Civil War

Working closely with President Lincoln, Secretary of War Stanton was indefatigable in laboring to win the Civil War. But his abruptness could sometimes be counterproductive.

We celebrate one of America's greatest historians with an anthology of his writing.

“No one ever wrote American history with more easy grace, beauty, and emotional power or greater understanding of its meaning than Bruce Catton,” writes Oliver Jensen, the former editor of American Heritage, in his introduction. Read more >>

With his command threatened by allegations of drunkenness, Ulysses S. Grant went on the attack, won two major victories, demanded “Unconditional Surrender”, and nearly split the Confederacy in half.

The relative Read more >>
The Civil War’s dramatic events have been at the core of American classics for the past century, beginning with D. W. Read more >>

A largely accidental battle, pitting Robert E. Lee against George B. McClellan, became the single deadliest day in America's history and changed the course of the Civil War.

The day of Antietam—September 17, 1862 — was like no other day of the Civil War. “The roar of the infantry was beyond anything conceivable to the uninitiated,” wrote a Union officer who fought there. Read more >>

Notes about the famous historian and American Heritage editor

For decades, Yale history professor David Blight, an award-winning author and a preeminent scholar of the Civil War, has studied the legacy of Bruce Catton, the historian/writer who significantly shaped our understanding of the Civil War by bringing it into exhilarating, memorable relief thro Read more >>

J.R. Clifford fought his real battles in the courtroom

My paternal grandfather, Edward St. Lawrence Gates, was buried on July 2, 1960. After the burial my father showed my brother and me scrapbooks that his father had kept. Within the pages of those scrapbooks was an obituary of my great-great-grandmother, a slave named Jane Gates. Read more >>
Southern Source Ross Address Read more >>

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION: The Home Front Map—Guide to Appalachia

By Louis Segesvary, Ph.D Public Affairs Director • Appalachian Regional Commission Read more >>

The nation's leading authority on the conflict explains why the Civil War still fascinates us

One hundred and fifty years after the guns began shelling Fort Sumter this April, Americans remain fascinated with the Civil War. Why do we care about a war that ended so long ago? Read more >>

By the end of the Civil War, nearly 200,000 African-Americans had fought for the Union cause and freedom

The American Civil War had cost more than 620,000 lives and had nearly torn the nation apart, but by May 1865 it was finally over. To celebrate, thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., to express their gratitude to the military forces that had made the Union victory possible. Read more >>

The Emancipation Proclamation opened the door for Pennsylvania's African-American soldiers

The scene was wild and grand. Read more >>

The highly lucrative cotton crop of 1860 emboldened the South to challenge the economic powerhouse of the North

In the mid- to late summer of 1860, billions of soft pink and white Gossypium hirsutum blooms broke out across South Carolina, Georgia, western Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, soon to morph into puffy white bolls. Read more >>

In one momentous decision, Robert E. Lee spared the United States years of divisive violence

As April 1865 neared, an exhausted Abraham Lincoln met with his two top generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, to discuss the end of the Civil War, which finally seemed to be within reach. Read more >>

Archaeologists in Georgia have found the location of the prison that served as an overflow facility for Andersonville

"November 17, 1864—Three of our men were frozen to death last night in the stockade! Large fires are going, but many are so reduced in vitality that they easily froze notwithstanding,” wrote Union Pvt. Read more >>

South Carolina severed ties with the Union not out of concern for states' rights but because of slavery

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 1860, some 170 men marched through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, walking from St. Andrews Hall to a new meetinghouse amid the cheers of onlookers. Half of them were more than 50 years old, most well-known. Read more >>

A tall stranger, told to keep out of the general’s tent, turns out to be Lincoln

Gen. Grant having decided to transfer his army to the James River, preparations began at once. . . . On Tuesday morning, June 14th, Warren crossed [the Chickahominy] at Long Bridge, with Hancock following him. Read more >>

Not until the Civil War was about over did the U.S. Navy manage to put a halt to the South’s imports

Would the disastrous Reconstruction era have taken a different course?

What would have happened had Abraham Lincoln not been assassinated? Every time I lecture on Lincoln, the Civil War, or Reconstruction, someone in the audience is sure to pose this question—one, of course, perfectly natural to ask but equally impossible to answer. This has not, however, deterred historians from speculating about this “counterfactual” problem. Read more >>

How coffee helped win the Civil War

In the waning daylight of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, a tremendous cheer suddenly resounded from the 23rd Ohio Volunteers arrayed across a cornfield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Read more >>

Trying to understand the Civil War’s ugliest incident

How Bruce Chadwick (“Actor Against Actor,” August/September 2004) could include movies whose plots are post-Civil War (The Searchers, The Ox-Bow Incident) and omit the excellent Ride With the Devil Read more >>

Humvees With Humps

One of Lee’s greatest lieutenants is slowly winning his reputation back after losing it for daring to criticize his boss