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Confederate Civil War reenactors at Franklin, April 2010.

Confederate Civil War reenactors at Franklin, April 2010. Photo credit:

Most historians agree that nearly 2,900 major actions, engagements and/or battles took place in Tennessee during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Only Virginia saw more significant action than Tennessee. About 187,000 Tennessee soldiers served in the Confederacy. There are 39 sites identified by CWSAC in Tennessee. Seven are major or Class A engagements: Shiloh, Fort Donelson, Franklin, Nashville, Stone’s River,  and Chattanooga. CivilWarTours.US leads tours to all seven of these sites. To learn more or to get on a battlefield tour waiting list visit this page.

TN battles

Though records for Confederate soldiers are more sparse than those for Union soldiers, we do have good data on the average soldier who fought for the Army of Northern Virginia (Lee’s army). About 800,000 men fought for the Confederacy. Most Confederate reenactors like the ones in this picture (from a Jackson, MI event in August 2014) tend to be older and more plump.  The average Rebel was abut 5’7″ and 145 pounds.

148 Rebs

Source: The Civil War Monitor (2015)

Average age: 25

Birth origin: 96.6% born in U.S.

Of those, only 4% born in the north.

Foreign born: 3.4%

Marital status: 62.5% single, 37.5% married

Of those married, 31.2% had children at home.

Economic class:

Lower: 41.7%
(Less than $799 in combined assets)

Middle: 22.8%
(Assets between $800-$3999)

Upper: 35.5%
(Assets $4000 or more)

Prewar Occupations:

Farmers: 53.7%

Students: 13.8%

Unskilled workers: 13.2%

Professionals: 10.2%
(Teachers for example)

Skilled workers: 9.2%


Personally owned slaves: 13%

Resided in slaveholding households: 44.4%

Check out the Civil War battlefield tours CivilWarTours.US is hosting this year.

Check out the Civil War battlefield tours CivilWarTours.US is hosting this year.

Heritage Auction has a really poignant artifact for sale for their December Internet auction.  This Bible was carried by a soldier at Sailor’s Creek.

Kentucky was a border state during the American Civil War and one of the northern-most “Confederate Heartland” states as well.  The Confederate Heartland (i.e., Western Theater) is noted by modern historians as that portion of “the vast region south of the Ohio River and between the Appalchian Mountains on the east and the Mississippi River on the west (McMurry).”

The most northern portion of the Confederate Heartland would most significantly be the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. Whomever controlled that northern portion would be in a great position to also control the entire Confederate heartland.

By early 1862 the Union held firm control over Kentucky and Tennessee.  Nashville capitualted in Feb 1862 without a shot being fired.  What did this result in? By gaining control of the northern heartland Kentucky was not likely to ever secede and the capture and occupation of Nashville – from early 1862 onward – meant that the Confederate states would be deprived of the:

“South’s great horse countrymost of the Volunteer State’s raw materials (notably iron and copper), its significant industrial capacity, its railroads. and its great agricultural production (McMurry, May 2012 issue (Vol 14 #1) of North and South Magazine,  ”From the West . . . Where the War Was Decided.”

Also see: Sister States, Enemy States : The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee. Kent Dollar, ed. Univ of Kentucky Press, 2011.

Robert Smalls (1839 – 1915) was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5th, 1839, in a slave cabin behind his mother’s master’s house on 511 Prince Street. In 1862 he escaped from Charleston harbor aboard a steamer called the Planter with his family and several friends too. The boat had to pass by five Confederate check-points and then surrender its contents to the northern Naval fleet out in the harbor where it was blockading the important southern port.

His escape succeeded and Robert would meet Abraham Lincoln personally a couple weeks later. Lincoln was quite impressed with a black man (slave) who had learned how to pilot and navigate the coastal waterways around Charleston. Lincoln rewarded Smalls handsomely with bounty-money and a commission into the Union Navy as a captain of a vessel – the Planter! He was the first black Captain of a U.S. Naval vessel.

Three months later Smalls would visit Abraham Lincoln in the Whitehouse to plead the opportunity for blacks to fight for the Union. Just days afterwards Lincoln approved the raising of the first black troops in the Blue uniform and Robert Smalls was instrumental in helping to start the 1st South Carolina Infantry of U.S. Colored Troops.

Smalls would go on to pilot the Planter for the Union cause and take pace in several important engagements around Charleston and the Sea Islands. After the Civil War he was elected among a few other blacks as they became the freshman class of blacks to serve as U.S. Congressmen.

Robert Smalls’s story is an amazing one of courage, determination, sacrifice, risk and reward – from slavery to Congressman!

Charleston is celebrating the amazing feat with several community engagements this weekend. Read these articles:

See my visual guide to Robert Smalls and Beaufort

25+ pages of news coverage of the 150th Anniversary weekend in one PDF here.


The Life and Legacy of Robert Smalls of South Carolina’s Sea Islands

This book tells the story of the life of Robert Smalls, an enslaved African American, born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1839. During and after the American Civil War, he became a ship’s pilot, a sea captain, and a politician. He freed himself and his family from slavery and was instrumental in the creation of South Carolina’s public school system. He wrote in 1895, “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”

This item is proudly printed in the USA. Text by Lu Ann Jones and Robert K. Sutton, published by Eastern National, 48 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59091-117-4.


Just $5.95  Order here

Stonewall’s mapmaker – Jed Hotchkiss – spoke poignantly when he said,

He is gone and sleeps in the Valley he loved so much. We miss him all the time & a void is made here which time can hardly fill.

Almost 150 years later, that void is still largely felt by North and South alike.

ABC-CLIO has recently released a new reference work entitled American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide, hardback, 2011.  It will surely suffice for smaller libraries that have no single volume reference on the American Civil War. However, it is hardly “The” Essential Reference Guide.  A more appropriate titel would simple be “An Essential Reference Guide.”

But for the role it fills in the Civil War domain of reference it is a very fine work built upon the solid writing and work of 37 scholars, of whom about one-third are independent. The publisher was smart to secure esteemed historian Steven E. Woodworth as a lead writer. His essay contributions include valuable treatments on an Overview of the ACW, Causes of the ACW, Consequences of the ACW, and Leadership in the ACW.

The single tome is edited by James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener. It is 432 pages, includes five essays in the appendix, a useful 42 page timeline, and 20 additional primary resource documents (e.g., speeches).  It is in hardback and is 7 x 10 inches.  Retail is $85.00.   Black-n-white pictures and maps are relatively limited in quantity.  There is a solid print bibliography and index.

About 20% of the entries are devoted to specific battles or campaigns and roughly 30% of the entries are biographical in nature.  That leaves 50% of the content to be of a general nature, which one would expect of a simple reference guide.

The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference  is a much better single volume for larger libraries especially since its much cheaper ($16.50 on Amazon) and more extensive in its coverage.  American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide, is more suited to smaller school or public libraries.

Soldier lies dead from Petersburg campaign, 1865.

At least 620,000 soldiers lost their lives during the American Civil War (1861-1865), a period pretty close to exactly four years, or 1,470 days. Recently, historians have revised the number of those who died in the ACW to closer to 750,000, or an increase of 20% from the previously thought number.  This does not include the number wounded, captured, or missing.

Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history.

Working with those numbers we can say the following (on average):

  1. At least 500 soldiers lost their lives every single day during the Civil War. About 21 every hour, or one every three minutes.
  2. Every six days, the number of ACW killed was equivalent to the number of people who died on 911 in the Twin Towers. The ACW dead was equivalent to roughly 245 911’s.
  3. The typical battle in the Civil War saw about 1-2% of those engaged killed.
  4. The Battle of Franklin (30 Nov 1864) saw almost 2,000 killed in just five hours; that is equivalent to roughly 400 killed every hour for five straight hours.


  • A Statistical Analysis of the Major Battles During the American Civil War, by K. McNutt. See study.
  • Casualties” of the Battle of Franklin.  From the blog
  • The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. Drew Gilpin Faust.
  • This blogpost: “Casualties in the American Civil War,” The Civil War Gazette, April 19, 2012.

If you have not yet checked out the animated map of the Battle of Shiloh you’re in for a real treat. It raises the bar for animated battle maps.

Salisbury (north Carolina) had the highest mortality rate during the Civil War, at 33%. Next in order was Danville (32%),  Andersonville (29%), Elmira and (24%).
Source: Fall issue, The Civil War Monitor.

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About CWG

The Civil War Gazette (CWG) is published by Kraig McNutt, Director of The Center for the Study of the American Civil War. The CWG was first launched on to the World-wide Web in 1995.

The Civil War Gazette allows the first-hand participants - both common soldier and civilian - to tell the story of their experience of the Civil War from their perspective; through letters, diaries, newspapers articles, and other authentic first-hand accounts.

Many items posted to The Civil War Gazette often corresponds to the exact day the item was originally written during the Civil War. Think of The Civil War Gazette as the daily newspaper for all-things Civil War with accounts from those who experienced this great war as participants.

What can one find on the CWG?

  • Many original letters from soldiers, their loved ones, and excerpts from diaries and journals.
  • Excerpts and selections from period newspapers and popular print resources.
  • Poems and literary excerpts, many authored by the soldiers themselves.
  • Excerpts from original documents and Official Reports.
  • Authentic pictures. photos, drawings, sketches and artwork of Civil War soldiers, camps, battlefields, buildings, etc.
  • Book reviews, web site reviews, reviews of software, multimedia, pop culture resources like movies, documentaries and even music.
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