Blackford at Seven Pines

by Fred Ray August 24, 2016

Johnston continued to retreat until he was literally under the spires of Richmond. On May 31 he finally made his move at Seven Pines. The flooded Chickahominy River had split the Union army, leaving two corps isolated south of the river, which Johnston planned to strike with nearly his entire force. While the plan was […]

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Retreat from Williamsburg

by Fred Ray July 29, 2016

McClellan continued to bring up his heavy siege guns to the Yorktown line, and on the night of May 3, 1862, Johnston withdrew toward Richmond rather than risk a battle. Blackford wrote his mother: At 8 o’clock the whole Army moved quickly out of the works. I, with my company, was left to support the […]

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Sir Joseph Whitworth and His Deadly Rifles

by Fred Ray July 3, 2016

My article about Joseph Whitworth and his rifles is up on the Shock Troops web site. It originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of Civil War Times. In 1854, at the request of the British Board of Ordnance, Whitworth turned his attention to firearms, specifically the Enfield P53 .577 caliber service rifle, which he […]

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Blackford at Yorktown

by Fred Ray June 16, 2016

Johnston’s army arrived on the Virginia Peninsula and established a line at the Warwick River to block McClellan’s advance. Blackford and his men scrambled to adjust to the novelty of a continuous contact with the Federals. On April 22nd Blackford wrote his parents from “Curtain to Redoubt No. ‘4’ near Yorktown, Va.”, first apologizing for […]

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The Army Moves South

by Fred Ray June 9, 2016

After an uneventful winter on the Potomac front the Confederates abruptly pulled back to the line of the Rappahannock on March 9, which completely unhinged McClellan’s strategy of landing at Urbanna to outflank them. Blackford describes the move, which makes it clear that the Confederates had much to learn about moving an army. His company […]

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Blackford Takes a Look at His Superiors

by Fred Ray May 8, 2016

Blackford’s pithy observations were not limited to the generals. He also was not shy about criticizing his immediate superiors, such as the recently elected Colonel Jones (who was in fact 49 years old) or the other Colonel Jones of the 12th Alabama. This letter to his mother, written on February 20th, 1862, also details the […]

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Lincoln at Fort Stevens—Could A Rifle Have Hit Him?

by Fred Ray May 3, 2016

British shooter Michael Yardley participated in a Discovery Channel special for their Unsolved History series, “The Plots to Kill Lincoln.” One of these plots was the shot taken at him by a Confederate sharpshooter at Fort Stevens on July 11 or 12, 1864 during Jubal Early’s raid. The question was if it was realistic to […]

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