Author: Fred Ray

  • Decoration Day and Memorial Day

    We sometimes forget that today’s Memorial Day came directly from Decoration Day, which originated to honor the dead of the Civil War. There has been a great deal of discussion about who originated it. In a recent article, Professor Richard Gardner takes a close look at the subject: In the years following the bitter Civil […]

  • A look at the 1860 Census

    Figures are inherently dry, but you can learn a lot from them. Here’s a look at the 1860 census. It gives you can idea of the advantages the North had over the South before the first shots were fired. I was struck by how small (by today’s standards) the “big” cities were, but then the […]

  • Sharpshooting “Myths”

    I have ordered a copy of Scott Hippensteel’s new book Myths of the Civil War. Drew Wagenhoffer has a review here. Much of the book seems to be about “sniping” and about debunking various incidents. I am skeptical about books that talk about “myths” but would like to see what Hippensteel has to say, so […]

  • Fold 3 Free!

    Just a heads up for TOCWOC readers that the reference site Fold 3 has their Civil War records accessible for free for another week and a half, until July 18. It’s a great opportunity to research your ancestor’s CW service without having to subscribe. Fold 3 has most (but not all) of the CW CSRs […]

  • Confederate Gold in Pennsylvania?

    Might even be stolen U.S. gold from the Federal Mint. Archer wrote that he also spoke with a journalist who had done extensive research on a Civil War-era group called the Knights of the Golden Circle. The KGC, Archer wrote, was a secret society of Confederate sympathizers that had purportedly “buried secret caches of weapons, […]

  • Big Guns and Bombs

    Everyone probably knows what a revolver is, but do you know which one is the biggest? The S&W 29, beloved of Dirty Harry? The Colt Walker? Naah, not even close. It was Pate’s revolving cannon. Not a hand cannon, mind you, but a real one on a carriage. Each ball for the revolving cannon weighed […]

  • Lorenzo Barber’s “Combo” Gun

    Some time ago (in 2006) I wrote a post about John Jacob and his unusual rifle. In it I said that Lorenzo Barber, the “Fighting Parson” of the 1st U.S.S.S., used a Jacob rifle because he is mentioned as having a double-barrel rifle with one barrel loaded with buckshot and the other with a bullet. […]