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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
- During this month John Hunt Morgan leads 2,460 troops racing past Union lines into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. "Morgan's Raid" is the farthest north any uniformed Confederate troops penetrate during the war.
- 1 July. Battle begins at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The fighting will last 4 days.
Among the regiments involved today is the 26th North Carolina which will suffer 687 casualties (killed, wounded captured), the greatest number of any regiment in the battle. The 11th North Carolina, including Co. I from Gaston and Lincoln Counties, will lose 336 men. The 24th Michigan, the "Iron Brigade" which meets the 26th N. C. head on has the most Union casualties, 363. The 26th and the 11th are also the regiments with the most men killed in these 4 days. The 23rd North Carolina with 3 companies, B, H, and K, from Gaston and Lincoln Counties is a smaller regiment. By the end of the battle 282 of 316 men, or 89.2 %, will be casualties, a percentage lower only than that of the 8th Virginia with 92.2 % casualties.
Other local companies at this battle are in the 16th, 28th, 34th, 37th,52nd, and 59th North Carolina regiments. See Confederate Companies.
- 3 July. As the battle at Gettysburg continues, Confederate infantry under General Pickett and others are ordered to charge Union positions on Cemetery Ridge. The attempt is a failure and the slaughter is immense. The line reached by the soldiers is sometimes referred to as "the high-water mark of the Confederacy".
During the battle the bands of the 11th and 26th North Carolina regiments play for hours so loudly that Federal artillery men target them. Ordinarily musicians tend the wounded during battles, but commanders feel the music will strengthen the troops' morale.
- 4 July. After a 47 day siege with troops and civilians starving and 6,000 shells a day falling into the city, Vicksburg surrenders. The Union now controls the Mississippi River.
- 7 July. The North Carolina legislature establishes a new militia organization, the Home Guard, whose members are men exempt from the draft. Their duties largely consist of keeping internal order within the state.
- 11-18 July 1863. Union forces attack Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina, which defends Charleston. The attack on July 18 is led by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Their attack is unsuccessful, they suffer almost 50% casualties, and their commander, Robert Shaw, is killed, but the bravery displayed puts to rest the perception that Negro troops will not fight and encourages the recruitment of many more men.
- 12 July. Amanda Murph of Lincoln County writes to her husband Daniel Washington Murph in the 10th N. C. Her news is about the children's whooping cough and the price of crops.
- 13-17 July. Anti-draft riots in New York City cause more than $1 million in damage and 105 deaths. The rioters go after African-Americans, the wealthy, and any officials involved in conscription. The rioting ends only when army troops are called in and clear areas at the point of their bayonets.
- 25 July. The little town of Kensington, Connecticut dedicates a monument "to commemorate the death of those who perished in suppressing the Southern Rebellion". Sixteen men's names will be engraved on it. This is believed to be the first Civil War monument.
This Month's Fiction
Until the End
Call Number: FIC COY
Publication Date: 1996-09-12
In this tale of two brothers fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War, a story that began in Look Away [see Jan. 1861], Coyle now brings the masterful saga to a triumphant conclusion. James Bannon is fighting with the Confederate Army, his brother, Kevin, with the Union forces. Their brave--and individual--exploits are played out on bloody battlefields from Gettysburg to Richmond. As a drummer taps out the soft, mellow notes of evening retreat, James thinks of his brother: Where is he? Is he alive? Will they both survive to return to their loved ones? Coyle skillfully portrays a country torn by war, gripped in a nightmare of killing. If at times the sympathetic but predictable characters sound like contemporary soldiers fighting in the Gulf War, the novel nevertheless captures a piece of history wherein men cannot lay their duty and passions aside.
Young Adult Fiction
Call Number: YA MYE
Publication Date: 2009-09-22
In this fast, dramatic novel told in screenplay format, Myers takes on a controversial historical conflict that is seldom written about: the New York Draft Riots of 1863, when struggling Irish immigrants protested being called up by Lincoln to die for the darkies in the Civil War. The story focuses on 15-year-old Claire, the biracial daughter of a black man and a white Irishwoman. The diverse voices, from all sides black, white, and mixed race; soldier and policeman; racist, looter, and victim will draw readers into the fiery debates.
Call Number: J BAN
Publication Date: 1999-04-01
Ex-slave Abraham Small is now a freeman living in Gettysburg, PA. On the day before the battle, while picnicking with his employer's young daughter, he meets Lamar Cooper, a 16-year-old Confederate soldier. Lamar is a poor farmer, not a slave owner, and Abraham is the first black man he has ever met. Abraham, with dark memories of his captivity, is wary of the young man. Still, he shares his picnic with him. This encounter convinces Abraham that he should be fighting for the Union and against slavery, and he volunteers as an ambulance driver. Later, during the battle, he happens upon the wounded Lamar and takes him to a field hospital. The nature of war and animosity are simply explored in a manner that will cause young readers to think about such issues themselves. To sophisticated readers, Abraham might seem almost too eloquent and too noble, and the secondary characters are only sketchily drawn. The final scenes, wherein Abraham escorts Abraham Lincoln around the battlefield, are somewhat contrived, although they portray the president in a human, touching way. For young readers struggling to understand the complex topic of the Civil War, this quiet novel will yield thought-provoking ideas and humanize that terrible conflict. Gr. 5-7.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Covered with Glory
Call Number: 973.7 GRA N.C.
Publication Date: 2000-07-01
The 26th North Carolina saw action early in the war at New Bern and Malvern Hill. On the first day at Gettysburg, it fought against the 24th Michigan in McPherson's Woods. On the third and final day, it participated in the infamous Pickett's Charge and suffered an 85 percent casualty rate, the highest of any regiment in the Civil War. Besides recounting the enormous loss of life and the heroic deeds of many men, Gragg reveals the human side of battle. Family diaries and letters describe the difficulties most soldiers faced in coping with military life. The author uses an impressive list of other books and historical sources. What emerges is a detailed but readable history of a regiment whose sacrifices and exploits merit studying.
The Battle of Gettysburg, by Frank Aretas Haskell, edited by Bruce Catton, pub. 1958, 169 p., call #: 973.73 Has. An account by a Union officer on the receiving end of Pickett's Charge, this was written only a few weeks after the battle. Haskell was an excellent writer as well as a soldier -- his story tells you what it felt like to be there.
A history of Morgan's Cavalry, by Basil Wilson Duke. Edited with an introd. and notes by Cecil Fletcher Holland, pub. 1960, 595 p., call #: 973.742 D. This substantial, well known and highly regarded work is a history of a renowned unit of Confederate cavalry written by one of its officers. Originally published 1923.
On the Altar of Freedom
Call Number: 973.7 415 GOO
Publication Date: 1991-09-01
Gooding's 48 pithy and poignant letters to the New Bedford Mercury begin in training camp in March 1863, move past Glory's endpiece, the 54th's storming of Fort Wagner in Charleston, and stop with Gooding's death in battle in 1864. Adams ably augments the remarkable series of letters with an insightful introduction, fact-filled annotations, and appendixes that expand our understanding of the 54th's men, their place and time, and their war. Highly recommended.
The Devil's Own Work
Call Number: 974.7 SCH
Publication Date: 2005-12-27
When fireman Peter Masterson led a mob's attack on a federal draft office, producing the first murders of New York City's 1863 riot, he ignited social tinder that was not exclusive to New York in mid-nineteenth-century America. Historian Schecter backgrounds his thorough account of the tumult with social disorders that frequently occurred elsewhere. To existing social resentments, particularly of Irish immigrants toward economic competition from blacks, the Civil War added its combustibles, for New York was not stoutly Unionist. Peace Democrats dominated its politics; its business class sympathized with the South; and its Copperhead newspapers denounced the war and the draft. These factors affected the course of events that Schecter masterfully narrates. From Masterson's initial incitement to the frenzy's subsidence several days and hundreds of deaths later, the author moves seamlessly between the conflagration on the street and the frantic attempts of authorities to quell the mayhem, and explains the affair's ramifications on the Reconstruction era.
The Battle of Gettysburg
Call Number: j973 .7 COR
Publication Date: 1996-01-01
The book's introduction gives a fine summary of what both sides were experiencing in the summer of 1863, and why the skirmish in a small town in Pennsylvania was important to the course of the war. The author then concentrates on each day of the battle, with detailed information and maps that show troop movements. All of the black-and-white reproductions are good, and there are many interesting sidebar articles, ranging from biographies of the major participants to the life of a nurse in a field hospital to what type of rations the typical soldier received. A solid introduction that will be especially welcome for readers with little background on the Civil War including many adults.
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