Civil War

The Civil War’s Environmental Impact

What was the environmental impact of the Civil War? Considering that a battle was a major man-made disaster, someone had to take care of the biological mess that resulted. Countless dead bodies of men, horses and mules and amputated limbs were left behind. Whole armies encamped and left spills of gunpowder, lead and other substances. Human and animal waste and polluted water remained for the local people who had to go on with their lives. We discuss the environment in certain areas after major battles of the Civil War and the positive results that our parks and preserved battlefields have yielded.

Photo: Bodies on the battlefield at Antietam (Library of Congress)

Hood’s Texas Brigade

Shortly after organizing on October 22, 1861, John Bell Hood took command of the Texas Brigade. By the end of the Civil War, this unit had fought in all the battles engaged in by the Army of Northern Virginia except Chancellorsville. Mark and Susannah J. Ural, a professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi and co-director of the University’s Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, discuss one of the most effective units to fight on either side of the Civil War in her book, Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit.

About Hood’s Texas Brigade

In Hood’s Texas Brigade, Susannah J. Ural presents a nontraditional unit history that traces the experiences of these soldiers and their families to gauge the war’s effect on them and to understand their role in the white South’s struggle for independence.

The Texas Brigade Civil WarAccording to Ural, several factors contributed to the Texas Brigade’s extraordinary success: the unit’s strong self-identity as Confederates; the mutual respect among the junior officers and their men; a constant desire to maintain their reputation not just as Texans but as the top soldiers in Robert E. Lee’s army; and the fact that their families matched the men’s determination to fight and win. Using the letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper accounts, official reports, and military records of nearly 600 brigade members, Ural argues that the average Texas Brigade volunteer possessed an unusually strong devotion to southern independence: whereas most Texans and Arkansans fought in the West or Trans- Mississippi West, members of the Texas Brigade volunteered for a unit that moved them over a thousand miles from home, believing that they would exert the greatest influence on the war’s outcome by fighting near the Confederate capital in Richmond. These volunteers also took pride in their place in, or connections to, the slave-holding class that they hoped would secure their financial futures. While Confederate ranks declined from desertion and fractured morale in the last years of the war, this belief in a better life—albeit one built through slave labor— kept the Texas Brigade more intact than other units.

Hood’s Texas Brigade challenges key historical arguments about soldier motivation, volunteerism and desertion, home-front morale, and veterans’ postwar adjustment. It provides an intimate picture of one of the war’s most effective brigades and sheds new light on the rationales that kept Confederate soldiers fighting throughout the most deadly conflict in U.S. history.

 

Antietam Part II

Historian Gerry Prokopowicz, author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862, returns to discuss the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, its consequences and aftermath, and the response from both sides. We include Abraham Lincoln’s writing the Emancipation Proclamation.

About Gerry Prokopowicz

Gerald J. Prokopowicz is the author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 as well as the online host of Civil War Talk Radio. He served for nine years as the resident Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he helped create the award-winning exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln and the American Experiment,” and edited Lincoln Lore. Dr. Prokopowicz is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Lincoln Studies Center and the Lincoln Forum, and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is currently a professor and chair of the history department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Antietam Part I

Professor Gerry Prokopowicz, author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862, joins Mark to discuss the events leading up to the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. We cover the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) that August, Robert E. Lee’s reasons for taking the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland and the beginning of the battle.

Antietam Part I – Summary

The Battle of Antietam took place near Sharpsburg, MD on 17 September 1862. It is often referred to as the bloodiest day of the war. The battle was the culmination of the Maryland Campaign which actually had its roots in earlier in actions that occurred in Virginia in the late spring and early summer of 1862.

The Antietam Battle itself pitted rising star Robert E. Lee, the Virginian who had recently taken the reins of the Confederate army in the east, against the young, ambitious Union General George B. McClellan. Lee had faced McClellan a few months earlier in southeastern Virginia and had thwarted McClellan at the end of the Peninsula Campaign, his grand plan to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond.

During the spring and early summer, General McClellan had moved his army up the Virginia Peninsula, pushing the Confederates back in a series of engagements that began near Fort Monroe at the Chesapeake Bay and ended near the outskirts of Richmond. The Seven Days battles at the end of June were successive battles in which McClellan had done well—he even could be considered victorious in 4 out of 5 battles. However, Robert E. Lee had taken over the Confederate command after Joseph Eggleston Johnston was seriously wounded at Seven Pines in May. Lee was able to stop McClellan on the outskirts of Richmond and the campaign, in which McClellan had started with great hopes and a massive army ended in failure. Afterwards, President Lincoln replaced McClellan in northern Virginia, with John Pope, who had been fairly successful in the west, capturing Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River. Lee subsequently defeated Pope soundly at Second Manassas, or Bull Run.

Stonewall Jackson waged a brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley in the Spring of 1862. He had beaten and outmaneuvered three Union armies, successfully keeping them away from pressuring Richmond. In June, he led his men on a forced march to join Lee near Richmond for the Seven Days battles.

About Gerry Prokopowicz

Gerald J. Prokopowicz is the author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 as well as the online host of Civil War Talk Radio. He served for nine years as the resident Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he helped create the award-winning exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln and the American Experiment,” and edited Lincoln Lore. Dr. Prokopowicz is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Lincoln Studies Center and the Lincoln Forum, and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is currently a professor and chair of the history department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Historical Events That Happened in August

This week Mark takes a look at some events that happened during the month of August in the Civil War and WWII, including the infamous Quantrill’s Raiders,  Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on Memphis, the Siege of Leningrad, and the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

Image: Forrest’s raid into Memphis – Rebel attack on the Irving Prison.

Battle of Second Manassas

In August 1862, after the Confederate victory in the Battle of Second Manassas, or the Second Battle of Bull Run as it was referred to in the North, Robert E. Lee had the momentum to lead the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland that September. There he would gain support in that border state, resupply his men and pressure Washington into negotiations with the upcoming elections.

General Jack Mountcastle joins Mark to discuss the extensive tour he leads for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours that covers Manassas as well as the other key events in the Eastern theatre. We explore the strategies, leaders on both sides and specific actions in the battle and leading up to the fight. It’s the closest thing to going to the battlefield itself.

LIfe in Jefferson Davis’ Navy

Dr. Barbara Brooks Tomblin joins Mark to discuss her recent book, Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy. She addresses every aspect of the officers and men who served in the Confederate Navy—from the daily life of the sailors to the combat they endured. Through diaries, letters and newspaper accounts, she vividly depicts the wartime experiences on the gunboats, ironclads and sailing vessels in the Civil War.

Overview of the Book

The Civil War is often considered a “soldiers’ war,” but Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy acknowledges the legacy of service of the officers and sailors of the Confederate States Navy. In this full-length study, Barbara Brooks Tomblin addresses every aspect of a Confederate seaman’s life, from the risks of combat to the everyday routines which sustained those sailing for the stars and bars. Drawing upon diaries, letters, newspaper accounts, and published works, Tomblin offers a fresh look at the wartime experiences of the officers and men in the Confederate Navy, including those who served on gunboats, ironclads, and ships on western rivers and along the coast and at Mobile Bay, as well as those who sailed on the high seas aboard the Confederate raiders Sumter, Alabama, Florida, and Shenandoah.

The author also explores the daily lives, deprivations, and sufferings of the sailors who were captured and spent time in Union prisoner of war camps at Point Lookout, Elmira, Camp Chase, Johnson’s Island, Ship Island, and Fort Delaware. Confederate prisoners’ journals and letters give an intimate account of their struggle, helping modern audiences understand the ordeals of the defeated in the Civil War.

About the Author

Barbara Brooks Tomblin is a naval and military historian and author of G.I. Nightingales, With Utmost Spirit, Bluejackets and Contrabands, and The Civil War on the Mississippi. She has a doctorate in American history from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey where she was a lecturer in military history.

Order you copy of Life in Jefferson Davis’ Navy>>

What Potent Blood Hath Modest May: The Civil War

In this episode, Mark takes a look at some significant events that took place in May from the Civil War era. He considers these events in light of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous (yet unrelated) quote, “What potent blood hath modest May,” which Mark will show is an applicable description when considering the outcome of some such events from this time in history.

1856

Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, an outspoken abolitionist, gave an oration attacking not only the institution of slavery, but two Senators personally, Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina for supporting it in his “Crime Against Kansas” speech. Three days later, South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks, Butler’s cousin, entered the chamber and severely beat Sumner with a cane. The bleeding and unconscious Sumner had to be carried from the floor, while Brooks walked away unscathed. The “Caning” incident made Sumner a martyr in the North, while many Southerners proclaimed Brooks a champion for defending the honor of his relative.

1863

On 2 May in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, General Stonewall Jackson executed a brilliant flanking attack on the Union right. In a surprise attack, his Confederates smashed into and routed the Union XI Corps under General Oliver O. Howard. That night, while leading a group of officers on a night reconnaissance ride, Jackson was mistakenly wounded by friendly fire.After the wounding, the ambulance wagon took him some twenty miles away to a home at Guinea Station. The surgeons amputated his left arm, but the bed-ridden Jackson subsequently contracted pneumonia and died on 10 May.

Photo: Battle of Chancellorsville–May 2-4, 1863–Union General Hooker, Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson (United States Library of Congress’s Prints)

The Civil War in April

During the Civil War, April lived up to the moniker later bestowed by T.S. Eliot as the “Cruelest Month.” The start of hostilities at Fort Sumter in 1861 initiated the war that defined America and President Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 both occurred in April. The Battle of Shiloh and the Fall of New Orleans both in 1862, certainly proved to be cataclysmic events. Shiloh was so bloody and destructive that it set the stage for the terrible things to come. Later that month, the Fall of New Orleans proved to be a mortal blow for the Confederacy.

Photo: Shiloh Church at Shiloh National Military Park, 2006. The original church building did not survive the battle. The present-day structure is a reconstruction erected in 2003 on the historical site by the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans organization.

Abraham Lincoln: Youth to Civil War

President Abraham Lincoln fell victim to an assassin’s bullet on Good Friday, 14 April 1865 and died the next morning. Mark and Professor Gerald J. Prokopowicz discuss Lincoln from his youth and early career to the presidency and Civil War. They delve into some of the popular questions readers ask about the sixteenth president and explore other facets of Lincoln’s life that may be more obscure.

 

Replica of Lincoln's birthplace near Hodgenville, Kentucky

Replica of Lincoln’s birthplace near Hodgenville, Kentucky