Many accounts by Civil War veterans, both postwar and contemporary, contain errors, omissions, and outright fabrications driven by dynamics that range from simple memory lapses to protecting or enlarging reputations. One such case involves the participation of the Chesapeake Artillery (4th Maryland Light Artillery, CSA) in the battle of Sharpsburg, called Antietam by the Federals. Numerous postwar and even contemporary accounts, including the battery’s most oft-cited contemporary unit history as well as that of at least one modern historian, place the Chesapeake on the field during the battle of September 17, 1862. However, a careful examination of the contemporary historical record clearly indicates that the company was miles away from the fighting that day.Read More
September 17th, 1862 would captivate the nation; indeed, the fighting along Antietam Creek in rural Maryland may have been the most important day of the American Civil War. Yet one regiment of the Union Army was instead focused on what was happening on a small river in western Virginia.Read More
"No you dare not make war on cotton. No power on earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is king!" -South Carolina Senator James Hammond
To a certain extent, the Confederacy's foreign policy can be summed up by the bold words of James Hammond above. As my previous posts have examined examined possible reasons for British intervention in the Civil War and Union efforts to prevent such an intervention, it is time to turn our eyes South and explore Confederate foreign policy with Great Britain. The Confederacy built much of its policy around "King Cotton," and the result was a foreign policy more disastrous than many could imagine.
In Civil Discourse's first ever roundtable question, we asked five of our writers a classic, yet undeniably important, question: what event most influenced the outcome of the Civil War? Our authors diverse answers (and non-answers!) may surprise you!Read More
Marching in column after column upon the enemy’s works, only to be mowed down and driven back—again to re-form and close up their broken ranks, and once again, with steady step to face the storm of death. And thus over and over again they repeated their noble, but alas, fruitless deeds of valor, until divisions assumed the proportions of brigades, brigades of regiments, and regiments ofttimes had but a handful of brave fellows left, with but one or two commissioned officers remaining able to lead. And so the tide of battle ebbed and flowed until generous night covered the blood-stained field with her sable mantle.Read More
Perhaps the most prominent of the monuments around Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam is not to a regiment who fought there, or indeed any fighting at all. It is a monument to coffee. Well, that and future president William McKinley.Read More