How essential were the roles of women on the home front?

The Winter 2017 issue of Military Images has an excellent article on “Women on the Home Front: Their essential roles during the Civil War,” by Juanita Leisch Jensen. The article is liberally sprinkled with high resolution version of some 29 separate images of women, their husbands, children, or family.  Each image has a nice annotation explaining what the image emotes according to Jensen.

To learn more about this fantastic magazine: Ron Coddington | Publisher of Military Images Magazine

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How do deaths in the Civil War compare to all other American wars?

The scale of death that was wrought by the Civil War, the first modern war, is hard to fathom.

Number of deaths per day in the Civil War: 425

Deaths in ten days: 4,250

In comparison, we lost four thousand soldiers in the recent long (13 years) Iraq-Afghanistan war. The Civil War saw that many deaths in just ten weeks.

The Revolutionary War lasted eight years, resulting in sixteen thousand deaths. In comparison, the Civil War saw that many deaths in an average five-week span.

Source: Civil War Trust infographic

What are the top ten most visited Civil War sites?

According to the National Park Service here are the top ten, in order, by annual visitors:
Kennesaw Mountain | 2.4 mil visitors
Gettysburg | 1.1 mil
Chickamauga/Chattanooga | 1 mil
Fredericksburg | 969,000
Fort Sumter | 888,000
Ford’s Theatre | 650,000
Manassas Battlefield | 534,000
Vicksburg | 508,000
Shiloh | 421,000
Antiteam | 351,000

What do you think of this list? Does anything surprise you? Have you seen them all?

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Spotsylvania Court House fighting ends . . .

The NPS summary for Spotsylvania: “After the Wilderness, Grant’s and Meade’s advance on Richmond by the left flank was stalled at Spotsylvania Court House on May 8. This two-week battle was a series of combats along the Spotsylvania front. The Union attack against the Bloody Angle at dawn, May 12-13, captured nearly a division of Lee’s army and came near to cutting the Confederate army in half. Confederate counterattacks plugged the gap, and fighting continued unabated for nearly 20 hours in what may well have been the most ferociously sustained combat of the Civil War. On May 19, a Confederate attempt to turn the Union right flank at Harris Farm was beaten back with severe casualties. Union generals Sedgwick (VI Corps commander) and Rice were killed. Confederate generals Johnson and Steuart were captured, Daniel and Perrin mortally wounded. On May 21, Grant disengaged and continued his advance on Richmond.”

Here are some pictures of soldiers who fought in the battle, from an exhibition display in the visitor’s center.

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This day in 1862 one of the greatest escapes in the Civil War took place

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, also a slave, who had learned how to pilot and navigate the coastal waterways around Charleston. Smalls was eventually handsomely rewarded with bounty-money. Lincoln also allowed Admiral DuPont to offer Smalls the position of Captain of the Planter, though an official commission was not permitted at the time. Nonetheless, Robert Smalls became the first black Captain of a U.S. Naval vessel.

Three months later Smalls would visit Abraham Lincoln in the White House 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.

Join the Robert Smalls Facebook Group

Smalls would go on to pilot the Planter for the Union cause and take place 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’ story is an amazing one of courage, determination, sacrifice, risk and reward – from slavery to Congressman!

Charleston celebrated the amazing feat on the 150th anniversary with several community engagements. 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.


A new book has just been published on Robert Smalls titled, Be Free or Die: The amazing story of Robert Smalls’ escape from slavery to Union hero, by Cate Lineberry. Order from Amazon.

Facing death rather than enslavement—a story of one man’s triumphant choice and ultimate rise to national hero

It was a mild May morning in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1862, the second year of the Civil War, when a twenty-three-year-old slave named Robert Smalls did the unthinkable and boldly seized a Confederate steamer. With his wife and two young children hidden on board, Smalls and a small crew ran a gauntlet of heavily armed fortifications in Charleston Harbor and delivered the valuable vessel and the massive guns it carried to nearby Union forces. To be unsuccessful was a death sentence for all. Smalls’ courageous and ingenious act freed him and his family from slavery and immediately made him a Union hero while simultaneously challenging much of the country’s view of what African Americans were willing to do to gain their freedom.

After his escape, Smalls served in numerous naval campaigns off Charleston as a civilian boat pilot and eventually became the first black captain of an Army ship. In a particularly poignant moment Smalls even bought the home that he and his mother had once served in as house slaves.

Be Free or Die is a compelling narrative that illuminates Robert Smalls’ amazing journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman. This captivating tale of a valuable figure in American history gives fascinating insight into the country’s first efforts to help newly freed slaves while also illustrating the many struggles and achievements of African Americans during the Civil War.

Gen J.E.B. Stuart dies from his mortal wounds at Yellow Tavern, on May 12, 1864

“The Battle of Yellow Tavern was fought on May 11, 1864, at a vital crossroads in Henrico County, only six miles north of the Confederate capital of Richmond during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Part of Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign in the spring of 1864, the cavalry battle resulted from Philip H. Sheridan’s quest to track down the famous Confederate trooper J. E. B. Stuart and “whip” him. Stuart, like Robert E. Lee, preferred to be on the offensive and immediately set out after Sheridan, but by the time he caught up with him at an inn called Yellow Tavern, his outnumbered force was hard-ridden and tired. The Confederate cavalry fought hard for a full day, and as Stuart rode up and down the front lines in the driving rain to rally his men, a Michigan sharpshooter shot the general in the side. Fitzhugh Lee then took command, but was forced to withdraw. Stuart died the next day . . .”

Text excerpted above and full article from The Encyclopedia of Virginia

See this article by The Civil War Trust too.

Yellow Tavern Illustration

An artist’s rendering of the Battle of Yellow Tavern depicts the opposing forces engaged on horseback. While much of the fighting along the Telegraph Road between Lomax and Merritt was dismounted, the climax of the battle prior to Stuart’s wounding was characterized by mounted charges and counter-charges.

Manufacturing comparison between North & South in 1860?

The North had about 101,000 factories in 1860, compared to the South’s 21,000. The border states had 9,000.

There were just over 1.1 million factory workers in the Northern factories, while the South had just ten percent of that; 111,000 factory workers. 70,000 factory workers lived in the border states.

There was 20,000 miles of railroad in the North and 9,000 in the South.

The four largest-revenue producing northern railroads on average operated 80% more track miles and generated 80% more revenue per mile than the four largest southern railroads in 1860.  Railroads of the Civil War, Clark, p. 12.

Source: National Park Service (InfoGraphic only)