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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
- 1 June -July 15. Colonel George W. Kirk, leads 130 men of the Federal 3rd N. C. from Morristown, Tennessee into North Carolina to capture and destroy Camp Vance near Morganton. They capture a number of prisoners, enlist a number of Confederate draftees who are at the camp for training, and then return safely to Tennessee.
Word of this raid comes to Lincolnton. Wrote diarist David Schenck, "At once our quiet town was in commotion, the Court house bell was rung and the citizens assembled for consultation. It was a very serious time and every man felt that war had come to his door. A volunteer company, 58 strong, composing al present was immediately formed under command of Capt John F. Hoke and by 10 o'clock pickets were thrown out on all the roads of approach and the balance were held as reserve at the Court House. I remained on picket all night on the Newton road." After this alarm, the Lincolnton council asks for arms to equip a home defense force.
- 3 June. Today is the heaviest day of fighting in the 13 day battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia. Lee wins his last major victory over Union troops, defeating a vastly larger force. However, once again, the Union can replace lost troops and Lee is less and less able to do the same.
- 14 June. In 8 hours 450 Union engineers build a pontoon bridge across the James River, enabling Grant's forces to cross the river and move toward Petersburg, Virginia. At 2100 feet this is the longest pontoon bridge ever used in war.
- 15-18 June. Grant is unable to take Petersburg and begins a siege that will continue for almost a year. The city is an important railroad center and its possession important to both sides.
- 17 June. General Gabriel Raines, a North Carolinian, is made the head of the Confederacy's new Torpedo Bureau. The "torpedoes" are based on an invention of Samuel Colt's and are more akin to what we today call a mine.
- 19 June. Private Benjamin H. Freeman writes home to Franklin County, North Carolina from Virginia "in line of battle on the north side of Petersburg VA clost to the Apermatox." Among other items of news, he tells them, "I washed and put on a clean shirt and draw[er]s. Today the first time since about the second of May. I threw away the ones I pulled off." (Obviously the lack of bathing facilities and clean clothes is contributing to the high number of deaths from disease.)
- 19 June. Off the coast of France in front of a crowd of spectators, the USS Kearsage sinks the famous raider, the CSS Alabama. Inspired by the accounts of the spectacle, artist Édouard Manet painted "Battle of the USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama."
- 21 June. A Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (1834-1896), captures several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864. This otherwise unnoticed incident was immortalized in paint by artist Winslow Homer who was an artist-correspondent [journalist] during the war. The painting did much to make him famous.
- 27 June. Fires break out along the Kennesaw Mountain battle lines as Union troops are forced back. Confederate Colonel William Martin orders his men to stop firing and both sides work to rescue the wounded before the fire reaches them. The next day Union officers will present Martin with a pair of Colt pistols as a token of appreciation.
This Month's Fiction
Play for a Kingdom
Call Number: FIC DYJ
Publication Date: 1997-08-08
Dyja has crafted a uniquely compelling Civil War novel set amid the chaos and devastation that characterized the savage battle of Spotsylvania in 1864. Days away from the termination of their three-year enlistment, the physically debilitated and emotionally fatigued members of the 14th Brooklyn apprehensively await their final orders. Plagued by guilt, uncertainty, and terror, the shattered remnants of the once-proud company of soldiers bicker among themselves and wrestle with the inner demons threatening to destroy them before the enemy does. Happening upon a clearing in the thick of the war-ravaged wilderness, they organize a game of baseball, attempting to relieve the tension and restore a semblance of normalcy to a world spinning out of control. Surprised by a similarly jaded unit of Confederates, they warily challenge the Rebels to a friendly contest. Continuing between bloody skirmishes and ensuing over the course of the next several days, the interim games begin to assume increased importance, representing a last desperate opportunity for redemption. An absolutely stunning narrative.
Across the Lines
Call Number: J REE
Publication Date: 1997-04-01
Just before his family flees from the Yankees, who soon capture their Virginia plantation, Edward searches without success for his slave and lifelong companion, Simon. Hidden in the chimney, Simon waits for freedom and finds himself making his own way in a land ruled by the forces of war; Edward and his family are caught up in the siege of Petersburg. Simon and Edward struggle with issues of freedom, courage, and friendship in surroundings that are new to them and sometimes quite frightening. The point of view shifts from one boy to the other throughout the novel, ending a year after the plantation's capture when both boys return there and catch a glimpse of each other. The boys care but acknowledge that things will never be the same, speaking wordless volumes with a distant hand gesture in their secret language. The switch back and forth from one boy to another breaks the narrative flow at times, but there are few Civil War books for children that explore the reality of war or the subtlety of race relations as sensitively as this involving novel. Gr. 5-9.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Lincoln's Unsung Heroes
Call Number: 920 KAT
Publication Date: 1997-12-01
Using diaries, regimental records and other original documents, this volume describes the Civil War experiences of over 20 soldiers and sailors in detail. The men's ranks range from private to captain and almost every branch of the Union service is covered including such little known organizations as the Revenue cutters. Chapter 5 describes the career of one private, David H. Cole, in the engineers and the importance of their pontoon bridges.
Wolf of the Deep
Call Number: 973.75 FOX
Publication Date: 2007-07-24
For those of a romantic bent, much of the naval conflict during the Civil War might seem dreary. Close-order battles between gunboats on the Mississippi and its tributaries lack the epic sweep of battles on the open sea. So Fox has provided a healthy dose of excitement in this swashbuckling account of the exploits of an extraordinary naval commander. Fox's account is filled with exciting battles, daring escapes, and interesting insights into the diplomatic wrangling between Britain and the U.S.
The Confederate letters of Benjamin H. Freeman, compiled and edited by Stuart T. Wright, pub. 1974, 109 p., call #: 973.782 F NC. Benjamin, a young farmer (he always reports on the condition of the crops he sees), wrote faithfully to his parents in Franklin County, North Carolina. This collection begins with him as a new recruit in May 1862 and ends with a letter from Petersburg, Virginia in March 1865. Ben survived to surrender at Appomattox.
The Confederate Raider Alabama: Selections from Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, by Raphael Semmes. Edited, with an introduction, by Philip Van Doren Stern, pub. 1962, 464 p.
Women at the Front
Call Number: j973.7 BLA
Publication Date: 1997-09-01
The war changed women's lives -- some only in small ways. Many women, however, found themselves doing things they never would have thought of before the war. They ran farms and businesses; they were nurses, spies, even soldiers. Gr 4+.
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