The Front Line

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

Published 11/3/2011

Sarah Morgan's Arrival in Yankee-Occupied New Orleans

By: Terry Johnston Category: From the Archives

In April 1863, 21-year-old Sarah Morgan, along with her mother and sisters, found herself on a ship headed for the city of her birth, New Orleans. The Morgan familiy had lived in Baton Rouge for years, but after Union forces took the town the previous August, they abondoned their home...

Published 10/31/2011

Voices from the Past - Out of That Silence Rose New Sounds More Appalling Still

By: Laura June Davis Category: Quotables

The Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862) was a decisive loss for the Union Army, crippling Northern morale. The chilling quote below derives from Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's description of the battle's aftermath

Published 10/31/2011

Voices From the Past: "I am truly thankful for the institution of ghosts..."

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Quotables

"You perceive that my idea of ghosts is not limited to graveyards and tombs, or the tenants thereof; indeed, so far from it..."

Published 10/31/2011

"They See a Ghost or Something."

By: Terry Johnston Category: From the Archives

On May 25, 1863, Union soldier David L. Day, of the 25th Massachusetts Volunteers, recorded a strange incident that occurred while his regiment was on a recent nighttime march:

Published 10/31/2011

Mrs. ("Beast") Butler's Scary Dream

By: Terry Johnston Category: From the Archives

On April 4, 1862, Sarah Hildreth Butler, wife of Union general Benjamin F. ("Beast") Butler, wrote a friend to document her recent activities on Ship Island, off the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which Union troops commanded by her husband had occupied since the previous December. As she notes, a recent storm made for a particulary spooky night:

Published 10/28/2011

Are You Ready for Some (Civil War) Football?

By: Terry Johnston Category: From the Archives

Winslow Homer's depiction of Union soldiers playing "Foot-Ball" in camp. Looks harmless enough...

Published 10/27/2011

Teaching Slavery as the Cause of the Civil War

By: Andrew L. Slap Category: Commentary

“What caused the Civil War?” Historians have killed forests trying to answer this deceptively simple question. In a recent essay in The Journal of the Civil War Era, Frank Towers discusses changing interpretations over the last 150 years, finding that starting in the 1960s historians “foregrounded slavery as the war’s cause, situated within a global process of modernization.” And while...

Published 10/25/2011

Respect My Heritage; You Can Stick Yours

By: Andy Hall Category: Commentary

Several news stories appeared in the media recently updating recent developments in a neighborhood dispute in South Carolina that’s been brewing for about year now. The brief recap is that a white woman, Annie Chambers Caddell, moved into the historically African American neighborhood of Brownsville, an formerly-unincorporated area now part of the city of Summerville.

Published 10/24/2011

Voices From the Past: "An Inferior Force"

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Quotables

“Well, so far we seem to have applied a new maxim of war, always to meet the enemy with an inferior force at the point of attack.”

Published 10/21/2011

Ball's Bluff Remembered

By: Terry Johnston Category: From the Archives

One hundred fifty years ago today, on October 21, 1861, Union troops suffered a humiliating defeat in what would come to be known as the Battle of Ball's Bluff. After crossing the Potomac River to conduct a reconnaissance in the vicinity of Leesburg, Virginia, a small Union force was routed by the opposing Confederates, who drove the survivors back down the steep banks of the Potomac and...