The Front Line

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

Published 9/13/2021

Extra Voices: Nicknames

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: Articles

In the Voices section of the Fall 2021 issue of The Civil War Monitor we highlighted quotes by Union and Confederate soldiers about nicknames. Unfortunately, we didn't have room to include all that we found. Below are those that just missed the cut.

Published 8/27/2021

Voices From the Army of Northern Virginia, Part 2

By: Gary W. Gallagher Category: Articles

Artillerists created an invaluable body of evidence relating to the Army of Northern Virginia. Though they made up only about 7.5 percent of the army’s strength, they figured prominently in almost every battle and decisively in a few.

Published 7/20/2021

After Fort Wagner

By: Lewis Douglass Category: In the First Person

On July 20, 1863, Lewis Douglass, 22, a member of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry—and son of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass—wrote the following letter to H. Amelia Loguen of Syracuse, New York. The previous evening, Douglass and the 54th had participated in the failed Union attack on Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina. He would have written this letter only hours after battlle...

Published 7/16/2021

Bully Boys

By: Tracy L. Barnett Category: Articles

How a word with rough origins came to represent good times to the troops.

Published 6/28/2021

Voices From the Army of Northern Virginia, Part 1

By: Gary W. Gallagher Category: Articles

Between fall 2013 and summer 2016, I contributed seven short essays to The Civil War Monitor as “Voices From the Army of the Potomac.” Collectively, they examined more than two dozen titles about the largest and most famous Union army. This essay begins a comparable series on the Army of Northern Virginia that will also discuss primary accounts of various kinds and include a few secondary...

Published 6/7/2021

Extra Voices: Fear

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: Articles

In the Voices section of the Summer 2021 issue of The Civil War Monitor we highlighted quotes by Union and Confederate soldiers about fear. Unfortunately, we didn't have room to include all that we found. Below are those that didn't make the cut.

Published 5/28/2021

The Books That Built Me

By: Steven H. Newton Category: Articles

Civil War enthusiasts understand that historians construct campaign and battle narratives from official reports, maps, letters, journals, newspaper articles and the like. When reading an account penned by any popular author, there is an additional depth to be considered: not just the sources, but the preferences and interests of the historian. At conferences (and sometimes in bars) when historians...

Published 5/24/2021

The Death of Colonel Ellsworth

By: The New York Times Category: Articles

On May 24, 1861, 24-year-old Elmer E. Ellsworth, colonel of 11th New York Infantry, led a group of his men from their camp in Washington, D.C., into Alexandria, after observing a Confederate flag flying from the roof of a building in the Virginia town. Determined to take down the banner, Ellsworth and his men entered the structure—the Marshall House, an inn run by pro-secessionist proprietor ...

Published 4/29/2021

Essential Reading on the Coming of the Civil War

By: Russell McClintock Category: Articles

The literature on the coming of the Civil War is more than vast—it is overwhelming. Choosing just a handful of the thousands of books written on the subject—and the dozens of books absolutely critical to any real understanding of it—is by its nature arbitrary and subjective. That said, the half-dozen titles discussed here offer an outstanding (and readable!) introduction to this fascinating...