The Destruction Of Fighting Joe Hooker

He told Lincoln he was better than any other officer on the field at Bull Run and got the Army’s top job. He built a beaten force into a proud one and stole a march on Robert E. Lee with it. He was twenty-four hours away from winning the Civil War. Then he fell apart.

“He sat in the full realization of all that soldiers dream of—triumph; and as I looked upon him in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and confidence in his army had won, 1 thought that it must have been from such a scene that men in ancient times rose to the dignity of gods.” Read more »

The First Kansas Colored

They were the first black men to fight in the Civil War. They were the first to serve alongside whites. And they were the first to die.

I had long been of the opinion that this race had a right to kill rebels.” Col. James M. Williams, commander of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, always spoke, said a contemporary, as though he were “grinding his molars or gritting his teeth.” His regiment of escaped black slaves had been the first organized into service for the United States government, and he was determined that it give a good account of itself. They had already been the first blacks in combat in the Civil War and the first to die serving the flag.Read more »

The Big Parade

Once the South was beaten, Eastern and Western
troops of the Union army resented each other so violently that some feared for the survival of the
victorious government. Then the tension
disappeared in one happy stroke that gave the
United States its grandest pageant—and General
Sherman the proudest moment of his life.

When the Civil War sputtered out early in May 1865, there were two huge Union armies within a few days’ march of Washington, D.C. One was the Army of the Potomac, winner of the war in the East, commanded by Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade. The other was the Army of the Tennessee, or the Western Army, the men who had marched through Georgia to the sea, commanded by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. What to do with these two very different bodies of men was a problem that vexed politicians in Washington. Read more »

The Rock Of Chickamauga

Lee. Grant. Jackson. Sherman. Thomas. Yes, George Henry Thomas belongs in that company. The trouble is that he and Grant never really got along.

Of all the great commanders in the Civil War, the most consistently underrated and overlooked is Gen. George H. Thomas, the big Virginia cavalryman who fought for the Union. From January 1862 at Mill Springs, where he won the first major Federal victory of the war, through December 1864 at Nashville, where he destroyed the Army of Tennessee, Thomas never lost a battle when he was in command. 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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Ethics & Armaments


For an example of the way an incident of the distant past can put a revealing light on a problem of today, you might care to spend a moment considering the case of the Swamp Angel. Read more »

Garibaldi And Lincoln

Would the great fighter come over for the Union? Italian freedom and lead troops Lincoln hoped so

In the summer of 1861, when the newspaper generals in New York clamored for a clash of arms to put down the Confederate rebellion, the battle and the recriminations came sooner than expected. The people of Washington loaded up picnic baskets in buggies and carriages and drove across the bridges of the Potomac to watch the fun. Under the southern sunlight the sabers of the Union cavalry glistened, and the hope of a quick and punishing victory was in the smoking air.Read more »

Asa Smith Leaves The War

Edited and with an introduction

In the summer of 1861 a twenty-five-year-old resident of Natick, Massachusetts, by the name of Asa Smith set out to join the Union Army. It was not very easy to do this, because all the companies around Natick seemed to be full; eventually, on July 2, Smith managed to get into a company being raised at Watertown, and this company became part of the l6th Massachusetts Infantry.Read more »

“I Have Been Basely Murdered”

So spoke the Union general a few minutes after he was shot in the crowded lobby of a hotel in Louisville. His killer, a fellow general and subordinate, never regretted the deed—and never paid for it


He was a sallow man with a bushy beard, and his subordinates said that he seemed to be haunted, somehow. He was a brigadier general of volunteers in the United States Army, a major general by brevet, commander of an army corps to the satisfaction of a taskmaster as exacting as William Tecumseh Sherman: a successful soldier, of proven valor under fire, liked by his troops. Only two things were wrong.

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