Civil War Profiles


The Civil War according to ‘Gath’: Initiation

George Alfred Townsend has visited the pages of this column on a number of occasions. The son of a Methodist minister and native of Georgetown, Del., who signed his newspaper columns later in life as “Gath,” cut his teeth as a war correspondent...

Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 8:52am

Women of the Civil War: Elizabeth Blair Lee

While Robert E. Lee is well-known for his service during the Civil War, few people would recognize the name of his third cousin, Samuel Phillips Lee. The latter member of the Lee clan married the daughter of Francis Preston Blair, a prominent...

Thursday, August 29, 2019 - 12:57pm

Women of the Civil War: Amelia Gayle Gorgas

Among the North-South marriages during the Civil War era was one that included a young woman born in Alabama, and a man reared in Running Pumps, Pa., near Harrisburg. The military life brought the two together, after West Point graduate Josiah...

Thursday, August 22, 2019 - 11:00am

Women of the Civil War: Mary Boykin Chestnut

The election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States in November 1860 motivated normally reserved Southern women to become more engaged in political activities. The wife of U.S. Sen. James Chestnut from South Carolina, who resigned...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - 3:24pm

Women of the Civil War: Former slave Elizabeth Keckley

One of the many peculiarities of the Civil War is a black women and former slave who worked for both Varina Howell Davis, the wife of the Confederate president, and Mary Todd Lincoln, the Northern president’s wife. This unusual situation occurred...

Thursday, August 8, 2019 - 10:02am

Women of the Civil War: Elizabeth Campbell Brown

One of the most unusual marriages of the Civil War involved a dominating widow and a quirky general in the Confederate army. These first cousins — she born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1820, and he in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., in 1817 —...

Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 9:40am

Women of the Civil War: Elizabeth Bacon ‘Libbie’ Custer

The unfortunate first encounter of a beautiful, talented and well-bred young lady from Monroe, Mich., and her future husband was when this inebriated young man passed by her home while carousing with a friend. George Armstrong Custer’s...

Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 10:59am

Gettysburg: A conversation with a Delaware author

A small borough in Pennsylvania named for founder and tavern owner James Getty was the Adams County seat, with 10 roads radiating from it in every direction. That was a principal reason why Gettysburg became a battleground between two powerful...

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 10:19am

Women of the Civil War: Mary Anna Jackson

If the wife of a Civil War general had had her way, her famous husband would not bear the name “Stonewall,” earned at the Battle of Manassas, Va., in 1861, because she felt it was not dignified. Mary “Anna” Morrison married widower Thomas J....

Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 9:16am

Women of the Civil War: Margaretta Sergeant Meade

The wife of a high-ranking Civil War general descended from a long line of Pennsylvania politicians. Her father, John Sergeant, was Henry Clay’s National Republican Party running mate in the 1832 U.S. presidential election against the Democratic...

Thursday, June 6, 2019 - 9:52am

Women of the Civil War: LaSalle Corbell Pickett

Documentation exists for certain events that occurred 100 or more years ago, while for others evidence is elusive. The latter situation applies to the relationship of a young, attractive wife, and her older husband who served the Confederacy...

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 10:37am

Civil Ware Profiles: Women of the Civil War: Julia Dent Grant

In 1844, when Cadet Ulysses “Sam” Grant visited the Missouri home of his West Point classmate Fred Dent, he met Fred’s sister Julia. Grant admitted that, for him, “it was love at first sight,” while Julia showed a definite interest in this shy,...

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 10:57am

The Women of the Civil War: Mary Custis Lee

Mary Anna Randolph Custis, daughter of landed gentry, and Robert E. Lee, son of a destitute family, at first glance appeared to be an odd match — not unlike the partnership of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln (see Coastal Point’s April 26, 2019,...

Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 11:41am

Women of the Civil War: Mary Todd Lincoln

A new born child on Dec. 13, 1818, was destined to obtain an exceptional education in Lexington, KY, serve as a wife and mother in Springfield, Ill., and seek and find celebrity in Washington, D.C. Mary Todd Lincoln  prepared well for her...

Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 10:33am

Women of the Civil War: A narrative

The record of our nation’s bloody conflict in the mid-19th century is replete with studies about the accomplishments of Union and Confederate commanders and officials, as well as the soldiers and civilians who served their respective causes. The...

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 12:15pm

Robert E. Lee’s farewell to his troops

After he surrendered the remnants of his once-powerful military force to Union General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Va., the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia had the difficult job of taking leave from those who...

Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 1:30pm

Reporting Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox

April 9, 1865, was the beginning of the end of Southern aspirations to separate from the United States and establish an independent nation. Gen. Robert E. Lee entered the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean in Appomattox Court House, Va., to meet...

Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 10:42am

Civil War Profiles: Who was Robert E. Lee?

In recent times, a clamor arose for removing symbols of the Confederate States of America, such as flags and monuments, from public view. Arguably the most prominent figure of that 19th century separatist nation is a Virginia gentleman named...

Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 8:58am

Rediscovering a long-forgotten intelligence organization

In October 1959, Edwin C. Fishel visited the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, D.C., in search of information for a research project. What he found changed the known history of the Civil War up to that period of time...

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 10:11am

A Confederate soldier learns ‘war is hell’

William Joshua “W.J.” Croy was born on Sept. 17, 1843, in Dawson County, Ga., and enlisted in the 38th Georgia Regiment of the Confederate army in Atlanta, Ga., in May 1862. One month later, he found himself in Petersburg General Hospital in...

Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 10:12am

The South’s remarkable achievement in Augusta

When secession of several Southern states led to bombardment of Fort Sumter, S.C., and the beginning of war with the North in April 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis recognized the South’s vulnerability as a predominantly agricultural...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - 9:28pm

The Civil War for sale!

The further removed we become from the time of our mid-19th century national confrontation, the more valuable the artifacts from that period become. Values placed on these items on the open market continue to rise.

Civil War Times (CWT)...

Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 10:23am

A tale of two Civil War presidents

Jefferson Davis was born on June 3, 1808, in a community now known as Fairview; and, less than a year later, on Feb. 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln arrived on the scene, 125 miles away in Hodgenville. Both were natives of Kentucky, and were destined...

Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 9:43am

Touring Civil War Delaware

Those who have been to well-known Civil War sites, such as national military battlefields at Gettysburg, Pa., Antietam, Md., and Fredericksburg, Va., may be interested in learning about lesser-known Civil War-related locations right here in our...

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 1:21pm

Learning about Civil War Delaware

Delaware’s participation in the mid-19th century conflict that took the lives of thousands in this state and hundreds of thousands throughout the country was unique in a number of ways. Politically and emotionally, the state divided along North-...

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:53am

A towering tribute to Abraham Lincoln

A few years ago, a group of historians wanted to memorialize the 16th president of the United States in an unusual way. They came up with the idea to create a tower of books written about him over the time since his departure from this earth in...

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 10:28am

America’s most reviled president

The day a person puts his left hand on the bible and raises his right hand to affirm, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States…” he immediately becomes fair game for members of the...

Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 10:12am

Townsend behind the scenes of battle

Civil War history typically focuses on the strategy and tactics of clashing armies on the battlefield. Less attention is paid to the grotesque and consequential scenes unfolding to the rear of the main action.

As a reporter for the New...

Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 10:40am

‘Doc’ Johnson and the Gettysburg anniversaries — a remembrance

The sad news of C. Elwood Johnson’s passing arrived recently from his son Phil, and a service honoring this World War II Navy veteran took place at the Delaware Veterans Cemetery on Dec. 6, 2018. Coincidentally, this was the same date for the...

Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 10:32am

A family’s experience during the Civil War

Bethany Beach resident Jeanne Golibart O’Brien Rodgers is a descendant of ancestors who lived through and were affected by the Civil War. A story about Rebel soldiers confiscating a horse from a family farm in Maryland appeared in a previous...

Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 1:53pm

A Christmas present for President Lincoln

Following the capture and occupation of Atlanta, Ga., in September and October 1864, Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman proposed and received approval to march part of his army all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

In mid-November, after...

Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 1:28pm

Civil War Profiles: ‘Instant death’ for desertion during the Civil War

About 2.75 million soldiers donned uniforms during the Civil War. There was a considerable disparity, however, considering some 2 million served for the North and only 750,000 for the South.

Union soldiers represented 12.5 percent of the...

Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 3:41pm

‘Gath’ Townsend visits Lincoln’s law partner

An up-close-and-personal view of a lawyer from Springfield, Ill., by the name of William Herndon — the one-time partner of Abraham Lincoln — can be found in the New York Tribune issue dated Feb. 15, 1867. Lincoln had been dead for almost two...

Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 12:38pm

The Second Delaware Regiment during the Gerrysburg Campaign

On Aug. 15, 1863, Col. William P. Baily, commander of the Second Delaware, submitted a report of the regiment’s activities from June 29 to July 26. That included the approach to, the battle of, and the retreat from the town of Gettysburg in...

Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 12:20pm

Civil War Profiles: Thanksgiving during the Civil War

In 1861, in the midst of a spreading conflagration in the North and South, Confederate President Jefferson Davis declared a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer for his fellow countrymen; and, later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 1:33pm

Civil War historical fiction: Two spy thrillers

Stories about clandestine operations are a popular literary genre. Readers are naturally drawn to a good spy story.

Two books of historical fiction, published in the early part of the 21st century, are “On Secret Service” by well-known...

Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 2:11pm

‘Shrouds of Glory’ — From Atlanta to Nashville

One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War that has not received the historical attention it deserves is the conflagration that occurred at the remote community of Franklin, Tenn., in November 1864 (see Coastal Point’s March 16, 2018, issue)....

Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 11:50am

Civil War historical fiction: ‘Courage on Little Round Top’

Michael Shaara’s novel “The Killer Angels” about the Battle of Gettysburg features Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment. It was...

Monday, November 5, 2018 - 12:59pm

Civil War historical fiction: ‘Courage on Little Round Top’

Michael Shaara’s novel “The Killer Angels” about the Battle of Gettysburg features Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment. It was on Little Round Top, a low-lying eminence that anchored the left of the Union defensive line at...

Friday, November 2, 2018 - 12:16pm

Civil War Profiles: Civil War Historical fiction: ‘Varina’

Anyone who has read Charles Frazier’s novel “Cold Mountain” will recognize the application of its template to “Varina,” his tale of flight from a hazardous situation and a long trek in hope of survival that does not end well.

Based on the...

Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 9:56am

Civil War historical fiction: ‘Harbor of Spies’

Regardless of what skeptics claim, the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery. Slavery was ingrained in segments of society in this country to the point that it was a life-or-death issue.

In “Harbor of Spies: A Novel of Historic...

Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 9:45am

Civil War historical fiction: ‘Paradise Alley’

In the mid-19th century, residents of Ireland fled famine, as well as dirty and unhealthy conditions in their homeland, by the millions, only to find similar conditions when they arrived in America. Many of these poor, downtrodden Irish migrated...

Friday, October 12, 2018 - 11:09am

Civil War historical fiction: ‘Andersonville’

Renowned Civil War author Bruce Catton called it “The best Civil War novel I have ever read, without any question,” and the Chicago Sun Times echoed: “A great book, perhaps the greatest of all Civil War novels.”

They were talking about...

Friday, October 5, 2018 - 9:55am

Civil War historical novel: ‘The Judas Field’

By Tom Ryan

Special to the Coastal Point

 

Americans typically associate the Civil War with well-known events, such as Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Sherman’s March to the Sea and Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox. A mention of...

Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 12:21pm

Civil War historical fiction: ‘The Widow of the South’

As the Civil War dragged on for three long years, with much death and destruction, President Abraham Lincoln was in danger of not being re-elected in 1864. As discussed in my previous article, Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s capture of...

Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 9:38am

Civil War historical fiction: ‘The March’

Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s capture of the city of Atlanta, Ga., in early September 1864 had a positive effect in the North, and helped to guarantee the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln to a second term.

Sherman’s...

Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 11:39am

Civil War Profiles — Civil War historical fiction: ‘Cold Mountain’

During the siege of Petersburg, Va., in 1864, the Union army attempted to blast a hole in the formidable line of entrenchments protecting the Confederate defenders from attack. Pennsylvania coal miners now serving in the military dug a tunnel...

Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 5:45pm

Civil War historical fiction: 'The Red Badge of Courage'

Having been born six years after the end of the Civil War, aspiring young author Stephen Crane learned firsthand about “combat” on the football field, rather the battlefields of the bloody conflict between North and South. Yet, reading the...

Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 4:36pm

Civil War historical fiction: ‘The Killer Angels’

 

 

Many people are familiar with the antebellum novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly,” written by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe. This story is credited with shining a light on the harsh conditions of enslaved...

Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 3:04pm

Civil War Profiles — The Civil War in Columbia, S.C.

This last in a series of articles about American cities and towns during the Civil War features Columbia, S.C.

In early 1865, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman caused havoc in South Carolina in general, and Columbia in particular, when...

Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 2:37pm