Confederate Soldiers | HistoryNet MENU

Confederate Soldiers

Information and Articles About Confederate (Southern) Soldiers of the American Civil War

The Confederacy had volunteers or recruited its soldiers from many ethnic groups. Soldiers of Native American origin as well as African Americans and Chinese Americans joined the Confederate forces. The numbers of soldiers fought is a guestimate at any particular point in time. Because records have been destroyed, and soldiering was not a constant occupation, numbers changed from month to month. Many soldiers were farmers and when seeds needed to be planted and crops needed harvesting, it was not unusual for soldiers to take a leave of absence to tend to their farms. It is a fair estimate, however, that soldiers counted between three quarters of a million to one million in totality.

The Confederate Soldier Motto

Under the commands of Robert E. Lee and Samuel Cooper, soldiers of the Confederacy lived by the Motto “Deo Vindice” (God will vindicate us).

Johnny Reb: The Common Confederate Soldier

Johnny Reb, the all-around general southern soldier of the Confederacy was often foraging for food, as supplies were frequently not forthcoming. He was equipped with a shotgun or even the older flint-lock musket. When he got the opportunity, he armed himself with the enemy’s Enfield rifle which was more reliable. Confederate soldiers were in general a rag-tag clothed Army. This dearth of proper uniforms often caused boots, belts, jackets or whatever was needed, to be “confiscated” at the same time as the Union rifle.

Casualties of the Confederate Army members were about ninety-four thousand. They died on the battlefields. A much larger number of soldiers died later from disease and wound infection. Those numbered about 164,000 men. Another approximately thirty thousand died in enemy camps as prisoners.

To learn more facts and statistics of the common soldier of the American Civil War, please see our Civil War Soldiers page.

 

 

Articles Featuring Confederate Soldiers From History Net Magazines

Featured Article

Worn Out, Hungry and Broke: Confederate Discontent after Gettysburg

“I feel very much like starting home,” 57th North Carolina Private James Zimmerman wrote on August 16, 1863, “sometimes when I get about half enough to eat and get to studying how thing is going on there it maeks me feel like some body was to blam[e] and not me[.] I am inocent of having anything to do to bring on this ware and dont feel rite suffering here as I do on account of some bodys misdoings.”

That type of sentiment is not usually associated with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, one of America’s most storied and revered fighting units, which is often lauded for its “invincible” spirit and ability to carry on against all odds. The reality was, however, that the morale of Lee’s veterans went up and down and their zest for the war effort could wane. Many of Lee’s men experienced a particularly low point once they crossed the Potomac River back into the Old Dominion after Gettysburg. In July and August 1863, straggling and desertion spiraled out of control among the Confederates desperate for clothes, shoes and regular rations.

Lee worried that his officers were losing control of their men, and on July 26 he ordered all soldiers to return to their regiments immediately. “To remain at home in this the hour of our country’s need,” Lee proclaimed, “is unworthy the manhood of a Southern soldier….While you proudly boast that you belong to the Army of Northern Virginia, let it not be said that you deserted your comrades in a contest in which everything you hold dear is at stake.” Even though Lee’s order signified that deserters, if caught, would face stern measures, unauthorized absences continued in large numbers for at least two more months.

Getting to the heart of why Lee’s army nearly collapsed after the Pennsylvania raid is complicated and requires that numerous issues be taken into account. Were Confederate soldiers and civilians despondent after the defeat or resilient? Lee’s rank and file expressed a wide range of reactions, making it impossible to generalize about their feelings. It is imperative, however, to look beyond the attitudes of the officer class and enlisted men from privileged families to discover the “true spirit” of the Army of Northern Virginia. Looking at soldiers who came from limited means, who were minimally educated, and whose actions and words rarely surface in the historical record allows us to understand their daily strategies for survival.

Zimmerman and William Wagner both served as privates in the 57th North Carolina and are excellent examples of soldiers who existed on the margins of the army. Their criticisms of the war stand in sharp contrast to accounts in period newspapers, sermons and other official proclamations that offered cheery views of the Confederate situation after Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg.

To understand Wagner’s and Zimmerman’s negativity, it helps to examine how they were living in the field. After Gettysburg, Lee’s logistical network virtually collapsed, and the men of the 57th, like so many other units, incurred crushing hardships when they re-entered Virginia. The physical demands of the Pennsylvania Campaign and the retreat through the Shenandoah Valley had exhausted the survivors. To make matters worse, they participated in a series of punishing forced marches at the end of July across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

During one of those excursions, Zimmerman wrote that “I did not eat anything in four days and marched all the time thowing up all the water I drank[.] I was so weak I could hardly stand.” Zimmerman pleaded with the doctor to excuse him from the ranks, but the physician refused to exempt Zimmerman from carrying his musket and accouterments, leading the North Carolinian to bitterly conclude: “they [are] going as hard as they could go[.] it is no wonder…[that] so many [are] comeing home the way they are treeted here[.] A man can eat all he gets for a days rashens at one meal.”

When the 57th finally settled into a permanent camp, the men were subjected to stern discipline and scanty rations. Most of the soldiers lacked simple tents, and those who did have them shared their shelters with at least one, sometimes two comrades. Those without tents slept on the ground and used blankets for cover against the el­ements. Officers, on the other hand, enjoyed the comforts of large frame tents. Rations were not especially plentiful, and the men had not been paid for months. Without money, decent food and clothing, many soldiers turned to theft. Stealing, Zimmerman determined, was his only option.

He slipped away from camp and found a chicken house, but the door was padlocked. Zimmerman moved on to a neighboring farm where he spotted a potato patch. He hid in the woods, waiting for darkness to fall, when “heavy thunder cloud” suddenly sent sheets of rain across the field. The North Carolinian knew “my time” had arrived, and he ran into the garden. “I pitched in and I made tops fly,” he wrote. “I got as many as I wanted[.] [Some were] as big as my fist.” He felt some remorse for stealing, since this was the first thing that he had taken since his enlistment, but said, “I am out of money and if I get anything I will have to steel or beg.”

Hunger forced countless other soldiers to become their own “commissaries,” and the military authorities responded by imposing stricter discipline. By the middle of August, guards surrounded the 57th, demanding a pass from any private who tried to venture from camp. A soldier caught without proper paperwork would be arrested and punished. Guards were also posted at the neighboring farms to protect private property from thievery.

The restrictive measures instituted after Gettysburg must have seemed particularly harsh, but they were essential to protect the countryside from hungry soldiers. Some members of the rank and file, however, saw a hidden agenda to protect officer privileges. Civilians who gave generously to officers received special guards to defend their farms from foragers. “If we get a pass to go out,” Zimmerman wrote, “every house in five miles is garded to keep us away so the officers can get their supply of good things and we must do without [while living] on half rashens and it [is] the meanest kind. Your husband suffers as I am doing now for the want of such things while the officers feast upon such things,” Zimmerman concluded. “They live here better than ever I did at home—ham, chicken fryed, eggs, butter, milk, green snaps, corn, potatoes, and anything you can name they have it and the very best, and we poor privates cant get out of camp without a pass.”

Financial impoverishment was another problem for 57th North Carolina, as the regiment had not been paid for three months. In one company, a soldier reported that the enlisted men could not pool together more than 10 dollars. The lack of funds had some obvious consequences. Private soldiers were used to purchasing food from farmers and sutlers, but inflation and speculation has so diluted their currency that they were essentially penniless. “Dear I will give prises of some things,” William Wagner wrote on August 21, “Irish potaters sells from one to two Dollars a gallen and Milk 50 cents a quart Butter 3 Dollars a pound [and] litle greene aples a 50 cents a dozen [and] Eggs 3 Dollars a dozen.” Infuriated soldiers denounced the government for abandoning them. Federal currency was exceedingly more valuable than Confederate money, exasperating Wagner, who wrote: “what gits me so hard [is] why in Richmond they give from 7 to 10 Dollars Confederate money for one Dollars of yankee money.” It made no sense to struggling Confederates to be fighting for a nation where some people profited off enemy currency when their own meager army diet forced them to spend what little money they had on “a litle some thing” to eat.

A lack of money also served to keep down desertion, as soldiers simply could not afford to run away. Any non-Virginian who wanted to return home would have to travel hundreds of miles, trading all the while with local farmers. Zimmerman captured the financial realities of deserting when he wrote in August: “We are all out of money here….I think as soon as they get money a lot of them will leave [as] that is all that has kept them here this long.”

Factors such poor food, bad leadership, combat fatigue and hard marching figured into the decision to bolt from the army, but the ways soldiers protested their sorry lot were extraordinarily diverse, as every man had his own limits, contended with his own private issues and faced different living conditions and political circumstances.

There was, however, one common concern among all deserters. Would resistance to or evasion of military service be a futile act that could end in even more hardship or possibly death?

Most Southern soldiers usually judged an assault against military authority as akin to suicide, but there were times when they found an opening to exploit to their advantage. Such openings appeared when the army lost the ability to control enlisted men. After Gettysburg, that occurred when profound structural shifts in the Army of Northern Virginia created opportunities that soldiers quickly exploited.

This breakdown in order was made worse in early August, when Jefferson Davis’ Amnesty Proclamation pardoned any absent soldier who returned to the ranks within 20 days of leaving. Although Davis was clear that the amnesty applied to men who were currently absent without permission, scores of soldiers interpreted his words to mean that they could leave their posts immediately as long as they returned within the stipulated 20 days.

Less than two weeks after Davis’ proclamation, Lee sent the president an urgent message, telling him that the amnesty had inspired a new wave of deserters. “The number of desertions from the army is so great and still continues to such an extent,” Lee wrote on August 17, “that unless some cessation of them can be caused I fear success in the field will be seriously endangered.” Two days before writing this dispatch the general was informed that bands of soldiers were leaving their regiments, in some cases as many as 30 from a single unit. Although Lee had favored the amnesty proclamation, he tweaked Davis’ order and instituted a system of furloughs that would grant leave at the rate of one man for every 100 soldiers present for duty.

Lee’s furlough policy did not close the escape hatch that Davis’ amnesty proclamation had unintentionally opened. In fact, the new furlough policy was largely ridiculed by the men, who insisted that there was even less of a chance of securing official permission to go home after Gettysburg. One Confederate calculated that it would take three to four years for all the men in his unit to receive a furlough home.

Frustration among the rank and file must have also increased because Lee stipulated that the new furlough system should give preference to “the most urgent and meritorious cases.” Officers who made such a determination were undoubtedly seen as playing favorites by those refused a pass and stuck in camp. A Virginia soldier spoke to the frustration of his comrades after Lee’s furlough policy when he wrote, “The captain told me that he would let me go home in September but he is so down on me now that I don’t think he will let me (go) then, for I have been tilling him just what I think of him and damn his sole if he don’t mind I will put him through yet…for he is the damest Raskal that ever I had enny thing to doo with in my life.”

In the end, Lee’s furlough system extinguished the hopes of many men who were already outraged by the army’s failure to uphold the legal right to a furlough. After Wagner’s wife asked him to “beg” for a furlough, he replied that “I can say to you a man mite as well beg for peese[.] They would git Jest as soone as a furlow.” Wagner and Zimmerman did not desert, but undoubtedly some did go home, believing that they faced indefinite military service.

Lee searched for an effective policing strategy in the wake of the failed amnesty program, but deep down he must have known that he would have to inflict harsher punishments on his men. “I begin to fear,” the commanding general concluded, “[that] nothing but the death penalty, uniformly, inexorably administered, will stop it.”

Lee’s fears were realized at the beginning of September, when he authorized a series of executions. A month later at least 20 men had been shot to death by their comrades. Reports also surfaced that delinquent solders were receiving prison sentences that ranged between five and 10 years.

Anger over these punitive measures, either from soldiers or civilians, did not receive press coverage. In fact, newspaper editors did not raise a single question about the use of firing squads. They gave critical support to the use of violence against deserters and their collaborators on the home front at a time when Confederate officials were launching a violent campaign to eradicate dissenters.

While scores of men from the 57th North Carolina deserted from the regiment after Gettysburg, most stayed put. Their decision to remain in the army, however, should not be viewed as proof of Confederate loyalty or high morale. The practical challenges of running away, the possibility of having to live the life of a fugitive on the home front and the army’s violent crackdown on desertion kept men like Wagner and Zimmerman tethered to their units. We should not conclude that they had given themselves to the Confederate cause, that they were inspired by the nationalistic rhetoric of politicians, or that they continued to fight out of deep sense of comradeship. They fought out of necessity, but resignation did not mean passivity. Even when they were physically and emotionally worn down, as both men were after Gettysburg, they possessed the mental resolve to question the morality of the war and the suffering that it had caused so many loved ones.

Clear-cut answers to these difficult questions, however, did not magically appear. Zimmerman and Wagner found themselves trapped in a conflict that must at times have seemed incomprehensible, leaving them both frustrated and confused. Zimmerman expressed the mental outlook of countless dissenting Confederates who desired freedom but could not find a realistic way to escape the morass of war. Wagner expressed conflicted sentiments when he wrote in August 1863: “I would go too (desert) for God onleys knows I want this war to End and I hope and pray to God it will End before long some way or a nother so we all can go home to our Dear Wives and children and live in peese as before for God onley knows I am that tired of the war that I don’t hardly know what to doo any more.”

It is hard to determine how many of Wagner’s and Zimmerman’s comrades shared their opinions after Gettysburg, but their words and actions remind us that all soldiers were monitored very closely inside the army. Such policing limited their options to either speak out or to follow their principles. Lee and other Confederate officials realized imploring men to do their duty was not enough. An amnesty program or furlough only bred more discontent. They grimly determined that the men needed to be reminded of the lethal risks of desertion by exercising the ultimate form of government power against its citizens—capital punishment.

Rather than strike out against a Confederate army that was both abusive and negligent and risk the possibility of being brought before a firing squad, Wagner and Zimmerman acknowledged that they occupied the bottom rung of the army, and that there was no escaping their confinement. Furthermore, they refused to delude the people back home that the war was some kind of heroic adventure. They wanted everyone to know that they confronted a world of unpredictable violence and brutal restrictions.

With great honesty and courage, these two soldiers had the resolve to admit to themselves and to their families that they could do nothing to alter their situation except to find a way to survive this horrible ordeal.

Peter S. Carmichael, the Eberly Professor of Civil War Studies, at West Virginia University, has completed numerous studies on Confederate motivation and morale. For more information, see “Resources,” page 72 of the August 2008 issue of Civil War Times magazine.

Articles 2

Hoodwinked During America’s Civil War: Confederate Military Deception‘In the conditions of real war, the feeling of uncertainty is magnified, and this makes the opponent much more sensitive to crafty deception — so that even the most threadbare ruse has succeeded time after time.’ — Sir Basil Liddell Hart Desperate times require desperate measures, and in warfare few are more cunning — or …
17th Maine Infantry in the Battle of GettysburgThe 17th Maine helped transform a Gettysburg wheatfield into a legend.

By Jeffry D. Wert

James Longstreet: Robert E. Lee’s Most Valuable SoldierThe words resonate through Confederate history like an unwelcome truth. As General Robert E. Lee made preparations for an assault on the center of the Union line at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, his senior subordinate, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, voiced objections. At one point in the discussion, Longstreet recounted his experience as a soldier …
Battle of Gettysburg: Who Really Fired the First ShotWhen Lieutenant Marcellus Jones touched off a shot in the early morning of July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg, he could not have realized that his bullet would create a controversy argued over for decades.
Battle of Antietam: 7th Maine’s Senseless Charge On the Piper FarmIt had no effect on the battle — other than adding to the casualty lists — and there was no good reason for ordering it in the first place. But for the whim of a subpar brigade commander, whose sobriety some held in question, it never would have happened. Yet late on the afternoon of …
George Smalley: Reporting from Battle of AntietamNew York Tribune reporter George Smalley scooped the world with his vivid account of the Battle of Antietam.
Battle of Shiloh: Shattering MythsEvents that have been distorted or enhanced by veterans and early battlefield administrators have become part of the accepted story of the April 1862 battle -- until now. Case in point: The Sunken Road wasn't.
Robert E. Lee and His Horse TravellerRarely have horse and rider gone so well together as Traveller and Robert E. Lee.
Leonidas Polk: Southern Civil War GeneralUnion artillery brought a deadly end to the career of clergyman-turned-soldier Leonidas Polk.
Hoodwinked During America’s Civl War: Union Military DeceptionHoodwinked During the Civl War: Union Military Deception
Battle of Fisher’s HillGeneral George Crook's flank attack at Fisher's Hill swept down on the Rebel left like a force of nature.
Battle of New Market Heights: USCT Soldiers Proved Their HeroismOn a gunfire-swept slope near Richmond on September 29, 1864, USCT soldiers stood to the test and proved black men made good professional troops. Fourteen of them received the Medal of Honor for their bravery.
Battle of Harpers FerryHarpers Ferry was the scene of an important 1862 battle in Lee's Maryland campaign and a prelude to 'Bloody Antietam.'
Confederacy’s Canadian Mission: Spies Across the BorderStealing secrets and causing trouble, Rebel spies in Canada waged a risky underground war across the Union's northern frontier.
Battle of Gaines’ Mill: U.S. Army Regulars to the RescueAs Robert E. Lee hammered Federal forces at Gaines' Mill, Brig. Gen. George Sykes proud division of Regulars held its post of honor on the Union right. The 'Old Army was showing its mettle to the new.
Siege of Port HudsonPort Hudson, like Vicksburg, was a tough nut to crack. But the Union's traditional superiority in firepower, personified by the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery, quickly went to work on the Rebel bastion.
Account Of The Battle of ChickamaugaOverconfident and overextended, the Union Army of the Cumberland advanced into the deep woods of northwest Georgia. Waiting Confederates did not intend for them to leave. At Chickamauga Creek, the two sides collided.
The 7th U.S. Infantry Service in the American Civil WarThe 7th U.S. Infantry's most powerful foe was John Barleycorn.
American Civil War: The New Bern RaidJohn Wood's swashbucklers set out to seize a Union fleet.
American Civil War: The 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry RegimentThe Twenty-Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment included two future presidents and an Army Commander.
America’s Civil War: Loudoun RangersThe Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union.
Capturing Fort Pulaski During the American Civil WarAs a young U.S. Army lieutenant, Robert E. Lee helped to construct Fort Pulaski. As a Confederate general 30 years later, he confidently assured fort defenders it could not be breached. Union gunners were not so sure.
America’s Civil War: Major General John Pope’s Narrow Escape at Clark’s MountainWhile Robert E. Lee's entire army massed behind Clark's Mountain to attack the Union Army of Virginia, a daring Yankee spy swam the Rapidan River to warn Maj. Gen. John Pope of the imminent danger. It was, said one military historian, 'the timeliest single product of espionage' in the entire war.
Battle of Chickamauga: Colonel John Wilder’s Lightning Brigade Prevented Total DisasterArmed with their new, lethal seven-shot Spencer rifles, Wilder's Lightning Brigade was all that stood between the Union Army and the looming disaster at Chickamauga Creek.
Second Battle of Manassas: Union Major General John Pope Was No Match for Robert E. LeeBrash, bombastic John Pope tempted fate by returning to the old battleground at Manassas. He thought he had caught Robert E. Lee napping. He was wrong.

Articles 3

Battle of Sailor’s CreekThe April 6, 1865 Battle of Sailor's Creek constituted one of the darkest days in the Army of Northern Virginia's history.
America’s Civil War: Images of Peace at AppomattoxEvery picture tells a different story about Lee's surrender.
America’s Civil War: Horses and Field ArtilleryWorking side by side with soldiers, horses labored to pull artillery pieces into battle. Without them, field artillery could not have been used to such deadly effect.
Battle of Antietam: Controversial Crossing on Burnside’s BridgeShould General Ambrose Burnside have ordered his men to wade Antietam Creek? Author Marvel undertook a personal odyssey to find out.
44th Georgia Regiment Volunteers in the American Civil WarThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.
Battle of Antietam: Taking Rohrbach Bridge at Antietam CreekWhile Union commander George McClellan fumed and the Battle of Antietam hung in the balance, a handful of Rebels held off Federal troops at 'Burnside Bridge.'
Battle of Champion’s HillWith Ulysses S. Grant's army steadily menacing Vicksburg, Confederate General John Pemberton left the town's comforting defenses to seek out the enemy army. Too late, he found it, at Champion's Hill.
Frederick Stowe: In the Shadow of Uncle Tom’s CabinThe fame of novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe followed her son throughout the Civil War.
America’s Civil War: Union Soldiers Hanged in North CarolinaEight months after Major General George E. Pickett led his famous charge, he hanged Union prisoners in North Carolina.
J.E.B. Stuart’s RevengeA stolen hat and wounded pride spurred Southern cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart into action. His vengeance would be swift, daring, and--unexpectedly--funny.
Union General Judson KilpatrickUnion General Judson Kilpatrick was flamboyant, reckless, tempestuous, and even licentious. In some respects he made other beaux sabreurs like fellow-cavalrymen George Custer and J. E. B. Stuart seem dull.
Battle of Wilson’s CreekThe Battle of Wilson's Creek helped to keep a critical border state out of the Confederacy.
Confederate General Samuel GarlandWhen Samuel Garland fell at South Mountain, the Confederacy lost a promising general and a proven leader.
Battle of Ball’s BluffConfederate soldiers drove inexperienced Union troops acting on faulty intelligence into the Potomac River like lemmings.
Brigadier General John Gibbon’s Brief Breach During the Battle of FredericksburgAlthough overshadowed by the doomed Federal attack on the Confederate center, General John Gibbon's 2nd Division managed -- however briefly -- to make a breakthrough on the Union left.
Brigadier General Thomas F. MeagherBrigadier General Thomas F. Meagher, the colorful leader of the Irish Brigade, fought many battles--not all of them with the enemy.
America’s Civil War: Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer InfantryThe doomed assault on Fort Wagner won the 54th Massachusetts a place in history, but did not win the battle for the North. No regiment could have carried the fort that day.
Gas Balloons: View From Above the Civil War BattlefieldLed by pioneering balloonist Thaddeus Lowe, daredevil aeronauts on both sides of the war took to the skies in flimsy balloons to eyeball their opponents' every move. Soldiers on the ground often did not take kindly to the unwanted attention.
THE CLASSICS: The Iron Brigade (Book Review)Reviewed by Peter S. CarmichaelBy Alan T. Nolan Alan T. Nolan pioneered the modern regimental history with The Iron Brigade. The voices of the "Black Hat Boys," who comprised one of the fiercest combat units in the Army of the Potomac, still resound in The Iron Brigade, by Alan T. Nolan. George Pickett, although not …
Battle of ShepherdstownThe savage little Battle of Shepherdstown made for a bloody coda to the 1862 Maryland campaign.
John Cabell Early Remembers GettysburgMajor General Jubal Early's nephew recalled the famous meeting on July 1 between his uncle and General Robert E. Lee during the 1863 invasion of Pennsylvania.
America’s Civil War: Front Royal Was the Key to the Shenandoah ValleyThe pretty little town of Front Royal, in the Shenandoah Valley, had a strategic value that belied its size. As Stonewall Jackson knew, it was the key to the valley, the state of Virginia and the war itself.
Eyewitness Account: A Tar Heel at GettysburgAfter capture, Lawrence D. Davis had to undergo being reviewed by 'big & fat' Ben Butler.
THE CLASSICS: Four Years With General LeeReviewed by Peter S. Carmichael By Walter Herron Taylor Of all Robert E. Lee’s subordinates, few were better qualified to write a history of the Army of Northern Virginia than Walter Herron Taylor. Taylor’s Four Years With General Lee, published in 1877, stands as one of the standard works on the Army of Northern Virginia. …
Second Battle of Bull Run: Destruction of the 5th New York ZouavesThe Texas Brigade tide bore down on the isolated 5th New York Zouaves at Second Bull Run. A fine regiment was about to be destroyed.

Articles 4

Battle of Gettysburg: Union Cavalry AttacksAfter the conclusion of Pickett's Charge, ill-advised Union cavalry attacks killed dozens of Federal horsemen and a promising brigadier general.
Battle of Antietam: Carnage in a CornfieldMr. Miller's humble cornfield near Antietam Creek became the unlikely setting for perhaps the worst fighting of the entire Civil War.
Battle of Resaca: Botched Union AttackWilliam Tecumseh Sherman waited expectantly to hear that his accomplished young protégé, James B. McPherson, had successfully gotten astride the railroad at Resaca and cut off the Confederate line of retreat. Hours went by with no word from McPherson. What was 'Mac' doing in Snake Creek Gap?
America’s Civil War: Assault at PetersburgSixth Corps Yankees stumbled out of their earthworks and toward the muddy pits of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was the beginning of the end at Petersburg.
37th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in the American Civil WarThe service of the 37th North Carolina epitomized the grit and determination of Tar Heel fighters.
Battle of Gettysburg: Fighting at Little Round TopThe Battle of Gettysburg, and perhaps the fate of the Union, was decided in one hour of desperate fighting on the rocky ledges of Little Round Top.
Truth Behind U.S. Grant’s Yazoo River BenderMurky facts and contradictions confuse the story of a purported 1863 drinking spree by the general.
America’s Civil War: George Custer and Stephen RamseurGeorge Custer and Dodson Ramseur had a friendship that survived the Civil War -- until the Battle of Cedar Creek.
Sullivan Ballou: The Macabre Fate of a American Civil War MajorMajor Sullivan Ballou gained fame for the poignant letter he wrote to his wife before the First Battle of Bull Run. Not so well known is that after he was mortally wounded in that fight, Confederates dug up, decapitated and burned his body.
America’s Civil War: John Mosby and George Custer Clash in the Shenandoah ValleyWhen Civil War's John Singleton Mosby's Partisan Rangers clashed with George A. Custer's Union Cavalry, the niceties of war were the first casualty. Reprisal and counter reprisal became the order of the day.
Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez: Heroine or HoaxerMadame Loreta Janeta Velazquez wrote a controversial memoir disclosing her activities as a double agent and brave soldier during the Civil War.
Battle of Gettysburg: Confederate General Richard Ewell’s Failure on the HeightsFor the second day in a row, Confederate General Richard Ewell inexplicably failed to take the offensive at Gettysburg. 'The fruits of victory, Robert E. Lee lamented, had not been gathered.
Did Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell Lose the Battle of GettysburgAfter disobeying Robert E. Lee's orders to avoid a general engagement at Gettysburg, Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell received an order to 'press those people.' His failure to do so created a controversy that survives to this day.
Battle of Kernstown: Stonewall Jackson’s Only DefeatA furious Stonewall Jackson watched impotently as his proud Confederates stumbled down the hillside at Kernstown, Va. 'Give them the bayonet,' Jackson implored -- but no one obeyed.
America’s Civil War: Stonewall Jackson’s Last DaysDr. Hunter McGuire, Stonewall Jackson's 27-year-old medical director, chronicled the general's last days.
Second Battle of Winchester: Richard Ewell Takes CommandOne month after Stonewall Jackson's death at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee turned to Stonewall's trusted lieutenant, Richard Ewell, to cover his invasion of the North. Was 'Old Bald Head' up to the challenge?
America’s Civil War: XI Corps Fight During the Chancellorsville CampaignDisliked and distrusted by their comrades in the Army of the Potomac, the men of the XI Corps would find their reputation further damaged by a twilight encounter with Stonewall Jackson's troops in the dark woods at Chancellorsville.
Battle of Chancellorsville: Day OneNew Union commander 'Fighting Joe' Hooker planned to encircle Robert E. Lee at the Virginia crossroads hamlet of Chancellorsville. The plan seemed to be working perfectly, until....
America’s Civil War: Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet at Odds at GettysburgAt Gettysburg, Longstreet told Lee that a direct assault would end in disaster -- but Pickett's Charge went forward anyway.
The Irish Brigade Fought in America’s Civil WarTheir casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade.
America’s Civil War: Last Ditch Rebel Stand at PetersburgAfter nearly 10 months of trench warfare, Confederate resistance at Petersburg, Va., suddenly collapsed. Desperate to save his army, Robert E. Lee called on his soldiers for one last miracle.
America’s Civil War: The South’s Feuding GeneralsIt sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South's demise.
Battle of Brawner’s Farm: Black Hat Brigade’s Baptism of FireJohn Gibbon's mostly green Midwestern troops found themselves in quite a scrape as the sun set on August 28, 1862.
Winchester, Virginia: A Town Embattled During America’s Civil WarWinchester, Virginia, saw more of the war than any other place North or South.
America’s Civil War: May 2001 LettersPreservation Donation Thank you so very much, Primedia History Group, for your generous donation of $9,778 to the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. These proceeds from your recent Chancellorsville reenactment at Ft. Pickett, Va., September 22-24 are a wonderful indication of the support and loyalty of participating reenactors. The gift will allow our organization to purchase …

Articles 5

Book Review: Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend (James I. Robertson) : CWTStonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend,by James I Robertson, Jr. (Macmillian, New York, 950 pages, $40). Forty years have passed since the publication of the last scholarly biography on Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. That’s hard to believe, considering that millions of tons of paper and barrels of ink have been conscripted to publish …
Book Review: Conquering the Valley (Robert K. Krick) : CWTCONQUERING THE VALLEY The heart of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign spanned six weeks and ended near the place it had begun: Port Republic, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There and at Cross Keys, a village five miles northwest of Port Republic, Jackson’s army defeated two Union forces on …
Book Review: General John Pope (by Peter Cozzans): CWTGeneral John Pope: A Life for the Nation, by Peter Cozzens, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 474 pages, $39.95.. The bombastic Union general John Pope knew how to provoke people. The usually unflappable Robert E. Lee called Pope a “miscreant” after Pope declared a harder war on Virginia civilians during the summer of …
Book Review: Shades of Blue and Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War (Herman Hattaway) : CWTShades of Blue and Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War, by Herman Hattaway, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 295 pages, $29.95. No book answers a question that is not asked. Herman Hattaway obviously has benefited from his recent stint as a visiting professor at the U.S. Military Academy, where soldiers and cadets …
Book Review: STONEWALL JACKSON: THE MAN, THE SOLDIER, THE LEGEND (James I. Robertson, Jr.) : AHSTONEWALL JACKSON: THE MAN, THE SOLDIER, THE LEGEND, by James I. Robertson, Jr. (Macmillan Publishing, 940 pages, $40.00). “You maybe what ever you resolve to be” was one of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall”Jackson’s favorite axioms, and in this thoroughly researched biography,Robertson, one of the country’s leading Civil War historians, examines why thisConfederate general’s unfaltering determination made …
Book Review: Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend (James I. Robertson) : ACWA magisterial new biography of Stonewall Jackson presents all sides of a complex, often inscrutable man. By Richard F. Welch At the time of his death in May 1863, Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was the best-known Civil War commander. Revered in the South and feared in the North, Jackson so personified the Confederacy’s …
Book Review: Stonewall Jackson: A History of the Confederate Navy (Raimondo Luraghi) : ACWOutgunned and outsupplied, the fledgling Confederate Navy used technological ingenuity to level the playing field. By Kenneth P. Czech When the Civil War erupted in 1861, the Confederate states were determined to protect their seacoasts and inland waterways. However, they lacked an adequate naval force with which to do so. To compound the problem, the …
Book Review: ROBERT E. LEE’S CIVIL WAR (Bevin Alexander) : AHROBERT E. LEE’S CIVIL WAR, by Bevin Alexander, Adams Media Corporation, 338 pages, $24.95. If old soldiers never die, nor do the debates about their place in history. For generations Robert E. Lee’s reputation as a military commander remained relatively unscathed, with only occasional exceptions. Though it is not surprising that Ulysses S. Grant criticized …
Battle of Gettysburg: Major Eugene Blackford and the Fifth Alabama SharpshootersAs fighting swirled all around the little town of Gettysburg, Major Eugene Blackford and his sharpshooters infiltrated the usually quiet streets to snipe at Union soldiers often mere paces away. It was dangerous duty, but also a sort of reckless sport.
Civil War Times: December 2000 EditorialFrom the Editor Civil War Times NATURAL CAUSES Nothing gives you an appreciation for the modern world like a good case of some formerly fatal disease. In my case, it was pneumonia–specifically, mycoplasma pneumonia, which spread all through both of my lungs, and stole the whole month of August from me. Of course, disease never …
Civil War Times: October 1999 EditorialFrom the EditorCivil War Times THE LAST FULL MEASURE OF AMBITION I remember standing on Seminary Ridge, looking out over that ocean of a field that stretches to Cemetery Ridge. It was a windy winter day in the late 1980s, and there was scarcely anyone else at Gettysburg National Military Park. I studied the figures …
Stonewall’s Only Defeat – Sidebar: January ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureStonewall’s Cavalry Chief In an army not lacking for larger-than-life heroes, Confederate cavalry leader Turner Ashby had already become a legend by the time of his premature death in June 1862. As Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry chief in the Shenandoah Valley, the Virginia-born Ashby naturally took on some of the glamour of the South’s most-vaunted warrior. …
Stonewall’s Only Defeat – January ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureStonewalls Only Defeat By Lee Enderlin A furious Stonewall Jackson watched impotently as his proud Confederates stumbled down the hillside at Kernstown, Va. “Give them the bayonet,” Jackson implored–but no one obeyed. The Confederate general didn’t want to fight–he wanted to pray. It was, after all, the Sabbath, and if the Good Lord found it …
South’s Feuding Generals – November ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureSouth's Feuding Generals By Richard Selcer It sometimes seemed that Southern generals were more interested in fighting each other than in fighting Yankees. Their inability to get along together contributed greatly to the South’s demise. Imagine a situation in the modern American army where officers refuse to fight under other officers, where generals openly defy …
America’s Civil War: January 1999 From the EditorConfederate General Charles Sidney Winder found himself smack in the middle of the Jackson-Garnett feud. When Major General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson abruptly removed Brigadier General Richard Garnett from command of the Stonewall Brigade on April Fool’s Day, 1862, he inadvertently made Brigadier General Charles Sidney Winder the most unpopular man in the Shenandoah Valley. The …
they paid to enter Libby Prison – February 1999 Civil War Times Featurethey paid to enter Libby Prison A drafty Richmond deathtrap for captured Yankees became a tourist trap after the war–600 miles away! BY BRUCE KLEE The Union officers who stepped into the huge brick prison’s reception room knew all too well what this chamber was. It was the proverbial lion’s mouth. Here, men were swallowed …
Heroine or Hoaxer? – August 1999 Civil War Times FeatureHeroine or Hoaxer? Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez wrote a controversial memoir disclosing her activities as a double agent and brave soldier during the Civil War. BY SYLVIA D. HOFFERT In 1876 the American public was introduced to an astonishing and controversial figure by the name of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez. Like so many others, she …
Carnage in a Cornfield – September ’98 America’s Civil War FeatureCarnage in a Cornfield By Robert C. Cheeks Mr. Miller’s humble cornfield near Antietam Creek became the unlikely setting for perhaps the worst fighting of the entire Civil War. On Sunday night, September 14, 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee issued orders for his much scattered commands to rally at Sharpsburg, Maryland. His ambitious plans …
Commands: The Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union. – January ’98 America’s Civil War FeatureThe Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union. By Richard E. Crouch Of all the special units that were formed to combat Confederate partisan rangers in Virginia during the Civil War–the Blazer Scouts, the Jesse Scouts, Cole’s Maryland Cavalry and others–probably the most promising was the Loudoun Rangers, an independent cavalry …
Judson Kilpatrick – June 1998 Civil War Times FeatureJudson Kilpatrick BY EDWARD G. LONGACRE Union General Judson Kilpatrick was flamboyant, reckless, tempestuous, and even licentious. In some respects he made other beaux sabreurs like fellow-cavalrymen George Custer and J. E. B. Stuart seem dull. Because he was a passionate man, Kilpatrick won many admirers and made many enemies during his Civil War career–and …
Battle of Gettysburg: Remembering Pickett’s ChargeFew judgments have generated as much controversy as the Confederate decision to make a last desperate attack on the center of the Union lines on the afternoon of July 3, 1863, at Gettysburg.
“Never Were Men So Brave” – December 1998 Civil War Times FeatureNever Were Men So Brave Their casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade. BY JOHN F. McCORMACK, JR. Out Hanover Street in Fredericksburg they marched that December morning in 1862, sprigs of green in their caps, a …
Remembering Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of GettysburgConfederate Captain Joseph Graham offers a different perspective on the Battle of Gettysburg, particularly its final hours.
Commands: The Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union. – January ’98 America’s Civil War FeatureThe Quaker-dominated Loudoun Rangers openly defied Virginia tradition to serve the Union. By Richard E. Crouch Of all the special units that were formed to combat Confederate partisan rangers in Virginia during the Civil War–the Blazer Scouts, the Jesse Scouts, Cole’s Maryland Cavalry and others–probably the most promising was the Loudoun Rangers, an independent cavalry …
Nothing But Glory Gained – Account of Pickett’s Charge at GettysburgJust before 3 o’clock on the morning of July 3, 1863, Robert E. Lee rose by starlight, ate a spartan breakfast with his staff, and mounted his famous gray horse, Traveller, for the ride up Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg. He went in search of his "Old War Horse," Lieutenant General James Longstreet, commander of I …

Articles 6

America’s Civil War: May 1997 From the EditorThe unexpected and unnecessary Loring-Jackson incident almost derailed two promising military careers. When Major General William Wing Loring led the successful Confederate defense of Yazoo Pass in March 1863 (see story, P. 46), he unwittingly earned himself a new nickname. Personally directing his men’s fire, Loring cried in the heat of battle: “Give them blizzards, …
Travelers to Wartime Richmond – Sept. ’96 America’s Civil War FeatureTravelers to wartime Richmond had a wide choiceof luxurious hotels, inns and taverns. By John K. Trammell The outbreak of the Civil War ushered in an era of radical change in Virginia. Starting with fanatical John Brown’s failed revolution at Harpers Ferry, and ending with a devastating defeat and painful reconstruction six years later, citizens …
The 44th Georgia Suffered Some of the Heaviest Losses – March ’96 America’s Civil War FeatureThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.By Gerald J. Smith On March 10, 1862, companies of Georgians from Henry, Jasper, Clarke, Spalding, Clayton, Putnam, Fayette, Pike, Morgan, Henry and Greene counties all assembled at Camp Stephens, outside Griffin. Responding to Governor Joseph Brown’s mandate to …
Stonewall’s 11th-Hour Rally: Jan ’96: America’s Civil War FeatureWith a rusted sword in one hand and a Confederate battle flag in the other,a grim-faced Stonewall Jackson desperately rallied his faltering troops. What Rebelworthy of the name could abandon ‘Old Jack’ in his hour of need?By Robert C. Cheeks It was devilishly hot in the summer of 1862, an oppressive, debilitating heat that ravaged …
Day One at Chancellorsville – March ’96 America’s Civil War FeatureNew Union commander ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker planned to encircle Robert E. Lee at the Virginia crossroads hamlet of Chancellorsville. The plan seemed to be working perfectly, until….By Al Hemingway Early in the evening on April 29, 1863, Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart rode up to the Chancellor farmhouse, a well-known inn 11 miles west …
The Proving Ground – April ’96 Civil War Times FeaturethePROVINGground The Mexican War gave future civil war generals their first taste of combatJOHN C. WAUGH Chatham Roberdeau Wheat would one day lead a famous Louisiana battalion called “Wheat’s Tigers” into battle for the Confederacy. He would fight and die in the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, Virginia, in 1862. But that was still some 15 …
First Eyewitness to War LetterMy Dear Wife, I this morning sat myself down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am in good health. At this time hoping when these few lines come to hand they may find you and the children all well. My dear wife, I want to see you and my …
A Town Embattled- February ’96 Civil War Times FeatureWinchester, Virginia, saw more of the war than any other place North or Southa town EMBATTLEDCHRIS FORDNEY Ten thousand Confederate troops filled the small town of Winchester, Virginia, early in the summer of 1861. Soldiers were quartered in almost every building. Then, in mid-July, a call came to stop a Federal advance on Manassas, and …
Ewell Seizes the Day at Winchester – Mar. ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureEwell Seizes the Day atWINCHESTERBy Dean M. Wells One month after Stonewall Jackson’s death at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee turned to Stonewall’s trusted lieutenant, Richard Ewell, to cover his invasion of the North. Was ‘Old Bald Head’ up to the challenge? June 14, 1863, was a hot, cloudy day in northern Virginia. A light breeze …
Last-Ditch Rebel Stand at Petersburg – Cover Page: May ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureLast-Ditch Rebel Stand at PetersburgBy Ronald E. Bullock After nearly 10 months of trench warfare, Confederate resistance at Petersburg, Va., suddenly collapsed. Desperate to save his army, Robert E. Lee called on his soldiers for one last miracle. After more than nine months of squalid trench warfare around the beleaguered Southern city of Petersburg, Virginia, …
Did ‘Baldy’ Ewell Lose Gettysburg?After disobeying Robert E. Lee's orders to avoid a general engagement at Gettysburg, Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell received an order to 'press those people.' His failure to do so created a controversy that survives to this day.
Eyewitness to War: Stonewall Jackson’s Final Days – November ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureDr. Hunter McGuire, Stonewall Jackson’s 27-year-old medical director, chronicled the general’s last days. By Joe D. Haines, Jr. The circumstances surrounding the death of Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson are well known. Following perhaps his greatest performance, leading a brilliant flanking maneuver against Union Major General Joseph Hooker at Chancellorsville, he was mistakenly shot …
Battle of Gettysburg: Union General George Stannard and the 2nd Vermont BrigadeThe first Vermonter to enlist in the war, Union General George Stannard helped turn the tide at Gettysburg.
Mexican War: The Proving Ground for Future American Civil War GeneralsFor young American army officers of the time, the Mexican War was not only the road to glory, it was the road to promotion--a proving ground for future Civil War generals.

Articles 7

Comments are closed.