Tag Archives: Civil War
The bombardment of Fort Sumter

The Outbreak of War at Fort Sumter

The news item below relates the events of January 11, 1861, as America plunged headlong into a cataclysmic Civil War. No event directly affected a greater proportion of the nation’s population: about 10% of Americans fought in the war and more than 700,000 sacrificed their lives. The country continues to struggle with the issues of race, civil rights, the politics of federalism and the heritage that are legacies of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The Civil War, Part I: A Newspaper Perspective contains major articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

Coverage begins with the events preceding the outbreak of war at Fort Sumter, continues through the surrender at Appomattox and concludes with the assassination and funeral of Abraham Lincoln. Included are descriptive news articles, eye-witness accounts and official reports of battles and events, editorials, advertisements and biographies.

Our Situation – What Has Transpired in the Last Twenty four Hours.

Intelligence has reached us within the last twenty four hours of events transpiring in various quarters of the country pregnant with the most alarming symptoms of impending danger, which seem to be momentarily hurrying us towards inevitable civil war.

The news published in the morning papers yesterday that the steamship Star of the West, with United States troops for Fort  Sumter, had been fired into by the South Carolina State militia at Morris Island, and was compelled to put out to sea, created the most intense excitement all over the city, until, at a late hour, it was announced by the bulletins at the newspaper offices that Mrs. McGowen, the wife of the commander of the steamer, had received a dispatch from her husband stating that the Star of the West had arrived at Charleston, and that the troops were landed at the fort. Then the most buoyant feeling was manifested everywhere, and people began to feel that a terrible calamity had been averted.

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.


Reunion at New Bedford, Mass., Aug. 9, 1892

A Look inside History of the Fifth Massachusetts Battery

This 1902 volume, Fifth Massachusetts Battery: Organized October 3, 1861, mustered out June 12, 1865 by Luther Cowles is in Part VI of our Civil War Collection, Northeast Regimental Histories.


In submitting these pages to the general public, made doubly and more profoundly critical by new opportunities for observation, furnished by the recent war with Spain, we are aware that our most appreciative readers will be found among the daily diminishing ranks of our comrades and their circle of friends whose memories reach back to the period of which it treats, — forty years ago.

It is not without some feeling of complacence that we have reviewed these records of the endurance of hardships, which, in the inexperience of early youth, we accepted as the inevitable, and carelessly turned into jest as the easiest and quickest way of getting over the misfortunes of war, and we have closely followed the trials to which were submitted those innate impulses of courage inspired by patriotism, that found us all ready to mount at the call of “Boots and Saddles,” and, harnessing our impatience to the wheels of the grumbling cannon and caissons, to seek the field wherever, whenever and howsoever we were directed.

To our aid in this work we have called the sister of a soldier of the 18th Massachusetts Regiment Infantry, who has brought to her task that which is considered indispensable in the historian of a distant period, “the familiarized knowledge of many years.” Her impressions do not all come at second hand. They are the product of memories transplanted from a living past, to assist in the selection of scenes in camp, on the march, and in the field, and to present them in a form of ready reference for the use of its members and their descendants for all time, to bear witness to the labors, sacrifices and achievements of the 5th Massachusetts Battery, Light Artillery.

Part VI of our Civil War collection, Northeast Regimental Histories, offers unique perspectives on the Civil War. The best include both a narrative of the regiment’s service and anecdotal material by the soldiers, and often are filled with photos of unit members, portraits, maps and additional illustrations.



“All Quiet Along the Potomac”

The Civil War era is considered by many to be a watershed in American literary history. People on both sides of the conflict read the sensational news reports from the front lines, composed a variety of “patriotic” poems and songs, and fiction continued to be churned out by writers of the day. The literature of the war helped soldiers and civilians make sense of the conflict, particularly the death and destruction wrought by both sides.

Early in the war, Washington, D.C. feared Southern invasion following the disastrous Union route at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas). One such poem that captured this fear and spoke of the seemingly senseless violence was released to the press on November 30, 1861 – “The Picket Guard,” also known as “All Quiet Along the Potomac.” Originally attributed to “E.B.”, this poem was written by an accomplished Unionist woman poet, Ethel Lynn Beers. Over the course of the next few months many newspapers in the North and the South reprinted the poem for their readers.

The poem was based on the newspaper reporting of General George McClellan’s official telegrams to the War Department stating “all is quiet tonight” and the brief notice of the death of a Union sentry by a Southern sharpshooter.

Interestingly, “All Quiet Along the Potomac” was set to music by songwriter John Hill Hewitt, who was serving in the Confederate army, in 1863. Check out the  musical version by 97th Regimental String Band.


OG-Memoirs of Robert E. Lee 5

Book Update: Memoirs of Robert E. Lee

Memoirs of Robert E. Lee his Military and Personal History Embracing a Large Amount of Information Hitherto Unpublished by A.L. Long, a former military secretary to General Lee, was published in 1887 by J. M. Stoddart & Company.  This volume’s full text is searchable by Accessible Archives subscribers. It can be found in our The Civil War Part III. The Generals Perspective.

Dedicated to the Disabled Confederate Soldiers:

The gallant men with whom he has a right to sympathize, the author respectfully dedicates the following pages.

A.L. Long,
Charlottesville, Virginia

Dedication: Memoirs of Robert E. Lee

Dedication: Memoirs of Robert E. Lee


To overcome the inactivity to which loss of sight has for some years subjected me, I have sought occupation in recording the recollection of familiar events. Having obtained a slate prepared for the use of the blind, I soon learned to write with a moderate degree of legibility. In order to excite a pleasing interest in my work, I undertook something that might prove of future benefit. Having served on General Lee’s personal staff during the most important period of his military career, I began an eye-witness narrative of his campaigns in the war between the States. In the execution of my work I received valuable assistance from my wife and daughter, my two sons, and Miss Lucy Shackelford (now Mrs. Charles Walker), all of whom lovingly and faithfully served me as copyists and readers. I am also indebted to Colonel C. S. Venable of General Lee’s staff, Major Green Peyton of Rodes’s staff, and Major S. V. Southall of my own staff, for indispensable aid in reviewing my manuscript, informing me of facts that had not come to my knowledge or reminding me of such as had escaped my recollection. My work is now completed, and I offer it to the public, hoping it may prove of value as a record of events which passed under my own observation, and many of which have been described directly from my notes made at the time of their occurrence. It is not intended to be a history of the war in detail, but a statement of my personal knowledge of General Lee’s life, actions, and character, and of the part played by him in the great events of which he was the ruling spirit.

After receiving my manuscript the publishers desired a change of plan which would embrace some of the interesting social and domestic features of General Lee’s life. This part of the work has been edited and conducted through an arrangement with the publishers by General Marcus J. Wright, formerly of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, but now, and for some years past, agent of the United States War Department for the collection of Confederate records. My wife has rendered important aid in this part of the work by contributing personal incidents and other valuable material obtained through her friendly relations with the family of General Lee. It is also proper to acknowledge the use of the publications of Rev. J. W. Jones, Colonel Walter H. Taylor, Miss Emily Mason, the Southern Historical Society papers, Swinton, and the Report of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War (Federal). I have had occasion to refer to the Memoirs of General Grant and The Campaigns of General J. E. B. Stuart, by Major H. B. McClellan. I have been greatly encouraged in the publication of this work by the cordial concurrence of General G. W. Custis Lee, General W. H. F. Lee, Major R. E. Lee, Miss Mildred Lee, Governor Fitz Lee, and other members of the family.

I further desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to Colonel R. N. Scott, U. S. A., for opportunity afforded me at the War Records Office of studying official reports, maps, and the confidential letter-books of General Lee, relating to the events described in the present volume, many of which have never hitherto been published, and which will prove of great value and interest both in rightly understanding military operations and in estimating the character and genius of that great soldier.

A.L. Long


Lieutenant Samuel K. Thompson of Co. C, 54th U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment with unidentified soldiers posed with a Columbiad cannon at an earthwork fort. (1863)

Reception of the Colored Soldiers at Harrisburg

Harrisburg, Nov. 14.

This is a day that will long be remembered by the colored people of the State of Pennsylvania. In view of the large number of colored soldiers who are coming home, many of whom pass through this city, it was determined by the colored people of this city that they should have a fitting reception accorded to them. A committee was at once organized, and Mr. George E. Stevens, one of the original members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, who was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant for bravery at Fort Wagner, was selected to carry the arrangements into execution.

All last evening the streets were fairly alive with the soldiers, and their friends, but there was not the slightest confusion, and nowhere was there to be seen any insubordination. They remembered that all were looking upon them, and conducted themselves in a worthy manner.

Simon Cameron

Simon Cameron

But today was the great epoch. At nine o’clock the procession began to form on State street, north of the Capitol, and by ten o’clock the column was in motion. T. Morris Chester, of this city, acted as chief marshal assisted by a number of aids. They then passed through a number of streets to the residence of General Simon Cameron on Front Street. The line was drawn up in front of his house, when the old patriot appeared and was received with all the honors. He then spoke as follows:

I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking the African soldiers for the compliment they have paid ate, hat more than all to thank them for the great service which they have been to their country in the terrible rebellion. I never doubted that the people of African descent would play a great part in this struggle, and I am proud to My that all my anticipations have been more than realized. Your services offered in the early part of the war, were refused; but when the struggle became one of life and death, then the country gladly received you, and. thank God, you nobly redeemed all you promised. [Applause.]

Like all other men, you have your destinies in your own hands, and if you continue to conduct yourselves hereafter as you have in this struggle, you will have all the rights you ask for, alt the rights that belong to human beings. [Applause] I can, only say again that I thank you from my heart for all that you have done for your country, and I know the country will hold you in grateful remembrance.

I cannot close without saying that there is at the head of the National Government a greet man, who is able and determined to deal justly with all. I know that with his approval, no State that was in rebellion will be allowed to return to the benefits of the Union, without Brat having a constitutional compact which will prevent slavery in the hind for all time to come; which will make all men equal before the law; which will prescribe no distinction of color on the witness-stand. and in the jury-box; and which will protect the homes and the domestic relations of all men and all women. He will insist too on the repudiation of all debts contracted for the support of the war of the rebellion. Remember, when the war began, there were 4.000,000 of slaves in this country, protected by law. Now all men are made free by the law. Thank God for all this! for He alone has accomplished the work!

William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator was a weekly abolitionist newspaper published in Boston. The paper held true to the founder’s ideals. Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists.