spot where a crowd of more than 6,000 gathered on October 16, 1858, to hear them argue antislavery vs. states’ rights, life-size figures represent both men at Alton’s Lincoln Douglas Square. But thanks to a $65,000 grant from the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, visitors can gain an even better appreciation for the whole area’s wartime heritage—by following a newly blazed 10-stop Civil War trail.
In addition to new signage at Lincoln Douglas Square, the trail documents sites such as Smallpox Island, just upriver from Alton, where about 300 Confederate prisoners of war and civilians died while they were quarantined between August 1, 1863, and March 31, 1865. The site of Alton’s Federal Military Prison is also nearby. Opened in 1833 as the first Illinois state penitentiary, the institution closed in 1860 after a new prison was built in Joliet. But it was reopened just a year later. During the war it would hold at least 11,000 captured Confederates and an assortment of nonmilitary prisoners, including several women who had made anti-Union remarks, as well as bushwhackers and guerrillas.
Perhaps the most unusual stop is actually for a “nonevent”—a duel between Lincoln and James Shields that almost took place across the river from Alton. The conflict had its beginnings when a series of letters critical of Shields, then serving as the state auditor, appeared in the Sagamon Journal signed “Rebecca.” They were actually authored by Lincoln, who denounced Shields for deciding to require that payment of county taxes be made only in gold or silver. Lincoln referred to Shields as a fool, a liar, a hypocrite and a “conceity dunce.”
The auditor demanded a duel, and Lincoln promptly accepted—but he specified that they would use cavalry broadswords. The two men met at a clearing across the river from Alton on September 22, 1842. But before any blood was shed, an agreement was reached: Lincoln admitted writing the letters and asserted that he didn’t intend to impugn Shields’ reputation as a gentleman.
Lincoln apparently did not hold a grudge against his would-be opponent that day. In August 1861, when Shields was nominated to the rank of brigadier general in the Union Army, the president approved his promotion.
Virginia Slave Quarters Under Restoration A rare example of slave quarters constructed of stone was recently added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. Located southwest of Dulles International Airport in eastern Loudoun County, the building is in the village of Arcola, named for a large plantation that dominated that area until the end of the Civil War.
The structure is believed to have housed as many as 32 slaves who worked on the James Lewis Farm in the first half of the 19th century. Some of those slaves probably helped to maintain nearby Little River Turnpike, the precursor of modern Route 50. Lewis and his brother Charles both served as officials in the Little River Turnpike Company.
Measuring 17 by 63 feet, the structure was actually constructed in two phases. The majority of the building was divided into four rooms, with two fireplaces located on interior walls. But since the structure was sited on a steep incline, similar to a bank barn, a fifth room is tucked in below the main level. The quarters may also have accommodated a blacksmith’s shop.
Recently deeded to Loudoun County by developer Buchanan Brothers, the building is now sited within the 400-acre Arcola Center project, a planned 400-acre residential and commercial development. The developer also donated the 41⁄2 acres of land surrounding the slave quarters and has promised $500,000 toward the cost of restoring the building.
Once restoration is complete, the structure will be one of only five publicly accessible stone slave quarters in the United States. Officials have said they hope it will attract tourists interested in African-American history.
Did Souvenir Hounds Stoop to New Lows?
Was it the urge to make a fast buck or just sheer cussedness that led grave robbers to desecrate the burial place of a member of the 100th Pennsylvania Volunteers, the famed “Roundhead” Regiment, this past October? Unless the perpetrators are caught, we may never really know.
For whatever reason, vandals broke into the ivy-covered mausoleum in Oak Park Cemetery in New Castle, Pa., holding the remains of Edward C. Darley, who signed on to a three-year commitment with the Union Army in 1864, at age 18. Edward was the son of a British railroad engineer who had settled in Pennsylvania. The 100th’s nickname, a reference to Western Pennsylvania’s many Scottish and English settlers, had been suggested by General Winfield Scott, in part as a compliment to Simon Cameron, President Lincoln’s first secretary of war.
Mustered out of the 100th’s Company K on July 24, 1865, as a sergeant, Darley went on to become a prominent engineer, supervising the construction of large iron and steel plants as well as blast furnaces. He died in 1901 while undergoing surgery for a throat ailment.
Cemetery Superintendent Darrell Brightshue noted that Darley’s was one of three graves disturbed the same night. “I have never seen cemetery vandalism as bad as it is now,” he said.
Find Pension Files Online
After the Civil War began, officials—using the 1838 Congressional Act, which provided pensions during the War of 1812—decided that women dependents who had lost their husbands or sons in wartime service were eligible for pensions. The pension office bureaucracy subsequently created a treasure trove of historical documents.
Now you can easily research one of the most popular collections of original documents at the National Archives and Records Administration—the Civil War Pension Files—online. Thanks to a joint project between the NARA and Web site Footnote.com, it’s possible to search for a specific soldier by name or browse a whole regiment.
Not only can you find out about a U.S. Army veteran’s term of service, you might also be able to locate his death date and locations—even if he survived the war for many years. Visit Footnote.com to find out how.
War by the numbersEyebrows were conspicuously raised recently when a "demographic historian" from New York's State University at Binghamton convincingly recalibrated the long-accepted Civil War death toll—boosting the grisly statistic by an astounding 20 percent.
Field Notes - September 2012New superintendent focused on Antietam sesquicentennial
Julian Scott Civil War PainterCurator Michael McAfee talks about artist Julian Scott and 51st New York Infantry at Antietam.
Battlefields&Beyond: New York CityHarold Holzer's Top 13 Civil War Sites in NYC.
Honor boundJust how far would a soldier go to avoid being shamed on the battlefield?
Book Reviews - July 2012
The Global Lincoln by Richard Carwardine, Jay Sexton, eds. Oxford University Press 2011, $29.95
At the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 2009, a new area of Lincoln studies emerged: his legacy outside the United States after the Civil War …
Letters to the editor - July 2012
Broadening our horizons
I appreciated the articles on the Monitor in the March 2012 issue but there were a few inaccuracies. The cover statement that Monitor made "every other warship obsolete" is only true if we mean every other warship …
In the hot seat over GettysburgSouthern vets had long blamed James Longstreet and Jeb Stuart for their loss, but had Lee called a formal inquiry?
Ambrose Bierce and America's First Great War StoriesAuthor and Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce wrote of an ugly war, not the romanticized version found in most writings by his fellow veterans. His war was waged deep within the conscience of the individual solider and was often cloaked in supernaturalism.
Battle Of South Mountain: Battlefield And BeyondJune Issue Extra: Lee’s first invasion of Union territory was turned back at the Battle of South Mountain
Major General Adelbert Ames: Forgotten Man of the 20th MaineJune Issue Extra: Adelbert Ames preceded Joshua Chamberlain as colonel of the 20th Maine
1862: May and June
Lincoln urges farmers to go west, McClellan stalls and a new Rebel commander takes over
3 – Confederate General Joseph Johnston orders troops to evacuate Norfolk, Va. Evacuation is completed May 10, and on May 11, the crew of …
Field Notes - Civil War news and history
The J.E.B. Stuart statue in Richmond, Va.New messages for old statues?
It wasn't quite art, but it wasn't quite vandalism either. So Richmond, Va., police and park employees were a bit stumped at how to handle ink-on-canvas plaques that were …
A surprise visit from Morgan's RaidersThomas Lewis had avoided war -- until it invaded his own farm
Emory Upton and the Shaping of the U.S. ArmyHow one soldier’s combat experiences and study of the world's great military powers led to a tactical revolution
'John Brown's Body' - Stephen Vincent Benet and Civil War Memory'John Brown's Body' by Stephen Vincent Benet, published in 1928, remains a vibrant tapestry of America's diversity and its unity, its 15,000 lines re-imagining the Civil War as Lincoln understood it.
Sherman's Folly at ShilohBefore one of the Civil War’s most brutal battles, one of its finest generals ignored signs of danger—and paid a steep price
Union at Shiloh
A letter from Pvt. William Christie, 1st Minnesota Battery, to his father. Christie's battery lost three men killed and six men wounded.
I supposed you have heard of the great battle on the 6th and 7th of this month. …
Confederates at Shiloh
On April 6, 1862, following the first day of fighting, General Ulysses Grant ordered Union gunboats on the Tennessee River to fire broadsides all through the night, in an effort to unnerve the enemy. John S. Cockerill of the 70th …
Louisa May Alcott Goes to WarEager to support the North, the budding author volunteered for a fledgling corps of female nurses
Eyewitness Account: The Battle of ShilohUnion Lieutenant William M. Reid recounts the Battle of Shiloh. PLUS: Three other accounts of the battle.
March and April, 1862
Stunning events on land and sea: Naval warfare is reinvented and a placid church gets a bloodbath
March 3 – President Lincoln appoints Andrew Johnson, the only Southern U.S. senator to remain loyal after his state seceded, military governor …
Trail takes helm at Antietam Battlefield
Susan Trail was superintendent at Monocacy National Battlefield for eight years. Photograph courtesy of National Park Service.Monocacy National Battlefield Super-intendent Susan Trail has been selected to serve in the same capacity at Antietam National …
Fearless French MaryBattlefield held little terror for feisty Marie Tepe as she focused on aiding her beloved Zouaves
Ron Maxwell Interview - 'Gods and Generals' Extended Director's CutA HistoryNet exclusive interview with director Ron Maxwell about the extended director's cut of his film Gods and Generals, now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
George Crook at the Battle of KernstownDid the Union general’s refusal to listen cost him the Second Battle of Kernstown?
Is It MosbyIs this a previously unknown portrait of the Gray Ghost?
Longstreet - Scapegoat or CulpritDid Lee order Longstreet to attack at dawn on July 2 at Gettysburg? Did Longstreet drag his feet because he disapproved?
In Time of War - 150 years ago
1 - The Lincoln administration releases Confederate emissaries James Mason and John Slidell from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, ending the Trent Affair. The diplomats continued their voyage to Europe, on an unsuccessful mission to win support for the …
Wounds from the Washita: The Major Elliott AffairThe death of popular 7th U.S. Cavalry officer Major Joel Elliott at the 1868 Battle of the Washita—and Lt. Col. George Custer's response to it—spawned disunity within the ill-starred unit
Battlefields&Beyond: London, UKRebels ruled in Merry Old England.
Putting the Wolverine State's heroics under the microscope
Two new books celebrate, in mostly commendable fashion, Michigan's contributions to the Civil War. Rick Liblong's Answering the Call to Duty: Saving Custer, Heroism at Gettysburg, POWs and Other Stories of Michigan's Small Town Soldiers in the Civil War (Arbutus …
Antietam Battlefield’s Miller farmhouse gets a facelift
Halfway through a five-year renovation of the historic Miller farmhouse at Antietam National Battlefield, the Park Service preservation teams have been offering a handful of sneak previews of their handiwork.
David Miller's cornfield became an icon of the battlefield, after …
History we can chew on
If we want the young to learn history, we must find appealing ways to teach it
The Lincoln restaurant offers this large white leather banquette as an inviting version of the president's perch at the Lincoln Memorial. Photo courtesy of …
Who owns Gettysburg?
Preservationists, residents, entrepreneurs and Civil War enthusiasts all want a stake in its legacy
At times it seems as if there isn't enough Gettysburg to go around, and almost 150 years after the nation-changing battle, the site remains a hotly …
Tracing the ties that bind
We know what the famous guys were up to, but what were our own relatives doing during the war?
Most of New Orleans thought Ben Butler was bad news, according to Dr. Charles Bias, who was teaching the Civil War …
'I Am Well and Hearty' - Walt Whitman's Brother in the Civil WarWalt Whitman has the reputation as a Civil War writer, but it was his younger brother, George Washington Whitman, who saw the war up close and personal as a member of Company K, 51st New York Volunteer Infantry.
Churchill Imagines How the South Won the Civil WarIn Winston Churchill’s fanciful alternative history, Robert E. Lee wins at Gettysburg, and Jeb Stuart prevents World War I
The War List: Overrated Civil War OfficersHistorian Gary W. Gallagher picks Union and Confederate officers whose hype doesn't match reality.
The Ultimate Political Action Committee
A congressional war panel proves too many cooks can poison the pot
By any standard, Ball's Bluff was a fiasco. What began as a raid in October 1861 escalated into an unintended battle for Leesburg, Va. The Yankees so badly …
The art of war
The 150th anniversary of our greatest conflict implores us to take another look
Back in February, the London-based Art Newspaper, the most important journal in the museum world, published a front-page article bemoaning the shocking absence of American art …
What a difference a day makes
Confederate soldiers under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee camp on the outskirts of Hagerstown, Maryland, in September of 1862. Image courtesy of Weider History Group archive.
War seemed far away to the editors of a Maryland weekly newspaper–until …
Gaming board says no to Gettysburg casino
No gambling for historic Civil War town
Preservationists claimed victory in Gettysburg this spring when for the second time in five years, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected plans for a casino on the fringes of Gettysburg National Military Park.…
Who Was George G. Meade?
Meade Part I
TitleMeade Part I
TitleMeade Part II
TitleMeade Part VI
DescriptionWho Was George G. Meade? with Dr. Allen Guelzo, Henry R. Luce Professor of …
Sacred Trust: Gettysburg Perspectives Lecture Series
A Sacred Trust: Gettysburg Perspectives Lecture Series
July 1, 2 & 3, 2011
At Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA
The Gettysburg Foundation is pleased to present our annual lecture …
Irreconcilable DifferencesWinston Groom, author of Vicksburg 1863, explores the reasons the North and South found themselves at war.
Who Was the Youngest Civil War GeneralTrivia buffs beware: Galusha Pennypacker’s claim to being the Civil War’s youngest general doesn’t hold up
World War Two in GettysburgScrap drives, war rallies and German POWs took over America’s preeminent battlefield
Irvin McDowell's Best Laid Plans
The orderly advance of Union troops at the start of the battle would become a distant memory in the hellish retreat that followed the fighting. Picture credit: Frank Leslie'sThe 'unexpected' Rebels he met at Bull Run weren't unexpected at all…
New Gettysburg Film from Ridley and Tony Scott
Scott brothers produce Gettysburg film for History channel
The famed filmmaking Scott brothers—Ridley (Gladiator; Black Hawk Down; American Gangster) and Tony (Unstoppable; Man on Fire; Top Gun)—have teamed with the cable channel History to produce Gettysburg, …
A Sesquicentennial three-pack
Stunning photos dominate these coffee table tomes
The Civil War sesquicentennial has spawned a new—and not-so-new—wave of literature designed to introduce a new generation to the nation's seminal conflict. Among the first such books are three profusely illustrated volumes that …
McClellan's War-Winning StrategyThe "young Napoleon" had a viable plan to beat the Confederacy. What went wrong?
Union Cavalry Escapes from Besieged Harpers FerryIn September 1862 some 1,600 Union cavalrymen seemingly trapped at Harpers Ferry carried out one of the Civil War's most successful missions of stealth and deception.
Gettysburg's Best and Worst MonumentsWhat are Gettysburg's best and worst monuments?
Where is General George MeadeHow Union General George G. Meade became the Rodney Dangerfield of the Civil War
Secession - Revisionism or Reality
Secession fever revisited
We can take an honest look at history, or just revise it to make it more palatable
Try this version of history: 150 years ago this spring, North Carolina and Tennessee became the final two Southern states …
Walmart Withdraws from Wilderness Battlefield
Preservationists win Wilderness battle
Rather than face what would likely have been an image-bruising court fight, Walmart has abandoned plans to build a retail supercenter on the doorstep of the Wilderness battlefield in central Virginia.
"This project has been controversial, …
The First Battle Of The Civil War - Philippi *
*Note on Philippi, the Civil War's First Battle Inland: Many people ask, "What was the first battle of the Civil War?" The answers that are often given are 'The Battle Of First Bull Run' or 'Fort Sumter.' Chronologically, Fort Sumpter …
Building the Army of the PotomacStephen Sears writes of how the Army of the Potomac's politically appointed generals and short-term volunteer troops nearly unhinged Lincoln’s plans in 1861 to win the Civil War.
Robert E. Lee Takes ChargeGeneral George McClellan thought he was timid. Newspapers called him ‘Granny Lee.’ But once in command, the General Robert E. Lee attacked quickly and boldly.
Ask MHQ—North or South: Whose Was the Army of the Rebellion?Nowadays "Army of the Rebellion" is most commonly used to refer to the Confederates, but during the American Civil War the term was often applied to the Union forces as well.
Last Chance for Peace: Fort Sumter at 150For months the Confederates trained dozens of guns on Fort Sumter. But no one seemed eager for war.
Ten Civil War ClassicsThe country’s bloodiest war has been captured in novels, memoirs, and battle narratives. Here are 10 classics
Black Jack John Logan Goes to WarUnlike most politicians, John Logan played a pivotal role on the battlefield.
Camp Misery Excavation
Students snag chance to probe 'Camp Misery'
As if the indignity of losing at Fredericksburg were not enough, 100,000 Union soldiers (and 90,000 of their counterparts from the South) settled in to spend the winter along the banks of Virginia's …
James Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Education, Preservation, Dedication
Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer has made saving endangered battlefields his life's passion
Jim Lighthizer. Photo by Kevin Johnson.
What is the biggest threat to Civil War battlefield preservation right now?
No question about it, development—the …
Gideon Welles Blockades Charleston Harbor
The one-way voyage of the Stone Fleet:
An aging armada sets course to become an obstacle
There may not have been a less impressive fleet in the entire history of the American Navy. The ships were old, long past their …
Union Spy in Confederate TerritoryUnion agent Pryce Lewis had his share of close calls
Lee to the RearA Texas private’s long-forgotten account of Robert E. Lee’s brush with death at the Battle of the Wilderness.
Battle Of Franklin: Civil War Sites - Carnton, Carter House, Lotz HouseThe Carter House, Lotz House and Carnton Plantation still stand as witnesses to the five bloody hours of fighting in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864.
Survivors Remember Shiloh7 Lives Altered by Shiloh: Two Fateful Days Can Make Reputations, Shatter Families, and Shape Destinies
Pre Civil War Peace ConferenceAs secession fever spreads through the South, political patriarchs try to avert war—-but at what price?
10 Battles That Shaped AmericaAmerica was born of war, and the following 10 battles helped forge the nation and forever change world history.
S. Waite Rawls, Museum of the Confederacy
Waite Rawls Revels in His Role as the Keeper of the Confederacy's Complex Legacy
S. Waite Rawls has a name and heritage befitting a Confederate general. A Virginia Military Institute graduate, he's got so many Rebel ancestors that he has …
Gen. George McClellan at Second ManassasGeneral Disobedience: ‘Little Mac’ let John Pope twist in the wind;
With response from Prof. Ethan S. Rafuse
Waite Rawls Revels in His Role as the Keeper of the Confederacy's Complex Legacy
S. Waite Rawls has a name and heritage befitting a Confederate general. A Virginia Military Institute graduate, he's got so many Rebel ancestors that he has …
Remembering the Confederates' last stand at Petersburg: The Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg's Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865
by John J. Fox III
Angle Valley Press, 2010, $34.95
Although it typically doesn't attract the attention it merits, April 2, …
Peter Carmichael, Director of The Civil War Institute
Education that spans generations:
Peter Carmichael takes the helm of Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute, Gabor Boritt's innovative program for history students of all ages
Dr. Peter Carmichael. Photo by Tamela Baker.What attracted you to the Civil War Institute?…
Segways appear at Fredericksburg NMP
Segways slipping silently across the battlefield might resemble the charge of the very, very light brigade, but the two-wheel, stand-up scooters could be an ideal way for tourists to inspect hallowed Civil War sites.
Beginning in June, the Fredericksburg and …
Was Secession Legal
Southerners insisted they could legally bolt from the Union.
Northerners swore they could not.
War would settle the matter for good.
Over the centuries, various excuses have been employed for starting wars. Wars have been fought over land or honor. …
Antietam RememberedA veteran of Antietam spent his life collecting accounts of the war’s most horrific fighting
The Last Waltz: Prelude to the Siege of VicksburgIn August 1863 astonished Vicksburg revelers watch a convoy of Federal gunboats successfully pass the town's batteries, thanks to the keen observations and ingenuity of Union admiral David Porter.
Civil War MemoryHarold Holzer explores revisionism and Civil War memory
John Howard, Superintendent, Antietam National Battlefield
Superintendent John Howard plans to retire at year's end after 16 years at the helm of Antietam National Battlefield. Here he shares a few parting thought.
What accomplishment stands out most in your time at Antietam?
John Howard. Photo by …
Gettysburg is an Endangered Battlefield
A proposed casino near the site of Pickett's Charge has landed the Gettysburg National Military Park on the Civil War Preservation Trust's list of the 10 most endangered battlefields in 2010.
In its annual report History Under Siege, CWPT identified …
True Causes of the Civil War
Simmering animosities between North and South signaled an American apocalypse
Any man who takes it upon himself to explain the causes of the Civil War deserves whatever grief comes his way, regardless of his good intentions. Having acknowledged …
Murder in the Civil War
Getting away with murder
The battlefield claimed many a brave officer, but there were a few others who met not-quite-so-honorable ends
The death toll among general officers during the Civil War was staggering. Because military necessity often placed a general …
Richard Ewell at GettysburgSecond-Guessing Dick Ewell: Why didn’t the Confederate general take Cemetery Hill on July 1, 1863?
Lee's Unwritten MemoirWhy didn’t Robert E. Lee write his memoirs?
Is General Stanley A. McChrystal more like General John Pope or George McClellan?MSNBC's Keith Olbermann compares President Obama's predicament with General McChrystal to Lincoln's decision about General John Pope.
At Gettysburg with the Lousiana Tigers
The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, June-July, 1863
By Scott L. Mingus Sr.,
Louisiana State University Press, 2009
The legendary Louisiana Tigers, one of the more feared units in the Army of Northern Virginia, get a welcome and comprehensive …
The War Over Plunder: Who Owns Art Stolen in War?Over the past two decades, globalization, changing attitudes, and clearer international laws have emboldened aggrieved nations to demand the return of cultural property seized by enemy forces in the past, but laws alone can’t guarantee their success.
'The Roar and Rattle': McClellan's Missed Opportunities at AntietamThe Battle of Antietam resulted in more pivotal changes, across a broader spectrum of events—military, political, diplomatic, societal—than any other battle of the war. Yet if evaluated in purely military terms, it was not decisive at all.
Explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal‘Noble Union Girls’: The thousands of Northern women who worked in Federal arsenals risked their lives for the cause.
Israel Richardson at Antietam
A Rising Star Struck Down in His Prime
Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army, by Jack C. Mason, Southern Illinois University Press
Up to the moment he was mortally wounded along Antietam's …
Emmitsburg Road Preservation Campaign
Civil War Preservation Trust announces latest campaign
Fundraising has begun for the preservation of a crucial two-acre parcel on the Gettysburg battlefield. The property, originally part of the historic Philip Snyder farm, lies along the Emmitsburg Road and is entirely …
Battlefield Preservation Effort - 7200 Acres at PetersburgU.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced the “Petersburg National Boundary Modification Act,” to protect 7,200 additional acres of historic battlefields around Petersburg, which would create the largest military park in the United States.
Irvin McDowell: The Most Unpopular Man in AmericaTwo words came to define McDowell’s military prowess for the general’s most critical
superiors: ‘Bull’ and ‘Run’
Ed Bearss, Former NPS Chief Historian
For Ed Bearss, the past is prologue.
Recalling the National Park Service's response to the war's centennial, its former chief historian reflects on a new milestone.
What impact will the sesquicentennial have on battlefield parks?
In 1955, the Park Service …
The Other Battle of Calcasieu PassDefenseless Yankees were no match for a girl named Babette.
Gettysburg maps sesquicentennial strategyCivil War battle strategy can be tricky enough itself to convey, but that wasn’t what was giving German journalist Hermann Schmid problems in Gettysburg last fall.
Lincoln’s Political Generals
Lincoln's Political Generals, by David Work
University of Illinois Press, 2009
Abraham Lincoln made his share of mistakes as commander in chief during the Civil War, but did his politically motivated appointments of nonmilitary men as Union generals help or …
Resources: April 2010
P. 28, Field Guide: Williamsburg
"The day after Christmas 1850, Williamsburg mayor John Maupin strolled out to his farm south of town lingered and chatted with his slaves until mid-afternoon, then announced he was going "home." Perhaps he meant his …
Will Biographers Ever Get out of a Rut?
Biographies of Civil War generals have appealed to generations of Americans. Famous commanders often attract readers who end up pursuing a lifelong interest in the conflict. J.E.B. Stuart played that role for me.
As an 11-year-old, I was drawn to …
Staying the Course at GettysburgLincoln's remarks gratified the war's proponents and silenced his critics
Executing JusticeConfederates accepted capital punishment as a necessary evil on the path to independence.
'A White Man's War'William T. Sherman’s adamant refusal to field African-American troops amounted to outright insubordination
Who kept U.S. Grant sober?John Rawlins used his brains and blue language to keep his boss in check.
Gettysburg Grows by 45 Acres: December/January 2010
Gettysburg residents Wayne and Susan Hill recently donated 45 acres to the Gettysburg Foundation. Located near the eastern base of Big Round Top at the southern end of the battlefield, the acreage encompasses an area where Union skirmishers maneuvered on …
Why Doesn’t Grant Get the Love?: December 2009/January 2010Ulysses S. Grant has occupied dramatically different positions in the American pantheon. His imposing stature between the end of the Civil War and the early years of the 20th century cannot be disputed.
Resources: October/November 2009P. 28, General Grant's 'Living and Speaking Conscience
Read James Harrison Wilson's The Life of John A. Rawlins online with Google Books.
P. 42, The 'Madness' of John Brown
The 150th Commemoration of Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry will take …
Masters of their Medium: October/November 2009The Civil War era has attracted more than its share of gifted writers. Unexcelled political drama, compelling individuals in and out of uniform and storied battles provide rich material for anyone seeking to tell a gripping story.
Murder and Mayhem Ride the Rails - Union Soldiers Rampage in Virginia
Smoke and fire filled the skies south of Petersburg in December 1864 as the Army of the Potomac's V Corps targeted the Weldon Railroad. During a raid along this vital supply line linking southeastern Virginia with North Carolina, liquor-fueled Federals …
A Promise FulfilledThe Emancipation Proclamation all but guaranteed the death of slavery, but exactly what that document did–and did not–do remains the subject of heated debate
Digging deeply into the earthworks at PetersburgIn the Trenches at Petersburg:
Field Fortifications & Confederate Defeat
by Earl J. Hess
University of North Carolina
New biographies that focus on Civil War–era figures inevitably face the dilemma of how to interpret race, politics and equality …
The Rise and Fall of CSS Virginia - GalleryDid a radical new Confederate gunship foil McClellan’s plan to end the Civil War in 1862? Photographs of the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor.
Edwin Forbes Gettysburg Paintings - GalleryScenes from the Battle of Gettysburg painted by the reporter and artist Edwin Forbes.
Six Weeks in the Saddle with Brig. Gen. John BufordUnion Brigadier General John Buford's troopers kept their carbines warm harassing Robert E. Lee's army during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign.
Capital Defense - Washington, D.C., in the Civil War
When the first inklings emerged early in 1861 that a fighting war pitting North versus South would soon break out, the residents of Washington, D.C.—at least those whose sympathies were with the Union—began to feel more than a little threatened. …
N.C. reenactors work to conserve and display regimental flags
A historic flag captured from the 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg has returned home.
A reenactment unit, whose members include a number of descendants of the original unit's soldiers, led the charge to acquire the flag, …
John Coski, Museum of the Confederacy
John Coski is the historian and library director at the Museum of the Confederacy. He is the author of The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem — Interview by Tamela Baker
Describe the museum's expansion to Appomattox, Fredericksburg and …
Robert K. Krick, Chronicler of Robert E. Lee's Army
Robert Krick worked for 31 years as the chief historian at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and is a renowned expert on the Army of Northern Virginia Interview by Kim A. O'Connell
How did a California kid get …
The South's Last Great VictoryAn alliance of the Confederacy’s eastern and western armies earned a bloody triumph at the September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga
9th Massachusetts Battery
This monument marks the 9th Massachusetts Battery's initial position along the Wheatfield Road at Gettysburg. The artillerymen conducted a fighting retreat with their 12-pounder Napoleons to the Trostle Farm in the background. For more information visit:
Hanging Captain GordonNathaniel Gordon was the only American sent to the gallows for slave traiding.
Lincoln or Bust
Abraham Lincoln posed for several famous photographs at Alexander Gardner's Washington, D.C., gallery on November 8, 1863: one with his private secretaries John Nicolay and John Hay, and another full-face close-up that showed the steely-eyed president staring directly into the …
Here’s evidence that Abraham Lincoln was as good as his wordsKaplan has done a service to Lincoln scholars and general readers alike by reconstructing Lincoln's self-education, and showing how the books he read and reread may have shaped his mind.
A not-so-prim dissection of the war from across the pondAmerica's Civil War: The Operational Battlefield 1861-1863
by Brian Holden Reid
Prometheus Books, 2008
One can read extensively in Civil War historiography and not once come across the word "puerile." Yet Brian Holden Reid, professor of American history and military …
Believe it or not, here's something new on LeeRobert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865
by Ethan S. Rafuse
Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
Is it really possible there's anything new to say about Robert E. Lee, who probably has had more written about him than …
Did Robert E. Lee Doom Himself at Gettysburg?By blindly relying on poor intelligence and saying far too little to his generals, Lee may have sealed the Rebels’ fate.
Fighting Words: Inspiration From AnnihilationThe Civil War was one of the deadliest conflicts in history. Some 620,000 troops died, an estimated two-thirds from disease rather than combat. This number represented about 2 percent of the American population, and far more than the casualties of any previous conflict of the United States. It is not surprising, therefore, that several of the terms born during that conflict incorporate the word “dead.”
Ever Heard a Real Rebel Yell?: August/September 2009
Many Union soldiers wrote about the soul-chilling yells of attacking Confederates. Thanks to the Museum of the Confederacy, you can hear the real thing on a CD featuring the authentic yell as performed by two elderly Confederate veterans. The two …
Resources: August/September 2009P. 22, Military Manuals of the Civil War
Read Dennis Hart Mahan's An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-posts… online with Google Book Search.
P. 24, Field Guide
Daryl Black was recently named executive director of the Chattanooga History Center (chattanoogahistory.com). …
Two Ways to Approach One War: August/September 2009Two Civil Wars await anyone seeking to understand our transformative national trial.
Abraham Lincoln Museums - An OverviewFour museums dedicated to presenting the life of Abraham Lincoln, each one different in character, are examined in detail, with photos.
Welcome Aboard USS Water Witch: June/July 2009
USS Water Witch is scheduled to be commissioned on April 4, 2009, at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Ga. That weekend also marks the first time the painstakingly replicated vessel will open to the public.
"This is …
Resources: June/July 2009Toward a Better Understanding of George McClellan, P. 28
McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, Ethan S. Rafuse, Indiana University Press Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862, …
Resources: April/May 2009Field Guide, P. 22
The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has released Volume 7 of its 2008 journal, Fredericksburg History and Biography. Included in it is "From Foxcroft to Fredericksburg: Captain Sewell Gray of the 6th Maine Infantry," by Chris Mackowski …
Key Third Winchester Site Saved: April/May 2009Third Winchester, the bloodiest battle to take place in the Shenandoah Valley, will likely draw more visitors than ever now that a larger portion of the battlefield is being preserved
Grant and Lee: MIA in New York: April/May 2009Visitors to the New-York Historical Society’s ongoing exhibit on Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee will likely be intrigued by the first artifacts they see: artwork created by the legendary commanders themselves long before they were famous.
Mothers of the Lost CauseAn army of determined Southern women buried the dead but kept
the mythic Confederate legacy of the Lost Cause alive
They're Called Killing Grounds for a Reason: February/March 2009A 10-year study of the geomorphology of Civil War battlefields reveal connection between geological features and casualties.
Go To Gettysburg!: February/March 2009Noted historian Gary W. Gallagher gives his perspective in the Civil War Times bi-monthly column Blue and Gray.
Fighting Dick and his Fighting Men
On a bleak hillside overlooking the battleground of Sailor's Creek, General Robert E. Lee watched as hundreds of his men fled through the fields and wooded ravines below. "Men without guns, many without hats," one witness recalled, "all mingled with …
Decision at The Battle of Five Forks - 1865
The headstrong Gen. Philip Sheridan (left) had little patience for the careful battle tactics of Gen. Gouverneur Warren (right) and replaced him at Five Forks. But in 1880 Sheridan would be forced to justify his actions before a court of …
Shiloh's False HeroIn exchange for waving a white flag, Benjamin Prentiss
was hailed as the savior of the “Hornets’ Nest”
Letters from the Front - Correspondence Spanning Two Centuries of American WarCorrespondence from a two-century span of American wars, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. Several feature audio recordings, including Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., reading the letter he wrote home about his experiences as a POW in World War II.
Ox Hill Battlefield: Honoring Second Bull Run’s Bloody PostscriptThe Battle of Ox Hill or Chantilly, in Virginia, has been commemorated with a new battlefield park along Rt. 608. The Sept. 1, 1862, battle was fought in a rainstorm and resulted in the death of Union generals Philip Kearny and Isaac Stevens.
Diehard Rebels: Jason Phillips and Aaron Sheehan-Dean Interview
It's perfectly feasible to imagine that if the South had successfully left the Union, the West would also have split away
Did Confederate soldiers lose the will to fight as the outlook began to appear bleak for the South late …
Nicholas Biddle:The Civil War's First BloodJust days after Fort Sumter, a pro-Confederate mob in Maryland turned ex-slave Nicholas Biddle into the war's first casualty.