Commentary

  • The Death of Roger B. TaneyRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/13/2014 Author: Jonathan W. White | 

    The death of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a name almost as indelibly tied to the Dred Scott decision as Scott's own, was met with various reactions both North and South when it happened 150 years ago on October 12, 1864.

  • Terry's Texas RangersRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 7/21/2014 Author: Kate Dawson | 

    Terry's Texas Rangers went into the Civil War with a reputation they had not earned, but left it with one that lingers to this day.

  • Inside the Photographer's StudioRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 6/30/2014 Author: Jonathan W. White and Hailey House | 

    Historians and students of Civil War photography get only rare glimpses inside the photographer's studio, but a few trial transcripts from the National Archives reveal more than what the camera caught.

  • Hunter Davidson and the "Squib"Read More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 6/9/2014 Author: John Grady | 

    As a graduate of and former instructor at the US Naval Academy, Confederate Lieutenant Hunter Davidson understood the Union Navy, as well as how submersible vessels and spar torpedoes could be used to exploit its weaknesses.

  • The Death of Jim Jackson and the Oxymoron of "Postbellum" Missouri, 1865-1866Read More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 3/24/2014 Author: Matthew C. Hulbert | 

    In June 1865, Jim Jackson - one of Missouri's more notorious Confederate guerrilla commanders - made haste for the Illinois line...

  • Reconsidering the "Myth" of the Black Union SoldierRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 3/17/2014 Author: Kevin Levine | 

    When Confederates massacre black soldiers the latter are engaged in a desperate fight for freedom. But our popular understanding of the Civil War leaves little room to understand the story when the roles are reversed.

  • The Civil War on the Great LakesRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 2/10/2014 Author: John Grady | 

    After the losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the Confederacy considered a risky plan to fortify their officer corps by raiding a prison on the shores of Lake Erie and freeing the 2000 men held there.

  • "Destructionist and Capturer"Read More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 12/2/2013 Author: John Grady | 

    The Union authorities who dismissed W.T. Glassell from the U.S. Navy after 15 years of service hardly suspected that they would be fighting against him soon enough.

  • The Civil War's French AccentRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 9/30/2013 Author: John Grady | 

    In the face of a tightening blockade and difficulties with England, the Confederate Navy sought new rams from shipyards in nearby France.

  • Of Eyes and Teeth: The Trial of George Maddox, the Raid on Lawrence, and the Bloodstained Verdict of the Guerrilla WarRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 8/19/2013 Author: Joseph M. Beilein, Jr | 

    In 1867, George Maddox--a guerrilla who had ridden with Quantrill--stood trial for the murder of John Zane Evans during the infamous raid on Lawrence four years earlier.

  • Williamsburg Battlefield Trust, EmbattledRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 8/12/2013 Author: Glenn Brasher | 

    Virginia's "Historic Triangle" is best known as a setting for the American Revolution. But during the Civil War's Peninsula Campaign the area saw many slaves play an active role in bringing about their liberation and aiding the Union Army.

  • The PursuitRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 7/15/2013 Author: Tom Huntington | 

    Three days after Gettysburg, the people of Frederick, Maryland greeted George Gordon Meade "like a lion," while President Lincoln and General-in-Cheif Henry Halleck felt him cautious and slow.

  • The Day Holt Collier Killed HogzillaRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 7/8/2013 Author: Andy Hall | 

    Holt Collier is famous today for being a Civil War scout, a tracker and a hunting guide. But one of his most amazing adventures is almost forgotten.

  • The Battle in Public: Newspaper Reports from GettysburgRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 7/1/2013 Author: Glenn Brasher | 

    With the assistance of the telegraph, northern and southern newspapers kept readers informed of all the news and speculation from the battlefield at Gettysburg.

  • Oh Lord, Where Art Thou? Civil War Guards, Prisoners, and PunishmentsRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 6/24/2013 Author: Angela M. Zombek | 

    The unglamorous task of guarding Confederate prisoners at Johnson's Island Prison in Ohio tempted many guards to commit crimes that resulted in punishments similar to those administered to their incarcerated wards. A quick perusal of the prison register reveals crimes from drunkenness on duty to desertion and robbery, often resulting in 90 days hard labor for Union guards.

  • A New Battle for Brandy StationRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 6/10/2013 Author: Eric J. Wittenberg | 

    On June 9, 1863 some of the Civil War's most famous personalities met in the largest cavalry battle on American soil with destruction on their minds. Today, the focus on Brandy Station has shifted to preservation.

  • Friends Across the Color LineRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 6/3/2013 Author: Linda Barnickel | 

    In an early twentieth-century memoir, an Illinois artilleryman paid special attention to the friendship he formed with Big Jack Johnson, an escaped slave from the Yazoo district of Mississippi, who died fighting in the battle of Milliken's Bend.

  • Captain Kit Dalton on Guerrilla Memory, Civility, and the Rules of WarRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 5/27/2013 Author: Matthew C. Hulbert | 

    In a 1914 memoir, Confederate guerrilla Kit Dalton agreed with William Tecumseh Sherman that war was hell, but saw little difference between the actions of Confederate guerrilla bands and those of the uniformed men under the Union general.

  • Grant and the Forgotten Court of InquiryRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 5/20/2013 Author: Michael B. Ballard | 

    When Union Colonel Isaac Shepard punished one of his white soldiers with a whipping administered by African American troops at Milliken's Bend, the racially charged incident threatened to derail both his career and Grant's Vicksburg Campaign.

  • "The Most Fatal of All Acute Diseases:" Pneumonia and the Death of Stonewall JacksonRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 5/13/2013 Author: Dr. Matthew Lively  | 

    Four days after his wounding led to the amputation of his arm, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson began to experience chest pain and difficulty breathing. A close examination by the attending physician would reveal the problem--pneumonia in the right lung.

  • An Excerpt from Chancellorsville's Forgotten FrontRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 5/6/2013 Author: Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White | 

    Most visitors to the Fredricksburg battlefield focus on the futile Union charges against the Sunken Road of December 13, 1862. But months later, in May of 1863, Union troops would indeed breach the stone wall at the battle of Chancellorsville.

  • "The Grandest Charity in the Country:" The Missouri Home For Confederate VeteransRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 4/29/2013 Author: Amy Fluker | 

    Though Missouri never seceded, it hosted some of the most violent partisan warfare of the Civil War. By 1893, however, Union and Confederate sympathizers came together to build a retirement home and monument for Confederate veterans.

  • "Not Since the Days of William the Conquerer" - Anti-War Democrats of Ohio in their Own WordsRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 11/26/2012 Author: James Schmidt | 

    James Schmidt reads other people's mail; specifically, letters from an Ohio Copperhead. It is one thing to read about Copperhead sentiment during the war years; it's quite another to hold the letter and sense the anger and venom.

  • Wither Liberia? Civil War Emancipation and Freedmen Resettlement in West AfricaRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 11/11/2012 Author: Phillip W. Magness | 

    In October 1862, Robert J. Walker went to the Treasury Department to convince the Lincoln Administration of the righteousness of colonizing Liberia with the slaves who would soon be freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • The Peace Monument At Appomattox, UDC, and ReconstructionRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/29/2012 Author: Caroline Janney | 

    In May 1932, Mary Davidson Carter, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) from Upperville, Virginia, learned that the federal government was planning to erect a Peace Monument at the scene of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant; or, as she put it, "the place where Constitutional Government and Lee were crucified in 1865."

  • The Battle For Freedom: Antietam and the Emancipation ProclamationRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 9/17/2012 Author: Louis P. Masur | 

    Abraham Lincoln spent the late summer of 1862 waiting. He had in his mind a plan to issue a proclamation of emancipation, and needed only a Union victory in battle to do so.

  • Nathan Bedford Forrest, ReconstructedRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 5/27/2012 Author: Andy Hall | 

    Nathan Bedford Forrest is mythologized today as the consummate "unreconstructed rebel," but by the end of his life he fully and publicly embraced North-South reconciliation, and allegiance to the reunited nation.

  • A Slave and A SpyRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 3/23/2012 Author: Laura June Davis | 

    Good afternoon! Today's Women's History Month tribute is of Mary Touvestre.  Touvestre, a former slave, worked for one of the Confederate engineers transforming the USS Merrimack into the CSS Virginia. While at work, Touvestre overheard her...

  • The Monitor, The Merrimack, and MeRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 3/16/2012 Author: Laura June Davis | 

    Last week, I packed up my husband and my dog and headed north to Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. We were bound for the Civil War Navy Conference at the 10th Annual Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend sponsored by the Mariner?s Museum?auspiciously timed during the sesquicentennial of the famed clash of the ironclads.

  • How I tried and failed to escape the Civil War Read More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 3/15/2012 Author: Cole Grinnell | 

    My interest in the Civil War should have been a wonderful accident of birth and geography. I was born, raised, studied, and worked around key sites in that event's history—quite literally living and breathing in the material of the war. Surely, my own enthusiasm for the subject must rate back to this upbringing, just as my older brother's (who I take it on good authority shares many of my...

  • The Angry Politics of Confederate HeritageRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 1/3/2012 Author: Andy Hall | 

    In demanding political candidates' fealty to Confederate symbols, heritage advocates do themselves-and their candidates-no great favors among the general electorate.

  • Teaching Slavery as the Cause of the Civil WarRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/27/2011 Author: Andrew L. Slap | 

    “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...

  • Respect My Heritage; You Can Stick YoursRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/25/2011 Author: Andy Hall | 

    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.

  • Progress and Change and PreservationRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/20/2011 Author:  | 

    We often hear a good location is critical in many business pursuits, particularly in retail. Yet for those who study Civil War battles, the battlefield IS the location...

  • Bolting On the Civil War NavyRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/13/2011 Author: Craig Swain | 

    Several months back, my friend Matthew Eng, coordinator at the Hampton Roads Navy Museum, asked me why the naval aspects of the Civil War tend to stand off from the main discussion of the war. When you think of the war’s great battles the likes of ...

  • D. W. Griffith’s Other Civil War MovieRead More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 10/11/2011 Author: Andy Hall | 

    The infamous director's 1930 biography of Lincoln was one of only two "talkies" made by Griffith, and stars Walter Huston in the title role. The screenplay is by Stephen Vincent Benét, who the year previous had won the Pulitzer Prize for his book-length poem, John Brown's Body. The film is the earliest feature-length film on Lincoln.

  • Welcome to The Front Line!Read More

    Category: Commentary Posted: 9/21/2011 Author: Laura June Davis | 

    The goal of The Front Line is to provide a vibrant and active space for both our readers and our contributors.  Just as printed editions of The Civil War Monitor attempt to bridge the chasm that divides many professional scholars from broader historical audiences, this space utilizes the infinite reach and timeliness of the Internet to achieve the same goal. As such, ...

About This Blog

The Front Line is our communal blog featuring the latest in Civil War news, research, analysis, and events from a network of scholars.

For information concerning the blog, inquiries into becoming a blogger for The Front Line, events calendar requests, or general questions, please contact the Contributing Editor: 


Robert Poister
robby@civilwarmonitor.com



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