Hay and Nico in the Library »

One last post devoted to my favorite secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, and then I’ll move onto other topics! The secretaries spent years compiling an official history of the Lincoln administration: Abraham Lincoln: A History – volume I Abraham Lincoln: A History – volume II In addition, John Hay’s diaries provided more details of […]

War Is Hell, but Kissing is Great »

I found this absolutely delightful anecdote in John F. Marszalek’s Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order – a biography which looks pretty damn great based on a quick flip through. “Some time after Grant was elected President I went to call on him at the White House. I had been struck with the number and speed […]

Free Book: Atlanta, by Jacob Dolson Cox »

I went looking for this book after another rewatching of the Ken Burns series. Cox’s writing is used throughout, and for good reason; he was a thoughtful, observant, and effective reporter of the events surrounding him.  Sadly, the four versions available for free have plenty of OCR mistakes (“Richmond” seems to be unreadable to every […]

Free Book: Intimate Character Sketches of Abraham Lincoln »

Some of the quotes from the Lincoln article I posted originate in this book. I haven’t posted any free e-books in a while, so the timing is right to link to this one. I particularly loved the sensitivity of this anecdote. Lincoln’s hands have been an historical fascination since his election. I imagine his gentle […]

General Sherman is a Hog! »

In yesterday’s post on Bunny Breckinridge, I mentioned his great-grandpa’s fury at Sherman’s whiskey-based neglect. It’s a great story, and I’ve copy-pasted a version here. It’s taken from the memoirs of John S. Wise, son of the Virginia governor Henry A. Wise. Through him Wise Jr. had apparently told him by Joe Johnston – the […]

A True Story »

I’m filing this under “memoirs”, regardless of the fact that it’s a Twain piece. Despite the huge coincidence at the crux of it, huge coincidences weren’t unusual in the war, and anyways it certainly feels real. You almost feel as though you’re sitting on the porch with Aunt Rachael as she tells it. “Aunt Rachel, […]

One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry »

I tried a search for “best Civil War memoirs” (listing “Grant” and “Watkins” as qualifiers for quality), and one Amazon list suggested John H. Worsham’s narrative. Found it on DocSouth, and a quick flip through reveals some very entertaining anecdotes, and a sense of irreverence amidst the hard marching and the terrible battles. We went […]

The Telegraph: A Series of Wires »

Another fine Disunion piece, this one on the importance of the telegraph in disseminating war news to the nation. There is plenty of documentation of Lincoln’s time spent in the Telegraph Office, but I hadn’t realised the genesis nor the explanation for this habit. We have McClellan to thank for the many anecdotes relayed (ahem […]

Canada – Rogue State »

Well, while we could never really be considered any cog in an Axis of Evil, Canada did offer harbour (complete with extraneous “u”) to Confederate agents during the war years. http://www.cfhi.net/WilmingtonsWartimeCanadianConnection.phpthe site I mentioned yesterday details some of the efforts of the Confederate Secret Service, who coordinated cross-border activities during the conflict, including the St. […]

Frank Thompson »

A two-for-one posting: An interesting article that mentioned a memoir which I’ve added to the Library. A Canadian girl disguised herself as “Frank Thompson”, and joined the Union Army. Given this description from the article, the memoirs will be quite the Victorian potboiler: How did Emma and 400 other male impersonators that served in the […]