Enhanced by excerpts from primary documents as well as numerous illustrations, this collection of essays by some of the country's most prominent Civil War historians intends to move women to the center stage of Civil War history. Topics range from the experiences of female slave contrabandists, to the lives of rural refugee women, to the effects of the postwar era on African-American women, to the Civil War's legacy in women's suffrage movements.
On September 13, 1862, in a field near Frederick, Maryland, four Union soldiers hit the jack-pot. There they found, wrapped carelessly around three cigars, a copy of General Robert E. Lee's most recent orders detailing Southern objectives and letting Union officers know that Lee had split his Army into four vulnerable groups. General George B. McClellan realized his opportunity to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia one piece at a time. "If I cannot whip Bobbie Lee," exulted McClellan, "I will be willing to go home." But the notoriously prudent Union general allowed precious hours to pass, and, by the time he moved, Lee's army had begun to regroup and prepare for battle near Antietam Creek. The ensuing fight would prove to be not only the bloodiest single day of the entire Civil War, but the bloodiest in the history of the U.S. Army.
Countless historians have analyzed Antietam (known as Sharpsburg in the South) and its aftermath, some concluding that McClellan's failure to vanquish Lee constituted a Southern victory, others that the Confederate retreat into Virginia was a strategic win for the North. But in Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle, historian John Michael Priest tells this brutal tale of slaughter from an entirely new point of view: that of the common enlisted man. Concentrating on the days of actual battle--September 16, 17, and 18, 1862--Priest vividly brings to life the fear, the horror, and the profound courage that soldiers displayed, from the first Federal cavalry probe of the Confederate lines to the last skirmish on the streets of Sharpsburg. Antietam is not a book about generals and their grand strategies, but rather concerns men such as the Pennsylvanian corporal who lied to receive the Medal of Honor; the Virginian who lay unattended on the battlefield through most of the second day of fighting, his arm shattered from a Union artillery shell; the Confederate surgeon who wrote to the sweetheart he left behind enemy lines in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that he had seen so much death and suffering that his "head had whitened and my very soul turned to stone."
Besides being a gripping tale charged with the immediacy of firsthand accounts of the fighting, Antietam also dispels many misconceptions long held by historians and Civil War buffs alike. Seventy-two detailed maps--which describe the battle in the hourly and quarter-hourly formats established by the Cope Maps of 1904--together with rarely-seen photographs and his own intimate knowledge of the Antietam terrain, allow Priest to offer a substantially new interpretation of what actually happened.
When the last cannon fell silent and the Antietam Creek no longer ran red with Union and Confederate blood, twice as many Americans had been killed in just one day as lost their lives in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American war combined. This is a book about battle, but more particularly, about the human dimension in battle. It asks "What was it like?" and while the answers to this simple question by turns horrify and fascinate, they more importantly add a whole new dimension to the study of the American Civil War.
The Civil War is most often described as one in which brother fought against brother. But the most devastating war fought on American soil was also one in which women demonstrated heroic deeds, selfless acts, and courage beyond measure. Women mobilized soup kitchens and relief societies. Women cared for wounded soldiers. Women were effective spies. And it is estimated that 300 women fought on the battlefields, usually disguised as men. The most fascinating Civil War women include:
- Harriet Tubman, a former slave, who led hundreds of fellow slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad
- Four hundred women who were seized in Roswell, Georgia, deported to Indiana, and vanished without a trace
- Belle Boyd, the "Siren of the Shenandoah," who at the age of seventeen killed a Union soldier
- "Crazy" Elizabeth Van Lew, who deliberately fostered the impression that she was eccentric so that she could be an effective spy for the North
"The poor fellow sprang from my hands and fell back quivering in the agonies of death. A bullet had passed between my body and the right arm which supported him, cutting through my sleeve and passing through his chest from shoulder to shoulder." ?Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross
"We were all amused and disgusted at the sight of a thing that nothing but the debased and depraved Yankee nation could produce. A woman] was dressed in the full uniform of a Federal surgeon. She was not good looking, and of course had tongue enough for a regiment of men." ?Captain Benedict J. Semmes, describing Mary Walker, M.D.
A gripping history of the Civil War through the eyes of the soldiers in one of its most legendary regiments--the Eighth Georgia Infantry--who fought on the forefront of the Civil War's most major battles.
The Confederate soldiers of the 8th Georgia Regiment came from all walks of life. They included upstanding men like Melvin Dwinnel, a teacher and a publisher, as well as the likes of James Potter Williamson, whose listed occupation was "loafer." They met in Rome, Georgia, in May 1861, and became the first regiment to enlist for the duration of the hostilities--most others held together for a single season.
United by a deep love for the land left behind and a fierce determination to fight for their homes and way of life, the men of the 8th persevered through brutal battles, miserable conditions, and dimming prospects of a Confederate victory.
Using diaries, letters home to loved ones, and other historical documents, Steven E. Woodworth follows these brave men from the red clay of Georgia, through the Battle of Bull Run, to Maryland, into the bloody battle of Gettysburg, through Tennessee and the brutal Battle of Chickamauga, and finally to their ultimate defeat at Appomattox. Through every struggle, he reveals their motivations and sometimes painful decisions, telling a story of human hopes and fears and ultimately showing this most divisive war at its most personal.
In July 1863, as the Confederate army approached the crossroads village of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the prospect of victory for the South appeared bright. With morale low among the Union army in the wake of a succession of defeats, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Army Commander Robert E. Lee saw an opportunity to win a decisive battle on Union soil. After three bloody days, however, one-third of Lee's army had been killed or wounded, and Lee was forced to retreat to Virginia. This major loss, considered to be the Civil War's turning point, became the first of many Union victories that ultimately led to Appomattox and complete Confederate defeat.
With dramatic text and pictures, Gettysburg humanizes this crucial battle: the thoughts, emotions, and actions of the men who commanded, fought, and died there. As Abraham Lincoln said four months after the battle, those who died at Gettysburg gave their last full measure of devotion that the nation might experience a new birth of freedom. This is the story of those brave men.
For forty years, Charles Whilden lived a life noteworthy for failure. Then, in a remarkable chain of events, this aging, epileptic desk clerk from Charleston found himself plunged into the brutal battlefields of the Wilderness (May 57, 1864) and Spotsylvania Court House (May 820, 1864). In an astonishing act of bravery, he wrapped the flag around his body and led a charge that won critical ground for the Confederates, changing the course of one of the war's most significant battles.Gordon C. Rhea combines his deep knowledge of Civil War history with original sources, such as a treasure trove of letters written by Charles Whilden, to tell the story of this unusual life. Growing up in a prominent family that had fallen on hard times, Charles received a good education, and his letters reveal flashes of intelligence. But he failed at the practice of law in his home state and in his endeavors elsewhere, including copper speculation, real estate ventures, and farming. After the attack on Fort Sumter, Charles returned to Charleston to enlist in Confederate service, only to be turned down until the rebellion was on its last legs. Even then he saw only a few weeks of combat. But in that time, he discovered a bravery within himself that nothing in his former existence suggested he had.
First published in 1865, Belle Boyd's memoir of her experiences as a Confederate spy has stood the test of time and interest. Belle first gained notoriety when she killed a Union soldier in her home in 1861. During the Federal occupations of the Shenandoah Valley, she mingled with the servicemen and, using her feminine wiles, obtained useful information for the Rebel cause.
In this new edition, Kennedy-Nolle and Faust consider the domestic side of the Civil War and also assess the value of Boyd's memoir for social and literary historians in its challenge to our understanding the most divisive years in American history.
In this companion to his celebrated earlier book, Gettysburg--The Second Day, Harry Pfanz provides the first definitive account of the fighting between the Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill--two of the most critical engagements fought at Gettysburg on 2 and 3 July 1863. Pfanz provides detailed tactical accounts of each stage of the contest and explores the interactions between--and decisions made by--generals on both sides. In particular, he illuminates Confederate lieutenant general Richard S. Ewell's controversial decision not to attack Cemetery Hill after the initial southern victory on 1 July. Pfanz also explores other salient features of the fighting, including the Confederate occupation of the town of Gettysburg, the skirmishing in the south end of town and in front of the hills, the use of breastworks on Culp's Hill, and the small but decisive fight between Union cavalry and the Stonewall Brigade.
Rich with astute judgments about officers on each side, clearly written, and graced with excellent maps, Pfanz's book is tactical history at its finest.--Civil War
A meticulous examination of the desperate engagements that over the course of the three days swept up and down the rough slopes of these two hills, the strategic anchors of the Union right flank.--New York Times Book Review
The first and most comprehensive narrative yet written on this part of the battlefield. . . . Civil War enthusiasts should clear a space on their bookshelf for Gettysburg--Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill.--Blue and Gray
Harry Pfanz provides the definitive account of the fighting between the Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill--two of the most critical engagements fought at Gettysburg on 2 and 3 July 1863. He provides detailed tactical accounts of each stage of the contest and explores the interactions between--and decisions made by--generals on both sides. In particular, he illuminates Confederate lieutenant general Richard S. Ewell's controversial decision not to attack Cemetery Hill after the initial Southern victory on 1 July.
In Battle Cry Of Freedom, James M. McPherson presented a fascinating, concise general history of the defining American conflict. With What They Fought For, he focuses his considerable talents on what motivated the individual soldier to fight. In an exceptional and highly original Civil War analysis, McPherson draws on the letters and diaries of nearly one thousand Union and Confederate soldiers, giving voice to the very men who risked their lives in the conflict. His conclusion that most of them felt a keen sense of patriotic and ideological commitment counters the prevailing belief that Civil War soldiers had little or no idea of what they were fighting for. In their letters home and their diaries--neither of which were subject to censorship--these men were able to comment, in writing, on a wide variety of issues connected with their war experience. Their insights show how deeply felt and strongly held their convictions were and reveal far more careful thought on the ideological issues of the war than has previously been thought to be true. Living only eighty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Civil War soldiers felt the legacy and responsibility entrusted to them by the Founding Fathers to preserve fragile democracy--be it through secession or union--as something worth dying for. In What They Fought For, McPherson takes individual voices and places them in the great and terrible choir of a country divided against itself. The result is both an impressive scholarly tour de force and a lively, highly accessible account of the sentiments of both Northern and Southern soldiers during the national trauma of the Civil War.