The Front Line

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

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...

Published 10/20/2011

Progress and Change and Preservation

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Commentary

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...

Published 10/18/2011

"Coal for the Furnaces is as important as Gunpowder for the Guns"

By: James M. Schmidt Category: Analysis

If cannon and rifles were the engines of war, then gunpowder was the fuel for those engines. On countless Civil War battlefields, the fuel was employed to great effect—physically and psychologically—just as it had for the centuries prior...