The Front Line

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

Published 10/30/2023

The Books That Built Me: John Hennessy

By: John Hennessy Category: Articles

The contruction of my historiographical self began on a rainy afternoon in fifth grade. There was no chance for outdoor romping, or venturing through the deluge to a friendʼs house to play after school. Instead, I ran to my room with a library copy of a gray-bound book for young readers, MacKinlay Kantorʼs Gettysburg (1952). I plopped onto my bed and soon lost myself in a story that, I can see...

Published 10/6/2023

Lincoln Prize Lecture 2023

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: Articles

On October 26, 2023, The American Civil War Museum (ACWM), in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, will host its first annual Lincoln Prize Lecture, where guests will hear from the winner of this year’s Lincoln Prize, which was awarded at a ceremony in New York City on April 11, 2023.

Published 9/25/2023

Voices From the Army of Northern Virginia, Part 8

By: Gary W. Gallagher Category: Articles

Putting this series together has been enjoyable but also frustrating. None of the retrospective literature created by soldiers in the ranks made the cut, including classics such as Carlton McCarthy’s Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861–1865 (1882) and John O. Casler’s Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade (1893). But so it goes with efforts such as mine...

Published 8/25/2023

Voices From the Army of Northern Virginia, Part 7

By: Gary W. Gallagher Category: Articles

Three books containing Robert E. Lee’s testimony provide the foundation for any collection on the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee forged the army into a powerful military instrument, molded its culture of command, built an unrivaled bond with its rank-and-file, and, based on operational successes, saw it become the most important national institution in the Confederacy. This essay examines two...

Published 7/25/2023

The Five Best Books on the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley

By: Jonathan A. Noyalas Category: Articles

For the past two decades I have been fortunate to live in the place I research and write about, the Shenandoah Valley. My scholarship over the past 20 years has explored a wide array of topics—including battles and campaigns, memory, postwar activities of Union and Confederate veterans, personalities, and the complexities of life for enslaved people and free blacks during the Civil War era in...

Published 7/10/2023

Changing Times—And Names—at U.S. Military Bases

By: Christian B. Keller Category: Commentary

The events of the last several years and the current trends in public attitudes—however they may be construed and from whatever source they may emanate—have created a different world than that which most of us grew up in. Regardless of how we may personally feel about these changes in society, they are not likely to cease and, coupled with astounding advances in technology, will continue to...

Published 6/30/2023

Extra Voices: Trench Life

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: Articles

In the Voices section of our Summer 2023 issue we highlighted quotes by Union and Confederate soldiers about life amid the trenches. Unfortunately, we didn't have room to include all that we found. Below are those that just missed the cut.

Published 6/23/2023

The Top Five Civil War Biographies

By: Matthew Christopher Hulbert Category: Articles

It may seem a cliche to preface my Top Five articles with the disclaimer that the subject cannot possibly be done justice by so few recommendations. Then I cheat and add topical or geographical frameworks to make the selections manageable. Biography being perhaps more enormous than any other genre, it is a foregone conclusion that many, many truly outstanding books will be left off such a short...

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...