The Front Line

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

Published 4/1/2023

April-Fool's Day

By: Harper's Weekly Category: From the Archives

On March 30, 1861, Harper's Weekly published the following image to mark April Fool's Day. An accompanying report reads in part: 

Published 3/31/2023

Voices From the Army of Northern Virginia, Part 6

By: Gary W. Gallagher Category: Articles

This installment in the series focuses on the top leadership of the cavalry. The three titles include the correspondence of James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart, by far the most important cavalryman in the Army of Northern Virginia, and Wade Hampton, his successor in 1864, together with staff officer Henry B. McClellan’s combination memoir and biography of Stuart. Other notable books with cavalry...

Published 3/24/2023

Extra Voices: Battle Fatigue

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: Articles

In the Voices section of our Spring 2023 issue we highlighted quotes about the onset of battle fatigue among soldiers in the Union and Confederate armies. Unfortunately, we didn't have room to include all that we found. Below are those that just missed the cut.

Published 3/9/2023

Eyewitness to the Battle of Hampton Roads

By: Samuel Dana Green Category: In the First Person

During the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862--where the ironclad warships USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (Merrimac) fought to a draw--Lieutenant Samuel Dana Green was in the thick of the fight. The 23-year-old Maryland served as Monitor's executive officer, and would temporarily take command of the vessel after its captain, John Worden, was wounded during the battle. Five days after the...

Published 3/6/2023

"When the Boys Come Home"

By: John Hay Category: From the Archives

In June 1864, Harper's Weekly published the following poem by John Hay, one of two personal secretaries to President Abraham Lincoln. Hay, 25 at the time, remained with Lincoln until the president's assassination in April 1865. After the war, Hay remained active in politics, serving as secretary of state under President William McKinley. He died in 1905 at age 66.

Published 2/24/2023

The Books That Built Me: Joan Waugh

By: Joan Waugh Category: Articles

Narrowing down a list of “books that built me” was surprisingly difficult. The books finally selected, four biographies and one autobiography, stand as touchstones marking different periods of my intellectual enlightenment, framing a lifelong interest in using the biographical method to understand the past. Emerson’s above quotation held meaning for me almost as soon as I learned how to read...

Published 2/10/2023

Civil War Emojis

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: From the Archives

The May 23, 1863, issue of Harper's Weekly ran the following ad by E.P. Gleason, a New York-based manufacturer. The ad, which promoted Gleason's "Kerosine Crater," an attachment to be used with a kerosine lamp, was ahead of its time, as evidenced by Gleason's use of what we'd today call emojis—small images or icons used to epress ideas, emotions, etc. It's unclear how well Gleason's ad...

Published 1/28/2023

The Books That Built Me: George Rable

By: George C. Rable Category: Articles

I was not one of those precocious Civil War enthusiasts who started reading Bruce Catton at the age of 10. Even when I was in high school, my tastes ran more to literature than to history. The first history book that left a serious im- pression was John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage (1957). For some reason the chapter on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and Kansas senator Edmund G. Ross,...

Published 1/9/2023

Josephine Miller and Her Stove

By: Charles Carleton Coffin Category: From the Archives

New Hampshire-born journalist Charles Carleton Coffin accompanied Winfield Scott Hancock and his II Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Gettysburg Campaign. Coffin wrote about a memorable encounter between Union troops and Gettysburg resident Josephine Miller, 23, who remained in the family house with her father as the battle intensified in the area. Coffin’s account, published as part...