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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
- 5 July. The Federal army occupies Roswell, Georgia and burns the mills there. The women and children who work at the mills are deported to Indiana; most of them never return home.
- 9 July. At Monocacy, Virginia, Union troops led by General Lew Wallace are defeated by Confederates advancing on Washington. Very few people will remember Wallace's reputation as a soldier; he is better known as the author of Ben Hur.
- 17 July. Despite the fact that General Joseph Johnston has been fighting a force almost twice the size of his and has conducted what is often described as one of the great retreats of history, Jefferson Davis believes that he will not defend Atlanta and replaces him with John Bell Hood. The Confederacy loses the services of an important general just at this critical time.
Johnston is very popular with the rank and file soldiers and Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee recounts an encounter between 2 pickets. "Johnny, O, Johnny, O, Johnny Reb." "What do you want?" "You are whipped, aren't you?" ... "Well, anyway Joe Johnston is relieved of the command." Refusing to believe this news, Johnny Reb called the other man a liar and challenged him to a duel. They fired 7 shots each and the Confederate soldier was killed.
- 17 July. Benjamin Freeman with the 44th N. C. in Virginia writes home. "Yesterday we held the election [for North Carolina governor]. Vance got 17 votes from the company . there was but 17 men in the company that wo[u]ld vote every one that voted for VANCE. ... It is the first time I ever voted [I am] a big man now."
- 20 July John Bell Hood, known as "Fighting Joe," and now in charge of the defense of Atlanta, goes on the offensive against Sherman's army at Peachtree [aka Peach Tree] Creek north of Atlanta. Learning that the Union Army of the Cumberland is crossing the creek, Hood hopes to catch them in disarray at the ford and before they have time to build new fortifications. The Confederate attack fails, partially due to a lack of coordination between attacking divisions. Union casualties are 1900; the Confederates are 2500.
Union captain Frank D. Baldwin, Company D, 19th Michigan Infantry will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his exploits in this battle. Going alone into the rebel lines, he captures 2 armed officers and a Georgia regiment's flag. Ten years later, he will receive a second Medal of Honor in Texas for leading an attack on an Indian force who had captured 2 girls.
- 30 July. Union troops besieging Petersburg, Virginia use a mine to blow a hole in the Confederate defenses. However the troops sent in can not advance further and many are slaughtered at the bottom of the "Crater" in what one officer later described as a "turkey shoot". Rather than retreat, General Burnside sends in a division of the U. S. Colored Troops who are also trapped. Many are killed even after surrendering. Also among the outfits taking heavy casualties is Co. K, First Michigan Sharpshooters, men who are mostly Ottawa and Chippewa or Ojibwa Indians. As a result of this debacle, Burnside will never command troops again. The siege will continue for 8 more months.
- This month Camp Rathbun in Elmira, New York is converted into a prisoner of war camp. It will become known to Confederate prisoners as Helmira. Almost 3,000 men die at Elmira; it is the federal prison with the highest mortality rate.
- Also this month Union General George Stoneman and his cavalry are sent on a raid to destroy railroads and free Federal prisoners held at Andersonville. Instead, by July 31 they are surrounded and 700 men are captured and sent to Andersonville themselves.
This Month's Fiction
When This Cruel War Is Over
Call Number: FIC FLE
Publication Date: 2001-03-14
Fleming's historical, set in Indiana and Kentucky during the final months of the Civil War, is jagged around the edges yet moving and memorable. Based on the true story of a partisan militia intent on uniting Kentucky, Indiana and other Midwestern states against the Union, the novel begins when Union officer Maj. Paul Stapleton falls in love with Southern belle Janet Todd. She and her father, Gabriel Todd, are involved in a clandestine organization called the Sons of Liberty, whose disillusionment with the war has led them to armed resistance and traitorous acts against the Union. Stapleton, himself disenchanted with the killing, is torn between his love for Janet and his patriotism. After a slow start as the large cast is introduced, and some awkward transitions to melodramatic flashbacks, the characters and their dilemmas come to life.
Glory enough for all : the Battle of the Crater : a novel of the Civil War, by Duane Schultz, pub. 1993, 360 p. Accomplished nonfiction writer Schultz has written a powerful fictionalized account of a pivotal Civil War battle. In July of 1864, Union and Confederate forces are locked in trench warfare at Cemetery Hill on the outskirts of Petersburg, Va. Both sides have experienced dreadful losses, but Lee's army is much more debilitated, unable adequately to replace either men or equipment. A stalemate could prolong the war, damaging Lincoln's chances of re-election and possibly hastening a truce. Against the odds--and over the objections of fellow Union officers--Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants digs a 500-foot tunnel under the Southern fort and, filling it with 8000 pounds of powder, creates an enormous crater. But petty politicking by Grant, Meade, Burnside and other Union officers turns what should have been a war-ending Union triumph into a disaster. Most tragically, the Fourth Division U.S. Colored Troops, scheduled to lead the attack which follows the explosion and the one unit best prepared to win the day, are held back until the last moment and then sent in too late, to horrible slaughter. Authentically detailed and tightly paced, this is an absorbing novel.
Turn Homeward, Hannalee
Call Number: J B
Publication Date: 1984-10-17
During the closing days of the Civil War, plucky 12-year-old Hannalee Reed, sent north to work in a Yankee mill, struggles to return to the family she left behind in war-torn Georgia. "A fast-moving novel based upon an actual historical incident with a spunky heroine and fine historical detail."
This Month's Non-Fiction
Call Number: 973.7468 WAT
Publication Date: 2003-11-01
Early in May 1861, twenty-one-year-old Sam R. Watkins of Columbia, Tennessee, joined the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H, to fight for the Confederacy. Of the 120 original recruits in his company, Watkins was one of only seven to survive every one of its battles, from Shiloh to Nashville. Twenty years later, with a "house full of young 'rebels' clustering around my knees and bumping about my elbows," he wrote this remarkable account of "Co. Aytch" -- its common foot soldiers, its commanders, its Yankee enemies, its victories and defeats, and its ultimate surrender on April 26, 1865. Co. Aytch is the work of a natural storyteller who balances the horror of war with an irrepressible sense of humor and a sharp eye for the lighter side of battle. Among Civil War memoirs, it is considered a classic -- a living testament to one man's enduring humanity, courage, and wisdom in the midst of death and destruction.
Call Number: 973.737 FIE
Publication Date: 2009-05-19
In 1864 Petersburg, Virginia became the setting for one of the last great campaigns of the United States Civil War and the longest siege in American History. After his failure to capture Richmond in the Spring, General Ulysses S. Grant decided to strangle the life out of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia by surrounding the city of Petersburg and cutting off General Robert E. Lee's supply lines. The ensuing siege would carry on for nearly ten months, involve 160,000 soldiers, and see a number of pitched battles including the Battle of the Crater, Reams Station, Hatcher's Run, and White Oak Road. But around these battles were long days of living in trenches, enduring poor diet and winter weather, and suffering constant artillery bombardment.
Best Little Stories from the Civil War
Call Number: 973.7 KEL
Publication Date: 2010-03-01
In more than 100 brief vignettes, Military History magazine editor Kelly covers a range of Civil War-era people, events and curiosities that readers likely never learned in history class, including the venomous temper of Mary Todd Lincoln, the Alabama county that remained loyal to the U.S. and threatened to secede from the state, and the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, that saw rats, cats and even dogs make their way into residents' stewpots. Breaking the book into generally-chronological sections-Beginnings, Middles, and Endings-Kelly gives his hodge-podge a welcome sense of continuity within the context of the war, while individual entries effectively place readers in the times, providing tremendous insight to the daily lives of Americans during the mid-1800s. Coloring the most overwhelming conflict of American history in startling, intimate hues, these anecdotes make for a more immediate, and less forgettable, history lesson than many traditional Civil War narratives.
The Battle of Peach Tree Creek
Call Number: 973.7 KEL
Publication Date: 2014-01-31
"The Battle of Peach Tree Creek marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy, for it turned the page from the patient defense displayed by General Joseph E. Johnston to the bold offense orchestrated by his replacement General John Bell Hood. Until this point, the Confederates had fought primarily in the defensive from behind earthworks, forcing Federal commander William T. Sherman to either assault fortified lines, or go around them in flanking moves. At Peach Tree Creek, the roles would be reversed for the first time, as Southerners charged Yankee lines. The Gate City, as Atlanta has been called, was in many ways the capstone to the Confederacy's growing military-industrial complex and was the transportation hub of the fledgling nation. For the South, it had to be held. For the North, it had to be taken."
Vehicles of the Civil War
Call Number: j973.7 DEL
Publication Date: 2013-07-01
Small but well-chosen photos give fans of military hardware unusually diverse galleries of transportation in these surveys. Each opens with a quick summary of the featured conflict, then goes on to chapters covering vehicles on land, at sea, and in the air. Brief comments next to each picture specify purposes, speeds, special features, and, history for particular vehicles or vessels. Along with arrays of ironclads and various wagons in Civil War, readers get looks at both renowned and anonymous horses. Gr. 4-6.
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