Forty Acres and a Mule »

Sherman’s famous field order is one of the war’s great what-ifs.  A terrific idea nixed by a man who can only be described as the anti-Lincoln.  Reconstruction in microcosm. Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau shortly after Sherman’s Field Order No. 15 demanded the redistribution of land to former slaves. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created to […]

It’s Heeeeere! »

I’m in under the wire of my deadline, but I can proudly say I’ve checked a resolution off my list already: The first ever Civil War Podcast is ready to go! (Take that, 2013!) To marvel at my lucid writing and dulcet tones (I know, I know – I am an admitted amateur!) click the […]

Stevens’ Wit »

I’m rehashing the Thaddeus Stevens links I shilled earlier on the blog, but fans of Lincoln’s wit will enjoy this particular article.  Lincoln wasn’t the only one in his day with a sharp tongue. When he served as a lawyer in Gettysburg, Stevens greeted an adverse judicial decision by shuffling papers and grumbling loudly. The […]

Thaddeus Stevens on Screen »

Thaddeus Stevens is one of those names of which I know a fair bit, but whose image is always a surprise to me. I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup, but his onscreen portrayer, Tommy Lee Jones’ wig anecdote might help in future. “All I knew of Thaddeus Stevens was what […]

The Lincoln Letters »

Another week, another discovery of a trove of historical letters. This time, though, the collection is a doozy: The letters of Leonard Swett, one of Lincoln’s closest advisors.  Here’s an excerpt of the article, detailing some of the treasures within (and a great summary by one of the preservationists!) Rose Burnham’s scrapbooks held several letters […]

New Seward Biography »

There’s a new biography of William H. Seward, and it sounds excellent. Seward is presented in a heroic trajectory from snooty jerk to warm, winning statesman. Much as Team of Rivals gave an extensive biography of Seward to the night of his assassination, Kearns Goodwin ends his story with the death of Lincoln. I’m looking […]

The Lincoln Douglas Chats »

Appleton veterinarian E.H. Graves lived in Illinois in 1858 and later claimed he drove Lincoln and Douglas between two of the debates: "Douglas was short, round, dressed in broadcloth and wore a silk hat. … Lincoln was tall, raw-boned and awkward. … He and Douglas would tell stories and chaff each other. They were the […]

Learning Something New Every Day »

Relistening to my Shelby Foote audiobooks, I realised he had, in fact, covered this surprising fact, but it suffered in my memory for being presented amidst the guns and guts narrative of the Overland Campaign. Recognizing the importance of the War Democrats, the Republican Party changed its name for the national ticket in the 1864 […]

Geopolitics (Microcosm Edition) »

I was just looking up some info on Samuel Tilden, the winner of 1876’s election.  (Just as Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet, he also didn’t invent losing an election despite winning a popular vote.)  Wikipedia lists this neat little tidbit: There is a Tilden Street in an area of Wichita Falls, Texas, where the […]

Homesteady »

The Homestead Act is one of those Civil War consequences whose real intention has been lost in its legacy. We remember it for opening up the West to settlement, and for its effects on the Native Americans on the plains, whose displacement it began. What we tend to forget is that it was issued when […]