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 opposition party, as well as the public press. The curr…

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New York World reporter George Alfred “Gath” Townsend survived exposure to live combat on the Virginia Peninsula, and traveled unescorted 20 miles to the rear to send to his home office copies of Richmond newspapers he had acquired. While passing through the rural habitats of unfriendly civi…

The adventurous George Alfred Townsend, as discussed in previous columns, received a plum assignment in 1862 as a New York World reporter attached to Union forces in Virginia. His initial experiences did not include “seeing the elephant” — the quaint phrase Civil War soldiers applied to init…

When we last left George Alfred Townsend, the reporter for the New York World traveled by ship to Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort, Va. From there, he moved on toward his next destination, White House Plantation, owned by William H.F. “Rooney” Lee, the son of Gen. Robert E. Lee, but now occu…

When we last left war correspondent George Alfred Townsend, the youthful Delawarean had arrived in Washington, D.C., to recover from an illness contracted while attached to the Union army operating in Northern Virginia. “Gath,” as he later signed his writings, continued on to New York and re…

This is the fourth in a series about our hero George Alfred Townsend, a New York World reporter attached to the Union Army of the Potomac in 1862. Delaware-born “Gath” — the pen name he adopted later in life — was about to gain his initial experience with an army on the march.

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, sensitive visitor who arrived at their home on …

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, issue). Yet third-cousins Mary Custis and Robert …

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, issue). Yet third-cousins Mary Custis and Robert …

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 eventual role as First Lady of the United States durin…

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 role of women during these troubled times, how…

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 had fought with him for four blood-stained years.

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 Robert E. Lee.

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.

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 Virginia, suffering from rubella, or measles, cont…

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 region that lacked manufacturing facilities.

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.

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 to serve at the same time and in opposition to …

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 state of 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-South lines.

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 April 1865.

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.

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 funeral of another World War II Navy hero, Presid…

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 column (“A confiscated gray mare finds her way hom…

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.

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 years, but Herndon reminisced about Abe with repor…

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 southcentral Pennsylvania (see “War of the Rebellio…

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 national day of “Thanksgiving and Prayer to ou…

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). Winston Groom, author of the ever-popular book…

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 Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, that Chamberlain …

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.

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 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 to New York City, where they subsisted in hove…

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.”

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 the Confederate disaster at Franklin, Tenn., would likely elicit blank stares, because the Battle of Franklin…

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 Atlanta, Ga., in early September helped insure Linc…

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.

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 under these entrenchments and loaded the cavity w…

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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 anthology “Battles and Leaders of the Civil War” lit…

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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 African-Americans and being a harbinger of the Civil War that would …

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In early 1861, prior to the outbreak of hostilities in America, the U.S. Army's headquarters in Texas was located in San Antonio, at the Alamo, under the command of Brig. Gen. David E. Twiggs, a Georgian whose state had already seceded from the Union. Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee, a Virginian who …

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As discussed in the previous article (Coastal Point, July 20, 2018), the birth of the Confederacy took place in Montgomery, Ala., in 1861. Four years later, one of the final nails in its coffin was hammered home in the not-too-distant town of Selma.

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The crowd standing below the capitol building portico in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 18, 1861, listened as Jefferson Davis spoke: “I enter upon the duties of the office to which I have been chosen with the hope that the beginning of our career as a Confederacy may not be obstructed by hostile …

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When the newly formed Confederacy provoked a fight with the North by attacking Fort Sumter, S.C., in April 1861, both sides were aware that the South lacked the manufacturing capacity to sustain a war. Knowing the Rebels would have to rely on foreign sources for weapons and equipment, Presid…

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The adage “War is hell!” is applicable to Jacksonville, Fla., where divided loyalties led to violence during the mid-19th century. Compatible in peacetime, a regionally and racially diverse population proved volatile when hostilities began between the North and South.

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This coming week we celebrate the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War's deadliest and most renowned battle. My innumerable visits over the years have formed an enduring admiration for those who fought there, as well as for an organization that has remained virtually …