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CW - 150
The Civil War 150th Anniversary
Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.
This Month's Events
- 4 April. Raphael Semmes is made commander of the Confederate Navy.
- 12 April. At 4:30 a. m. Confederate forces under orders from General Pierre Beauregard begin shelling Fort Sumter. Back on December 26, Major Robert Anderson, then in command of the Union forces stationed at nearby Fort Moultrie, had managed to sneak his 70 soldiers and 13 musicians into the uncompleted but still stronger Fort Sumter right under the noses of the Confederate guard boats. But now, short on men and supplies, he has to hold onto the Fort under a direct attack. The first Union gun to reply to the attack is fired by Captain Abner Doubleday. (This is one of Doubleday's true claims to fame; the story that he invented baseball is probably a myth.) Major Anderson will surrender on April 13 as the fort crumbles around him. The first battle of the Civil War ends.
- 15 April. In response to Lincoln's request for 75,000 troops to put down the insurrection, Governor John Ellis of North Carolina replies, "You can get no troops from North Carolina."
- 15 April. Ellis receives a telegram from John L Cantwell [see January 1861], "Am I ordered to take possession of Forts Caswell & Johnson?" Ellis sends orders to take and hold these forts and Fort Macon.
- 17 April. Virginia secedes.
- 19 April. President Lincoln proclaims a blockade of the ports of of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. " For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave either of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the Commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her register the fact and date of such warning, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize, as may be deemed advisable."
On the 27th he will extend the blockade order to Virginia and North Carolina. His navy at this time has 69 ships to cover 3500 miles of coastline. By the end of the war the Union will have built 200 more steamships.
- 20 April. Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, who has declined an offer to command all Federal forces, resigns from the U. S. Army. On the 23rd he takes command of all Virginia forces.
- 21 April. William A. Graham Jr. writes to his father from Charlotte, North Carolina, "The Charlotte Grays took possession of the Mint [the U.S. Mint] on yesterday, and are now guarding it, awaiting orders from the Governor. The Confederate flag, with nine stars, is waving over it."
- 22 April. North Carolina seizes the U. S. Arsenal in Fayetteville.
- 22 April. A military company, the Lincoln Guards aka the Star Guard aka the Southern Stars, is organized at Lincolnton and leaves for the war on the 25th. Officers are: William J. Hoke, Captain; W. M. Reinhardt, 1st Lieutenant; Robert F. Hoke, 2nd Lieutenant (he will become a Major General); and Edward E. Sumner, 3rd Lieutenant. These men are enlisted for 6 months as Co. K, 1st Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. Everyone still thinks the war will be over quickly.
According to the Annals of Lincoln County these 97 men are the first of 1,311 from Lincoln County who will serve in the course of the war.
- Also formed this month in Lincoln County (exact date not known), the Beatties Ford Riflemen with 82 men. Captain, A. H Houston; 1st Lieutenant, W. P. Bynum; 2nd Lieutenant, Robt. D. Johnson; 3rd Lieutenant, R. B. B. Houston.
- This month. Dr. Sidney X. Johnston of Dallas is elected Gaston County's representative to the North Carolina Secession Convention.
- Sometime during this month, the keeper at the Hatteras Lighthouse receives orders from Governor Ellis to turn out the light, thus denying its aid to the Union fleet, but also exposing all shipping along this dangerous coast to more risk. Eventually the lens will be taken down and hidden for safety -- and then lost to history. [See right]
This Month's Fiction
Fire on the Waters
Call Number: FIC POY
Publication Date: 2001-06-26
With the outbreak of the Civil War, New Yorker Eli Eaker enlists in the Union Navy against his father's wishes and joins the crew of Captain Parker Bucyrus Trezevant, who is sailing south to help protect Fort Sumter.
A Southern Woman
Call Number: FIC EUL
Publication Date: 1993-02-01
Historical fiction, romance, and courtroom drama are combined in this engrossing story of a Tennessee woman. Liz Ann Crocker, whose husband, Joe, joins the Union Army, is shunned by the town for his disloyalty. She is befriended by a wealthy woman, Ama, who offers Liz and her baby the companionship of her unconventional household, which includes free black women. Joe Crocker returns maimed and broken in spirit. Then Joe is killed and Liz raped when a band of marauding Southerners break into the house. To protect her baby, Liz kills one of them. She is apprehended and tried for murder. An accurate portrayal of the lives of Southern women--poor farmers' wives, rich socialites, and black servants--during the Civil War era, this is recommended for both general readers and informed readers of historical fiction.
The River Between Us
Publication Date: 2003-09-29
At the start of the Civil War two mysterious young women get off a boat in a small town in southern Illinois, and 15-year-old Tilly Pruitt's mother takes them in. Who are they? Is the darker-complexioned woman the other woman's slave? Tilly's twin brother, Noah, falls in love with one of them--rich, stylish, worldly Delphine, who shows Tilly a world of possibilities beyond her home. When Noah runs away to war, Tilly and Delphine go after him, find him in the horror of an army tent hospital, and bring him back; but their world is changed forever. Peck's spare writing has never been more eloquent than in this powerful mystery in which personal secrets drive the plot and reveal the history. Winner of the 2003 Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction. Gr. 7 up.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Call Number: 973.731 DET
Publication Date: 2001-04-12
With a novelist's gift for storytelling and an artist's eye for detail, the author brings new drama and insight to the well-worn narrative of the "firing of the first shot" of the war. A superb popular history.
The Lost Light: The Mystery of the Missing Cape Hatteras Fresnel Lens
Call Number: 387.155 DUF
Publication Date: 2003-02-01
Called the holy grail of American lighthouse history, the 6,000 pound bronze and glass first-order Fresnel lens from the 1803 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has been lost for 140 years. On the eve of the Civil War, the apparatus, produced in France of more than 1,000 hand-polished, crown -crystal prisms, was removed from the top of the first Hatteras tower in a desperate act to prevent the beacon from aiding the Union Navy's blockade. The lens was later hidden in a good storehouse in an obscure farming community, 200 miles inland. Throughout the war, the location eluded its former owners and even 28,000 men of Sherman's army.
Reluctant Witnesses : children's voices from the Civil War
Call Number: 973.7083 WER
Publication Date: 1998-03-19
Werner covers a little-considered perspective on the much-chronicled Civil War, the views of children, 4 to 16 years old. She judiciously selects quotations from wartime letters by the children, adult reminiscences by many who were children during the war, and commentary from contemporary newspapers--sufficient material to disclose the "new" perspective she seeks and to allow her to relate these war witnesses' experiences to the traumas of children in more modern conflicts, which she does in an admirably jargon-free introduction and afterword. Between those, she lets the children speak. The only possible caution to sound about the book is to remember that the social concept of adolescence was largely a post-Civil War creation, and many of the 44 children who were 13 and older, especially the males, were probably considered adults by their contemporaries. That remembered, Werner's effort is a very good thing in a small package.
Call Number: j973.731 JAN
Publication Date: 1997-09-01
In April 1861 Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina became the focus of the disagreements between the two sections of the United States, North and South. This is the story of what happened there. Ages 9-11.
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