Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.
This Month's Events
1 November. Lincoln names George B. McClellan as U. S. Army commander-in-chief to suceed Winfield Scott, 75, who retired the day before.
7 November. Combined Union navy and army forces capture Port Royal, South Carolina. The Navy's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, commanded by Samuel F. Du Pont, will use the port as home base.
8 November. Captain Charles Wilkes of the U. Navy stops a British mail ship, the Trent and takes off 2 passengers, James Mason and John Slidell. The pair are Confederate diplomats whose mission is to persuade the governments of Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy. (This has been a major Confederate goal since secession. Officials feel that British industry is dependent upon Southern cotton and will thus side with the South.) The "Trent Affair" becomes a major diplomatic crisis. [See next month.]
11 November. The government buys an old factory in Salisbury, North Carolina to accomodate some 1,000 Union prisoners. According to the local paper, "Our citizens don't much like the idea of such accession to their population; nevertheless, they have assented to their part of the hardships and disagreeables of war, so bring them along. [See November 1864]
12 November. The First North Carolina Volunteers, the Bethel Regiment, is mustered out after 6 months service. Most of the men promptly re-enlist in other companies. Four generals, 4 colonels, 10 lieutenant colonels, 8 majors, 12 adjutants, 57 captains, 37 first lieutenants and 43 second lieutenants will come from the members of this one regiment.
18 November. David Schenck of Lincoln County takes his seat in the Secession Convention in Raleigh, replacing the earlier office holder, William Lander, who has resigned to run for the Confederate Congress, an election he wins without opposition.
23 November. A new unit, the Louisiana Native Guards, joins the Louisiana militia. Its members are free blacks from New Orleans. They will fight for the Confederacy to defend their city in 1862, but eventually switch to the Union side on September 27, 1862 when they become the first African-American soldiers formally enlisted during the war.
This month, hearing some soldiers pass by singing "John Brown's Body", a friend asks Julia Ward Howe, "Why you don't you write more suitable words for that tune?" That night yet another column of troops singing the same song passes by her hotel room. When she gets up in the morning she finds a set of verses on the table -- she doesn't even remember writing them. The verses to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" will be published in the Atlantic Monthly in February; the magazine pays her $4.00 for them.
Faded Coat of Blue, by Owen Parry, pub. 1999, 338 p. In a winning blend of history and mystery, Parry brings to life Civil War Washington, D.C., and environs through the eyes of an exceptional Union soldier. Welsh immigrant Captain Abel Jones, who is keeping accounts in the War Department in Washington in late 1861, seems a mild-mannered man who'll follow orders. General McClellan personally enlists him to investigate the highly publicized murder of Anthony Fowler, a shining star of an officer and an ardent abolitionist. But Jones is more seasoned than he seems, having learned the horror of war in bloody hand-to-hand combat in India before being crippled at Bull Run. Suspicion for the murder rests first with the rebels, then with an industrialist making handsome profits from the war; but answers are to be found closer to home, and Jones turns out to be more tenacious and incorruptible than his seniors might have imagined.
Sally Bradford and her family operate a small farm without slaves outside Norfolk, Virginia, until the Civil War changes their lives. Mr. Bradford and his sons serve as soldiers for the Confederacy, and Mrs. Bradford and her daughters work at a military hospital in Richmond. No source notes are included; however, both stories are based on first-person accounts and period diaries. The Hooblers pay close attention to the details of local color and the book has a time line and a historical note about a real person in the story. Gr. 4-7.
Inspired and informed by the latest research in African American, military, and social history, the fourteen original essays in this book tell the stories of the African American soldiers who fought for the Union cause. Collectively, these essays probe the broad military, political, and social significance of black soldiers' armed service, enriching our understanding of the Civil War and African American life during and after the conflict. Chapter 2 is on the Native Guards earlier mentioned.
Henry King Burgwyn, Jr., one of the youngest colonels in the Confederate Army, died at the age of 21 while leading the 26th North Carolina into action at the battle of Gettysburg. In this sensitive biography, Archie Davis provides a revealing portrait of the young man's character and a striking example of a soldier who selflessly fulfilled his duty. Drawing on Burgwyn's own letters and diary, Davis also offers a fascinating glimpse into North Carolina society during the antebellum period and the Civil War.
This is the exhaustive, definitive study of Southern attempts to gain international support for the Confederacy by leveraging the cotton supply for European intervention during the Civil War. Using previously untapped sources from Britain and France, along with documents from the Confederacy's state department, "King Cotton Diplomacy" was the first archival-based study of Confederate diplomacy.
In this informative book, each spread features a short poem related to Civil War history superimposed on a large, well-rendered oil painting, with more-detailed text on the side of one or both pages. Bauer presents multiple points of view, listing the many names the war has been called, discussing how battle names varied in the North and the South, and providing a succinct but instructive explanation of why the war began. She strikes a balance between major historical points and intriguing details that will maintain interest. Many particulars of ordinary life, such as uniforms, food, pastimes, and medical care, humanize the conflict. The information is realistic but not harsh, and it maintains an age-appropriate tone. The text and images, which complement and expand upon each other, include Caucasian and African-American men, women, and children. Gr. 2-5.