At its core, Civil Discourse offers fresh and thought-provoking content via our blog, which delves into one of the richest and most significant eras in American history: the 19th-century.
Examining the era via a range of perspectives and lenses (political, cultural, social, gender, and military, among others), Civil Discourse invites you to read our thoughts and share your own.
While we at Civil Discourse strive to present a wide variety of topics and viewpoints, our content is ultimately a product of our own experiences. Learn more about Civil Discourse by checking out our mission statement and authors' bios.
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We periodically highlight content that has us thinking, arguing, reflecting, and learning.
Recently, Zac Cowsert explored the unfortunate circumstances of the death of Private Ludwig Salzwedel, his family's cover-up of Ludwig's true death back home, and the power and problems with competing narratives of history.
We all know the story of Joshua Chamberlain holding the left of the Union line at Gettysburg. But, did you know that a similar action occurred on the right of the Union line as well? Guest author Justin Voithofer gives us a look at David Ireland's 137th New York Infantry at Culp's Hill.
As the hot Kansas sun rose over the camp of the Ninth Wisconsin Infantry on June 17, 1862, the German immigrants who formed the bulk of the regiment were abuzz with the terrible news of last evening’s events. Rumors ran rife that a soldier in Company F killed himself during the night. And indeed, fifty-one year old Private Ludwig Salzwedel, a German immigrant to La Crosse, Wisconsin and the father of a family of five, had committed suicide that night.
While the Andrews Raid was a failure that resulted in the deaths of many of the participants, the Raiders went down in history in an additional way. Six of the raiders were the first men to ever receive the Medal of Honor.
Andrews was tried first on crimes of spying and treason, but the following trials were disrupted by Mitchel who continued to move towards Chattanooga. At the beginning of May, the Raiders were transferred to Madison for a period of time and then returned to Chattanooga. At the end of May, twelve of the Raiders were transported to Knoxville for trial. The same day, Andrews received the result of his trial, a death warrant for his execution on June 7.
The crew was sitting down to their breakfast when they heard the sounds of the engine and saw it start to pull away from the station. A local resident rode off toward Marietta, and the nearest telegraph, to alert authorities, but William Fuller knew the train would be long gone before the word went out. Fuller took off after the train on foot, followed by his engineer, Cain, and Anthony Murphy. The “Great Locomotive Chase” had begun.
While the story strays far from the original, Keaton and his collaborators based the film The General on a memoir written by William Pittenger entitled The Great Locomotive Chase. At times overshadowed by larger military events, the action Pittenger was involved in was one of the most daring and compelling stories of behind-the-lines action in the war. On April 12, 1862 twenty Union men who had snuck into Confederate territory stole The General and raced for Chattanooga, Tennessee, hoping to destroy railway and communication lines along the way. The end result was both exciting and devastating for those involved.
Ole Miss has been in the news several times in the last couple of years, dealing with its Civil War and Civil Rights legacy. In 2010, the university made headlines when they changed their school mascot away from one that highlighted its Confederate heritage. In 2014, an Ole Miss fraternity was shut down after students placed a noose on the statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll in the all-white school. Most recently, the university joined the Confederate flag debate when the students and faculty chose to remove the state flag, which includes Confederate symbols, from the campus.
The National Park Service is turning 100! All year long the NPS has promoted the "Find Your Park" movement to encourage people to visit and connect with the wide variety of parks under the NPS. We are encouraging our readers to find their favorite parks by promoting the centennial events of some of the Civil War parks. Be sure to visit and check out some of these events and celebrate the NPS Centennial!
Recently at the Society of Civil War Historians conference I was asked if any Civil War soldiers committed “suicide” by purposely placing themselves in harm’s way. Besides the question of whether the deaths of Confederate generals Hill and Garnett were such suicides, I recently found this interesting anecdote in Gregory A. Coco’s The Civil War Infantryman.
Should we consider Indian Territory a border state?