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Civil War Times

Civil War Times August 2021

Biographies, battles, eyewitness accounts & period photos of America’s greatest internal conflict. Civil War Times delivers the thrilling, extraordinary history of America’s most deadly internal struggle, from biographies to battle stories, eyewitness accounts to period photographs, plus travel guides, perceptive book reviews and more.

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United States
6 Issues

in this issue

5 min
return fire

DEAD LETTERS Interesting article about dead letters and photos. I had 14 relatives including four great-great-grandfathers who served the Union. I have a photo for two of them, but in old age. I have service records for 13. One was an 18-year-old nephew of my great-great-grandfather, George Blakesley. In his file was a blunt letter from his mother telling him to come home as his father was dying and there was no one to take care of the estate. It was sent from Potter, Yates Co., N.Y., on December 16, 1864. Her son wrote a letter from his hospital in Alexandria, Va, to the adjutant general in Washington, D.C., December 24, 1864, asking for a leave based on his mother’s letter. The letter dates indicate it took seven days or less…

1 min
fort wool: for the birds

After a critical Virginia seabird habitat was paved over during the recent expansion of the Hampton Roads-Norfolk bridge, its inhabitants migrated to the historic island of Fort Wool for temporary shelter. Working with environmental conservationists, the State of Virginia, which now controls the site, has completed a $1.7 million project to turn the grounds into a nesting habitat for the seabirds. Many historic structures have been sealed and markers removed. Preservationists, however, stoutly oppose the conversion and are keen to stabilize a steel tower dating from WWII, one of only two in the United States still standing. Established in 1818 as “Rip Rap Shoals Fort Calhoun,” an artificial island not far from Fort Monroe, it was built to help defend the Chesapeake Bay following the War of 1812. Enslaved workers…

1 min
war frame

HAIR NEATLY COMBED, a youthful Confederate poses wearing a tightly fitted frock coat. The photographer has lightly tinted his cheeks to help bring life to the image, which was found in Memphis, Tenn., many years ago. The image is reversed due to the technology of the time, and he holds a large, thermoplastic image case in his left hand, which is on your left. Perhaps he had a second image taken that day, or the case contained a photo of a loved one, and he wanted to show he was taking it to war with him.…

1 min
aloha state service recognized

Over the past decade cemetery preservationist Nanette Napoleon in Kailua, Oahu, has hunted down details about Hawaiians who served in the Civil War and are buried or commemorated in Hawaii. In an April 2021 conversation recorded for Hawaii public radio, Napoleon described the challenges. Hawaii was then a sovereign nation, and men who enlisted were often given new names that were simpler than their given names. However, their military records would show their home was the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was then called. Most of the men she has found enlisted in the USCT, with traits noted as dark hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion. The strong influence of American missionaries in Hawaii would have influenced recruits to enlist in the Union Army. One of the few Confederate sympathizers she…

1 min
take a walk through history

THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE’S Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail announced 16 additions in April, bringing the total of sites to 682 listings in 39 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. One new addition features a site in Lowell, Mass., where Nathaniel Booth, who had escaped from slavery, operated a barber shop that doubled as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Meanwhile, in the heart of secession, South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia, has created its first history-focused tourism trail, including eight stops profiling the Reconstruction Era in the city, and celebrating 10 Black trailblazers. The designations are poignant. Columbia is where 169 delegates from the state’s planter class passed the Ordinance of Secession on December 20, 1860, and a plaque inscribed with its text overlooks the lobby of the…

3 min
preservation register

History Translated Visitors to the Ox Hill Battlefield in Chantilly, Va., will find the nation’s first bilingual Civil War Trails sign, bearing text in Spanish and Korean. The added translations will help bring the project and Civil War history to a new, broader audience, according to Drew Gruber, executive director of Civil War Trails. “The stories and cast of the Civil War were as varied and diverse as our communities are today. By presenting this fuller, more complete history of the Civil War we hope to inspire everyone to find their own stories in this complex national narrative.” Immigrants make up about 30 percent of Fairfax County residents, and in the neighborhood around Ox Hill Battlefield, about 29 percent speak a language other than English in the home. Linguistic diversity was…