American History

Touring Civil War New Orleans

Nic Clark of Civil War Tours New Orleans, feels that he gives guests a “great way to see the city.”  We discuss the intriguing people and places guests visit on his guided tours about the Civil War. From the French Quarter to the famous cemeteries, we see how guests can experience history in New Orleans.

The Civil War: Early July 1863

A quick look at the two major Civil War events that took place in early July 155 years ago and some characters who played key roles. The man who initiated the battle of Gettysburg, one of the most controversial generals who took part in it and the General who could have saved Vicksburg for the Confederacy. (Above photo: Henry Heth)

General Daniel E. Sickles

Daniel E. Sickles

Leadership: The Essential Qualities Part II

Prof. Harry Laver returns to continue the discussion on the qualities of Leadership and his book edited with Jeffrey J. Matthews, The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell.

Leadership: The Essential Qualities

Professor Harry Laver joins Mark to discuss the qualities of Leadership and his book edited with Jeffrey J. Matthews, The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell.

Medicine in the Civil War

Dr. Ken Rettig and Mark discuss medical practices during the Civil War. From bullet wounds and amputations to respiratory diseases they explore how army surgeons treated patients during that period.

An excerpt from the medical report after Antietam:

Gross misrepresentations of the conduct of medical officers have been made and scattered broadcast over the country, causing deep and heart-rending anxiety to those who had friends or relatives in the army, who might at any moment require the services of a surgeon. It is not to be supposed that there were no incompetent surgeons in the army. It is certainly true that there were; but these sweeping denunciations against a class of men who will favorably compare with the military surgeons of any country, because of the incompetency and short-comings of a few, are wrong, and do injustice to a body of men who have labored faithfully and well. It is easy to magnify an existing evil until it is beyond the bounds of truth. It is equally easy to pass by the good that has been done on the other side. Some medical officers lost their lives in their devotion to duty in the battle of Antietam, and others sickened from excessive labor which they conscientiously and skillfully performed.

Dr. Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac

Civil War: The Fall of New Orleans

Mark discusses the Union bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip by David Dixon Porter’s mortar boats. The rest of the Union fleet under David Farragut is able to steam past the forts. After a duel with the few effective Confederate gunboats in action, they reach New Orleans and demand the city’s surrender on April 26, 1862.

April Historical Events: Civil War and WWII

Mark takes a look at some significant events that took place in April during the Civil War and WWII. “April is the cruelest month” according to T.S. Eliot, but how accurate is that historically? You decide. Here are some major happenings and a few occurrences that are not so well known: Fort Sumter, Shiloh, Eel Creek, California, Norway, Murmansk and Iraq.

CIVIL WAR

1861

11-14 April – Charleston, SC -Thursday to Sunday. A South Carolina delegation of three men delivered a demand for surrender to Major Robert Anderson at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The message was from Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard and stated that they intended to take “possession of a fortification commanding the entrance of one of their harbors . . . necessary to its defense and security.” They let Anderson know that they would not fire upon his position if he advised them of the time of the evacuation of the Union troops stationed there.

Anderson replied that he also would not fire except in response, but that he would evacuate on 15 April if he did not receive supplies coming from the Federal government.The Confederates were aware that a supply ship was en route and deemed the answer unsatisfactory. At 0430 on Friday a signal shot opened a barrage from the other batteries in rotation. Anderson had a garrison of 85 officers and men as well as over forty laborers who worked in the fort. They began to return fire at 0700. More to come on Edmund Ruffin in a future episode.

On Saturday, after thirty-four hours of bombardment, a rash of fires and destruction, and some minor injuries, Fort Sumter capitulated. The formal surrender ceremony occurred on Sunday at which time was the only fatality. When the colors changed and the fifty-gun salute concluded, there was an accidental explosion in a pile of ammunition that killed a Union private and injured several others.

Major Anderson, a Kentuckian, remarked that “Our Southern brethren have done grievously wrong. . . . They must be punished and brought back, but this necessity breaks my heart.”

South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens addressed a crowd, “We have met them and we have conquered.”

1862

4-5 April – Union General George B. McClellan had moved most of his massive army of 120,000 men plus horses, mules, artillery, wagons and supplies from Alexandria, VA down the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay to land at Fort Monroe at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula. His aim was to march his horde northwest and take Richmond. His first obstacle was Yorktown, where his army attacked 15,000 Confederates under General John Bankhead Magruder. General Joseph E. Johnston, in command of the Confederate Army in Virginia was sending reinforcements while McClellan’s men prepared to conduct a siege. After a minor battle, the Confederates withdrew toward Williamsburg.

6-7 April – Battle of Shiloh. In southwest Tennessee, General Ulysses S. Grant had brought his army to Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. At the same time, General Albert Sidney Johnston was leading his Confederate force northward from Mississippi. Johnston would suffer a mortal wound that caused him to bleed to death in minutes on the first day of battle. Beauregard, who just a year earlier had been in command on the war’s opening day at Fort Sumter, took the reins. On the first day, he pushed the Union forces back nearly two miles. By nightfall, Gen. Grant’s camp was almost back at the landing at the Tennessee River—an important position to retain. That night reinforcements arrived and Grant launched a counterattack. The fighting raged for six hours until Beauregard decided to withdraw. The Federals did not pursue and the Confederates returned to Corinth, Mississippi.

WORLD WAR II

1940

19 April – Lofoten Islands, Norway. Three convoys departed Scotland, from the mainland and Scapa Flow: destination Norway. British and French forces were planning to take control of Norwegian ports but in a seemingly uncoordinated effort, the army and navy command staffs travelled separately. With a disjointed embarkation schedule, units did not know the whereabouts of the artillery nor munitions in many cases. While some of the transports tarried off the coast, hesitant to make an amphibious assault, German Stukas dived and strafed. Once on shore, the Allies would face the German 169thcrack mountain division. With the exception of the French Chasseurs Alpins, none of the other units had trained for mountain fighting.

1941

3 April – Rashid Ali al-Gaylani took over the government of Iraq in a coup backed by Nazi Germany. He deposed the British backed monarchical administration of six-year old King Faisal II. Gaylani refused to allow any Allied transports through his country. Baghdad became an HQ for Nazi intelligence operations in the Middle East.

1942

1 April – Murmansk, USSR- Convoy PQ-13 reached its destination with munitions and war supplies for the Soviet Union. The convoy began with 19 merchant ships, and reached the harbor after losing five vessels. German U-boats destroyed two, the Luftwaffe accounted for another two sinkings and a destroy took out the fifth. A violent storm had separated the convoy from its destroyer escort and German scout planes located the ships and called in the attack. The convoy departed northern Scotland before stopping in Iceland on the voyage through the Arctic Sea. This was the first Arctic convoy to reach Murmansk, the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle. Because of the Gulf Stream currents, the harbor in Murmansk remains ice-free for a good part of the year.

Sultana Disaster: Part II

Author Sally M. Walker joins Mark to discuss the tragic disaster of the explosion and sinking of the Sultana in 1865. It was America’s greatest maritime disaster that occurred on the Mississippi River at the end of the Civil War—but so few people know about it. Her book, Sinking the Sultana, tells the intriguing story.

Civil War and Abraham Lincoln: Part I

Mark talks with Professor Gerald J. Prokopowicz about Abraham Lincoln, his youth, early career, presidency and the Civil War. Professor Prokopowicz addresses some of the popular questions readers ask about the sixteenth president as well as some that may be more obscure.

Band of Brothers: Leadership of the 101st Airborne Division

Historian Chris Anderson joins Mark to discuss leadership in the Second World War at various levels. As an expert on Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, Chris highlights Major Dick Winters of Band of Brothers renown.