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.
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We periodically highlight content that has us thinking, arguing, reflecting, and learning.
Recently, our own Katie Thompson kicked off an exploration of the Civil War's "Great Locomotive Chase." You can catch up on her series by starting here:
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?
Within one hundred miles of Ft. Monroe, the catalyst for military emancipation under the command of Benjamin Butler, military operations along the coast of Virginia bled into North Carolina’s Outer Banks and had lasting implications for its seemingly small population. Within this militarily and geographically dynamic area, Richard Etheridge would make a name for himself both as an advocate for Civil Rights and leader of the freedman’s population along the coast.
In terms of civic expressions of patriotism, few ceremonies are more quintessential than the Memorial Day Parade. Although the holiday honors those who fell in the service of the nation, veterans have always had a pivotal role in public expressions and observances. Veterans of the Civil War continued to participate in Memorial Day Parades well into the twentieth century, but as the years waned on, their role in these exercises began to change. By the 1930s, Civil War veterans were largely viewed by the public as curiosities or living memorials, their experience a lesson that Americans could draw upon for modern issues.