America's Civil War

March 2022

Published since 1987, America’s Civil War strives to deliver to our readers the best articles on the most formative and tumultuous period of American history — the Civil War. Noted authors present the many battles, personalities and fascinating stories of the period.

United States
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min
from the heart

Below is a touching pair of letters we received from a Georgia-based husband and wife regarding the feature article “Crossing the Rubicon,” which ran in our September 2021 issue (P. 30). I recently bought your magazine and read an article titled “Crossing the Rubicon” by Robert Lee Hodge. In it, Confederate Private Alexander Hunter picks up a love letter found on the body of a killed Union soldier after the Second Battle of Manassas. It reminded me of what I wrote in my book, Captains at Rest (Indigo Custom Publishing, 2008). In it is a conversation Captain Brown of Company F, 12th Georgia, carries on just prior to the Battle of Chantilly, in which Captain Brown instructs his son not to carry him home should he [be] killed in the battle…

8 min
saving sherman

After the Civil War, Benjamin Grierson [see our cover story, P.22] was commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Army and assigned command of the 10th U.S. Cavalry, one of two mounted regiments composed of Black enlisted men and White officers—the famed Buffalo Soldiers. In May 1871, Grierson was in command of Fort Sill in Indian Territory, when he had a remarkable encounter with William T. Sherman, one that would save the renowned general’s life. As commanding general of the U.S. Army, Sherman had come west to investigate raids on White settlements by Kiowa and Comanche Indians. On May 27, Chiefs Satanta, Big Tree, Satank, and Lone Wolf rode into Fort Sill to confer with the irate Sherman while also drawing rations of sugar, coffee, and beef. Satanta complained about Army mistreatment…

8 min
‘an infinite blessing!’

“SEE HERE, DOC, if you’re goin’ to take that leg off, you’d better be about it—I’m comin’ to.” Those were the frustrated and possibly fearful words of a wounded soldier in the aftermath of the July 1863 Battle of Honey Springs. The unidentified soldier was so grievously wounded that army surgeons had opted for amputation. Understandably, he was worried, particularly at the prospect of suffering such a painful operation without the aid of anesthesia. Much to his surprise, the patient was informed that “his leg was already off and the stump ‘done up in a rag,’” Raising himself a little on his elbows to verify the news, the soldier remarked, “Is that so? I didn’t know a thing about it.” Such was the miracle of anesthesia. We have long been led to…

8 min
made an outlaw

FROM 1861 TO 1865, war-torn Missouri produced its share of guerrillas and brigands. The deeds of many Missourians who rode “under the black flag”—“Bushwhacker Bill” Wilson, Cole Younger, and “Little Arch” Clement, to name just a few—fell far outside the bounds of what were considered the “acceptable” rules of conduct during wartime. One man who stood out among this company for his unbridled dedication to mayhem was Sam Hildebrand, known as the “Big River Bushwhacker.” Not surprisingly, Hildebrand claimed to have been “driven to it” by outrages committed against him and his family. It was the same assertion that was echoed by the Jameses and the Youngers, among others: Frank and Jesse James pointed to the near-fatal hanging of their stepfather by Union soldiers, while Cole Younger and his siblings used…

6 min
an enduring myth

ALL CIVIL WAR BATTLES have their share of myths, but Gettysburg seems to be in a league of its own. One of the more enduring ones—one I heard frequently when I worked at Gettysburg National Military Park—was that during Pickett’s Charge on July 3, J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry was supposed to charge in and strike from the rear at the same time George Pickett and his fellow generals broke the Union center along Cemetery Ridge. As with many myths, there is a granule of truth here. But tracing the origin of these myths is difficult because they often result not from a single source but from an accumulation of accounts that morph over time into a single narrative, one repeated so often the myth that evolves generally becomes accepted as fact. Stuart’s attack…

13 min
‘deep cut into dixie’

The arrival of Colonel Benjamin Grierson and his saddle-sore troopers in Union-occupied Baton Rouge, La., on May 2, 1863, simultaneously caused both relief and excitement throughout the region. Grierson’s cavalry had barely slipped through the grasp of the pursuing Confederates on several occasions, managing to reach safe haven after a long and treacherous expedition originating in LaGrange, Tenn. Brigadier General Halbert E. Paine of Wisconsin, 3rd Division commander in the Army of the Gulf, later described the incoming horse soldiers as “rough and ready Illinois cavalrymen embrowned by their raid through the Confederacy unkempt and frowsy.” The weary men set up what they called “Camp Magnolia Grove” and finally had a chance to rest uninterrupted. Stationed outside New Orleans when he heard the news, Corporal George W. Southwick of the 1st…