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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The Best Girl Scout Of The Mall

How Juliette “Daisy” Low, an unwanted child, a miserable wife, a lonely widow, finally found happiness as the founder of the Girl Scouts of America

In 1911 Juliette “Daisy” Low taught her first seven female Girl Guides to raise chickens and to spin wool. Now their 2,500,000 descendants, called Scouts, can learn to change the washer on a faucet, rewire a lamp, style hair, take a photograph, clean and set the gap on a lawn-mower spark plug, or recaulk a window. They learn to “relate to others,” participate in groups in a “personalized way,” and “work through tensions.” Gone is the loyal, honorable, obedient, thrifty, pure, courteous friend to all and to animals.Read more »

Old Ring

In the portfolio of Civil War photographs that ran in our June/July 1981 issue, we identified Colonel Joseph Plympton, on page 50, as a Northerner—which was true enough. What wasn’t true was the implication that he’d served in the Civil War. Colonel Jack Rudolph, who wrote the article on Yorktown which we ran in the October/November issue and who knows his military history, tells us that Colonel Plympton “didn’t have anything to do with the Civil War, having died in June, 1860.” Read more »

Between The Battles

Far from home and in the face of every kind of privation, the Civil War soldier did his best to re-create the world he left behind him

The men North and South who went for soldiers in the hectic spring of 1861 tended to think of war as being all marching and fighting. But it soon became clear to these recruits that for every day on the firing line, they could expect to spend fifty in camp. Perhaps the ultimate mark of the true veteran was a canny ability to make himself comfortable in the harshest surroundings.Read more »

A Postage Stamp History Of The U.S. In The Twentieth Century

Here is the federal government’s own picture history of our times—and it tells us more than you might think

FEW ARE AWARE of a major publishing project that has been sponsored by the federal government and some of our leading citizens over the past eight decades. It is a lavishly illustrated history of the United States in our times and it comes in parts—on postage stamps, to be precise. The story it tells may say as much about how we see ourselves as about what we’ve done since 1900. Read more »

Shadows Of The Storm

A haunting portfolio of newly discovered Civil War photographs

Shortly after the turn of the century, the historian Francis Trevelyan Miller began writing collectors, photographers, historical societies, and retired military men asking for photographs of the Civil War. In many cases he asked too late; a Mr. Bender, for instance, who owned over one hundred thousand glass plate negatives, had scraped the images off them in order to sell the glass to gauge makers.Read more »

A Bulwark Against Mighty Woes

The Hundredth Anniversary of the American Red Cross


The Red Cross “shall constitute a bulwark against the mighty woes sure to come sooner or later to all people and all nations,” said Clara Barton in 1904, toward the end of her stewardship of the durable institution she had organized in 1881.Read more »

“rocked In The Cradle Of Consternation”

A black chaplain in the Union Army reports on the struggle to take Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in the winter of 1864–65

Hold Fort Fisher or I cannot subsist my army.” So wrote General Robert E. Lee in the waning days of 1864 as he watched one Confederate seaport after another fall to the Union armies. Fort Fisher, the strongest fortification yet built in North America, guarded the approach to Wilmington, Norht Carolina, the last haven of blockade-running supply ships and Lee’s major supply depot. As the noose closed around Lee’s army in Virginia, General Ulysses S.Read more »