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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 February. In Richmond, J. B. Jones notes in his diary, "Eighteen car loads of coffee went up to the army today. I have not tasted coffee or tea for more than a year."
- 7 February. A Union force occupies Jacksonville, Florida.
- 9 February. After 45 days of digging a tunnel, 109 Union officers escape from the Confederate Libby Prison in Richmond. Although 48 escapees are recaptured, it is still the largest prison break of the war.
- 9 February. The Fanny and Jennie, a Confederate blockade runner is sunk off Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. According to John Harden's The Devil's Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories, she has aboard a special present for Robert E. Lee from British sympathizers -- a sword made of gold and studded with jewels. Although the wrecked ship remained visible for many years, no one has ever found the fabled sword.
- 17 February. In the world's first successful submarine attack on a warship, the Confederate ship Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic off Charleston, S. C. and then sinks herself on the way back. The discovery and salvaging of the Hunley, now on display in Charleston, is an archaeological triumph.
- 17 February. The Confederate Congress passes "An act to organize forces to serve during the war." It extends the draft to include men between 17 and 50 (and including those ages).
- 19 February. David Schenck in Lincoln County is very upset by anti-war sentiment in neighboring Gaston County. "I was grieved to see Gaston County so much disaffected, chiefly through the influence of one Wm. Stone, a man of bad moral character, but whose profession as a physician gives him some standing," he wrote. "The intelligence of the county is all loyal but the bad men of every class are united in opposition to the Government and the war - in fact are tories of the worst stamp." He even went one step further noting that, "one observable feature is that the tories of this day are the direct descendants of the tories in the revolution of 1776."
- 20 February. At Olustee, Florida, (aka Ocean Pond) the Union troops striking inland from Jacksonville are badly defeated, losing 2,000 men. This is the largest battle in Florida.
- 20 February. The Confederate Secretary of the Treasury issues a "communication" outlining new taxes. The Confederate Congress has finally decided to tax land and slaves, but at their 1860 values, ignoring rampant inflation, so the taxes will not produce the revenue the nation needs to support its currency.
- 24 February. A train of "platform cars" [flat cars] carrying Union prisoners to Salisbury crosses the Yadkin River in North Carolina. Aboard is Private Robert Knox Seden who will write and illustrate what has been described as "one of the most important Civil War documents ever produced." His picture of the train on the Yadkin trestle is one of very few images available of this part of North Carolina at the time. See Eye of the Storm below.
- 25 February. The first Union captives are placed in the prison at Andersonville, Georgia. It is formally known as Camp Sumter, but will always be remembered as Andersonville.
This Month's Fiction
Call Number: FIC KAN
Publication Date: 1955
This massive novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955. Kantor tells his story from many viewpoints both inside and outside the prison. A reviewer wrote, "Mr. Kantor makes his readers participants in this horror, sparing them nothing...an incredibly vivid though horrific recreation."
Young Adult Fiction
Numbering All the Bones
Call Number: YA RIN
Publication Date: 2002-03-18
The fiction seems purposive in this Civil War story. It's the history that's most compelling, told from the viewpoint of Eulinda, 13 years old in 1864, a house slave on a plantation just a mile away from Andersonville Prison in southwest Georgia. Like Paul in Mildred Taylor's The Land (2001), Eulinda is the child of the white master and a black slave. As the Civil War is ending, she goes to the prison in search of her brother, who had run away to join the Yankee army but has chosen to die rather than return to bondage. She witnesses the brutality of the death camp where 13,000 Yankee prisoners perish, and after the war, she helps Clara Barton and others clean up the cemetery and honor the dead. Through her work, Eulinda also frees herself, but the brutal legacy of slavery is always there, in the continuing bigotry toward "niggers" and the wrenching family separation. A haunting theme for discussion is the role of the local people who know nothing, do nothing, about the death camp where they live. Gr. 7-10.
After the Rain: Virginia's Civil War Diary, by Mary Pope Osborne, pub. 2001, 108 p. In Ms. Osborne's sequel to My Brother's Keeper, Ginny moves to Washington, D.C. ... where the cold winter brings uncertainty and hardship. Virginia takes a job as a servant in a wealthy home to help her family. But, just as things start to improve as her father gets a job, and the war finally comes to an end, the tragic assassination of Ginny's beloved President Lincoln occurs. In this, her second diary chronicling the Civil War, Ginny learns that life is constantly changing. Indeed, even as Lincoln dies, her nephew is born. Throughout, Ginny faces life with hope and courage. Gr. 2-5.
This Month's Non-Fiction
The H. L. Hunley
Call Number: 973.7 CHA
Publication Date: 2008-09-30
This outstanding piece of scholarship and clear writing will answer most questions and lay to rest most legends about the famous Confederate submarine, the first of its kind to sink an enemy warship.
Libby Prison Breakout
Call Number: 973.7 WHE
Publication Date: 2010-02-09
In a converted tobacco warehouse, Libby's 1,200 Union officers survived on cornbread and bug-infested soup, and slept without blankets on the bare floor. With prisoner exchanges suspended, escape and death were the only ways out. This book recounts the largely unknown story of the escape of 109 steel-nerved officers through a 55-foot tunnel, and their flight in winter through the heart of the enemy homeland, amid an all-out Rebel manhunt. The officers' later testimony in Washington spurred two far-reaching investigations and a new cycle of retaliation against Rebel captives.
Eye of the Storm
Call Number: 973.73 SNE
Publication Date: 2000-10-06
An unusual soldier's record of the Civil War has surfaced. Sneden was an ordinary volunteer in the Union army, but he could draft landscape views and maps. Sneden produced hundreds of maps and illustrations during the war, and afterwards he tried to have them and his memoir published. No publishing house saw profit in it, until now, and the contemporary commercial confidence rests on the vivid impression made by the drawings and Sneden's personal story. He was attached to a headquarters staff during McClellan's failed peninsula campaign of 1862, and in surveying battlefields for his maps, Sneden records, without flourish, the gruesome sights of war. Although executed in a self-taught, naive style, Sneden's pictures are meticulously detailed and accurate--no wonder the brass valued him. But what an extraordinary tale he has to tell: after the peninsula, he was captured and sent first to Richmond and thence to a place soon to become, and ever remain, infamous: Andersonville. In that Hobbesian hellhole, Sneden parlayed his drafting ability into various trading items (like forged passes) to keep himself alive, whilst also making context sketches of Andersonville and other Confederate prisons.
Call Number: j973.7 WAL
Publication Date: 2006-01-01
Relating the story in loose sections rather than formal chapters, Walker takes readers briskly through the science of finding and raising the H.L. Hunley, a downed Civil War sub. Then she explains how scientists discover how the sub operated, why it might have sunk, and who was on board. There is a lot of information here for readers new to this topic, with technical terms such as magnetometer and truss included. The exciting telling will keep the audience interested. Gr. 2-4.
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