Skip to main content
CW - 150
The Civil War 150th Anniversary
Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.
This Month's Events
- 1 April. The first United States conscription (draft) law takes effect.
- 2 April. In North Carolina the Adjutant General's Office issues an order drafting slaves, able-bodied males between 18 and 45, from counties in the central part of the state. These men will be sent to Wilmington to build military fortifications.
- 7 April. Fort Sumter is in the news again as Federal ironclads attack at Charleston, South Carolina, but are driven off.
- 14 April. Carolina Seabury of Massachusetts had come to Mississippi in 1854 to teach French, but was fired in 1862 because she was a Northener. Still in Mississippi, today she visits a hospital with other women volunteers. "A pretty little curly headed drummer boy looked so wishfully at us--I asked the doctor about him--He can't speak a word of English--was his reply--He is a French boy from New Orleans. I said only "Avez vous une mère?" [Have you a mother?] when he sprang up and commenced an autobiography at once." Promising to send the 15 year old runaway (whose mother is in France) a book in French, Caroline passes on to other soldiers. Later that summer she attempts to return north through the armies. See excerpts from her diary in Blood below.
- 17 April. Colonel Benjamin Grierson leads his Union cavalry out of LaGrange, Tennessee. In the next 16 days they will cover more than 600 miles, all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The raid is incredibly successful as the swiftly moving troopers destroy railroads and telegraph lines, capture more than 500 men, 1,000 mules and horses, and capture or destroy huge amounts of stores. It also distracts the attention of the Confederates from the growing Union threat to Vicksburg.
- 24 April. The Confederacy imposes a "tax-in-kind" that takes 10 per cent of all crops and livestock raised for slaughter, an immense hardship for poor families. Slaves are still not taxed.
- During this month, still hoping to re-establish Confederate control in the area, General Daniel Harvey Hill besieges Washington, North Carolina for much of the month. However, he is forced to give up the attempt when his superiors call for troops for use in Virginia and the Union troops are succesfully resupplied by incoming ships.
- 30 April. The Battle of Chancellorsville (Spotsylvania County, Virginia) begins. See next month.
This Month's Fiction
The Red Badge of Courage by
Call Number: FIC CRA
Publication Date: 1998-03-24
also The Red Badge of Courage
. Written when the author was only 21, this book does not mention any specific battle or places, but is based on Chancellorsville. Reading Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
(see above), Crane complained, "I wonder that some
of these fellows don't tell how it felt
in those scrapes." His hero's experience with battle, death, and fear is now regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
Young Adult Fiction
How I Found the Strong by
Call Number: YA MCM PAPER
Publication Date: 2006-04-11
Set in Mississippi during the Civil War, this first novel is one of the best of the many recent books about young people in the South caught up in the bloody conflict around them. At 11, Frank wishes he were old enough to join his father and older brother in the Confederate army. Instead he's stuck at home with Ma, his grandparents, and the family slave, Buck. McMullan draws on family stories and on a relative's war diary, and Frank's spare, first-person narrative brings close the battlefield slaughter he witnesses (a pile of arms and legs, legs that still have socks and shoes on ), and always, the virulent racism (including the neighbors' use of the n-word and the town's lynching of a young teen). The violence isn't sensationalized; the characters are drawn with quiet truth, always from the young white kid's viewpoint; and there's no sentimentality. Gr. 5-9.
The ghost battalion : a story of the Iron Scouts, by Manly Wade Wellman, pub. 1958, 173 p., call #: J Wel NC. At 18, Clay Buckner is off to join the "Iron Scouts", Company B of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry. (While the 1st was a real outfit, Clay's company is fictional.) This is the story of his adventures from battles to being captured and accused of spying.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Battles and leaders of the Civil War : Being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate Officers, edited by Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel. Originally pub. 1887; many editions. Call #: 973.7 Bat [vol.].
Virginia at War 1863 by
Call Number: 973.7 VIR
Publication Date: 2008-12-05
Between the epic battles of 1862 and the grueling and violent military campaigns that would follow, the year 1863 was oddly quiet for the Confederate state of Virginia. Only one major battle was fought on its soil, at Chancellorsville, and the conflict was one of the Army of Northern Virginia's greatest victories. Yet the pressures of the Civil War turned the daily lives of Virginians -- young and old, men and women, civilians and soldiers -- into battles of their own. This collection of essays reflects nearly every aspect of Virginia life and culture, from education to religion to commerce. Contributors focus on the war's impact on Virginia's children and its newly freed slaves. They shed light on the origins of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, explore the popularity of scrap booking as a form of personal record keeping, and consider the changing role of religion during wartime and the uncertain faith of Virginia's Christians.
Call Number: 973.7 BLO
Publication Date: 2000-05-18
Recognizable in numerous places in this anthology are selections used as voice-over scripts in the Ken Burns film The Civil War. In such cases, specifically Grant on Lee's surrender, Sam Watkins on foot-slogging in the Confederate army, Walt Whitman on the appearance of Abe Lincoln, or Lincoln on the Emancipation Proclamation, editor Kadzis provides the good service of reprinting the whole passage from which the selection was lifted. Beyond that, Kadzis trawled among the most popular writers of Civil War fiction, namely Michael Shaara, Stephen Crane, and Shelby Foote. In all, Kadzis offers 20 pieces, which as a whole evenly represent the combat and diary literature produced by the war, e.g., recollections of Union generals are balanced by several from Southern generals, a Southern woman's diary pairs with a Yankee woman's amazing flight through Mississippi in 1863. Northerners and Southerners still arguing about which side was the more ruthless can dwell on Sherman's description of his march or on a Union soldier's recollection of Andersonville. Browseable for the buffs.
Roughshod Through Dixie by
Call Number: 973.73 LAR
Publication Date: 2010-07-20
This book tells the complete story of one of the most daring Union raids of the war. With numerous period photographs and illustrations, as well as original color artwork (among them, bird's eye view paintings of the attacks on the towns of Enterprise and Hazelhurst), this is a solid history of the famous raid.
Chancellorsville: Disaster in Victory, by Bruce Palmer, pub. 1967, 95 p., call #: j973.734 P. The story of this crucial battle that the Confederacy won, but lost too much in doing so. Diagrams and a chronology trace the course of the battle.
©Copyright 2015, Gaston County Public Library. All Rights Reserved.