We Need A Civil War Book Publisher
"America's First Thanksgiving Conceived in War"
"General John Reynolds and His Love: Kate"
"Gettysburg Train Station Restored"
Rebel sub Hunley's hatch opens up more questions
The man who mapped Gettysburg battlefield
Diary fills in blanks on forgotten service
We Need A Civil War Book Publisher!
We are seeking a first rate publisher to handle a book of our most popular stories on the Civil War's most interesting people and events. Many of these stories are in the column below along with the table of contents, introduction and dedication. EVERY story listed in the index is written, edited, fact-checked and ready to go into a book! If you are an active and experienced publisher that can appropriately handle this work, please contact us at: email@example.com
Our public policy essays can be found at:
Marvelous Civil War Achievers:
The People, Places and Other Stories
1. Adultery, Bloodshed and “The Trial of the Century”
The story of Congressman Dan Sickles
2. Carl Schurz: Civil War General and Difficult Statesman
German immigrant, friend of Lincoln, Union General, and Senator.
3. Lincoln’s Reliable Blair Family
Three men who influenced the course of the war.
4. Father John Bannon: The Confederacy’s “Fighting Chaplain”
The chaplain who became a cannoneer.
5. James Buchanan Eads: Grant’s Ironclad Builder and Tamer of the Mississippi
6. Washington’s Willard Hotel: Crossroads of a Nation
7. William “Extra Billy” Smith: Confederate Governor and General
8. General Warren: Hero in a Moment
At Gettysburg Warren seizes Little Round Top.
9. Christian Fleetwood: Matter of fact Medal of Honor Winner
Black Union Soldier achieves what few others only dreamed about.
10. Union Spy in Richmond: Miss Elizabeth Van Lew
11. Army Provost Marshal General: Man of Many Tasks, Many Talents
12. Sherman Loves Newspapers; Hates Newspapermen
13. The Green Flags of the “Irish Brigade”
14. The War Started and Ended on Arlington Ridge
15. The Ball Family of Arlington Virginia: Lee’s Neighbors
16. Slave, Sailor and Chaplain to the Buffalo Soldiers
17. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Physician Suffers Yet Achieves Greatness
18. Washington’s Best Civil War Brothel
19. Nuns Minister to Wounded
While Serving as NursesThe Roman Catholic nuns who went to war to help out as nurses were the most highly praised and prized of the female attendants. Doctors, Sanitary Commission members and the men themselves -- generals to privates -- commented on the efficiency of the nuns.
20. The Chaplains and the Executioners
21. “Dagger” John Hughes: Lincoln’s Emissary
22. Abram Ryan: Confederate Poet
23. Henry Villard: Immigrant, Civil War Newsman and American Tycoon
24. “Reno is Not Stampeded”
25. U.S. Grant and Mark Twain: Business Partners
26. William Corby: Chaplain to the Irish Brigade
27. Frederick Douglass: Turning Points
28. Unfinished Monuments: The Washington Monument and Capitol
29. Thomas Francis Meagher: Father of the Irish Brigade
30. Garfield: School Teacher, General and President
31. Civil War Historian and Writer Shelby Foote
32. Surgeon William Henry Taylor, CSA
The Doctor comments on the dangers, recalling years “in the field”
33. The Glorious GarnettGeneral Garnett dies at “The High Water Mark” of the Confederacy
34. Ashby Turner: Confederate Cavalier
35. Father James Sheeran: Confederate Chaplain
36. Forgotten Winter Engagements
37. Liquor in the Civil War
38. The Amazing Ammen Brothers
39. Lincoln’s Forgettable Speech Introductions
40. Salt: The Confederate Nightmare
41. CSS Shenandoah a Technological Wonder
42. John Bachelder: Primary Mapmaker and Historian at Gettysburg
"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."---TEDDY ROOSEVELT
On February 28, 2004, historian Daniel Boorstin died. On that same day, local high school students on the TV in a Washington D.C. quiz show, “It’s Academic,” failed to even make a guess at the answer to a simple question about the American Civil War and Fort Sumter.
Boorstin, lawyer, head of the library of Congress for 12 years, faculty member of the University of Chicago for 25 years, wrote more than 20 books. His famous trilogy, U.S.A., gave us deep lessons into who we are as Americans.Boorstin’s death, coupled simultaneously with speechless students confronted with the simplest historical question, leads one to wonder: “why do we study history?”
History, especially American history, teaches us the values, rights and responsibilities of our citizenship. History makes us a nation: a race of people and not just a collision of different peoples from many lands. You can be born French, but when you move in from another land you don’t necessarily become French. When you move to America and become a citizen, you are embraced as an American.
People come here to share in the values and rights of all Americans. Understanding who gained those rights and how they achieved them is important because those rights bind us together as a people.Our history is “Ich bin ein Berliner,” the Boston Tea Party, Ellis Island, Gettysburg, and “I have a dream.” Our history is the Emancipation Proclamation, Bill of Rights, and Constitution.
Our history separates us from the rest of the world and, at the same time, unites us to people everywhere who long to live free in a land with rights, courts that function and police governed by proven laws and legal precedents. Reading and learning our history teaches us to appreciate America’s place in the world.Our history is the struggle of man, wars, sacrifices, torture, anguish and great joy and achievement. It is thrilling, heartbreaking and often amusing at the same time. The “why did that happen” and “what was gained” is often more important than the event alone.
Our history teaches us that men find some things worthy of their blood, their anguish, even their own death.Our Civil War produced some of the most tragic tales of our national history. At the same time, in the Civil War we find almost unbelievable tails of heroism, achievement, inspiration, and courage.This book is about men and women, places and landmarks, of the American Civil War.
This is a book of stories meant to inspire, delight, amaze, and foster pride. This is not a history book of the American Civil War but a book of stories about the singular achievements and valor of some of the brave men and women who participated and excelled. The careful reader will find in these pages evidence of the very nature of American society in the Civil War era. We’ve all heard over and over the stories of “brother fighting brother.” We see in these stories that the great leaders and achievers of the era, many times, knew one another and participated together in the great events of the day.
There is no story about Abraham Lincoln here. But there are many references to the great president, who knew well many of those highlighted in this book, including Sherman, Grant, Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Henry Villard, Carl Schurz, the Blair family, William Corby, and “Dagger” John Hughes. Newsman Henry Villard once gave a buffalo robe as a gift to a shivering Lincoln.
In these pages, you’ll find Marsena Patrick commenting upon Thomas Francis Meagher, and Meagher assisting in the legal defense of Sickles. The story of Confederate John Bannon’s call on the Catholic Pope is here, along with reference to Archbishop Hughes’ mission on behalf of the Union to the same pope.
The story of the Willard Hotel is here; a hotel that hosted Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Villard, Jefferson Davis, Twain and so many others of that age. The Galt House hotel is here, where two Union generals engaged in a feud that ended in murder. A brothel shares the pages of this book, unashamedly, with priests, nuns, doctors and nurses.
There are famous men, and women, here, along with common men and women. The author was drawn to people of achievement – people that inspired and held our interest. No attempt was made to mask where this road took us, but clearly there are some Irish Catholics here, and many of the stories revolve around the Washington D.C area and the north. We make no apologies for this bias, if it is that, and make a pledge that the next volume, if there is a next volume, will reflect a dedication to seek out other great achievers from throughout the spectrum of interesting Americans.
This book would not have been possible without the inspiration of Woody West, Mary Lou Forbes and Greg Pierce of The Washington Times newspaper. Many years ago, Woody West created a weekly Civil War page for the Times. On this page, many lesser-known writers and historians like myself have shared stories on Civil War history. I first submitted a story in 1996 to Woody West. That blossomed into a long relationship with the Times that now includes a record of more than 100 published essays on the Civil War and commentary articles on national and world events. Woody has now left this world, but Greg Pierce has admirably continued the tradition of excellence in the Civil War page at The Washington Times.
Mary Lou Forbes blesses The Washington Times with her careful selection of political commentary and discussion essays that probe the great issues of our time. She has inspired me to become a better writer, to participate in the great debates of our times and to carefully choose my topics which include democracy, human rights, protection of the oppressed, missile defense, American culture, ethics, and other defense, national security and foreign policy issues.
Because this book is a “reader,” it does not have footnotes or a bibliography. Reconstructing all the resources used would require the review of literally scores of source documents reviewed over the last ten years or more. Every care has been taken to assure accuracy, validate the authenticity and assure truth in each story and quote in these pages. Many stories had to be cast aside because they simply could not be adequately verified. This is an unfortunate aspect of our Civil War history. Much folklore has crept into Civil War story telling; and researchers have to continuously caution against getting “taken in” by these tales.
The stories here are true and accurate, to the best of our knowledge; showing that the real stories are often much more compelling than fiction. Students writing term papers requiring footnotes will have to find and research the appropriate references for themselves. It is our hope that you enjoy the book and become a true aficionado of American Civil War history – and a lifelong student of all American history.
This book is dedicated to my father, my mother and my wife. My father took the entire family to the centennial at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1963. This left me with a life-long interest in the Civil War and an abiding respect for the men and women who achieved so much in that era. My mother, Marie Corby Carey, was a niece of Father William Corby of the Irish Brigade and the University of Notre Dame. My wife, Hong Lien Thi Do lived through the war in Vietnam and suffered untold hardships in the years that followed. She taught me to appreciate people who rise to the occasion and achieve great things despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
For a limited time: A brief preview of one of our unpublished stories:
Lincoln’s Reliable Blair Family
By John E. Carey
One family participated in many historic and breathtaking moments of the Civil War. They helped Abraham Lincoln get elected to the presidency twice. On behalf of Lincoln, the elder statesman of the family apparently offered command of the Union Army to Robert E. Lee in 1861. In 1865, that same solon of Washington D.C. tried to negotiate a peace settlement with his long-time friend, Jefferson Davis. One son served in Lincoln’s cabinet, had his house burned to the ground by Jubal Early’s Confederate forces, and resigned his high government post in a sort of political trade. Another son served in Congress, became a general in the Union Army then a Senator after the war, and led a life of brawling adventure. The family name still causes tourists to stop in awe and respect just one block from the White House, inside the nation’s capitol building and in front of a handsome bust in Vicksburg.
The Blairs of Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Washington D.C. played a uniquely influential role in American politics from the time Francis P. Blair, Sr. became involved in the Panic of 1819 until the end of son Frank Blair’s Senate term in 1873.
Francis P. Blair, Sr.
Francis Preson Blair, Sr. (1791-1876) began a long and distinguished career of semi-government service and influence during the depression called the Panic of 1819. He led the “Relief Party” and became an influential writer of newspaper opinion pieces on politics. His articles and support for Andrew Jackson so impressed the new president that Jackson urged Blair to move to Washington D.C to become a full-time newspaperman.
In 1830 Francis Blair, Sr. established the Washington Globe, a party organ, and also published the Congressional Globe. He was a political journalist of national importance and ran the printing business for Congress. But Blair is remembered best as the leader of Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet.”
Blair’s business partner, John Rives, described Blair as 85 pounds of bones and 22 pounds of "gristle, nerve and brain."
He continued to run and edit his newspaper throughout the presidencies of Jackson and Martin Van Buren. When James K. Polk was elected president in 1844, Blair excused himself from the newspaper business but not from his role as an influencer of government policy. Blair traveled all the way to Jackson’s Hermitage, in Tennessee, to visit the former president.
Francis Blair supported John Fremont's 1856 Republican presidential nomination, even after he "retired" to his 20-room mansion, “Silver Spring,” in Maryland. He aided Lincoln, from the first days of the crisis between the states, offering a prestigious Union Army position to Robert E. Lee, apparently on the president's behalf (controversy still continues). He also crossed Union lines into the Confederacy more than once on peace missions, using a note Lincoln had written which read: “Allow the bearer; F. P. Blair, sr., to pass our lines, go South, and return.”
President Abraham Lincoln was a frequent guest at Francis P. Blair’s Maryland home. Here Blair Sr. and other Blair Family members entertained and persuaded the president.
Montgomery Blair (1813-1883) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1835. He saw action in the Seminole War, established himself as a lawyer and served as Mayor of St. Louis (1842-1843).
Blair moved to Washington, D.C. in 1852. His family established residence at the town home owned by his father (now called Blair House), on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.
He was United States Solicitor in the Court of Claims from 1855 until 1858. He and his associate George T. Curtis served as counsel for the plaintiff in the Dred Scott case of 1857. Scott and his wife sued in federal court for their freedom after their master moved them to Missouri, a free territory. Blair and his partner represented Scott before the Supreme Court but lost the case when Justice Taney ruled that a slave's status did not change when he moved from territory to territory. Taney held that Dred Scott, a slave, was property. Thus Scott was not a man and had no standing in federal court.A fervent opponent of slavery, Montgomery Blair joined the Republican Party, which had been reinvigorated by John Freemont. Blair became an ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln for president.
In 1861 Lincoln appointed him as his Postmaster General but Blair’s influence far exceeded the standard definition of that office. First, modern observers would find it difficult to understand the importance of the postmaster in 1860 era America. One line in Lincoln‘s first inaugural address indicated the importance of the mail in the pre-Civil War era. Faced with succession, Lincoln asserted: “The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union.”
Described as the most learned man in Lincoln's Cabinet, most credit Blair with founding the Universal Postal Union. The UPN created an agreement between nations, which standardized postal rates and services. Blair also originated prepaid postage, free mail delivery in cities, money orders, and postal railroad cars.
The younger Blair became a key Lincoln confidant and leader of Lincoln’s “Kitchen Cabinet.” In 1861, he was the only Cabinet member who urged Lincoln to reinforce Fort Sumpter, a subject far afield of his duties as Postmaster. During the war, Montgomery Blair and his father frequently had the president’s ear.
When Jubal Early and his Confederate men invaded the north to pressure Washington in 1864, his troops sacked and burned The Falklands, Montgomery Blair’s home.
Early recalled the day this way: "[W]hen in front of Washington some of my troops were very determined to destroy the house of Mr. Francis P. Blair and had actually removed some furniture probably supposing it to belong to his son, a member of the Federal Cabinet. As soon as I came up I immediately stopped the proceeding and compelled the men to return every article so far as I knew, and placed a guard to protect it. The house of his son, Montgomery Blair, a member of the Cabinet, was subjected to a different rule for obvious reasons."
With a moderate view toward reconstruction, Blair so agitated "radical" Republicans that Lincoln eventually asked him to resign. Freemont agreed to withdraw from the 1864 presidential race if Lincoln fired Blair. Montgomery Blair, his brother Frank and father Francis P. Blair, Sr., all firmly believed in the separation of the races. This too, was probably too much for Lincoln.
In May, 1864 a convention Radical Republicans selected John Charles “The Pathfinder” Fremont as their candidate for president. Fremont accepted the nomination and told the audience: "Today we have in this country the abuses of a military dictation without its unity of action and vigor of execution." Lincoln wanted Freemont out of the race. Freemont demanded the resignation of the man who had urged Lincoln to make Freemont a General earlier in the war: Montgomery Blair. On September 22, 1864, Fremont withdrew from the contest. On September 23, 1864, President Lincoln sent the following letter to Montgomery Blair:
“My Dear Sir: You have generously said to me more than once, that whenever your resignation could be a relief to me, it was at my disposal. The time has come. You very well know that this proceeds from no dissatisfaction of mine with you personally or officially. Your uniform kindness has been unsurpassed by that of any friend; and, while it is true that the war does not so greatly add to the difficulties of your Department, as to those of some others, it is yet much to say, as I most truly can, that in the three years and a half during which you have administered the General Post-Office, I remember no single complaint against you in connection therewith.”
After the Civil War, Montgomery Blair rebuilt his Silver Spring area home, Falkland, which Early's raiders had burned. He became active in Maryland politics and practiced law with his son, Woodbury. After Montgomery Blair died, Woodbury continued the law practice with his brothers Gist and Montgomery Jr.
Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland is named for him.
Francis P. Blair, Jr. (1821-1875), Francis P. Blair, Sr’s younger son, was commonly known as “Frank.” A lawyer, Civil War General, attorney general of the Territory of New Mexico, member of the Missouri legislature and U.S. House of Representatives, his last service in public life was in the U.S. Senate. He probably drank too much alcohol, used too much tobacco, and too quickly let his anger get the best of him. Yet he was a Lincoln man, a dedicated Union man, and perhaps the best of Lincoln’s politically appointed Generals.
Frank Blair certainly earned the right to be called the most “colorful” of the amazing Blairs. He exhibited some of his rambunctious nature at college. A professor charged with teaching Frank at Yale said, “Frank gave him more trouble than all the other scholars, combined.” Frank also attended the University of North Carolina before ending up at Princeton.
Like the other Blairs, although Frank supported Lincoln and decried slavery, he was a bigot and owned slaves himself. When his brother Montgomery moved to Washington D.C., taking Frank’s favorite slave Nancy, Frank gripped that “It is indispensable comfort to have a neat servant, particularly in this region of dirt and coal dust.”
Frank Blair defended Lincoln's policies in the House of Representatives, in general. But the Blairs and the president were not in complete agreement on the question of slavery. Every man in the Blair family, it seemed, favored separation of the races through the colonization of American Blacks abroad. On April 12, 1862, the day after slavery was abolished in Washington, D.C., Frank Blair said on the House floor that Liberia had "failed to attract the freed negro [sic] population in any considerable numbers," but stated his support for Negro colonization in Central America. "There is a vast difference," he said, "between the idea of being colonized on our own continent, under our own flag, and being buried in Africa."
Blair hoped that colonization would serve to avoid present and future racial disharmony.
He also believed that colonization might disrupt the political power of slaveholders in the South. Blair said, "We can make emancipation acceptable to the whole mass of non-slave-holders at the South by coupling it with the policy of colonization. The very prejudice of race which now makes the non-slaveholders give their aid to hold the slave in bondage will induce them to unite in a policy which will rid them of the presence of negroes."
Blair pushed a bill through the House that authorized the president to spend $100,000 for colonizing the freedmen of the District.
The Blair family made several efforts to persuade President Lincoln to make Frank a general, but at first the president put them off. Finally, in the autumn of 1862, after Frank had raised five regiments of troops and hoped to raise two or three more, the president made Blair a general in the Union Army.
Despite much newspaper criticism, Frank Blair proved himself one of the better political generals. A very capable and fearless leader at Vicksburg, he gained General Grant’s notice and praise. “There was no man braver than he,” wrote Grant of Blair. “No man obeyed all orders of his superiors in rank with more unquestioning alacrity.”
After a shaky start, Blair also established a life-long mutual respect with General William T. Sherman. The men served together during the campaigns for Vicksburg and Atlanta before Blair commanded the 17th Corps during the March to the Sea. When newspapers criticized Blair as a political general, Sherman said Blair was “brave, cool and of ability.”
Franc Willkie, a reporter for the New York Times observed Frank Blair this way: “He was a most interesting man in every respect….He was versatile, doing everything well, from leading a charge to uncorking a bottle, and in all instances characterized by a calm, dispassionate manner….Beneath all his outward calmness he had a tremendous force -- a fact demonstrated by the momentum with which he threw his columns against the bristling, deadly heights of Chickasaw Bayou.”
A bust of Frank Blair marvels visitors at Vicksburg. A statue of him campaigning in St. Louis, entertains tourist in Missouri. Both were built with family money. In the U.S. Capitol, in Statuary Hall, Frank Blair’s larger than life statue represents his State of Missouri, along with a statue of Thomas Hart Benton.
The term “larger than life” perfectly describes the Blair family. The Blairs became a truly American family of some note during the Civil War era.
Blair House (Possible Sidebar)
At 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., across the street from the White House, stands a block of town homes including the Blair House. The evocative Blair House, a fine example of early American townhouse, was built around 1824 by Dr. Joseph Lovell, America’s first Surgeon General. Francis Preston Blair, Sr. purchased the house in 1836 after he moved Washington D.C. to become Editor of The Globe. The Blair House was passed down through the family.
Postmaster General Montgomery Blair inherited the house in 1852. Woodbury Blair became owner in 1883. Gist Blair and his family became owners in 1937.
The Federal Government designated Blair House a National Historic Landmark in 1937. After the death of Gist’s wife Laura Ellis Blair in 1941, the U.S. Government purchased Blair House.
Since then, Blair House has served the President's Guest House for visiting foreign dignitaries.
The Lee House, next door to Blair House, was purchased in 1859 by Francis Preston Blair as a wedding gift to his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband Samuel Phillips Lee. The U.S. Government became the owner in 1943 when the two houses were combined.
Blair House has been the scene of many historic events including: Francis Preston Blair’s offer to Robert E. Lee to command Union forces; President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves; and William Techumseh Sherman’s wedding.
President Ulysses S. Grant undoubtedly walked past Blair House many times during his presidency, as he was known for his evening walks, his evening cigars, and his “libations” at Willard’s Hotel nearby.
President Truman and his family lived in the Blair House during the White House renovation. Here Truman decided to send American troops to Korea. In Blair House, Truman signed the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. On November 1, 1950, an assassin tried to take Truman’s life here.
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain stayed at the Blair House in 1957, and the room she stayed in has been known as the Queen's Suite ever since. Hundreds of Monarchs, Presidents and Heads of State from countries all over the world have stayed at the Blair House.
To read our public policy essays, go to:
An Index to many of our essays is at: