In the early 1860s, a violent fight raged to determine the fate of a vast country. An insurrection had split it in two, leaving much of the southern half governed by men who claimed to be the leaders of a new state but were dismissed by their foes as illegitimate “rebels,” outlaws who had given themselves fancy titles. The conflict involved legendary generals with names that schoolchildren still memorize, and it had not just local but international significance: In far-off London, debates raged over whether the British Empire should back the rebels, with whom some Britons felt a sympathetic bond.
The American Civil War? Nope, the Taiping Rebellion in China, which happened more or less at the same time. Three of what were rated the most destructive conflicts ever fought overlapped in time, ours being but one of them.
While you’re looking at photos, check out the video of the song Benny Havens, featuring a number of West Point Civil War grads from both sides. the name of the song refers to a nearby tavern, prominent in the 1840s through the 60s, often a haven for lonely cadets. Even today, I am told, cadets must memorize this song.
Elsewhere, Gary Yee looks at sharpshooters as prisoners. What were their chance of survival?
“The children wants to see their paw,” Sarahett Wilkerson wrote. “Hatty says her paw is in the army a shooting rebels. She can talk every thing now. Mary she looks for you on evry steamboat.”
The University of Iowa is looking for volunteer transcribers for their Civil War collection so that it can be digitized. Speaking as someone who’s done a bit of myself, I can tell you that it’s a sometimes frustrating but ultimately rewarding experience. You get the read what the soldier actually wrote and thought, not what some latter-day historian thinks they said.
Volunteers, to pen!
***Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!
What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.
Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.