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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 and as the war goes on, both sides strive to obtain more and better weapons. In Washington, Lincoln -- a man fascinated by technology -- devotes time to talking to inventors with ideas and frequently refers them to his Ordnance Dept. and to Captain Stephen Vicent Benet for testing. The Captain's name may sound familiar because his namesake grandson will be a famous author and win the Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for his book length poem on the Civil War, John Brown's Body.
- 3-4 October. As the Confederates strive to take control of western Tennesee, General Sterling Price and General Earl Van Dorn combine forces to attack the Union stronghold at Corinth, Mississippi, a town at the junction of 2 railroads. However Union leader, General William Rosecrans, after being pushed back to his rear lines on the first day, is able to rally his men and turn the tables. This is a big step toward Union control of the Mississippi.
- 8 October.. Standing picket at Perrysville, Kentucky, Confederate soldier Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee strikes up an acquaintance with the Yankee on picket on the other side of the street.
"We got very friendly during the night, and made a raid upon a citizen's pantry, where we captured a bucket of honey, a pitcher of sweet milk, and three or four biscuits. The old citizen was not at home -- he and his whole household had gone visiting, I believe. In fact, I think all of the citizens of Perryville were taken with a sudden notion of promiscuous visiting about this time; at least they were not at home to all callers."
- 8 October. The armies of Braxton Bragg (Confederate) and Don Carlos Buell (Union) meet at Perryville. The result is a Confederate victory, but Bragg then withdraws to Tennessee leaving the Union in control of Kentucky.
- 9 October. In Richmond, diarist John Jones notes that his wife "has obviated one of the difficulties of the blockade, by a substitute for coffee which I like very well. It is simply corn meal, toasted like coffee, and served in the same manner. It costs five or six cents per pound--coffee, $2.50."
- 18 October. Benjamin Freeman of Franklin County, North Carolina and Co. K, 44th N. C. Infantry, is not happy about his rations. "The Crackers you cannot brake them hardly with your hands[.] Yesterday Mr. Sykes had some Crackers beatting them up with a ... hammer and said to me it is hard bread to have to take a hammer to brake it."
- This month the Confederate Congress passes the "twenty Negro law" which exempts one owner or overseer on a plantation with 20 or more slaves from military duty. The law will be revoked in December 1863, but then revived with the number set at 15.
- In this month one of the Confederacy's newest lieutenant generals is William J. Hardee. Soldiers on both sides are very familiar with his name as he is the author of Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics for the Exercise and Manoeuvres of Troops When Acting as Light Infantry or Riflemen, popularly known as Hardee's Tactics, which is the best-known drill manual of the Civil War. For reenactors, the full text of the book is available in Google Books.
This Month's Fiction
Shades of Gray
Call Number: FIC JAM
Publication Date: 2008-01-19
This emotional and moving story chronicles the clash of a Confederate cavalry commander with a Union spy as they defend their beliefs, their country, and their honor.
Young Adult Fiction
Lone Star Rebel, by J.A. Benner, pub. 1971, 232 p. This story recounts the adventures of fourteen-year-old Rob Crawford on an 800-mile journey to join the Sixth Texas Cavalry and later as courier and orderly to Colonel Lawrence Sullivan Ross. While Rob is a fictional character, Colonel Ross is not and many of the incidents here including the description of the Battle of Corinth are based on history.
Civil War on Sunday
Call Number: J OSB
Publication Date: 2000-05-23
In this installment of the Magic Tree House series (#21), Jack and Annie are transported by their magic tree house to the time of the Civil War where they meet Clara Barton.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Van Dorn, the life and times of a Confederate general, by Robert G. Hartje, pub. 1967, 359 p. The standard biography of the flamboyant Earl Van Dorn, one of the most promising yet disappointing officers in the Confederate Army.
A Rebel War Clerk's Diary ; volume 1
Call Number: 973.7 JON v.1
Publication Date: 1982-01-01
This volume of John Beauchamp Jones's diary, originally published in 1866, runs from April 1861 through July 1863. It documents life in the capital and what was going on within the Confederate government from the viewpoint of a high-level assistant to the Secretary of War. (At this time "clerk" does not carry its modern meaning of a low-level position.) There is much talk of shortages and prices and of rumors about what is happening across the country.
Lincoln and the tools of war, by Robert V. Bruce, pub. 1956, 368 p. Fascinated by mechanical gadgetry and technology, Lincoln introduced breechloaders and machine guns into warfare and promoted the use of incendiary weapons, ironclad warships, breechloading cannons, and aerial reconnaissance. Bruce chronicles the President's struggle against bureaucratic red tape and his dealings with the colorful parade of inventors, ordinance experts, bureaucrats, military officers, and lobbyists who heralded a new era in warfare. Among other details we learn that Lincoln, son of the Kentucky frontier, was himself a pretty decent man with a rifle.
John Brown's Body
Call Number: 811 B
Publication Date: 1990-02-01
Told from many viewpoints, this famous poem brings to life both fictional and real people caught up in the war.
The Terrible, Awful Civil War
Call Number: j973.71 OLS
Publication Date: 2010-01-01
Living up to the series title, these books expose the nasty side of history. Each title opens with a brief overview and time line, followed by two- to three-page chapters that discuss the dirty and disgusting conditions that were prevalent in the past. Topics include excretion and sanitation, spoiled food, grisly medical procedures, bug infestations, and early death. Large illustrations and photos, that are dramatic but not overly explicit, add to the texts. These books, which prove that the "good old days" never existed, are gross enough to be surefire hits. Gr. 4-8.
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