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America's Civil War

America's Civil War September 2019

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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.

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United States
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
explore the history of alabama’s gulf coast

Visit historic Fort Morgan and travel back in time when the thundering boom of cannons protected the turquoise waterways guarding Mobile, Alabama. And imagine Union Admiral David Farragut’s immortal shout of “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” as he led his ships through a treacherous stretch of mined water in Mobile Bay while under fire from Fort Morgan’s guns. The picturesque fort, built between 1819 and 1823, is a site not to be missed on any visit to Mobile Bay. Another point of interest is the Mobile Bay Civil War Trail, an impressive, historic passageway stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to North Mobile County. Tour the many unique, historical museums and sites throughout Alabama’s Gulf Coast, including Native American museums and mounds; lighthouses; plantations and antebellum mansions; military history,…

8 min.
bell ringers

ON A SPRING DAY IN 1862, soldiers in opposing armies aimed to kill each other in farmer Joseph Duncan’s field at Shiloh. On the 157th anniversary of the first day of the battle in southwestern Tennessee, opposing forces merely want to outscore each other on the same turf. At the invitation of the National Park Service, teams in the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball play a doubleheader on hallowed ground. Gods of sport smile: The sky is clear and the temperature tips into the 80s. In an odd juxtaposition, a double play is turned yards from cannons that mark a Confederate artillery position and a monument for a Union brigade headquarters. Fans relax on lawn chairs and bales of hay, watching the players in Civil War–era baseball uniforms. Drinks and…

5 min.
at great risk

In our memory of Gettysburg and the Union Army of the Potomac, it usually is assumed that Maj. Gen. John Reynolds was a great general with a sterling war record. Even back then, that seemed the case. “Reynolds was probably the most respected man in the Army of the Potomac,” writes John Hennessy, noting he attained that status “despite a combat record that included only one bright spot”—Second Bull Run, where he led a division. He had performed well as a brigade commander during the Seven Days, though captured after Gaines Mill. He was exchanged in time to fight at Second Bull Run but was detached during the Antietam Campaign—over his objections—to organize the Pennsylvania State Militia for the defense of the state. Upon his return, he was promoted to…

5 min.
valiant sacrifice

FROM JUNE 15 TO JUNE 18, 1864, just days after its devastating defeat at Cold Harbor, Va., the Army of the Potomac made several attempts to storm the Confederate defenses at Petersburg, hoping to capture the key railroad town south of Richmond and avoid a long and costly siege. Repeated, often uncoordinated Yankee assaults over those four days, in what is known as the Second Battle of Petersburg, failed woefully—resulting in nearly 11,500 total Union casualties to only 4,000 Confederate. Petersburg would stay in Rebel control for another nine months. Overlooked somewhat in this period of Federal frustration were the efforts of the 164th New York Infantry—in particular a 17-year-old immigrant from Ireland, Sergeant John Brosnan of Company E. The 164th, part of the 4th Brigade of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon’s…

15 min.
‘give us hood!’

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Richard Watson York was a 21-year-old schoolmaster living near Raleigh, N.C. He had already organized his students into a militia troop, which became Company I of the 6th North Carolina Infantry in May and served all four years in what became known as the Army of Northern Virginia. After the war, “Watt” York—the 6th’s first captain—wrote occasional articles about the regiment and what he had seen while serving. One of those appeared in 1875 in the magazine Our Living and Our Dead—“Gen. Hood’s Release From Arrest: An Incident of the Battle of Boonesboro”—and recounts an occurrence that has somehow escaped many historians’ attention over the years. At the Second Battle of Manassas in August 1862, the 6th North Carolina fought in Colonel Evander…

4 min.
stuart’s willing successor?

The story of Maj. Gen. John B. Hood receiving a wound to the arm on the second day of Gettysburg is well known. So is that of General Robert E. Lee’s unhappiness with the operations of his army’s cavalry commander, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, during that campaign. Not so familiar is the tale of how, in the summer of 1863, Richmonders were gossiping that Hood might be appointed to succeed Stuart as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry. After Gettysburg, Hood was transported to Williamsport, Md., on the Potomac River, then borne through Winchester and Staunton, Va. From there he traveled by rail to Charlottesville, where he spent several weeks convalescing at the home of his friend, Texas Senator Louis Wigfall. He was in Richmond by August 6. John…