Tag Archives: The Civil War Collection
Women of the War-OG

Twelve Women of the Civil War

These are just a few of the women whose work and character are celebrated in Frank Moore’s 1867 book Women of the war; their heroism and self-sacrifice. The full text and illustrations from this book can be browsed or searched in The Civil War Collection: Part II: The Soldiers’ Perspective by Accessible Archives users.

From the Introduction

Mrs. Fanny Ricketts

Mrs. Fanny Ricketts

The story of the war will never be fully or fairly written if the achievements of women in it are untold. They do not figure in the official reports; they are not gazetted for deeds as gallant as ever were done; the names of thousands are unknown beyond the neighborhood where they live, or the hospitals where [Page vi] they loved to labor; yet there is no feature in our war more creditable to us as a nation, none from its positive newness so well worthy of record.

It is the object of this book to gather and present narratives of the services in the war of some of the women who shared its perils, and ought to inherit its glories. Their experiences are varied, and include both sufferings and adventures, the narration of which cannot fail to warm the heart and excite admiration wherever they are read. They may be taken as representatives of the thousand others whose good deeds are a crown to the national glory.

The Women

  • MRS. FANNY RICKETTS — More than once was her husband mangled under the iron wheel of battle. Once he was reported dead, and his dying words and his sword were brought to the agonized wife. But she overcame all obstacles, penetrated the hostile lines, reached the side of his bloody stretcher, went into captivity with him, and made his spared life and recovered health the monument of her unwavering and heroic devotion
  • MRS. MARY A. BRADY — On the 28th of July, 1862, Mrs. Brady was elected president of an association with the goal of creating committees, who, in turn, should visit the different wards of the United States Hospital, for the, purpose of ameliorating the condition of the sick and wounded soldiers, and to establish a depot of sanitary supplies. From that day to the hour of her death – not quite two years after -her labors were unceasing, her devotion unbounded, and her discretion unerring in the great enterprise of the sanitary well-being of the soldiers of the republic.
  • KADY BROWNELL THE HEROINE OF NEWBERN — Accustomed to arms and soldiers from infancy, she learned to love the camp; and it was not strange, years later, when she had come to America and married a young mechanic in Providence, that the recollections of the camp fire in front of her father’s tent, as well as the devotion of a newly-married wife, and loyalty to the Union, prompted her to follow her husband, stand beside him in battle, and share all his hardships.
  • MARGARET E. BRECKINRIDGE — In April, 1862, Miss Breckinridge left her home in Princeton for the West, and with the full intention of devoting herself to the soldiers for the war. Remaining some weeks in Baltimore, she there commenced her hospital labors; and the letters she wrote from that place show the hearty satisfaction she took in the work, and the deep interest she felt in the individual cases committed to her care.
  • MRS. ELIDA RUMSEY FOWLE — From the fall of 1861, till after the battle of Gettysburg, and near the close of the war, Miss Rumsey gave herself unremittingly to labors for the good, the comfort, the social, moral, and mental well-being of the soldier. She was as wholly devoted and absorbed in such voluntary labors as though she had enlisted, and was in duty bound, and under a military oath of consecration.
  • BRIDGET DIVERS — In the commencement of the war, she went out with the first Michigan cavalry, and through the war continued to act with and for that organization. She knew every man in the regiment, and could speak of his character, his wants, his sufferings, and the facts of his military record. Her care and kindness extended to the moral and religious wants, as well as the health, of the men of her regiment, as she always called it. In the absence of the chaplain she came to the Christian Commission for books and papers for the men, saying that she was the acting chaplain, and appearing to take a very deep interest in the moral and religious well-being of them all.
  • MRS. ISABELLA FOGG — When her son enlisted, Mrs. Fogg thought her duty no longer obscure, and offered her services, without compensation, to the governor and surgeon-general of the state, and under their direction spent several weeks in preparing and collecting sanitary and hospital stores.
  • MRS. MARY W. LEE — Her first efforts in behalf of the soldiers in our great war were in the hospital of the Union Refreshment Saloon, in Philadelphia. When the conflict assumed the serious and bloody proportions that we saw in the summer of 1862, Mrs. Lee felt that she could do more good nearer the field of action. She went down to Harrison’s Landing on the Spaulding, a hospital transport, and there she found that enterprising and indefatigable army worker, Mrs Harris, with whom she gladly cooperated in the arduous duties and melancholy scenes that attended the disastrous finale of the Peninsular campaign.
  • MISS MAJOR PAULINE CUSHMAN — A brilliant and impulsive actress, whose life, if it could be fully written, would sound like some tale of romance, is of French and Spanish descent, and was born in New Orleans, in 1833. Early in the year 1863, while playing in Wood’s Theatre, she received many attentions from paroled rebel officers. Upon reflection, it occurred to Miss Cushman that here was afforded her an admirable opportunity of serving her country, and at the same time gratifying her own love of romance and wild adventure. She at once sought and obtained an interview with Colonel Moore, the provost marshal, who, after serious consultation, and becoming convinced of her genuine loyalty, received her proposition to enter the secret service of the United States.
  • MRS. JOHN HARRIS — If there were any such vain decorations of human approbation as a crown, or a wreath, or a star for her, who in our late war has done the most, and labored the longest, who visited the greatest number of hospitals, prayed with the greatest number of suffering and dying soldiers, penetrated nearest to the front, and underwent the greatest amount of fatigue and exposure for the soldier, — that crown or that star would be rightfully given to Mrs. John Harris, of Philadelphia.
  • MISS MARY E. SHELTON — During the year 1864, and all the early part of 1865, for some time after the war ended, Miss Shelton was constantly in the field, acting a portion of the time as secretary to Mrs. Wittenmeyer; at other times taking charge of special diet kitchens in the different hospitals.
  • CARRIE SHEADS — The name of Carrie Sheads, besides its association with that great battle-field at Gettysburg, will be remembered as of one who, being summoned, by the terrible boom of hostile cannon, from a life of quiet and scholastic seclusion, met the terrible demands of the hour with the calmness of a heroine, and, amid the roar and crash of battle, and the fierce hate of the fiery belligerents, acted with a discretion and genuine courage which entitle her name and her act to be held in perpetual remembrance by the daughters of America.

Part II of our Civil War collection, The Soldiers’ Perspective, provides an in-depth look at the day-to-day actions of the troops themselves primarily in the form of regimental histories.


The Irrepressible Conflict in Play

The term Irrepressible Conflict originated with William H. Seward in an 1858 speech predicting a socioeconomic collision between the institutions of the North and the South. This confrontation settle the question of whether America would be dominated by a system of free labor or slave labor. Lincoln alluded to the same idea in his 1858 “House Divided” speech. In the late 1850s the use of the phrase did not expressly include the assumption that the “irrepressible conflict” would be resolved through violence or armed conflict.

The Irrepressible Conflict doing its Work

“Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad,” is a trite saying, and one entirely applicable to the Democratic party, as is evinced unmistakably the last few years. Not looking for the remote causes that acted potentially to bring about the crisis in modern Democracy, we see it as it is, and find it in a state a distraction, and daily getting into “confusion worse confounded.” Not to go farther back into the past than a few months, we behold the once “harmonious Democracy” divided in the State conventions, held to select delegates to the national convention, and in many cases two antagonistical sets of delegates were the results of opposing conventions in the same State and of the same party.

Part IV of our Civil War collection, A Midwestern Perspective, consists of seven newspapers published in Indiana between the years of 1855 and 1869. These items provide pre-and post-Civil War information, in addition to coverage of the Civil War itself.



“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


When slave ships reached the Americas, the slaves were off-loaded and sold in slave markets, like the one pictured here in Atlanta (1860s).

The Slave-Market (1830-1860)

This is an excerpt Chapter IX of THE AMERICAN NATION: A HISTORY VOLUME 16; SLAVERY AND ABOLITION 1831–1841, one of the titles in our newest Civil War Collection – Part VII: Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books.

Part VII of our Civil War collection, Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books: Compiled by the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Library in Springfield, Illinois this unique collection brings together a disparate group of abolitionist era reference materials.


With very small exceptions the negro slave was absolutely subject to sale at such times, to such persons, and on such terms as pleased his master. The ownership was as absolute as that of a horse or a watch. Although prosperous masters commonly did not sell slaves, the threat of being “sent down the river” for bad conduct was often realized; and able-bodied slaves who began to lose their vigor and vitality were sometimes sold because no longer profitable as work-hands; or at the death of a master, especially if the estate went to several heirs, among whom the proceeds had to be divided. There was always an undercurrent of feeling that to part with one’s slaves was ignoble; hence the most frequent reason for selling was simply that the master was obliged to realize, either to pay for something that he wanted to buy, or because he was in debt.

Was it true, as charged by the abolitionists, that slaves were bred in the border states for no other purpose than to sell them? Probably the truth was expressed by the Mississippian who said:

“A man might not raise a nigger with a well-considered plan to sell him eighteen years after he was born; he might never sell a nigger, but for all that, it was the readiness with which he could command a thousand dollars for every likely boy he had, if he should ever need it, that made him stay here and be bothered with taking care of a gang of niggers who barely earned enough to enable his family to live decently.”

In many cases slaves passed simply from vendor to purchaser like fancy stock, but the usual way was to attract buyers by advertisements. Within two weeks there appeared in the columns of sixty-four southern newspapers advertisements for the sale of forty-one hundred negroes, besides thirty lots to be sold at auction, as, for example:

PRIVATE SALES. Excellent Cook. Will be sold at private sale, a Woman, about 22 years of age, an excellent cook, (meat and pastry) Plain Washer, etc. She is sound and healthy and can make herself generally useful.

The slave-traders had no social reward for this useful service; a traveller in a steamer noticed “that the planters on board … shunned all intercourse with this dealer, as if they regarded his business as scarcely respectable.”

However despised, the business was profitable. The private sales involved no public exhibition of the merchandise, and in many cases showed some regard to the preference of the slaves. The public sales brought out the worst side of the whole system. The north was shocked by such grouping of human and brute merchandise as:

SHERIFF’S SALE. I will sell at Fairfield Court House, 2 Negroes, 2 Horses and I Jennet, I pair of Cart Wheels, I Bedstead, I Riding Saddle. Sheriff’s Office, Nov. 19, 1852.