Quantrill’s Bones

Drawn to the story of the fearsome Confederate raider by a modern act of violence, the author finds a strange epic in the Rebel’s restless remains

At approximately 2:30 P.M. on October 30, 1992, two maintenance men lowered a white fiberglass child’s coffin into a shallow grave in the Fourth Street Cemetery, in Dover, Ohio. The coffin contained the skull of a Confederate guerrilla named William Clarke Quantrill. As a drizzling, cold rain fell, they filled in the grave, tamped down the dirt, covered it with sod, and then threw their shovels into the back of their truck and drove away.Read more »

The Fires Of Norfolk

At war’s outbreak a frightened commander was ready to give away the Union’s greatest navy yard

The calamity was already full blown when Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. South Carolina had left the Union three months back, and six states had followed her out. By early February a secessionist congress had convened in Montgomery, Alabama, declared a provisional government, and voted Jefferson Davis president of the Confederate States of America. Lincoln was facing the gravest presidential crisis in the nation’s history: the collapse of the Republic. Read more »

The South’s Inner Civil War

The more fiercely the Confederacy fought for its independence, the more bitterly divided it became. To fully understand the vast changes the war unleashed on the country, you must first understand the plight of the Southerners who didn’t want secession.

Americans tend to think of the Civil War as a titanic struggle between two regions of the country, one united in commitment to the Union, the other equally devoted to its own nationhood. Yet neither North nor South was truly unified. Lincoln was constantly beset by draft resistance, peace sentiment, and resentment of the immense economic changes unleashed by the war. Internal dissent was, if anything, even more widespread in the wartime South.Read more »

The Slaves Freed

PRESIDENT LINCOLN MOVES AT LAST
Influence of “Advanced Republicans” Seen as Crucial to the Outcome
THE UNION UNITED STILL
THE PRESIDENT’S TACT & COURAGE
HE WAITED ON THE PROPER HOUR
JUBILATION AMONG THE BLACKS
They Stand Ready to Defend With Arms the Rights Thus Gained
NEW LIGHT SHED ON THE PARTICULARS OF THE GREAT DRAMA

When the cold, fastidious Mississippian rose to speak, a hush fell over the crowded Senate chamber. It was January 21, 1861, and Jefferson Davis and four other senators from the Deep South were here this day to announce their resignations. Over the winter, five Southern states had seceded from the Union, contending that Abraham Lincoln’s election as President doomed the white man’s South, that Lincoln and his fellow Republicans were abolitionist fanatics out to eradicate slavery and plunge Dixie into racial chaos.Read more »

Stars And Bars And … Flags That Never Flew

It was easy enough for an excited and passionate South to pass secession resolutions in 1861—yet harder than it thought to get away from the Old Flag. When a committee to decide on a new banner met that February in Montgomery, Alabama, it was deluged with ideas, of which (in the larger pictures) we show six examples, together with extracts from the not always coherent arguments proposed by their designers. None of these suggestions made it, of course, and the fanciful ensigns disappeared into limbo until recently unearthed by Michael P.Read more »

The Vice President Flees

Branded a traitor by the government he once served, John C. Breckinridge ran a perilous race for freedom rather than risk capture by the North

The weather in the Straits of Florida was turbulent in June of 1865. Throughout that spring the Caribbean boiled from one storm after another, but this latest one was particularly severe. Ocean-going steamers delayed their departures because of it, yet, in its very center, six desperate men bailed and prayed in a sailboat barely seventeen feet long.Read more »

The End Of The Alabama

Captain Semmes was spoiling for a fight—and Winslow of the U.S.S. Kearsarge was waiting for him, just off Cherbourg

Early in 1864 the Confederate States Steamer Alabama left the Indian Ocean and headed for European waters. Her captain, Raphael Semme—tired, ill, and bad-tempered after almost three years commanding Confederate raiders noted in his journal on May 21: “Our bottom is in such a state that everything passes us. We are like a crippled hunter limping home from a long chase.” During almost two years at sea the Alabama had never been long enough in any port for a thorough overhaul of her hull, rigging, and engines.Read more »

“Mother, I Do Not Hate To Die”

A choice between life and honor is a fearful one for any man. Here is the unforgettable story of how it was made by a twenty-one-year-old Confederate private.

The dawn seemed reluctant to break through the dismal skies over middle Tennessee on November 27, 1863, and by ten o’clock the gray clouds had given way to rain. The drops fell on soldiers of the 81st Ohio Infantry drawn up around a gallows on Seminary Ridge, just outside the town of Pulaski, and on a slender youngster in gray seated on a coffin in an army wagon that rumbled toward the hollow square of troops.

Classmates Divided

On the eve of the Civil War differing loyalties sent some West Pointers north, others south, but their academy friendship survived the conflict.

It was just a century last summer since a tall, raw-boned Ohio farm boy stepped from the two o’clock boat to West Point’s South Dock. He shouldered his baggage and climbed the steep path to the plain.