The Front Line

Our communal blog featuring the latest in Civil War news, research, analysis, and events from a network of historians

Published 6/11/2012

Elegy for the Native Guards

By: Laura June Davis Category: Quotables

In honor of Natasha Trethewey being named the next poet laureate, we thought we would share with you one of her Civil War inspired poems.

Published 6/8/2012

Masterly Inactivity

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good afternoon! This Frank Leslie cartoon parodies the extended military standoff between Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of Potomac and Confederate General P.G.T  Beauregard’s Army of the Shenandoah during the fall and winter of 1861.

Published 6/1/2012

Sinbad Lincoln and the Old Man of the Sea

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

A clear critique of Gideon Welles, the Union Secretary of the Navy, this 1862 cartoon suggests that the naval department is weighing down Lincoln?s administration and that the Federal navy is sorely lacking; along the horizon the CSS Virginia and CSS Alabama sit unchallenged and unopposed

Published 5/31/2012

Form follows Function: Changing Audiences Bring Changes to Interpretations

By: Craig Swain Category: Analysis

Visiting the battlefields today, the markers placed fifty even ten years ago look different than the "new" markers today. Why? because we tour the battlefields differently. So what does that say about how we use those resources? What drove the change?

Published 5/27/2012

Nathan Bedford Forrest, Reconstructed

By: Andy Hall Category: Commentary

Nathan Bedford Forrest is mythologized today as the consummate "unreconstructed rebel," but by the end of his life he fully and publicly embraced North-South reconciliation, and allegiance to the reunited nation.

Published 5/25/2012

Neutrality or Death?

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good Morning! Today's Friday Funny comes to us from the June 29, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly. The caption reads, "Governor Magoffin's neutrality means holding the Cock of the Walk (Uncle Sam) while the Confederate Cat (Jeff Davis) kills off his Chickens."

Published 5/21/2012


By: Laura June Davis Category: From the Archives

One of the most popular Civil War songs was Lorena. Reverend Henry D. L. Webster first penned the lyrics in 1856 after his fianc?? Ella Blocksom?ended their engagement. However, in his version, the protagonist was named Bertha. A few years later, J.P. Webster?who was not related to Henry Webster?sought words to a musical piece he was composing.

Published 5/18/2012

Why Don't You Take It?

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good morning! Today's Friday Funny is an 1861 Currier & Ives sketch commenting on the Union's substantial advantage in terms war materiel.

Published 5/15/2012

John Mackie: The Man and the Memory

By: Laura June Davis Category: Iron Men Afloat

One rarely thinks of the United States Marine Corps and the Civil War in the same thought. Given their small size and limited service, this is not surprising. And yet hidden away in a rarely visited section of the Richmond National Battlefield Park?Drewry?s Bluff?sits an interpretative marker honoring Corporal John F. Mackie

Published 5/15/2012

The Battle of Drury's Bluff

By: Dave Kummer Category: Iron Men Afloat

The Monitor remained close to the Galena but the Confederates chose to concentrate their fire on a more vulnerable target after several direct hits merely caromed off the Monitor's heavy armor. That left the Galena alone to take the full brunt of the Rebel onslaught; their salvo ripped through her armored sides. On board the Galena, Corporal John F. Mackie commanded the ship’s 12-man Marine...