Tag Archives: The Civil War Collection

Charleston under Fire

As many Southern port cities had been closed off by the Union blockade, Charleston became an important center for blockade running. Repeated attempts by the Union Navy to take Charleston proved fruitless. The city resisted military occupation for the majority of the war’s four years.

With the development of newer, longer-range artillery, and as Union forces were able to place batteries even closer to the city. The bombardment that began in late 1863 continued on and off for 587 days.

This bombardment would destroy much of the city. The defenders were finally beaten back and the Union was able to capture the city, only a month and a half before the war ended.

Charleston under Fire

From the Columbia Carolinian:

We take the liberty of presenting to our readers the following extract of a private letter just received. Its genial description of the present aspect of the city and bay of Charleston will repay perusal. The brief sentences which allude to General Ripley assert nothing more of that bold, ardent and able soldier than we know he deserves. We hope, with all heart, that the hour of his long merited promotion has arrived at last:

Can you come and see us? The city is very safe and interesting now. A visit to the ‘district excites the most varied and strangest emotions. The dreariness of winter has passed away, and the vivifying touch of spring has brought out the green glories of our trees and crowded our gardens with flowers of all hues. They were never more beautiful. The silent air is rich with perfume. But the solitude seems in strange contrast with this lavish infusion of beauty. The rose especially seems to solicit the presence of the man, and crave a witness for its charms. Other flowers may properly grace the solitudes of the wilderness and decorate the pathless prairie, but the rose, the ‘rose, asks for human companionship, and when blooming unseen, suggests the idea of utter desolation and abandonment. Our gardens are sad in their solitude, and in the absence of those more graceful and beautiful flowers, their proper companions, which gave them life and cheerfulness, and all their value, their bloom and perfume is wasted. What is the rose, what the japonica, without the maidens to add to their beauty and sweetness, and to give and take beauty from the fellowship.

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.


An Appeal from the Daughters of New Orleans

A Newspaper Perspective in our Civil War Collection 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.

This item appeared in the June 11, 1862 issue of The Charleston Mercury shortly after the capture of New Orleans (April 25 – May 1, 1862).

An Appeal from the Daughters of New Orleans

We need not commend to the attention of our readers the following simple, touching, beautiful appeal of the lovely daughters of New Orleans. We could add nothing to its melting pathos. ‘Every soldier of the South’who reads it, will pant for an opportunity to avenge the wrongs and insults so touchingly portrayed.


We turn to you in mute agony! Behold our wrongs! Fathers! husbands! brothers! sons! We know these bitter, burning wrongs will be fully avenged – never did Southern woman appeal in vain for protection from insult!

But, for the sakes of our sisters throughout the South, with tears we implore you not to surrender your cities, consideration of the defenceless women and children.’Do not leave your women to the mercy of this merciless foe! Would it not have been better for New Orleans to have been laid in ruins, and we buried beneath the mass, than that we should so priceless a boon that, for the preservation of it, no sacrifice is too great?

Ah no! ah no! Rather let us died with you, or our Fathers! Rather, like Virginians, plunge your own swords into our breasts, saying ‘This is all we can give our daughter!’

-The Daughters of New Orleans
New Orleans, May 24, 1862.

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.


Collection: The Civil War
Publication: The Charleston Mercury
Date: June 11, 1862
Title: An Appeal from the Daughters of New Orleans.

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  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.


Positive SSL