“We Will Not Do Duty Any Longer for Seven Dollars per Month”

The United States had promised black soldiers that they would be paid as much as whites. Sergeant Walker believed that promise.

This is in honor of Sgt. William Walker, of the 3d South Carolina Infantry Regiment, a young black soldier who believed in the United States government’s promises of equal rights. This is in honor of Sgt. William Walker, who was brave enough to act on his belief in his rights. This is in honor of Sgt. William Walker, who died in disgrace, executed by the United States government for acting on his belief in its promise of equal rights. Read more »

The New Sherman Letters

Extraordinary correspondence, never published before, takes us inside the mind of a military genius. Here is William Tecumseh Sherman in the heat of action inventing modern warfare, grieving the death of his little boy, struggling to hold Kentucky with levies, rolling invincibly across Georgia, and—always—battling the newspapermen whose stories, he believes, are killing his soldiers.

William Tecumseh Sherman,” announced The New York Times near the end of the Civil War, “has surpassed all newspaper correspondents in writing about military affairs...for conciseness, perspicacity and comprehensiveness with brevity he is the perfect model.” One Associated Press reporter went so far as to say that the man would have been an even better war correspondent than a general. Read more »

Enlisted For Life

Oliver Wendell Holmes was wounded three times in some of the worst fighting of the Civil War. But for him, the most terrible battles were the ones he had missed.

He was born in 1841, in a Boston that took its water from backyard wells and its light from whale-oil lamps. He died ninety-four years later in a nation that the army pilot James Doolittle had just crossed in twelve hours. Between the birth and the death came a career and a renown few achieve, and thirty years of serving as one of the most brilliant, influential, and revered Justices of the Supreme Court.Read more »

1.the First News Blackout

The Civil War ignited the basic conflict between a free press and the need for military security. By war’s end, the hard-won compromises between soldiers and newspapermen may not have provided all the answers, but they had raised all the modern questions.

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was a good hater, and he hated few things more than newspapermen. His encounter with the correspondent Floras B. Plympton of the Cincinnati Commercial in September 1861, five months into the Civil War, was typical. Plympton approached the general on a railroad platform in Kentucky and asked him for an interview. He handed over letters of introduction, including one from Sherman’s brother-in-law.Read more »

Military Medicine

How our wartime experience conquered a wide range of problems from hemorrhagic shock to yellow fever

WHEN HIPPOCRATES wrote in the fifth century B.C. that “he who would learn surgery should join an army and follow it,” he illuminated the central irony of military medicine. Destructive as war is, it makes possible quantum leaps in the art of healing. And it is the surgeon who benefits most directly: war has been described as an “epidemic of trauma,” and the vast supply of wounded men provides opportunities for experimentation and innovation unthinkable in a world at peace.Read more »

A Confederate Odyssey

All this Florida boy wanted to do was rejoin his regiment. Instead they drafted him into the Confederate secret service.

A FTER HE WAS MUSTERED out of his beaten army in 1865, Charles Hemming went west to Texas and a highly successful career as a banker. But he never forgot the men he served with, and in 1898 he came home to raise a Confederate monument in Jacksonville. A few years later, still full of thoughts of the conflict in which he played so strenuous a role, he set down the long and fascinating account from which this article is drawn. This previously unpublished memoir was sent to us by Hemming’s granddaughter, Lucy W. Sturgis. Read more »

The New View Of Reconstruction

Whatever you were taught or thought you knew about the post-Civil War era is probably wrong in the light of recent study

IN THE PAST twenty years, no period of American history has been the subject of a more thoroughgoing réévaluation than Reconstruction—the violent, dramatic, and still controversial era following the Civil War. Race relations, politics, social life, and economic change during Reconstruction have all been reinterpreted in the light of changed attitudes toward the place of blacks within American society.Read more »

Painting The Southland

Most surveys of American painting begin in New England in the eighteenth century, move westward to the Rockies in the nineteenth, and return to New York in the twentieth. Now we’ll have to redraw the map .

TAKING STOCK of painting in the South in 1859, a critic for the New Orleans Daily Cresent concluded glumly, “Artist roam the country of the North, turning out pictures by the hundred yearly, but none come to glean the treasures with which grand and beautiful country of the South and its peculiar life abound.” The reason many artists stayed away was that throughout the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth, the region’s poor roads, widely scattered population, and almost entirely agricultural economy Read more »

Hell And The Survivor

A Union soldier had a better statistical chance of living through the Battle of Gettysburg than of surviving the prisoner-of-war camp called Andersonville. But Charles Hopkins did it and left this never-before-published record.

On June 4, 1861, at the age of seventeen, Charles Ferren Hopkins enlisted in Company I, First New Jersey Volunteers. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Games’ Mill, Virginia, and again at the Battle of the Wilderness, where he was captured and sent to the notorious prison camp, Andersonville, in Georgia. Many years afterward, he wrote a vivid account of his experiences. This article has been adapted from his original document, which runs to over one hundred and thirty typewritten pages, and which was given to us by his grandson, Gerald Hopkins. Read more »

Captain Newcomb And The Frail Sisterhood

Original documents tell the story of a Civil War steamboat captains sorrowful cruise with the most destructive cargo of all

By the summer of 1863 the Western rivers were no longer battlegrounds but supply lines for the Union Army. With the fall of Vicksburg on the Mississippi, Lincoln wrote, “the Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.” Captain John M. Newcomb, however, was far from unvexed; federal authorities had some very trying plans in store for him and his brand-new steamer, the Idahoe.

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