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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
- 3 March. William Woods Holden, editor of the Raleigh, North Carolina Standard, announces that he is a candidate for governor. "If elected, I will do everything in my power to promote the interests, the honor and the glory of North Carolina, and to secure an honorable peace."
Among his supporters are members of a secret organization, the Heroes of America. Also called the "Red Strings", this underground group is composed of Unionists. Many are white working men and poorer whites whose families are suffering from the war, but free African Americans and slaves contribute to its efforts. The HOA members are part of the "underground railroad" that smuggles deserters, refugee Unionists, and escaping Union prisoners out of the South.
- 4 March. The "Stars and Bars" is adopted as the official flag of the Confederacy. [See March 1861.]
- 5 March A long planned Union raid on Richmond fails and its commander, Ulric Dahlgren, lies dead. Supposedly papers found on his body contain orders to capture and execute Jefferson Davis and the members of the Confederate cabinet. Is this true? See The Dahlgren Affair below in Books.
- 7 March. At Salem, North Carolina, a diarist writes: "During this week the examining board of surgeons with the enrolling officers were busy at Winston, conscripting a good many persons who had heretofore been exempted. At first the conscripts were treated very harshly. They were marched about under guard, kept like prisoners in the guardhouses, and not allowed to go home without a guard, nor to give security for their appearance. After a while though, milder measures were adopted. We learn to see strange sights in our once free and highly favored land. Lord have mercy upon us.
- 12 March. Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant becomes commander of the United States armies. A few days later he, in turn, promotes William Tecumseh Sherman.
- 16 March. Confederates led by Nathan Bedford Forrest start a move into Tennessee and Kentucky.
- 25 March. Confederate recruiting officers are now in Gaston County to conscript all able-bodied men "to 45 years of age".
- This month Union forces moving up the Red River arrive at Alexandria, Louisiana.
This Month's Fiction
Call Number: FIC HAM
Publication Date: 2009-08-25
A spellbinding novel of two remarkable women torn apart by conflict, sustained by literature and art, united by friendship and hope. Susanna Ashford is the Southerner, trapped in Vicksburg and then living on a plantation surrounded by scarred and blood-soaked battlefields. Cora Poole is the Northerner, on an isolated Maine island, her beloved husband fighting for the Confederacy. Through the letters the two women exchange, they speak of the ordeal of a familiar world torn apart by tragedy. The two women write about books and art, about loss and longing, about their future and the future of their country. About love. About being a woman in nineteenth-century America. Their voices and their stories are delineated in indomitable prose by an award-winning writer who captures in intimate detail a singular moment in time.
Big, bad ironclad! A Civil War steamship showdown by Nathan Hale, pub. 2012, 118 p. Each of the books in Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales has elements of the strange but true and is presented in an engaging, funny format, highlighting the larger-than-life characters that pop up in real history. Big Bad Ironclad! covers the history of the amazing ironclad steam warships used in the Civil War. From the ship's inventor, who had a history of blowing things up and only 100 days to complete his project, to the mischievous William Cushing, who pranked his way through the whole war, this book is filled with surprisingly true facts and funny, brave characters that modern readers will easily relate to. Praise for Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad "Livelier than the typical history textbook but sillier than the many outstanding works on the Civil War available for young readers, this will appeal to both history buffs and graphic-novel enthusiasts."
This Month's Non-Fiction
The Dahlgren Affair
Call Number: 973.736 SCH
Publication Date: 1998-09-01
Schultz's lively writing is perfectly suited to the exciting and controversial Yankee cavalry raid against Richmond, Virginia. The raid failed, Yankee colonel Ulric Dahlgren (son of Admiral John A. Dahlgren) was killed and the Confederacy published the contents of papers allegedly found on Dahlgren's body. Officially, the cavalry was to enter Richmond and rescue thousands of Union prisoners of war; the captured papers detailed an uglier objective, ‘the assassination of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, and the leveling of the city. Were the papers found on Dahlgren's body authentic or were they forged by a government desperate to bring more pressure on the North? To this day, historians debate the papers' authenticity. Schultz chronicles the raid, then examines the papers, their publication and ultimate fate. Along the way, readers are introduced to an astonishing array of characters‘, Judson "Kill Cavalry" Kilpatrick, the Federal raid commander; Thomas Hines, a Confederate agent who was given latitude to retaliate against Northern targets; Elizabeth Van Lew, the Richmond woman who ran a successful Union spy operation throughout the war; and numerous others whose lives were affected by these momentous events. Schultz also links the failed raid and the Confederate reaction, which included an attempt to burn New York City, failed attempts to liberate Confederate prisoners, a raid on St. Albans, Vt., and other acts of terror. The subject and Schultz's lucid prose make this a great addition to any Civil War library.
Grant Takes Command, 1863 - 1865
Call Number: 923.173 Grant C
Publication Date: 1990-04-18
Because Grant was made commander-in-chief after his decisive victory at Chattanooga, this account of his activities becomes in essence the story of how the war was won... it thereby answers the crucial questions concerning its topic -- why Lincoln concluded this was the one general who could win the war for him.
William Tecumseh Sherman
Publication Date: 2016-06-14
McDonough (emeritus, history, Auburn Univ.; Nashville: The Western Confederacy's Final Gamble) offers a well-researched biography of a leading Union general during the Civil War. Educated at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, William Tecumseh Sherman's (1820-91) military experience and more importantly, his innate sense of logistics and planning made him indispensable to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and President Abraham Lincoln's overall strategy to win the war: taking it into the Southern heartland and destroying all resources that might be used by the Confederacy.
Red River Campaign : politics and cotton in the Civil War, by Ludwell H. Johnson, pub. 1958, 317 p. "Red River Campaign" examines how partisan politics, economic needs and personal profit determined military policy and operations in Louisiana and Arkansas during the spring of 1864. In response to the demands of Free-Soil interests in Texas and the New England textiles manufacturers' need for cotton, Lincoln authorised an expedition to open the way to Texas. General Nathaniel Banks conducted a combined military and naval campaign up the Red River that lasted only from March 12th to May 20th, 1864, but which was one of the most destructive campaigns of the war.
John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence
Call Number: 923.573 Hood M N.C.
Publication Date: 1982-01-01
John Bell Hood, a native of Kentucky bred on romantic notions of the Old South and determined to model himself on Robert E. Lee, had a tragic military career, no less interesting for being calamitous. After conspicuous bravery in leading a Texas brigade, he rose in the ranks to become the youngest of the full generals of the Confederacy. The misfortune in store for Hood, a far better fighter than a strategist, illustrates the strain and risks of high command. One of the lasting images to come out of the Civil War is that of the one-legged General Hood strapped in his saddle, leading his men in a hopeless counter-offensive against Sherman's march on Atlanta. In this prize-winning book Richard M. McMurry spares no details of Hood's ultimate "complete and disastrous failure," but he is concerned to do justice to one of the most maligned and misunderstood figures in Civil War history.
Military Leaders of the Civil War
Call Number: j920 TRA
Publication Date: 1993-05-01
A collection of biographical profiles of eight noted military leaders of the Civil War: Robert E. Lee, George Henry Thomas, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, James Longstreet, Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson, Philip Henry Sheridan, and Jeb Stuart. Each biography includes a chronology and "further reading" and there is an overall index.
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