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The Final Confederate Surrender, 150 Years Ago


“Sail ho!” bellowed CSS Shenandoah’s lookout as he spotted a distant ship on the great blue plain of the Pacific Ocean. For months the fearsome Confederate commerce raider had prowled the high seas, preying on Union shipping. As Shenandoah stalked its latest target on August 2, 1865, however, Captain James Waddell’s men soon saw that the ship was flying the Union Jack rather than the Stars and Stripes. Waddell dispatched Irvine Bulloch to board and inspect the British bark Barracouta, and after a half-hour the ashen-faced officer returned with devastating news.

The Civil War had ended. The Confederacy had lost.

Aboard Barracouta, Bulloch had been given newspapers from California and Germany that broadcast the undeniable truth. “Our gallant generals, one after another, had been forced to surrender the armies they had so often led to victory,” wrote Shenandoah sailor Cornelius Hunt. “State after state had been overrun and occupied by the countless myriads of our enemies. Star by star the galaxy of our flag had faded, and the Southern Confederacy had ceased to exist.”

Now aboard a ship without a country, Shenandoah’s distraught crew had little time to mourn their loss. Since the Confederacy had been defunct for months, Waddell knew his men could be arrested and prosecuted for piracy, and he told them that there was “nothing more to be done but to secure our personal safety by the readiest and most efficacious means at hand.” The captain ordered Shenandoah’s armaments dismantled and stowed below deck. He disguised the ship’s appearance, even painting the hull to resemble an ordinary merchant vessel. Over the objections of his crew, he ordered the ship to begin an extremely risky voyage halfway around the world to the safest haven he could think of—Liverpool, England.

That city had been where Waddell’s British-built clipper was docked when the Confederacy secretly purchased it in October 1864. Originally named Sea King, the ship sailed the tea lanes to Bombay until Waddell personally supervised its conversion into a formidable warship on the island of Madeira. The rechristened CSS Shenandoah immediately began to terrorize cargo ships from New England crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It captured eight Union commercial vessels before rounding the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean.

A balky propeller forced Shenandoah to dock in Melbourne, Australia, for repairs, but after a three-week stay, the warship departed to inflict havoc on the Yankee whaling fleets harvesting the Bering Sea off the Alaskan coast. The raider actually achieved its greatest success in the months after the guns of the Civil War fell silent following Robert E. Lee’s April 1865 surrender in Appomattox. On June 28 alone, the Confederate vessel seized 10 whalers. Waddell’s crew took so many captives that they were forced to tow them in a string of a dozen small whaleboats tethered behind the warship.

After seizing the ship Susan Abigail on June 23, Waddell found newspapers aboard that reported the fall of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, and Lee’s subsequent capitulation. The captain, however, chose to fixate on another article in which Confederate President Jefferson Davis implored the South to carry on the fight. That Waddell did until he encountered Barracouta, learned that the Civil War was indeed over and began the warship’s daring dash from the northern Pacific Ocean to Liverpool.

After capturing or sinking 38 ships, seizing more than 1,000 captives and inflicting $1.6 million in damages, Shenandoah was on the run. In order to evade detection, Waddell ordered the Confederate warship to avoid any sightings of land and busy shipping lanes. After plowing through rough seas on an epic 130-day voyage around the tip of South America, Shenandoah entered the mouth of Liverpool’s River Mersey on the morning of November 6, 1865, thereby becoming the only Confederate vessel to have circumnavigated the globe.

Raising the Stainless Banner, which featured the Confederacy’s square battle flag in the upper left-hand corner of an all-white field, Shenandoah sailed into the harbor and dropped anchor next to HMS Donegal. Waddell then ordered the Confederate flag lowered for the very last time and surrendered to a contingent of British marines.

After several days of deliberation, the British government determined the Confederate sailors had not violated any rules of war and freed them unconditionally. CSS Shenandoah, however, was turned over to the United States. The warship eventually sold at auction to the sultan of Zanzibar and renamed El Majidi before it sank in the Indian Ocean in 1872.


What The Surrender At Appomattox Court House 150 Years Ago Teaches Us About Reconciliation

The dawn is chill and gray. Union soldiers line the small dirt road, ranks thin from disease, battle losses, and the scars of war. The 1st Division of the 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac, stands rank on rank, observing with some attention the far hill, where their enemies are gathered. Union Brig. Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain describes this moment — the surrender ceremony led by Confederate Gen. John B. Gordon’s on the morning of April 12, 1865, at Appomattox Court House — in his memoir, “The Passing of the Armies:”

Our earnest eyes scan the busy groups on the opposite slopes, breaking camp for the last time, taking down their little shelter-tents and folding them as carefully as precious things, then slowly forming ranks as for unwelcome duty.

They are enemies. They fought each other with every atom of their spirits since 1861, four blood-soaked years ago.

And now they move. The dusky swarms forge forward into gray columns of march. On they come, with the old swinging route step and swaying battle flags. In the van, the proud Confederate ensign—the great field of white with the canton of star-strewn cross of blue on a field of red, the regimental battle-flags with the same escutcheon following on, crowded so thick, by thinning out of men, that the whole column seemed crowned with red.

For years, those battle flags marked the enemy lines they were aim points for every Union man with a rifle or cannon. In the words of Frank Haskell, a Union officer watching Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, they were “treason’s flaunting rag.”

At the right of our line our little group mounted beneath our flags, the red Maltese cross on a field of white, erewhile so bravely borne through many a field more crimson than itself, its mystic meaning now ruling all.

The battle flag, whether Union or Confederate, bore strong meaning for the soldiers who fought under it. Regimental colors were usually gifts from the town where the regiment came from. To lose the colors was to lose the regiment’s honor and its identity. In the smoke and noise of battle, the colors were what men looked to for reassurance that their regiment — their identity — was still there. And now these banners hung over a field absent of battle but thick with emotion.

The Army of Northern Virginia was laying down its arms. Mounted in front of the Union line was Chamberlain, wounded seven times, the hero of Little Round Top. Expected to die from being gutshot through the groin at Petersburg the year prior, Chamberlain made an incredible recovery and was back leading his troops in the final campaign. His wounds were extensive, however, essentially depriving him of any sexual gratification with his wife ever again. If anyone was entitled to feel animus toward a foe, it was Chamberlain.

The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union.

Today, Confederate flags are going down all over the country. Most stand for racism, ignorance, bitterness, and hate. Imagine, however, that in this one moment from the past, Americans faced Americans.

My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond — was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?

Instructions had been given and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier&aposs salutation, from the “order arms” to the old “carry” — the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual, — honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!

Chamberlain was a professor of rhetoric prior to the Civil War, and can consequently be verbose. While his prose is beautiful, it often obscures the basic meaning of an act. What he did, in short, was to give the “marching salute” to the Confederates who were marching to surrender. It was not the “present arms” that would be rendered for a high-ranking officer, but an informal salutation among soldiers.

This act, were it to happen today, would be unthinkable. The Rebel flag stands for treason, slavery, and inhumanity in our modern culture. But we are stuck in our own modern culture and do not place ourselves in the shoes of these men who had bled each other dry. When they stared at each other across the road, they saw Americans. Some triumphant some defeated, but Americans nonetheless.

As each successive division masks our own, it halts, the men face inward towards us across the road, twelve feet away then carefully “dress” their line, each captain taking pains for the good appearance of his company, worn and half-starved as they were. The field and staff take their positions in the intervals of regiments generals in rear of their commands. They fix bayonets, stack arms then, hesitatingly, remove cartridge-boxes and lay them down. Lastly, — reluctantly, with agony of expression, — they tenderly fold their flags, battle-worn and torn, blood-stained, heart -holding colors, and lay them down some frenziedly rushing from the ranks, kneeling over them, clinging to them, pressing them to their lips with burning tears.

As the Confederate soldiers laid down their flags, they laid down their identities as rebels, as fighters they laid down their connection with their hometowns and communities. Most laid down their hate and returned to the Union. For some, however, it was too much, and they kept that flag burning in their minds, where it would fuel the racist violence of the Reconstruction era.

It is for that reason that the Confederate flag must no longer be seen in Walmarts, on state capitol building, or waved proudly in parades. It cannot be a popular symbol of hateful violence. Where it should hang is in museums, archives, and historical displays as a reminder of what happened when our country split and the two sides could no longer communicate with each other. To erase the memory of the Confederacy entirely is to invite similar events back another day under a different flag.

If we can learn anything from the simple act of Chamberlain, it is that reconciliation begins with respect.

And only the Flag of the Union greets the sky!


The Civil War's final surrender

On June 23, 1865, 150 years ago, the last Confederate general surrendered his arms at Doaksville, Oklahoma, near Fort Towson. Confederate Brigadier General Chief Stand Watie (his Cherokee name was De-ga-ta-ga) was a Cherokee. He commanded the First Indian Brigade of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Confederate cavalry, a regiment consisting of Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw men, and he was one of only two American Indian men to achieve that rank in the whole Civil War. The other, Seneca Brigadier General Ely S. Parker (his given name was Hasanoanda) of New York, had a very different surrender story: Parker, an aid to General Ulysses S. Grant, drafted the formal terms of surrender for General Robert E. Lee to sign at Appomattox.

Before the war, Stand Watie had led a contentious life. He was born in Georgia in 1806 and lived among the Indian nations that became known as the "Five Civilized Tribes"—the Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson declared his support for the white Southerners who had begun pressuring these communities to move west, out of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, to a home in what was called Indian Territory—modern Oklahoma. Unlike many of his fellows, Watie actually believed that moving would benefit the tribes by securing new land for their communities, and as a Cherokee leader he and three other American Indian leaders signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, a document that provided for the removal of the Five Civilized Tribes to Indian Territory.

The resulting trek of 40,000 American Indians across the South to Indian Territory became known as the Trail of Tears. Disease, exhaustion, and hunger were rampant on the road, and 4,000 American Indians died en route. In the aftermath of the trek, three of the four Cherokee leaders who signed the Treaty of New Echota were assassinated Watie was the only one to survive.

Prior to the Civil War, Watie was a slave-holder with actively Southern sympathies. When the southern states began to secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861, the majority of the Cherokee Nation voted to support the Confederacy, hoping that a new Southern government would be more apt to respect their territorial claims and keep the terms of any treaty agreements. To this end, Watie raised a force of 300 Cherokee to fight for the Confederacy. His First Indian Brigade won a number of notable victories, including capturing a Union steamboat on the Arkansas River and a Union supply train at the Battle of Cabin Creek. But Watie was once again a leader of a divided Cherokee people. Those who declared loyalty to the Confederacy backed Watie, while Unionist Cherokee split off to follow a man named John Ross (his Cherokee name was Koo-wi-s-gu-wi). As the war dragged on, Ross's cause gained followers and support. (You can learn a little more about Ross from the Library of Congress.)

Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital city, fell to Union forces on April 3, 1865. Less than a week later, Brig. Gen. Parker wrote up the terms of surrender for General Robert E. Lee. On June 15, 1865, the Grand Council of Confederate Indian chiefs convened to declare that it was time for Confederate Indians, too, to lay down their arms. Lt. Gen. E. Kirby Smith had surrendered the Army of Trans-Mississippi on May 26, but Brig. Gen. Watie refused to admit defeat. As weeks passed, the Confederate Army dwindled to one lone general and his men. On June 23, Watie finally accepted that the fight was over. He surrendered to Lt. Col. Asa C. Matthews at Doaksville.

Watie only lived another few years. He died at his home near Honey Creek in Indian Territory on September 9, 1871.

Tory Altman has also blogged about Jewish American historical objects and What it Means to be American. Learn more about the last surrenders of the Civil War in this Prologue Magazine article from the National Archives.


Time for Confederate flag devotees to surrender

Yes, the Confederate battle flag that flies over the grounds of the state Capitol in Columbia, S.C., should be taken down and sent to a museum. The state’s two most prominent Republican leaders, Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Lindsey Graham, have finally come around to the rightness of this action, spurred on by the deaths of nine African Americans at a Charleston church who were gunned down by a 21-year-old white supremacist.

The Confederate flag has been waved defiantly by so many murderous racists over many dark decades that it long ago became an irredeemable symbol of everything that was wrong with the Old South.

Still, I have a small bit of sympathy for those who are genuinely bewildered by the antagonism to a banner that, for them, represents the bravery and sacrifice of their ancestors. This is not because my family has any ties to the Confederacy. On the contrary, my great-grandfather fought in the army of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on his famously destructive march to the sea. (I raised the ire of a cartoonist colleague of mine -- a proud son of Georgia -- when, during a trip to Atlanta years ago, I joked that the last time one of my relatives had been in the city he helped burn the place down.) My limited sympathy comes not from family history, but from a childhood preoccupation.

I was an avid student of the Civil War from the fourth grade on. I devoured books about the conflict. I also had a big collection of toy Civil War soldiers that I set up on the floor of our family living room to reenact elaborate battles between the blue and gray figures. Miniature Confederate flags were simply part of the action, and bigger versions of the rebel flag filled out my small collection of national flags. Frankly, as a sheltered white kid growing up in Seattle far from the realities of life in the South, I thought the Confederate flag was kind of cool.

In more recent years, I’ve taken my own son and daughter on forced marches to Civil War battlefields and reenactments. And, of course, I watched every hour of Ken Burns’ exhaustive documentary about the Civil War when it first appeared on PBS. The tales of daring and tragic loss, the elaborate maneuvers of vast armies and the clash of ideals embodied by grand figures such as Lincoln and Lee have continued to hold my fascination. There is always more to learn about the war that tore America apart.

Over time, the most important thing I have learned is that, until very recently, a big piece of the story was being neglected. Classic narratives about the Civil War mentioned slavery, of course, but the conflict was almost always presented as an American tragedy, a costly fight between brothers in which the two sides were treated as equally heroic and equally just in their motives. When accounts of the Civil War are confined to events during the four years of battle, it is not hard to write the story that way. But a broader understanding of what came before the war and, even more significantly, what happened after makes it painfully obvious that one side was fighting to maintain an evil system of oppression.

The South’s resistance did not end at Appomattox. Through unconstitutional laws and deadly intimidation, white Southerners successfully rolled back most of the gains made by emancipation from slavery and effectively suppressed the political and economic aspirations of black Americans for an additional 100 years -- and they quite often committed these egregious acts while brandishing the flag that Confederate soldiers once carried into battle.

As I said, I do believe that some Southerners are sincere in their assertion that they do not see the Confederate flag as a symbol of white supremacy. I believe them because they were raised with the same romanticized version of Civil War history as I was. Southern apologists spent decades grabbing hold of the narrative, playing up the glory of a Lost Cause and downplaying the undeniable fact that the cause, at its root, was defense of the slave system.

Now, after 150 years, it is time for Southerners who bought into the false history to surrender to the truth: Since 1865, the South’s battle flag has become too sullied by the segregationists and violent racists who appropriated it as their own to allow it to be flown near a government building in South Carolina or stand in legislative halls (as it does in Alabama’s Statehouse) or be part of a state flag (as is the case in Mississippi).

The South will rise again, but it will not be the Old South. There is a new South being formed by black and white Southerners who believe that working for justice and equality in the present day is an unquestionably more worthy cause than allegiance to an old flag or obeisance to a past that should be allowed to fade away.


Lee’s Men Get to Keep Horses: Rations Go to Confederate Soldiers

McLean residence in Appomattox Court House, photographed in 1865 by Timothy O’Sullivan. / Wikimedia Commons

Soon after entering the village, the two Confederates happened upon a homeowner, Wilmer McLean, who showed them an unfurnished and somewhat run-down house. After being told that would not do for such an important occasion, he offered his own house for the surrender meeting. After seeing the house, they accepted and sent a message back to Lee.

Lee reached the McLean house around 1 p.m. Along with his aide-de-camp Lt. Col. Charles Marshall and Babcock, he awaited Grant’s arrival in McLean’s parlor, the first room off the center hallway to the left. Grant arrived around 1:30. His personal staff and Generals Phil Sheridan and Edward Ord were with him. Grant and Lee discussed the old army and having met during the Mexican War.

Grant proposed that the Confederates, with the exception of officers, lay down their arms, and after signing paroles, return to their homes. Lee agreed with the terms, and Grant began writing them out.

One issue that Lee brought up before the terms were finalized and signed was the issue of horses. He pointed out that unlike the Federals, Confederate cavalrymen and artillerymen in his army owned their own horses. Grant stated that he would not add it to the agreement but would instruct his officers receiving the paroles to let the men take their animals home. Lee also brought up the subject of rations since his men had gone without rations for several days. Grant agreed to supply 25,000 rations to the hungry Confederate soldiers. Most of the rations were provided from Confederate supplies captured by Sheridan when he seized rebel supply trains at Appomattox Station the previous day.

Lee and Grant designated three officers each to make sure the terms of the surrender were properly carried out.

Grant and Lee met on horseback around 10 in the morning of April 10 on the eastern edge of town. There are conflicting accounts to what they discussed, but it is believed that three things came out of this meeting: each Confederate soldier would be given a printed pass, signed by his officers, to prove he was a paroled prisoner all cavalrymen and artillerymen would be allowed to retain their horses and Confederates who had to pass through Federal-occupied territory to get home were allowed free transportation on U.S. government railroads and vessels.

Printing presses were set up to print the paroles, and the formal surrender of arms took place on April 12. For those who stayed with Lee until the end, the war was over. It was time for them to head home. Lee left Appomattox and rode to Richmond to join his wife.


The Final Confederate Surrender, 150 Years Ago - HISTORY

There is something particularly poignant about those who lose their lives in the final throes of a conflict– deaths that come when the soldiers themselves are aware the end is in sight. In many cases, the timing of such deaths must have made it even more difficult for those at home to accept. 150 years ago today, at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, Virginia, yet more names were added to the butcher’s bill of the Civil War. Among them were Irishmen James McFadden and Thomas Brennan. The circumstances which led these two men to their fate could not have been more different one had chosen to be there, the other had not been given a choice. Each of their stories had elements which must have accentuated the grief felt by those they left behind.

Massmount, Fanad, Co. Donegal, where James McFadden was married. Interestingly this isloated church and graveyard is also the final resting place of a number of my own direct ancestors. (Google)

James McFadden was from the Fanad peninsula in Co. Donegal. On 3rd December 1850 he had married Anna Duffy in the picturesque rural setting of Massmount Chapel. Sometime later the couple emigrated to the United States, where they made their home among large numbers of other Donegal Irish in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If the couple did have any children, none survived into adulthood. When war came in 1861 James was an early volunteer. He mustered into Company G of the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry, a 3-month-unit, on 21st April. When the opportunity came to re-enlist in the regiment for three years service he did so, becoming a private in Company F on 2nd August. The 23rd Pennsylvania were one of the colourfully uniformed zouave units, and over the course of the next three years James marched with them onto battlefields like Seven Pines, Chantilly, Second Fredericksburg, Salem Church, Gettysburg and eventually the Overland Campaign. The Donegal man was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864, but was soon able to return to active duty. The 23rd Pennsylvania mustered out on 8th September 1864 having completed its service, but James didn’t go home with them. He had re-enlisted as a veteran, and along with the other men who had done so, was transferred to see out the remainder of his term in the ranks of the 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry, becoming a Corporal in Company E. (1)

In April 1865, as the Federals pursued Robert E. Lee’s Confederates following the fall of Richmond, the 82nd Pennsylvania was part of Horation G. Wright’s Sixth Corps. On 6th April they found themselves forming part of a Union line of battle at the Hillsman Farm sector of the Sailor’s Creek battlefield. Facing Rebels of Ewell’s Corps across Little Sailor’s Creek, they struggled through a ‘deep difficult swamp’ and ‘almost impenetrable undergrowth and forest’ to the attack, in the process taking a severe flanking fire from the Confederate lines. Changing front, the 82nd were able to engage the enemy and play their role in what would ultimately be a major Union victory. However, they sustained heavy losses– 19 men had been killed and a further 80 wounded. James McFadden was among them. He had survived almost four years of continual service only to fall just as the war was coming to an end. His loss would have been hard on Anna back in Philadelphia. When she wrote to the pension bureau with a query in 1888, Mary noted that her husband had ‘went all through the war, and was killed at the surrender of Richmond.’ That he had survived so much, only to be taken right at the end was clearly tough to take. (2)

Soldiers of the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry playing cards (History of the Twenty Third Regiment)

The circumstances by which Thomas Brennan found himself at Sailor’s Creek on 6th April were very different to his fellow countryman. Unlike James McFadden, we don’t know where in Ireland Thomas was from. He had married fellow Irish emigrant Mary Grant at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Minersville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania on 13th May 1855. They went on to have a number of children, John (born c. 1856), Thomas (born c. 1858), Margaret (born c. 1860) and Patrick (born c. 1863). As has been examined in a recent post, Schuylkill County was home to a large community of Irish coal miners who were not afraid to challenge– sometimes violently– the authority of both their employers and the government during the war. Schuylkill had seen some of the most determined resistance to the draft witnessed anywhere in the north. Like the majority of Irish in the area, Thomas was a miner. The 1860 Census found the then 30-year-old and his 29-year-old wife living in the strongly Irish Cass Township in Schuylkill with their children. There is every chance that Thomas was just as opposed to the draft as many of his Irish miner colleagues indeed he may even have participated in some of the widespread resistance to it. (3)

The authorities had such difficulty in drawing up a list of the men eligible for the draft in Schuylkill County that eventually officials were sent in backed by troops to seize the payroll of mine operators and get the miner’s details. Whether Thomas Brennan had given his information willingly or had them taken forcibly is unknown. Either way, his name was pulled in the draft at Pottsville and he was enlisted into Company A of the 99th Pennsylvania Infantry on 19th July 1864. On the 6th April 1865 the 99th Pennsylvania, part of Humphreys’ Second Corps, found themselves facing elements of Gordon’s Confederate Corps at the Lockett Farm sector of the Sailor’s Creek battlefield. Throughout the day they had conducted a series of charges against Confederate skirmish lines. Their brigade captured over 1300 enemy troops during their advance, also taking artillery and battleflags. It proved to be the last day on which the 99th Pennsylvania Infantry would lose men to combat during the American Civil War– and one of them was the coal miner Thomas Brennan. Mary Brennan lived in Schuylkill County for the rest of her life, dying there on 18th April 1903. Her husband had died in the final days of a conflict that he may well have felt little investment in. Did Mary harbour any resentment as a result? (4)

The circumstances which led James McFadden and Thomas Brennan to Sailor’s Creek were very different. One had been a volunteer from the war’s early days, fighting for the Union for the full four years of the conflict. The other had been drafted from an area renowned for it’s anti-draft sentiment, and was ordered to the front to help prosecute the war in it’s final months. The family’s of both would have had cause to feel aggrieved at their loss so close to the end of the dying. They would certainly not have been alone.

The Surrender of Ewell’s Corps at Sailor’s Creek by Alfred Waud (Library of Congress)

*None of my work on pensions would be possible without the exceptional effort currently taking place in the National Archives to digitize this material and make it available online via Fold3. A team from NARA supported by volunteers are consistently adding to this treasure trove of historical information. To learn more about their work you can watch a video by clicking here.

(1) James McFadden Widow’s Pension File, Survivors Association 1904: 22, 224 (2) Official Records: 949, James McFadden Widow’s Pension File (3) Thomas Brennan Widow’s Pension File, 1860 Federal Census (4) Kenny 1998: 91, Official Records: 783-4, Michael Brennan Widow’s Pension File

References & Further Reading

Thomas Brennan Widow’s Pension File WC64214.

James McFadden Widow’s Pension File WC71212.

Kenny, Kevin 1998. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires.

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 46, Part 1. Report of Col. Isaac C. Bassett, Eighty-Second Pennsylvania Infantry.

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 46, Part 1. Report of Col. Russell B. Shepherd, First Maine Heavy Artillery, commanding First Brigade.


Lee Surrenders! … 150 Years Ago

On April 9, 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union General Ulysses Grant. The event marked the beginning of the end of the four-year U.S. Civil War that killed more than 700,000 people and freed the slaves.

Today, Americans note the 150 th anniversary of General Lee’s surrender. Many consider it one of the most emotional moments in U.S. history.

David Ward is a senior historian at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. He calls the surrender scene dramatic.

One reason, he says, is because the personalities of Lee and Grant showed the two sides of the war.

Lee’s side, the south, included many large farms that depended on slave labor. The southern farm owners were often wealthy, polite and well-connected in society. Even though Lee was not wealthy, he belonged to a famous family.

“And he very much embodied the whole seigniorial, aristocratic, paternal element in the Old South, the slave-owning states.

In contrast, Grant’s family had neither money nor social influence. But he, like the north, was able to use the resources he had in a new way to achieve success. Grant eventually defeated Lee because Grant’s army had more food and supplies.

When it became clear that Lee could not continue to fight, the two generals agreed to meet in a house in a Virginia town called Appomattox Courthouse.

Historian David Ward says Lee arrived at the meeting well-dressed. Grant wore a dirty uniform. Their appearances, too, seemed to show their differences. But, Mr. Ward explains, General Grant did not know the fighting was going to end and so did not have his best uniform ready.

Mr. Ward calls the meeting “awkward,” or uncomfortable. He says the men talked about unimportant things at first because they did not know what to do.

“Grant reminds Lee that they had met in the war with Mexico, and Lee, who is a much taller man, Lee looks down at Grant and says, ‘I don’t remember you at all.’ Which, I always think, it must be really tough to lose a war. And Lee at that point I think really feeling the fact that he’s having to surrender to somebody who he’s not regarding really as his equal.”

Except for that moment, Mr. Ward says the two men behaved politely. Lee reminded Grant they were there to discuss the conditions of surrender. Grant sat down and quickly wrote them in a letter.

Most historians agree the conditions were generous. They permitted the southern soldiers to keep their horses and personal weapons. Grant also offered to feed the southern troops.

Mr. Ward points out the conditions discussed only military issues. They did not force Lee to agree to political or social changes. In that way, he says, the conditions aimed to make it easier for the south and north to operate as one country again.

“It’s this moment where the society rips itself apart, remakes itself, and now everyone recognizes in some way, shape or form, through some compromise or another, we now have to put everything back together again.”

Indeed, when Lee left the building, Grant stopped the Northern troops from cheering. He said the two sides were no longer enemies, and the best way to show the North’s joy was not to celebrate the South’s defeat.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this report. Hai Do was the editor.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Surrender of Fort Donelson, 151 years ago

151 years ago today, Confederate forces at Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River in Tennessee, surrendered to Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. Since one of the top five most popular posts on this blog is my entry from one year ago on the 150th anniversary of Fort Donelson's surrender, I wanted to repost that article today, as well as some pictures from Fort Donelson that I took during my visit there last March. As always, I love visiting the South, and Tennessee is one of my favorite states in the country. Fort Donelson is a relatively small off the beaten path site, but it is well worth your time to visit.

Fort Donelson and the Rise of Ulysses S. Grant: 150 Years Ago

150 years ago today, Ulysses S. Grant was a Brigadier General on the cusp of either victory or defeat. On the afternoon of February 15, 1862, he found himself galloping over icy roads to salvage his army and his chances of capturing the Confederate forces at Fort Donelson. After three days sitting outside of Fort Donelson along the Cumberland River in northern Tennessee, the moment of crisis had arrived—a moment that would determine not only the course of the war in the West, but would also launch Grant on to a career of unsurpassed fame.

On the afternoon of February 6th, just hours after Fort Henry had surrendered to Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote’s Western Gunboat Flotilla on the Tennessee River, Ulysses Simpson Grant—born Hiram Ulysses Grant, and changed thanks to a clerical error during his acceptance to West Point—immediately seized upon his next move. He wired Major General Henry Halleck in St. Louis, informing him that by February 8th, Grant and his force of infantry and navy gunboats would move on and take Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, 12 miles to the east of Fort Henry. While his goals were ambitious, necessities slowed his advance. Foote’s gunboats were forced to retire to Cairo, Illinois, for repairs before making another attack on a river fortress, such as the one they had undertaken on the 6th at Fort Henry. By February 12th, after days of reconnoitering Confederate lines, Grant was finally ready to move in concert with his gunboats. That morning, Grant set out on the 12 mile march east to Donelson. Arriving late in the day, he began making his troop dispositions so as to close off escape routes for Donelson’s defenders. Grant positioned the division of Brigadier General C.F. Smith, his former Commandant of Cadets at West Point, on the Union left, with John McClernand stretching his division to cover the Union right, forming from the area around Indian Creek to the town of Dover and Lick Creek near the Cumberland. On the 13th, there was skirmishing along the lines, but not much more. The major action was being held off for the 14th.

Following a failed Confederate advance around noon on the 14th, the action shifted to the choppy brown waters of the Cumberland. There, Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote, aboard the USS St. Louis, began his second assault of the campaign against a river fortress. While at Fort Henry, Foote had the advantage of moving against a fortress with low lying guns, 50% of which were under flooding river waters, the guns of Fort Donelson sat atop 100 foot high bluffs, greatly compromising the accuracy and abilities of the Federal gunboats. With the USS St. Louis, USS Pittsburg, USS Carondelet, and USS Louisville leading the way, Foote began his attack at 3:00 p.m. Steaming upriver against the swift currents of the Cumberland, Foote battled both Confederate gunners and the river itself. He was seen from the St. Louis with a bull horn directing the assault of the gunboats so that they would advance in concert. Yet, despite his best efforts, events went terribly awry for Andrew Foote. The guns of Fort Donelson were simply too much for his gunboats to bear. As Commander Henry Walke of the USS Carondelet later recalled:

The fight was especially harrowing for the men inside the Carondelet, as one of the 12 artillery pieces exploded inside the ship, killing and wounding almost 2 dozen men. As the fighting intensified, the deck of the USS Carondelet became so slick with the blood of its crewmen that sand was laid down to soak up the heavy price being exacted by the Confederate guns of Fort Donelson.

Confederate soldiers and gunners alike watched with anticipation as their shells clanked off of the Union gunboats, wreaking great havoc. One member of the 49th Tennessee later remembered the scene vividly:

After an hour and a half of such brutal fighting, Foote’s flag ship, the St. Louis, was hit directly in the pilot house, wounding Foote, demolishing the steering wheel, and causing the ship to lose control, drifting wildly downstream with the currents of the Cumberland. With the damage to the St. Louis, the Union flotilla retired downriver, abandoning their fight against Fort Donelson.

That evening, as Confederate soldiers felt secure in having driven back the Union flotilla, Confederate generals John Floyd, Gideon Pillow, and Simon Bolivar Buckner were less sure of their success. Despite having wired Confederate officials of a great victory, these men still realized that they were essentially pinned down by Grant. Thus, the following morning, February 15, 1862, a breakout attack was to be launched at dawn. Gideon Pillow was to lead the attack against the Federal right, prying open the Forge Road leading to Nashville and safety. Buckner was to follow with the troops from the Confederate right, providing a wedge to keep the escape road open for Pillow’s men to leave the fort. Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner hoped the plan would give them enough time to escape the approaching jaws of defeat and surrender awaiting them just outside their defensive works.

On the morning of the 15th, as the Confederates inside the fort were preparing their breakout attempt, Ulysses Grant was riding north to meet Foote aboard the St. Louis. Grant did not anticipate an attack while he was gone, and thus had ordered his commanders not to make any offensive movements. As Grant met with Foote several miles away, too far to hear the action at Donelson, the Confederate counter attack began at dawn with great success. By mid-morning, the Federal lines were being torn apart by Pillow’s attack, and by noon, the Confederate attack had opened their escape route. John McClernand, desperate for help, sent word to recently christened division commander Brigadier General Lew Wallace to his left, begging for reinforcements. Despite having been ordered by Grant not to make any offensive movements, Wallace acted on his own and send one of his two brigades to the aid of McClernand. By the time that the Confederate attack had reached its zenith, Wallace had moved his other brigade, commanded by John Thayer, closer to McClernand’s lines so as to further reinforce the Federal right.

As McClernand and Wallace were struggling to stop the Confederate onslaught, confusion began to flow through the Confederate ranks. Just as Buckner’s men were preparing to do leave their lines so as to strengthen the Confederate breakthrough, inexplicably, Pillow ordered a halt to his attack and sent his men back into the Fort Donelson works to retrieve their supplies and artillery pieces which he felt necessary for the move to Nashville. The evening before had clearly left holes in the Confederate plan, as it was not articulated well nor fully understood by each of the Confederate leaders that day. Gideon Pillow believed his men needed to retire back to their earlier lines before moving on to Nashville Buckner strongly disagreed, believing such a move would abandon the initiative that just been seized. Upon Pillow and Buckner taking their case to John Floyd, the commanding officer sided with Pillow, thus rebuffing Buckner’s pleas to maintain the offensive. This decision would prove to be quite costly for the Confederates at Donelson. While the Confederates delayed and argued, the seemingly defeated Federals found an opportunity.

In the late morning hours, upon leaving the St. Louis, Grant was met by an aide, white faced with fear. Quickly learning of what had occurred, Grant mounted his horse and sped his way to his lines to reclaim some sense of order. On this fateful ride, Grant was riding to the salvation of his army, riding against all odds to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Grant was a man much accustomed to finding success out of failure after all, he had done it with his own personal life. In the 1850s, after resigning from the army due to charges of alcoholism, personal loneliness, and depression, Grant fell into very difficult times. At one point, he borrowed money from friend and former West Point classmate Simon Bolivar Buckner, the man against whom he was now battling. In 1857, Grant pawned off a gold watch for the price of $22 to provide for his family. Now, five years later, a Brigadier General in the Union army, Grant was riding to the rescue not only of his forces outside of Fort Donelson he was riding to the rescue of his military career and to the rescue of his country in its greatest hour of peril.

Arriving on the scene, Grant surveyed the situation and took stock of what needed to be done. He spoke first with C.F. Smith on the Federal left, then rode on to meet Wallace and McClernand on the chaotic Federal right. In his article on Fort Donelson in the Battles and Leaders series on the Civil War, Brigadier General Lew Wallace recalled the scene:

As Grant left Wallace and McClernand, he rode back to his old mentor C.F. Smith on the Union left. Correctly assuming that the Confederate counterattack against McClernand had weakened the Confederate forces facing the Union left, Grant ordered Smith to make a full assault on the Confederate works. Smith quickly went to work gathering his forces, and by 2 p.m., he was ready to advance. Riding out front of his lines on a magnificent white horse, Smith placed his hat on the tip of his sword and ordered his men to fix their bayonets and to not cap their guns, thus assuring the men would not stop to fire during their charge against the Confederate works. Smith exhorted the men to give their all to the Union cause, proclaiming, “Come on, you volunteers, come on. This is your chance. You volunteered to be killed for love of your country and now you can be!” Shortly after 2 p.m., Smith began his advance, and what was up to that time the greatest Federal feat of arms in the West had begun.

As the gallant Smith rode into battle, directly behind him followed the 2nd Iowa. Being one of the lead regiments, the 2nd Iowa suffered particularly great casualties, especially among the flag bearers. Seeing the regimental standard fall time and time again, a series of brave souls stepped to the forefront to hold their nation’s symbol aloft. In the midst of the counterattack, Color Sergeant Harry Doolittle, wounded four times that day, noted that the flag took on a transcendent meaning to it:

The fourth and final man to pick up the flag that day was 19 year old Corporal Voltaire P. Twombley. Racing behind Smith, Twombley led the Federal rise up the Fort Donelson works. Standing atop the parapet, Twombley waved the Union flag high as his brothers in blue descended into the outer works of Fort Donelson, cheering, yelling, running, and driving back the remaining Confederate defenders. Firmly planting the Federal colors atop Fort Donelson’s outer works, that day Corporal Twombley earned himself the Congressional Medal of Honor.

That evening, as the sun set on the blood covered fields around Fort Donelson, Grant’s counterattack had worked. Smith had taken the outer defenses of Donelson and could now fire into the fort with artillery. On the Federal right, Wallace and McClernand had retaken significant amounts of the ground lost that morning. Inside the Confederate fort, the Confederate high command saw the writing on the wall. John Floyd, the commanding officer, passed command off to Gideon Pillow and set off for Nashville to avoid capture and the likely event of being tried for treason for his pro-Southern activities as Secretary of War from 1857 to 1860. Pillow likewise passed off the command, setting out across the Cumberland in a small skiff barely big enough for he and his chief of staff. Thus, Simon Bolivar Buckner, the man who had once loaned Ulysses S. Grant money, was now left to send Grant a message of a very different nature.

The following morning, a party bearing a flag of truce entered Union lines held by C.F. Smith’s division. Smith escorted the part to Grant’s nearby headquarters, understanding the significance of the occasion. Upon receiving a message from Buckner asking what terms of surrender he might offer, and with the helpful and stern advice of C.F. Smith, Grant replied in the only way he knew how:

Gen. S.B. Buckner, Confederate Army

Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

U.S. Grant Brigadier General

Buckner responded with frustration at Grant’s terms, noting that his position was doomed to fall:


Stop Saying the Civil War Ended 150 Years Ago Today, It DIDN’T

For some odd reason, everyone has been talking about how our civil war ended 150 years ago today, this day April 9, 2015. But this simply is not true, so stop saying it.

While it is true that General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. General Hiram Ulysses Grant (who most call Ulysses Simpson Grant) on April 9, 1865, that action didn’t fully end the war. It only ended the fighting right there in northern Virginia. It just plain didn’t signal the actual end of the war.

The day Lee surrendered there were several other major Confederate armies in other sections of the country still in the filed and that isn’t to even mention the dozens of small raiders, guerilla groups, and irregular outfits fighting nearly from coast to coast. Nor does it mention the many naval forces plying the world’s oceans.

Of course, it’s also true that Robert E Lee was nominally the general of all the south’s fighting forces the day he surrendered to Grant. C.S. President Jefferson Davis promoted Lee to commander of all CS forces on January 31, 1865, but this was more or less a paper promotion as Lee had no way to directly coordinate with the whole nation’s armed forces. That sort of national coordination was the long term plan, of course, but it was a plan never fully realized as the end came too quickly. So Lee’s surrender was an extremely key moment in ending the war, but he did not control the other armies in the field despite his exalted title.

In reality, despite the promotion and the plans, Lee had no effective way to communicate to the other armies in the field with enough alacrity to control their movements. After all, you have to remember that this was a day when the telegraph was the only way to communicate over long distances past delivering your message on a railroad, a horse, or a boat. The lag time of communications made direct command of forces over thousands of miles of territory practically impossible.

Even Lincoln, who ran his war very much on his own hook in many ways, could only send his orders then cross his fingers and hope they were carried out. He had no way to make sure his orders were fulfilled with on-the-spot command and control.

So, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House was not the end of the war. There were thousands of other CS soldiers still fighting in other parts of the country and it would be weeks before news spread that Lee had surrendered.

Further, those other CS generals had no compelling reasons to follow Lee’s example and surrender their forces, too. And another thing to remember is that the CS government itself had not surrendered with Lee. As far as all the other CS armies were concerned, Lee was not the final word on anything.

Yes, the bloodshed continued for some time after Lee’s surrender. As a study by Darroch Greer notes, battles continued to rage between north and south for months after Lee gave up his army. At least another 14,000 casualties were racked up before the last battle ended by July of 1865.

Finally, the US government itself didn’t declare the end of the civil war until August 20, 1865. This was four months after Abe Lincoln was assassinated and four and a half months after Lee surrendered!

So, just stop saying that the civil war ended 150 years ago to this day, April 9, 2015. It just didn’t.


Civil War’s 150th anniversary of the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee: Battle of Gettysburg

The battlefields of the Civil War then and now: Pictures reveal how settings of the bloodiest conflicts in U.S. history look 150 years on

  • Just over 150 years ago, they hosted deadly battles and gruesome episodes of conflict in U.S. history
  • Pictures released by the national archive show corpses lying in front of churches and soldiers being hung
  • Thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers perished in these places, and places look strikingly similar today

Just over 150 years ago, they hosted some of the deadliest battles and most gruesome episodes of conflict in U.S. history.

Thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers perished in these places, and more the century after the bloodshed, the memories of the Civil War still remain.

Pictures released by the national archive show corpses lying in front of churches, soldiers being hung and troops preparing for battle across the country.

They have been compared with images taken at the same spot today, and many locations have stayed the same.

Bodies at Dunker Church in Antietam, Maryland, in September 1862. The battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day of fighting in US history, with over 20,000 people killed, wounded or declared missing. The church, which was destroyed by a fire, was rebuilt in the 1960s to celebrate the centenary of the fighting

A Confederate soldier is hanged in a prison next to the US Capitol building on November 10, 1865. Now it is surrounded in scaffolding with undergoing renovations��

Union army soldiers stand outside Price, Birch and Co, a slave dealer on Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia. Today the sign on the facade has been removed, but a memorial plaque is positioned in front��

Dunker Church in Antietam, Maryland, the scene of a battle that claimed 20,000 lives, was destroyed by a fire, but was rebuilt in the 1960s to celebrate the centenary of the fighting.

The landscape looks eerily similar to a photo taken in 1862, when bodies of soldiers killed in battle were lined up on the ground.

A prison for Confederate soldiers next to the US Capitol building as long been torn down, but the dome atop the building still rises high in the background from where the gallows once stood.

Price, Birch and Co, a slave dealer on Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia, has been out of business since the end of the war, but the building it was housed in still stands. The only reminder of its past is a commemorative plaque on the sidewalk.

In 1863, corpses lay on the Devil's Den in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Photographers set up on the side of the battle would place them for pictures.

Now children can clamber and play on them.

A building destroyed by a fire in Richmond, Virginia's' Burnt District is now the site of four-star The Berkley Hotel.

The entrance to the cemetery at Evergreen Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July 1863. It was built nearly a decade before the battle on the surrounding grounds which claimed 51,000 lives. A replica cannon remains there in recognition of confrontation��

In 1863, corpses lay on the Devil's Den in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where children play today. Photographers would set up on the battle field and position their bodies for pictures��

The president's box at Fords Theater in Washington D.C., photographed at the time of Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865. Performances are still staged in the venue, while many tourists visit the site where the president was gunned down��

Members of the federal cavalry gallop across a stream in Sudley Spring's Ford in Virginia in 1862 - the site of the war's first major battle

Federal General Samuel P Heintzelman and his staff at Arlington House in Virginia, circa 1862. It was the home of Confederate General Robert E Lee for around 30 years before the start of the war. He then moved to Richmond��

A building destroyed in a fire in Richmond, Virginia's, Burnt District is now the site of four-star The Berkeley Hotel��

��This photo shows Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April 1861 after it was overrun by Confederate troops. Today it is a museum dedicated to one of the earliest battles of the conflict.

Civil War re-enactors gather in Virginia for the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee

The surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant 150 years ago on Thursday was a milestone event in the end of the Civil War.

Thursday's commemoration in Appomattox, Virginia, included a reenactment of Lee's last clash with Grant's troops and of the Confederate surrender in a Virginia farmhouse on April 9, 1865.

Ahead of the battle reenactment, the boys of the Confederate 11th Virginia were a seemingly pretty cool bunch as those portraying Union troops gathered several fields away at Appomattox Court House amid the rolling farm country dotted by neat brick buildings and white picket fences.

In April 1865, however, the troops weren't as calm. Lee's forces were in a state of growing disarray in the hours before Lee formally called it quits.

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American Civil War re-enactors dressed as Union cavalry drill early in the morning at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Confederate troops muster in front of the McLean House as they prepare for battle during a re-enactment of the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse

Today is the 150th anniversary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Union forces commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant in the McLean House at Appomattox, Virginia

Lee's surrender in Appomattox, Virginia marked the beginning of the end of the American Civil War in 1865

American Civil War re-enactors dressed as Confederate cavalry walk in formation as part of the re-enactment of the Battle of Appomattox Court House

American Civil War re-enactors dressed as Union cavalry drill early in the morning at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Civil War re-enactors mark 150th anniversary of war's end

Ragged, hungry Southern soldiers, many straggling and on the run from federal forces, began giving up alone and in small bunches even before the official surrender. Days earlier that month, the Union Army had already smashed their way into the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

Lee's forces, seeking an escape route, had crossed the Appomattox River while burning bridges. Union forces 'attacked them vigorously' in the hours before the official surrender, convincing Lee the fight was over.

The last days accounts were cited as saying 'the road for miles was strewn with broken down wagons, caissons, and baggage of all kinds, presenting a scene seldom witnessed on the part of Lee's army.'

But in 2015, a stoic Chris Ferree couldn't contain his excitement when asked about his role in the 150th commemoration of Lee's surrender here, effectively ending the Civil War 150 years ago on Thursday.

'This is an awesome place to be,' said Ferree, a Roanoke resident. 'We're all excited to be here.'

The Confederate re-enactors were a ragtag, mismatched group of heavy wool coats, ill-fitting trousers and more types of hats than a haberdashery. Dozens stood along a rough wooden fence, their muskets stacked at the ready.

American Civil War re-enactors portraying Confederate artillery fire several of their cannons during the re-enactment

Confederate artillery re-enactors appear to work in threes to fire off each cannon. They cover their ears as the cannons blow

Re-enactors dressed as confederate troops fire their muskets in rows of two as more men gather behind in preparation to shoot

American Civil War re-enactors acting as members of the North Carolina 26th Infantry leave the field of battle once the re-enactment is finished

Re-enactors acting as members of the North Carolina 26th Infantry carry their weapons and flag on their shoulders as they leave the battle field

American Civil War re-enactors dressed as Union cavalry celebrate after defeating Confederate troops at a re-enactment of the battle

Confederate and Union forces clash during a re-enactment of the Battle of Appomattox Station on Wednesday as part of the 150th anniversary of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Union forces at Appomattox Court House, in Appomattox, Virginia

The Union and Southern re-enactors spent the night encamped in tents at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.

The smell of wood smoke greeted the first of thousands of visitors expected to throng the park for several days of commemorative events. The outline of Union troops in formation could be seen in fields as visitors approached the park.

Perry Miller of Salisbury, a re-enactor with the North Carolina 28th from Salisbury, explained the strategy succinctly: 'We're trying to break through the Union lines.'

Thomas Holbrook, a park ranger on loan from Gettysburg to Appomattox, went down the line of re-enactors for a quick briefing before battle.

'This is part of what I like to call the armistice that was signed on April 9, when Gen. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia,' he said.

In a place where historically accurate fashions abound, the Rufeners of Ohio stood out.

Cousins by marriage, Kim and Mary Rufener carefully stepped through soaked turf and muddy roads at Appomattox to keep their hoop skirts mud-free. The two also wore bonnets as they watched Union and Confederate reenactors clash.

Confederate and Union re-enactors clash as they battle with swords on horseback as part of the Battle of Appomattox Court House re-enactment

Confederate and Union re-enactors dressed in gear likened to what was worn during the Civil War, 150 years ago

As several people rode on horseback, they re-enacted the battle as records show it occurred in Appomattox in April 1865

Union re-enactors charge Confederate troops on horses during a re-enactment of the Battle of Appomattox Station on Wednesday

Confederate re-enactors check their weapons during a re-enactment. The re-enactors spent the night camping in tents at the Appomattox Court House National Park

Amid the hundreds if not thousands lined along a fence watching a battle re-enactment, the two women drew attention as they posed for photographs.

'It just enhances the experience for us,' Kim Rufener said amid the startling booms of cannon fire and the crackle of muzzle fire. 'It makes it more alive. 'It's an important part of history that we need to remember.'

'We're just having fun,' Mary added.

Asked if the reproduction outfit had hampered her travels, Mary said, 'Well, it is muddy.' She modestly lifted the hem of her hoop skirt, revealing laced black boots that were slightly muddied.

Mary's husband Mark joined the two wearing a formal waist jacket and coachman's hat. He finished off the look with a cravat.

The Rufeners have been to other Civil War commemorative events, but Appomattox was the first in period costumes. 'This is a big deal,' Mary Rufener said, adding 'We won't be around for the 200th.'

A Confederate re-enactor rides her horse back to friendly lines so quickly that her hat, tied around her neck, flies off her head

Historical interpreter Susan Bowser, of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, pours water in a pan at the Union camp next to the McLean House during preparations for the anniversary

Civil War re-enactor Steve Riggs, of Charleston, South Carolina, with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, lets visitors pet his horse, Jackson, before a re-enactment

Historical interpreter Joe McShane, of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, shows Jeryl Callahan, right, of Lynchburg, Virginia, and others a Civil War era replica rifle during preparations for the anniversary

This image provided buy the Library of Congress shows an artists rendering of the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865

This April 1865 image provided by the Library of Congress shows Federal troops in front of the Appomattox Court House near the time of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender

Battle of Gettysburg -- considered to be the turning point of the American Civil War. The following day, July 4, 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia retreated, leaving Gettysburg for Virginia, and both sides tallied the costs of the war's bloodiest battle. At Gettysburg, more than 27,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were wounded, a further 7,800 men were killed on the battlefield. The war lasted another two years, but the tide had turned in the North's favor. Collected here are images from the battlefield 150 years ago -- some of the first war photography ever seen by the American public -- and scenes from a massive re-enactment of the events that took place over the past few days.

Confederate Civil War reenactors launch an evening attack during a three-day Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 29, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Some 8,000 reenactors from the Blue Gray Alliance participated in events marking the 150th anniversary of the July 1-3, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was defeated at Gettysburg, considered the turning point in the American Civil War. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Dead horses surround the damaged Trostle House, results of the Battle of Gettysburg, in July of 1863. Union general Major General Daniel Sickles used the farmhouse as a headquarters and Union and Confederate troops fought among the farm buildings during the fierce battle. (Library of Congress) #

"A harvest of death", a famous scene from the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, in July of 1863(Timothy H. O'Sullivan/Library of Congress) #

Members of the United States Sanitary Commission poses outside the tent during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 during the American Civil War. The women and men are not identified. (AP Photo) #

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Unfit for service. Artillery caisson and dead mule on the battlefield.(Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress) #

The "Slaughter pen" at foot of Round Top, after the Battle of Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania in July of 1863.(Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress) #

Amputation in a Field Hospital, Gettysburg. (Library of Congress) #

Confederate dead gathered for burial at the edge of the Rose woods, July 5, 1863. (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress) #

Three "Johnnie Reb" Prisoners, captured at Gettysburg, in 1863. (Mathew Brady/Library of Congress) #

Photographer Timothy H. O'Sullivan took this photo, one half of a stereo view of Alfred R. Waud, artist of Harper's Weekly, while he sketched on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July of 1863. (Timothy H. O'Sullivan/Library of Congress) #

Famed Civil War photographer Mathew B. Brady captures the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with his camera shortly after the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, in 1863. Hospital tents can be seen in the field at right. (AP Photo/Mathew B. Brady) #

John L. Burns, the "old hero of Gettysburg," with gun and crutches, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Burns, a 70-year-old civilian living nearby, grabbed his flintlock musket and powder horn and walked out to the battlefield to join in with Union troops. The soldiers took him in, and Burns served well as a sharpshooter. During a withdrawal, Burns was wounded several times and left on the field. he managed to get himself to safety, his wounds were treated, and his story elevated him to the status of National Hero briefly. (Library of Congress) #

Months after the battle, crowds gather in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863, the day of President Abraham Lincoln's address. (Library of Congress) #

President Abraham Lincoln (center, hatless), surrounded by a crowd during his famous Gettysburg Address, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. (AP Photo/Library of Congress) #

(Left) Dead horses litter the road outside the Leister farm, which was used as the headquarters of Union General George Meade during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 7, 1863. (Right) Cyclists ride along Taneytown road, passing the Leister farm on on June 30, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg.(Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress, John Moore/Getty Images) #

Reenactors watch a demonstration of a battle during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, at Bushey Farm in Pennsylvania, on June 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) #

An actor playing a Confederate soldier marches before waging a reenactment of The Battle of Little Roundtop during the Blue Gray Alliance events marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, on June 30, 2013. (Reuters/Mark Makela) #

Union Civil War reenactors repulse an evening attack as part of a three-day Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 29, 2013.(John Moore/Getty Images) #

Confederate Civil War reenactors from Hood's Texas Brigade launch an evening attack on Union troops as part of a three-day Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 29, 2013. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Civil War re-enactors from Hood's Texas Brigade launch an evening attack as part of a three-day Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 29, 2013. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Actors playing Confederate and Union troops lay "dead" after a re-enactment of The Battle of Little Roundtop during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, on June 30, 2013. (Reuters/Mark Makela) #

Geoff Roecker, from Brooklyn, New York City, playing a member of the Constitution Guard, lounges in camp the morning of the final day of the Blue Gray Alliance re-enactment marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, on June 30, 2013.(Reuters/Mark Makela) #

Confederate Civil War reenactors march for an evening attack on June 29, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.(John Moore/Getty Images) #

Confederate Civil War reenactors fire a cannon towards Union positions ahead of Pickett's Charge on the last day of a Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 30, 2013. Pickett's charge was named for the Confederate Maj. General George Pickett, whose division of rebel troops was annihilated in the attack. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Union Civil War reenactors fire during Pickett's Charge on the last day of a Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 30, 2013.(John Moore/Getty Images) #

Actors playing Federal and Confederate troops re-enact Pickett's Charge at the finale of the Blue Gray Alliance, on June 30, 2013.(Reuters/Mark Makela) #

William H. Hincks, right, portrays his great-great-grandfather, Medal of Honor recipient William Bliss Hincks, taking a Confederate flag from a color bearer portrayed by Skip Koontz, center, of Sharpsburg Maryland, at a re-enactment of Pickett's Charge, on June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) #

American Civil War reenactors clash during Pickett's Charge on the last day of a Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 30, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Actors playing Federal and Confederate troops shake hands after re-enacting Pickett's Charge during events marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, on June 30, 2013. (Reuters/Mark Makela) #

Tim Jenkins of Virginia views the battle site called Devil's Den from Little Round Top, during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 1, 2013, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) #

Remains of Civil War soldiers lie buried at the Soldiers' National Cemetery on the 150th anniversary of the historic battle on July 1, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Thousands of Civil War soldiers are buried at the site. Union and Confederate armies suffered an estimated combined total of 51,000 casualties over three days, the highest number of any battle in the four-year war.(John Moore/Getty Images) #

Reenactors stand near luminaries that mark the graves of Union dead at Soldiers' National Cemetery during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, on June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) #

A cannon stands silent at Gettysburg National Military Park on June 28, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.(John Moore/Getty Images)

With the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War coming in April, this incredibly detailed map provides a fascinating insight into the scale - and precise location - of the country's massive slave population.

The United States Coast Survey’s map of the slave-holding states, which illustrates the varying concentrations of slaves across the South, was regularly consulted by Abraham Lincoln.

On New Year's Day 150 years ago, South Carolina had already declared its independence from the United States and the year 1861 would see ten more states secede from the Union, the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the formation of the Confederate States of America and the start of the war.

Detailed: The 1860 map clearly depicts each county's slave population, with the darker the shading, the higher the concentration of slavery

Historian Susan Schulten wrote about the 1860 Census and the map showing American slavery in The New York Times.

The map clearly depicts each county's slave population, with the darker the shading, the higher the concentration of slavery.

The document proved popular at the time and was sold throughout the war to raise money for sick and wounded soldiers.

Brutal: Many of the thousands of slaves held across America were branded by their owners

After 15 years of painstaking restoration, scientists say they are on the brink of solving what sank the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley - the first sub in history to wreck an enemy warship.

Considered the Confederacy's stealth weapon during the Civil War, the hand-cranked Hunley sank the Union warship Housatonic in winter 1864 and then disappeared with all eight Confederate sailors inside.

Its remains were discovered in 1995 in waters off South Carolina and five later it was raised to a conservation lab.

Now with about 70per cent of the hull cleaned of heavy rust, Paul Mardikian, a senior conservator on the Hunley project, says that crucial clues have been unearthed but 'it's too early to talk about it yet.'

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Painstaking: Conservators work at removing the encrustation from the hull of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley at a conservation lab in North Charleston, South Carolina on January 27, 2015

Code-breakers: Scientists say that about 70 per cent of the encrusted sand, silt and rust from the outside of the sub has been removed - they hope that when the entire hull is revealed, it will provide the clues as to why the Hunley sank

He added: 'It's like unwrapping a Christmas gift after 15 years. We have been wanting to do this for many years now. We have a submarine that is encrypted. It's like an Enigma machine.'

He said the clues will be studied closely as scientists finally piece together what happened to the 40-foot submarine that night decades ago.

The narrow, top-secret 'torpedo fish,' built in Mobile, Alabama by Horace Hunley from cast iron and wrought iron with a hand-cranked propeller, arrived in Charleston in 1863 while the city was under siege by Union troops and ships.

In the ensuing few months, it sank twice after sea trial accidents, killing 13 crew members including Horace Hunley, who was steering.

'There are historical references that the bodies of one crew had to be cut into pieces to remove them from the submarine,' said Mardikian.

'There was forensic evidence when they found the bones (between 1993 and 2004 in a Confederate graveyard beneath a football stadium in Charleston) that that was true.'

The Confederate Navy hauled the sub up twice, recovered the bodies of the crew, and planned a winter attack. From a metal spar on its bow, the Hunley planted a 135-pound torpedo in the hull of the ship, which burned and sank.

Flashback: This June 15 2011 photo shows the Hunley before conservationists started the next round of derusting

Ongoing process: Conservator Paul Mardikian works at removing encrustation from the hull of the Hunley, using tools similar to a dentist

Purpose-built: The narrow, top-secret 'torpedo fish,' built in Mobile, Alabama by Horace Hunley from cast iron and wrought iron with a hand-cranked propeller, arrived in Charleston in 1863 while the city was under siege by Union troops and ships

Before the collision, a lookout on the Housatonic spotted a bizarre vessel approaching just below the surface - with only its coning tower visible - and sounded the alarm.

The Housatonic's cannons couldn't be lowered enough to fire at the strange craft, so crewmen used rifles and pistols, but these were not effective.

Some historians say that the submarine showed a mission-accomplished lantern signal from its hatch to troops back on shore before it disappeared.

Soon after the signal had been fired, the sub sank about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) off Charleston.

More than a century later, in 1995, the Hunley was discovered off the South Carolina. It was raised in 2000 and brought to a conservation lab in North Charleston.

Mardikian has the lantern, which archaeologists found in the submarine more than a century later, in his laboratory.

Scientists removed ten tons of sediment from the submarine, along with the bones, skulls and even brain matter of the crew members. They also found fabric and sailors' personal belongings.

Facial reconstructions were made of each member of the third and final crew. They are displayed along with other artifacts in a museum near the submarine. In a nearby vault is a bent gold coin that archaeologists also found in the submarine.

Origins of name: After it was unveiled, the sub sank twice during sea trials, killing 13 crew members including Horace Hunley, who was steering - The Confederate Navy recovered the bodies and planned a winter attack using the vessel

The USS Housatonic was sunk by the H.L. Hunley in February of 1864 off the coast of South Caroline

A computer generated view of what the H.L. Hunley would look like with its explosive spar torpedo attached

A schematic of the submarine from 1863 shows the rudimentary system of propulsion via levers

It was carried by the sub's captain, Lieutenant George Dixon, for good luck after it stopped a bullet from entering his leg during the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.

'The submarine was a perfect time capsule of everything inside,' said Ben Rennison, one of three maritime archaeologists on the project.

For almost 15 years the sub sat in a 90,000-gallon tank of fresh water to leech salt out of its iron hull.

Then, last May it was finally ready to be bathed in a solution of sodium hydroxide to loosen the encrustation.

Four months later scientists, using small air-powered chisels and dental tools, began the laborious job of removing the coating.

The Hunley Project is a partnership among the South Carolina Hunley Commission, Clemson University Restoration Institute, the Naval Historical Center and the nonprofit Friends of the Hunley.

The nonprofit group raised and spent $22 million on the project through 2010, said a spokeswoman.

Scientists have found the vessel to be a more sophisticated feat of engineering than historians had thought, said Michael Drews, director of Clemson's Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

'It has the ballast tanks fore and aft, the dive planes were counterbalanced, the propeller was shrouded,' Drews said. 'It's just got all of the elements that the modern submarines have, updated.'

There were previous submarines, Drews said, but the Hunley, designed to sail in the open ocean and built for warfare, was cutting-edge technology at the time.

'Dixon's mission was to attack and sink an enemy ship and he did,' Drews said. 'At that particular time, the mindset of naval warfare was, basically, big ships sink little ships.

'Little ships do not sink big ships. And the Hunley turned that upside down.'

Boy soldiers: The bravery of young Civil War soldiers before they were sent to face the horror of battle captured in poignant photos

For the past 150 years, the American imagination has been captured by the epic struggles between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac -- Mr. Lincoln's Army. Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the war, and Antietam, the bloodiest single day, were both fought by these two great titans. The Army of the Potomac both suffered and succeeded under the command of both good and bad Generals -- George B. McClellan. John Pope. Ambrose Burnside. Joseph Hooker. George G. Meade and finally Ulysses S. Grant. The Army of the Potomac underwent many structural changes during its existence, and this insightful 60-minute, live-action documentary DVD analyzes the various uniforms, Casey's musket drill, camp life, food, weapons and equipment of the Eastern Theater Union Army Soldiers of the Civil War - Abraham Lincoln's Army of the Potomac. As well, this documentary film explores several of the hardest fighting and most noteable Infantry organizations of the entire war -- The Iron Brigade, The Irish Brigade, The Vermont Brigade, The German Immigrants of the 11th Corps, and The Pennsylvania Bucktails.

Drummer Boy: George Weeks of the 8th Maine Infantry. In a letter dated October 12th, 1865, George wrote to his mother, 'I am coming home at last. . I have served three years in the greatest army that was ever known.' The striking youth of the soldiers who fought in the 1861-1865 war betrays the innocence and idealism that many of them held as the Confederate States of America faced off against President Lincoln's United States of America. Collected by jeweler Tom Liljenquist, 60 and his two boys over the course of the past 15-years, the elegant ambrotype and tintype images date back to the birth of war photography. Donating the images two years ago when Brandon was 19 and Jason was 17, the family prided itself on the thoroughness of their research methods.and called the collection ,'The Last Full Measure'. The majority of the images are of infantry men and Union soldiers, but there are at least several dozen images of the Confederate forces who surrendered on April 9th, 1865 at Appomattox.

'Have you ever seen a photograph of a person you knew you would never forget? Has a photograph influenced you to change your opinion on an important issue?' Jason and Brandon Liljenquist set about their Civil War collection to commemorate the young men of the conflict

'Over time, as my brother Jason and I learned more about the Civil War, we came to understand the meaning of Weeks' words. We came to learn the ideals an army embraces are what make it great, not its military prowess'

'They were champions of democracy, an idea much of the world expected to fail. That idea, that great experiment in self-government, is what they died for. It's what they saved: the United States of America'

'Assembled by our family over the last fifteen years, these photographs were acquired from a myriad of sources: shops specializing in historical memorabilia, civil war shows, photography shows, antique centers, estate auctions, eBay, and other collectors like us. Assembling this collection has been a labor of love for our entire family'

'Our classmates, familiar only with Civil War generals pictured in textbooks, were amazed to see how many of the images depicted soldiers their age and younger. Almost all of our friends spotted a soldier who looked like themselves, a brother, or a friend. The biggest surprise for everyone was seeing images of African American soldiers'

'Our classmates were unaware of the significant contribution these soldiers made to the Union victory. Everyone enjoyed this knowledge-sharing experience. I was so happy to learn that our collection could be used to teach others'

'We envisioned a way to use our own collection of photos as a Civil War memorial. From our collection, we would select 412 of the best images 360 Union soldiers (one for every thousand who died), and 52 Confederate (one for every five thousand). Presented together, we hoped the photographs would illustrate the magnitude of our nation's loss of 620,000 lives in a way never before shown in the history books'

'That Fall, we approached the Library of Congress with the idea for our memorial. We knew immediately we'd found the right home for the collection, and went home excitedly to discuss it with the whole family'

'It was with great pleasure that in March of 2010, we decided as a family to donate our collection of Civil War photographs to the Library of Congress. We intend to keep adding to it. And, we couldn't be happier that the collection will now be preserved for everyone to enjoy and share' 'As lifelong residents of Virginia, we'd heard all about the Civil War. Being Virginians, we certainly knew which was the greater army,' said Brandon Liljenquist. 'When equally equipped, the Confederate army always outmatched the Union army. 'Stonewall' Jackson's lightning troop maneuvers in the Shenandoah Valley were famous.' However, the two boys were touched by the hand written letters by George Weeks, the drummer boy who said in a letter dated from October 12th 1865 'I am coming home at last. I have served three years in the greatest army that was ever known.' Delving into the history of the Civil War and what the conflict developed into, the Liljenquist boys realised what had been at stake. 'We came to learn the ideals an army embraces are what make it great, not its military prowess,' said Brandon. 'Weeks and his fellow soldiers were the emancipators of a race. They were champions of democracy, an idea much of the world expected to fail. 'That idea, that great experiment in self-government, is what they died for. 'It's what they saved: the United States of America. We had gained a new respect for Weeks. He and his regiment truly had served in 'the greatest army that was ever known.'

'These were the young men who did most of the fighting and dying. In their eyes and the eyes of their loved ones, I could see the full range of human emotion. It was all here: the bravado, the fear, the readiness, the weariness, the pride and the anguish'

'The loneliness in their long, distant stares overwhelmed me.As I held Weeks' image in my hand, I noticed he was gazing beyond his photographer, perhaps beyond his own death. His eyes appeared fixed on a distant horizon, a place he has found peace and comfort'

The 700 examples of early photography display the striking youth of the boys, many of whom did not survive the war and were donated by the Liljenquist family to the Library of Congress for posterity.

'Inspired by the newspaper publication of portraits of US service men and women killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Liljenquists wanted to create a memorial to those who had fought on both sides of the Civil War'

'The exhibition features five cases displaying images of Union soldiers and one case containing portraits of Confederates, photographs of whom are much more difficult to find because far fewer were made during the war'

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA --- Dead soldiers lie on the battlefield at Gettysburg, where 23,000 Union troops and 25,000 Confederate troops were killed during the Civil War in July 1863. The Lijenquist boys became fascinated with Civil War photography after collecting this picture and set about amassing their enormous and impressive collection. Traveling to memorabilia shows with their father as far away as Tennessee, they networked with dealers and made purchases on eBay. Some pictures they bought cost hundred of dollars and some set the family back thousands. Each picture had to speak to them as men and it was necessary for every one to have the 'Wow' factor. 'We looked for compelling faces that seemed to be saying something across time to us.' The photographs which are the size of a grown man's palm are committed to glass, an ambrotype, or onto metal, a tintype.

Rose O'Neal Greenhow, "Wild Rose", poses with her daughter inside the old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. Greenhow, a Confederate spy, used her social ties in the Washington area to help her pass information to the South. She was apprehended by Allan Pinkerton in 1861, and held for nearly a year. She was released, deported to Richmond, Virginia, and welcomed heartily by southerners. She served as a diplomat for the Confederacy, traveling to Europe, and profiting from a popular memoir she wrote in London in 1863. In October of 1864, she was sailing home aboard a blockade runner, pursued by a Union ship near North Carolina. Her ship ran aground, and Greenhow drowned during an escape attempt, after her rowboat capsized.

Rare Civil War Photos Wives and children sometimes followed their husbands to war, particularly in the early period of the conflict. “(The soldiers) were in the camp, and the women and the kids were right there

actual Civil War photo

A soldier's body lies mangled on a field, killed by a shell at the battle of Gettysburg. (Alexander Gardner/LOC) #

Francis C. Barlow entered the Civil War as enlisted men in the Union Army and ended it as general. Wounded several times, Barlow survived the war, later serving as the New York Secretary of State and New York State Attorney General. (LOC) #

Union General Herman Haupt, a civil engineer, moves across the Potomac River in a one-man pontoon boat that he invented for scouting and bridge inspection in an image taken between 1860 and 1865. Haupt, an 1835 graduate of West Point, was chief of construction and transportation of U.S. military railroads during the war. (AP Photo/Library of Congress, A.J. Russell) #

A lone grave (bottom center), near Antietam, Maryland in September of 1862. (Alexander Gardner/LOC) #

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. Born a slave in Maryland, Douglass escaped as a young man, eventually becoming an influential social reformer, a powerful orator and a leader of the abolitionist movement. (George K. Warren/NARA) #

An unidentified Union officer, photographed by Mathew Brady. (Mathew Brady/NARA) #

Confederate troops viewed from a distance of one mile, on the opposite side of a destroyed bridge in Fredericksburg, Virginia, by Union photographer Mathew Brady.(Mathew Brady/NARA) #

President Abraham Lincoln (center, hatless), surrounded by a crowd during his famous Gettysburg Address, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. (AP Photo/Library of Congress) #

General James Scott Negley of Pennsylvania. At the start of the war, he was appointed brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Militia, and went on to command troops in several battles. After his division narrowly escaped disaster during the Battle of Chickamauga, Negley was relieved of command. Negley served several administrative posts, retiring from the army in January of 1865. (LOC) #

Amputation in a Field Hospital, Gettysburg. (LOC) #

A nearly-starved Union soldier who survived imprisonment in the notorious Confederate prison in Andersonville, Georgia. (LOC) #

Nurse Anne Bell tending to wounded soldiers in a Union hospital, ca. 1863. (U.S. Army Center of Military History) #

Robert Smalls was born a slave in South Carolina. During the Civil War, Smalls steered the CSS Planter, an armed Confederate military transport. On May 12, 1862, the Planter's three white officers decided to spend the night ashore. About 3 am, Smalls and seven of the eight enslaved crewmen decided to make a run for the Union vessels that formed the blockade, as they had earlier planned. Smalls dressed in the captain's uniform and had a straw hat similar to that of the white captain. The Planter stopped at a nearby wharf to pick up Smalls' family and the relatives of other crewmen, then they sailed toward Union lines, with a white sheet as a flag. After the war, he went on to serve in the United States House of Representatives, representing South Carolina. (LOC) #

Confederate general Stonewall Jackson. Considered a shrewd tactician, Jackson served in several campaigns, but during the Battle of Chancellorsville he was accidentally shot by his own troops, losing an arm to amputation. He died of complications of pneumonia eight days later, quickly becoming celebrated as a hero in the South. (LOC) #

Soldiers of the VI Corps, Army of the Potomac, in trenches before storming Marye's Heights at the Second Battle of Fredericksburg during the Chancellorsville campaign, Virginia, May 1863. This photograph (Library of Congress #B-157) is sometimes labeled as taken at the 1864 Siege of Petersburg, Virginia (LOC) #

THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN
In 1866, Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner published Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, a remarkable glimpse of the most destructive war on American soil 1 . The two volumes of the Sketch Book contained 100 significant photographs that visually followed the footprints of the war from the plains of Manassas, to the bloodstained fields in front of Richmond in 1862, to the horror of the dead at Gettysburg, and, ultimately, the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox in April 1865. Gardner wrote an in-depth description for each photograph, and labeled each image with its location, the approximate date it was taken, and the name of the photographic artist who opened the camera lens upon the scene of war. Today, the Sketch Book remains a vital resource on the visual history of the conflict and a powerful reminder of the insanity of that 19 th century war.
Within the visual splendor of its volumes, the Sketch Book has, almost inconceivably, kept a few secrets hidden. I uncovered one of them. The story of that discovery spans more than 25 years. It concerns Plate 32, photographer Timothy O'Sullivan's view of pontoon bridges on the Rappahannock, which was taken about a mile and a half south of Fredericksburg, Va., at Franklin's Crossing, named for the Union general who first established it in December 1862. Although Plate 32 is dated May 1863, I came to discover that Gardner incorrectly dated the image. In fact, it was taken in June 1863, and what it shows is a broad panorama taken at the time General John Sedgwick's 6 th Corps of the Army of the Potomac was on the western side of the Rappahannock River looking for General Robert E Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. As O'Sullivan's lens captured the distant Confederate-held heights behind the pontoon bridges at Franklin's Crossing, Lee's First and Second Corps were already marching north in an invasion that would end nearly a month later at Gettysburg. Gardner, incredibly, hid in plain sight for more than the last 140 years one of the first images of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Plate 32
As he photographed the pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg in June 1863, photographer Timothy O'Sullivan captured the ghostly images of Union soldiers moving through the gulley to the open plain beyond (left detail) and the distant Union artillery units (right detail) standing ready to respond to any Confederate threat from Marye's Heights, about a mile beyond their location.

Several key facts establish that Plate 32 dates to early June 1863, rather than May. First, the amount of foliage on the trees indicates June rather than May. Other images taken at this site that have been positively dated to May 1863 show bare and early budding trees, while the trees in Plate 32 are at full foliage. Second, other than the first two days of May, when pontoon bridges were laid at the crossing as part of the Union efforts in the battle of Chancellorsville, there were no pontoon bridges at that location in May, my research shows. By dawn on the morning of May 3, 1863, Union engineers had removed the pontoon bridges from Franklin's Crossing and they would not return to this site until June 1863, when they were built for General Sedgwick's reconnaissance 2 . Third, in the Western Reserve Historical Society, I discovered a third O'Sullivan image of pontoon bridges at Franklin's Crossing photographed the same day as Plate 32, and this image is dated June 7, 1863, which was four days after General Robert E Lee commenced his march north to Gettysburg.

Plate 31
In Plate 31 of Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, which immediately preceded his image of the pontoon bridges, O'Sullivan depicted Battery D, Second United States Artillery, which was one of the units on the distant open plain visible in Plate 32.


Recommended Reading

Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now

We’re Not Ready for Another Pandemic

Manchin and Sinema Now Face the Weight of History

South Carolina’s Declaration was drafted by Christopher Memminger, considered a moderate at the time. So well did he articulate the grievances of the South that he was selected at Montgomery to draft the provisional constitution of the new Confederacy, and then to serve as its treasury secretary.

It was in Charleston, South Carolina that the fiery secessionist Edmund Ruffin fired the first shot of the war. And on June 17, 1865—exactly 150 years before the Charleston attacks—Ruffin learned of the South’s surrender, reportedly wrapped himself in a Confederate flag, and then took his own life rather than accept defeat. Those, like Roof, who now want a secessionist banner of their own can order one from the Ruffin Flag Company.

After the surrender in 1865, Confederate flags were folded and put away. They were most likely to be spotted at memorials or cemeteries. Even after the hopeful decade of Reconstruction gave way to the violent repression of Redemption, open displays of the flag remained rare. There was no need for a banner to signal defiance Jim Crow reigned unchallenged.

The flag slowly crept back into public life over the ensuing decades, saluted at veterans’ reunions, promoted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, even carried into battle by units from the South. By the mid-twentieth century, the flags were also waved by football fans, and sold to tourists.

But as a political symbol, the flag was revived when northern Democrats began to press for an end to the South’s system of racial oppression. In 1948, the Dixiecrats revolted against President Harry Truman—who had desegregated the armed forces and supported anti-lynching bills. The movement began in Mississippi in February of 1948, with thousands of activists “shouting rebel yells and waving the Confederate flag,” as the Associated Press reported at the time. Some actually removed old, mothballed flags from the trunks where they had until then been gathering dust.

At the Democratic convention that July, nine southern states backed Georgia’s Senator Richard Russell over Truman, parading around the floor behind a waving Confederate flag to the strains of Dixie. The Dixiecrats reconvened in Birmingham, nominating South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond for the presidency. Sales of Confederate flags, long moribund, exploded. Stores could not keep them in stock. The battle flag became the symbol of segregation.

The flag soon spread. It fluttered from the radio antennas of cars and motorcycles, festooned towels and trinkets, and was exhibited on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Some displayed it as a curiosity, a general symbol of rebellion against authority, or an emblem of regional pride. The United Daughters of the Confederacy were split on how to respond, some pleased to see young people showing interest, others calling the proliferation of flags a “desecration.” Newspapers tried to explain the craze, citing explanations from football fans to historically themed balls.

The black press did not find the phenomena quite so baffling. “In a large measure,” wrote the Chicago Defender in 1951, “the rebel craze is an ugly reaction to the remarkable progress of our group.” That was true in the North, as well as the South.

Over the next two decades, the flag was waved at Klan rallies, at White Citizens’ Council meetings, and by those committing horrifying acts of violence. And despite the growing range of its meanings in pop culture, as a political symbol, it offered little ambiguity.

Georgia inserted the battle flag into its state flag in 1956. Two years later, South Carolina made it a crime to desecrate the Confederate flag. And then, on the centennial of the day South Carolina opened fire on Fort Sumter came in 1961, it hoisted the battle flag above its Capitol.

It was a symbol of heritage—but that heritage was hateful. Two state delegations, in Charleston to mark that 1961 centennial, found themselves barred from the hotel where the ceremony was to take place because they included black members. President Kennedy had to issue an executive order moving the commemoration to the Charleston Navy Base. And when the centennial ended, the flag stayed, proclaiming that South Carolina might have lost the war, but that it was determined not to surrender its opposition to racial equality.

But the courage and sacrifices of the civil-rights movement dragged a reluctant nation forward. In 2000, following protests and boycotts, the flag came down from atop the dome, installed instead at a Confederate memorial on the grounds of the Capitol. Governor Nikki Haley now protests that her hands are tied by the legislation enacting that compromise, which dictates precisely how it must be displayed:

This flag must be flown on a flagpole located at a point on the south side of the Confederate Soldier Monument, centered on the monument, ten feet from the base of the monument at a height of thirty feet.

This history is not seriously contested. It has been documented in scholarly books, articles, and official reports. The flag was created by an army raised to kill in defense of slavery, revived by a movement that killed in defense of segregation, and now flaunted by a man who killed nine innocents in defense of white supremacy.

On Thursday, my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates issued an unambiguous call: “Take down the Confederate flag—now.” Others have taken up his cry. But if it is no surprise to see the NAACP and other civil rights groups renew their consistent opposition, or to have the White House reiterate President Obama’s view that it “belongs in a museum,” opposition to the flag is spreading to new quarters, and growing stronger. “Take down the ‪#ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol,” former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tweeted on Saturday, renewing his opposition more clearly than ever before. “To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor ‪#Charleston victims.”

Several Republican 2016 hopefuls also weighed in. Emphasizing that the decision is ultimately up to the people of the Palmetto State, Ohio Governor John Kasich added that, “If I were a citizen of South Carolina I'd be for taking it down.” Jeb Bush cited his own record of removing the flag from atop the Florida statehouse as a model. (Not all of their rivals concurred some candidates for the highest office in the Union took a states-rights position on the battle flag of the Confederacy, apparently without irony.)

There are those who would still prefer to believe that the flag is the symbol of a purely noble cause and proud heritage, somehow twisted and perverted by the Dylann Roofs of the world. “It's him . not the flag,” protested South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who succeeded Strom Thurmond in the Senate.

But their numbers are shrinking. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination birthed in defense of the rights of slaveholders in 1845, issued a remarkable plea:

The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night….The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire….Let’s take down that flag.

It will take a two-thirds majority in the South Carolina legislature to honor that call. But by Saturday evening, two Republican legislators had stepped forward to announce their support for such a move.

The South Carolina of Governor Nikki Haley and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is no longer the South Carolina of Christopher Memminger and secession in defense of slavery. It is no longer the South Carolina of Strom Thurmond and massive resistance to desegregation. On this sesquicentennial of the dissolution of the Confederacy, the flag is a glaring anachronism, a rallying point for those who rage against progress they cannot halt. That is how it became the banner of Dylann Roof and terror in the name of white supremacy. So why does it still fly on the Capitol grounds?