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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
- This month in Madison County, Montana local residents want to name their new town "Varina" after Jefferson's Davis's wife. However the local judge -- not a Confederate sympathizer -- emphatically rejects the idea. They compromise on "Virginia City", now the state capitol. The gold discovered in Montana is funneled to both Union and Confederate governments due to the large number of Southerners in the territory.
- During the month the siege of Vicksburg continues. Residents dig caves in the river bluff sides to escape the constant shelling.
- 9 June. The Battle of Brandy Station (Virginia) is the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent. Of the 20,000 soldiers involved, about 17,000 are of the mounted branch. Brandy Station is also the first battle of the war's most famous campaign - Gettysburg.
- 20 June. West Virginia, the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state, is admitted to the Union as the 35th state.
- 22 June. Ralph Gorrell, lawyer and former state senator in Greensboro, North Carolina, wants the legislature to take action. "The State ought to appoint someone to collect the facts of the history and progress of this war, and revolution so far as our State is concerned, in order to have them recorded and perpetuated as materials for the future history of the times. It was the misfortune of our State after the termination of the war of the revolution, that her history was written by Virginians and South Carolinians. The Consequence of which was justice was denied to her, her merits suppressed and smothered, and unfounded Calumnies and slanders heaped up on her on all occasions."
- 24 June. North Carolinian General Dorsey Pender writes to his wife, "Tomorrow I do what I know will cause you grief, and that is to cross the Potomac. The advance of our column is at Chambersburg, Penna, tonight. .. I feel that we are taking a very important step, but see no reason why we should not be sucessful."
- 28 June. At 3 o'clock in the morning a messenger from Lincoln awakens General George Meade to inform him that he is now the commander of the Army of the Potomac. Although he has no way to know what lies in store, he has only 3 days to prepare his army for one of the most famous battles in history.
- This month the ship Advance, one of several blockade runners actually owned by the State of North Carolina, makes her first run under the command of Thomas M. Crossan. She will make 17 successful voyages from Bermuda to Wilmington (including one run through the Federal fleet in broad daylight) before being captured in September 1864. The cargos of this Tar Heel navy all belong to the state of North Carolina and not to the Confederate government.
- This month one of 5 Confederate medical laboratories opens below Lincolnton, North Carolina on the Catawba River. The laboratory is to manufacture medicines from local plants and materials to replace the drugs no longer available due to the Union blockade. A building is constructed and water power is used to run the machinery. Dr. A. S. Piggott is the director.
This Month's Fiction
Coal Black Horse by
Call Number: FIC OLM
Publication Date: 2007-04-10
Olmstead has fashioned an absorbing tale that is a cross between two of the most respected and widely read Civil War novels. Combining elements of the rite-of-passage motif employed by Stephen Crane in The Red Badge of Courage with the classic odyssey plot device recycled so effectively by Charles Frazier in Cold Mountain (1997), he has provided a fresh perspective on an old--but never timeworn--subject. When 14-year-old Robey Child is sent by his mother to search for his father, a doomed soldier, he witnesses the horrors of war both on and off the battlefield. Arrayed in a jacket (gray on one side, blue on the other) custom made by his mother and riding a talismanic coal black horse, he embarks upon a life-altering journey that will challenge him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Olmstead does not shy away from the brutal reality of warfare, and his starkly powerful descriptions of violence and carnage are harrowing. Civil War buffs will appreciate the attention to detail; general readers will be mesmerized by the powerfully evocative journey.
Where I'm Bound, by Allen B. Ballard, pub. 2000, 316 p. Ballard has penned a stirring novel extolling the long-neglected contributions and heroics of black soldiers during the Civil War. Factually grounded in the military campaigns of the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry in Mississippi, the more intimate story line revolves around the personal and professional exploits of Sergeant Joe Duckett. Duckett, an escaped slave turned soldier, serves proudly and with distinction, inevitably enduring all the indignities heaped on black enlisted men in the Union army. Alternately exalted and frustrated by the course of the war, he never loses sight of his ultimate goal: to be reunited with his wife and children, the family he lost to the cruel vagaries of slavery.
Young Adult Fiction
The Tamarack Tree : a novel of the siege of Vicksburg, by Patricia Clapp, pub. 1986, 214 p. Clapp gives a graphic account of living conditions during the siege and in defeat. The scenes where Rosemary tends the wounded in the makeshift hospitals are particularly strong and the quarrels and reconciliations between Rosemary and her Northern beau, and between emancipationist Derek and Southern belle Mary Byrd, will please romance fans. Gr. 7-10.
Abner and Me by
Call Number: J GUT
Publication Date: 2005-03-15
Joe Stoshack knows that he can travel back in time when he holds the right baseball card. Now he wants to see if Abner Doubleday really invented baseball (he did not, of course), but this time it's a photo of Civil War general Doubleday that sends Stosh and his nurse mom back in history--to the Battle of Gettysburg. Before pulling out a card to get home, Stosh gets to see Union soldiers playing a pickup game, with different rules and antique, but quite recognizable nomenclature. Gutman reports on the battle matter-of-factly, even as the boy's mom saves a life in the hellish hospital quarters after the battle. Her quest to save Lincoln via time travel does not fare so well. Although lightweight for its heavy topic, fans of the Baseball Card Adventure series will still want to read this one. An author's note separates fact from fiction. Gr. 5-8.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Meade of Gettysburg, by Freeman Cleaves, pub. 1960, 384 p., call #: 923.573 Meade C. This biography for a general audience recounts Meade's life from birth to death. While Gettysburg obviously figures largely in his story, his military career was long and varied.
American Scoundrel by
Call Number: 923.573 Sickles KEN
Publication Date: 2002-04-09
On the last Sunday of February 1859, Dan Sickles, a charming young congressman from New York, murdered his good friend Philip Barton Key (son of Francis Scott Key)-who was also his wife's lover-in Washington's Lafayette Square. Sickles turned himself in; political friends in New York's Tammany Hall machinery, including the dynamic criminal lawyer James Brady, quickly gathered around. While his beautiful young wife was banned from public life and shunned by society, Dan Sickles was acquitted. This is the extraordinary story of this powerful mid-nineteenth century politician and inveterate womanizer, whose irresistible charms and rock-solid connections not only allowed him to get away with murder - literally - but also paved the way to a stunning career. Once free to resume his life, Dan Sickles raised a regiment for the Union political elite and went on to become a general in the army, rising to the rank of brigadier general and commanding a flank at the Battle of Gettysburg in a maneuver so controversial it is still argued over by scholars today.
Under Siege! by
Call Number: j973.7 WAR
Publication Date: 2009-04-27
This narrative focuses on three young people who later wrote articles or were interviewed about their memories of the siege: 10-year-old Lucy McRae and 11-year-old Willie Lord, both Vicksburg residents, and 12-year-old Frederick Grant, the general's son. Readers interested in military campaigns will be fascinated by young Grant's observations of battlefields as well as his father's command center, while others will be intrigued by the stories of families living in dug-out caves and eventually facing starvation, while cannonballs, minié balls, and artillery shells rained down on their city.
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