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Firsthand accounts

  • Wild West Magazine

    J.P. Lower Was a Standout Denver Gunsmith Who Once Used a Sharps...

    Discarded in a gully in 1879, the rifle seems to have resurfaced. I sat for hours on end, looking at the mountains, remembering all the experiences my life had provided, good and bad. I saw the men I had wounded, the Indians I had killed...

  • American History Magazine

    Surrounded by Alligators

    While other Americans were gearing up for revolution in 1774, William Bartram waxed poetic about the natural wonders he encountered exploring the St. John’s River in East Florida. “The groves resound the unceasing cries of the...

  • American History Magazine

    Run, River, Run

    John Wesley Powell lost his right arm at Shiloh in the Civil War, but that didn’t affect his ambition. Self-schooled in geology and native cultures, he launched an expedition in 1869 to explore the canyon lands of Colorado. He set off...

  • American History Magazine

    Blazing the Oregon Trail

    Mud, bear meat, big rapids and an Indian fight. July 6 We marched early and at 2 o’clock stopped on Lewis river, within 20 miles of the Trois Tetons, three very conspicuous snow covered mountains visible in all this region. July 7 We...

  • American History Magazine

    Through an Iceberg Darkly

    Beauty and danger in Alaska. No American is more revered by conservationists than John Muir, and few have lived such a colorful life. Born in Scotland in 1838, Muir arrived in Portage, Wisc., with his family at age 11, and later attended...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    Christmas in Blue and Gray

    The celebration of Christmas in the 1860s did not match today’s mass-market frenzy, though the holiday had been observed in some areas of the country in the decades leading up to the war. Soldiers who celebrated the holiday far from home...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    ‘A Rebel Batery Unlimbered and Opened on Us’

    Union Lieutenant William M. Reid at Shiloh. On April 6, 1862, the first day of the Battle of Shiloh, William M. Reid (left) of the 15th Illinois Infantry scrawled in his diary: “All day we fought the Rebels but had to give way; we...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    As a Union Prisoner Saw the Battle of Gettysburg

    Captured on July 1, 1863, and assigned to tend to wounded troops, this spunky Union cavalryman had an unforgettable experience: he watched Pickett’s Charge from a grandstand seat on a rooftop. From 50 years ago: The author of this...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    CWT Book Review: Mary Chesnut’s Illustrated Diary

    Mary Chesnut’s Illustrated Diary: Mulberry Edition Boxed Set Mary Chesnut; Pelican Press Mary Boykin Chesnut is the Confederacy’s most famous woman. The wife of James Chesnut, a South Carolina politician and Confederate general, she...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    Dorsey Pender

    He disliked Jackson and mistrusted Stuart. Here is a revealing profile, based on letters to his wife, of Lee’s favorite young general. UPON RECEIVING A REPORT, which later proved to be false, that General John B. Hood had been killed at...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    ‘I Have With the Reg’t Been Through a Terrible Battle’

    Major Francis E. Pierce, who took part in the Union’s suicidal attack on Fredericksburg’s Marye’s Heights 150 years ago, wrote a vivid account of his experience in a letter to a friend. FRANCIS E. PIERCE ENROLLED AS A CAPTAIN in...

  • World War II Magazine

    Unbreakable: The Navajo Code

    The Japanese cracked every American combat code until an elite team of Marines joined the fight. One veteran tells the story of creating the Navajo code and proving its worth on Guadalcanal. JULY–SEPTEMBER 1942 It was our second day at...

  • World War II Magazine

    A Bridge Enough: No Mercy at Nijmegen

    When a teenage paratrooper landed on Dutch soil as part of Operation Market Garden, his dreams of combat collided with bloody reality. When I heard the 82nd Airborne would be jumping into Holland, I was relieved. It was September 1944....

  • Military History Magazine

    Great Scot at Waterloo

    George Drummond Graeme was the last man standing at La Haye Sainte farmhouse during the epic 1815 battle. Just off the N5 highway connecting the Belgian cities of Charleroi and Brussels stands La Haye Sainte, a privately owned farm complex...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Experience: Prepare for War

    British troops en route to the Falklands gird for battle—and try to tame their jitters. At the start of the 1982 Falklands War, the BBC’s Brian Hanrahan was embedded with the troops on the British aircraft carrier Hermes as it left...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Experience: The Hunter and the Hunted

    An Australian sharpshooter stalks an enemy sniper during World War I. Ion Idriess (1889–1979) is best known as a popular and prolific Australian author. One of his earliest books, The Desert Column (1932), is based on the diaries he kept...