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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
- 7 April. As Union ships fight on the Red River in Louisiana, Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty on the Osage, an ironclad "monitor", uses sheet iron and mirrors to rig up a tube that lets him see attacking Confederates despite the river's high banks. This is the first periscope.
- 12 April. Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River is occupied by less than 600 Union troops. Under attack by 2500 of Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry, the fort is overwhelmed. Union casualties are very high; only 58 of 262 African-American soldiers surviving. The controversy over whether the black troops were deliberately massacred still continues.
- 17 April. The exchange of prisoners of war is discontinued by General Grant who says that it is only prolonging the conflict. His action wii result in the deaths of hundreds of men on both sides in overcrowded prisons.
- 19 April. Plymouth, North Carolina is the site of the second largest battle in North Carolina and its last Confederate victory. As a port city, Plymouth is important for its control of a water route inland. As the Confederates commanded by General Robert Hoke (a native of Lincolnton) attack, they are aided by the CSS Albemarle, a Confederate ironclad ram whose construction was overseen by 19 year-old Gilbert Elliott of Elizabeth City. The ram sinks a Union ship; a second one flees. Hoke captures a brigadier general, 1600 men, 25 pieces of artillery and a large amount of supplies.
- 19 April. Writing home, Benjamin Freeman describes watching the 26th North Carolina (including men from Gaston and Lincoln Counties) train. "The 26 Regt is practicing their skirmishers. all of the Regiment have been practicing[.] the pickets here for sometime have been shooting at the distance of 900 yds and doing good execution at 'a man p[a]inted on a plank'."
- This month Patrick Nieson Lynch, a Roman Catholic bishop, goes to Europe as a Confederate emissary to France and to the Pope at Rome. He hopes to persuade the Pope to come out against the Union's use of Irish immigrants in the army -- many men were recruited for jobs in the U. S, and enlisted straight off the boat -- and its attempts to recruit other Europeans as well.
This Month's Fiction
On the Crest of a Wave
Call Number: FIC MCN LP
Publication Date: 2010-08-18
In the final months of the Civil War, it is Camille Hollander's responsibility to keep her family alive. Living in a tiny Gulf Coast town, sandwiched between Union-occupied cities, and just miles from Ship Island and its POW camp, Camille and her sisters fish, collect salt, and sew dresses to trade, trying all the while to keep their hopes up for the Confederate Army. On the road to New Orleans, Camille is protected from a gang of soldiers by Major Jake Warren, from Rhode Island, and she soon sees him again when she visits her brother, imprisoned on Ship Island. Jake and Camille are drawn to each other, but Camille soon realizes that although she can see past Jake's Union uniform, many can't. She has to decide if she must give up her home for the man she loves. A sad but ultimately hopeful story of love, destiny, and overcoming odds, certain to appeal to fans of romance novels and historical fiction.
Call Number: FIC TUR
Publication Date: 2006-05-16
This is noted sf and alternate history author Turtledove's first foray into a "straight" historical novel. Grim but riveting, it describes what many consider one of the worst atrocities of the Civil War-the 1864 killing of black Union soldiers and their white officers by Confederates at Fort Pillow. Later, the scope of the "Fort Pillow Massacre" was exaggerated and used as a rallying cry for the Union, while the Confederacy steadfastly denied that any such massacre occurred. Turtledove's narrative leaves no doubt that he believes something terrible happened at Fort Pillow, and is an excellent companion to his many alternate histories of the period.
Young Adult Fiction
The War Within
Call Number: YA MAT
Publication Date: 2002-09-01
Holly Springs, Mississippi, 1862 Hannah Green can't believe what happens to her family after the war breaks out. First, her sister Joanna falls in love with a Union soldier -- an enemy. Next, the same soldier tells Hannah and her family about General Grant's General Order #11, which commands all Jews to evacuate the territory for violating trade regulations. The Greens escape from Holly Springs just before their home is destroyed. They lose everything -- even their slaves, when Lincoln declares them free. Now, because she is Jewish, Hannah cannot go home to Mississippi -- a Confederate state that's dear to her heart. Confusion sets in. Who is on her side, and whose side does she want to be on? A little-known piece of Civil War history comes to life.
Which way freedom?, by Joyce Hansen, pub. 1986, 120 p., call #: J HX. Obi, a young slave in the Civil War period, cherishes dreams of escape. When he confides his plans to Easter, another slave, she insists that he take her with him, as well as five-year-old Jason. A twist of fate enables Obi and Easter to escape, but without Jason. When they are recaptured by Confederate soldiers, a growing rift develops between Obi and Easter, who can not forget their abandonment of Jason. Obi makes plans for another daring escape, but this time he fears Easter will not come with him. In spite of its deceptively short length, Which Way Freedom? covers a good deal of ground. The historical detail never overwhelms but seems to grow naturally from the story. There is sufficient action to sustain readers' interest, but it is in the book's characterization that the chief strength lies. Obi is a sympathetic but fallible young man, often at odds with others and himself over the importance of freedom and loyalty. Gr. 6-9.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina (April 17-20, 1864)
Call Number: 973.7 MOS N.C.
Publication Date: 2003-01-01
An account of four days filled with surprise, fate, intrigue, bravery, ingenuity, hope, daring, dedication, gallantry, victory, disappointment, and defeat. Are you familiar with the names of Cooke, Cushing, Flusser, Hoke, and Wessells? Have you heard of the CSS Albemarle, a ship not built in a shipyard as expected, but in a cornfield? Read this story of North Carolina's second largest battle.
River Run Red
Call Number: 973.736 WAR
Publication Date: 2005-09-22
Fort Pillow was a static Union position on Tennessee's Mississippi River bank, garrisoned by white and newly recruited black troops, and assaulted and captured in 1864 by Confederates who took few prisoners. Rebel commander Nathan Bedford Forrest, antebellum slaver, postbellum Klansman, exulted in his victory. To the North, however, the battle at Fort Pillow was a massacre, a term author Ward says he initially avoided in his research but concludes is the unavoidable truth. His history must be the last word on this historically highly controversial affair. It judiciously examines all arguments advanced in defense of Fort Pillow as a legitimate, albeit particularly brutal, act of war; his narrative integrates the Confederate case and then relentlessly refutes it in the particulars of the battle and its gory aftermath. He is masterful in setting its context of slavery's unraveling, and in his portraits of perpetrators and victims as well.
Lincoln and His Admirals
Call Number: 973.7 SYM
Publication Date: 2008-10-17
Lincoln 's role as commander-in-chief during the Civil War is most often assessed through his dealings with his Union generals; thus, Symonds's expert and accessible work on the naval side is a real boon. He gives us a meticulous and graceful interpretive narrative, rich with primary-source anecdote, of Lincoln's relationship with the U.S. Navy and his evolution as a naval strategist. Symonds (emeritus, U.S. Naval Academy) keeps the characters central to his story, from the crusty, haphazardly bewigged secretary of the navy, Gideon Welles, to whom the new President confessed, "I know but little about ships," to assistant naval secretary Gustavus Vasa Fox and admirals with such familiar names as Farragut, Porter, DuPont, and Dahlgren. The Department of War and the Department of the Navy were cabinet coequals in Lincoln's time. Lincoln's dedication to the latter in pursuit of coastal and river dominance was crucial to Civil War victory.
James Buchanan Eads, the man who mastered the Mississippi, by Arthur Orrmont, pub. 1970, 143 p. The life story of a man of many inventions (he received more than 50 patents) including the diving bell. He also built the first road and railroad bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Louis. The ironclads he built helped to win control of the western waters for the Union.
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