The Front Line

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

Published 6/18/2012

The Cumberland

By: Laura June Davis Category: From the Archives

Good morning! Today we bring you an 1862 poem by Herman Melville entitled, "The Cumberland." Written in March of 1862, Melville lyrivally referenced the fateful sinking of the USS Cumberland by the CSS Virginia during the Battle of Hampton Roads at Newport News, Virginia on March 8, 1862.

Published 6/15/2012

Not Up To Time

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good afternoon! Today's Friday Funny is an 1862 piece from the London weekly magazine, Punch.

Published 6/11/2012

Elegy for the Native Guards

By: Laura June Davis Category: Quotables

In honor of Natasha Trethewey being named the next poet laureate, we thought we would share with you one of her Civil War inspired poems.

Published 6/8/2012

Masterly Inactivity

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good afternoon! This Frank Leslie cartoon parodies the extended military standoff between Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of Potomac and Confederate General P.G.T  Beauregard’s Army of the Shenandoah during the fall and winter of 1861.

Published 6/1/2012

Sinbad Lincoln and the Old Man of the Sea

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

A clear critique of Gideon Welles, the Union Secretary of the Navy, this 1862 cartoon suggests that the naval department is weighing down Lincoln?s administration and that the Federal navy is sorely lacking; along the horizon the CSS Virginia and CSS Alabama sit unchallenged and unopposed

Published 5/31/2012

Form follows Function: Changing Audiences Bring Changes to Interpretations

By: Craig Swain Category: Analysis

Visiting the battlefields today, the markers placed fifty even ten years ago look different than the "new" markers today. Why? because we tour the battlefields differently. So what does that say about how we use those resources? What drove the change?

Published 5/27/2012

Nathan Bedford Forrest, Reconstructed

By: Andy Hall Category: Commentary

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.

Published 5/25/2012

Neutrality or Death?

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good Morning! Today's Friday Funny comes to us from the June 29, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly. The caption reads, "Governor Magoffin's neutrality means holding the Cock of the Walk (Uncle Sam) while the Confederate Cat (Jeff Davis) kills off his Chickens."

Published 5/21/2012


By: Laura June Davis Category: From the Archives

One of the most popular Civil War songs was Lorena. Reverend Henry D. L. Webster first penned the lyrics in 1856 after his fianc?? Ella Blocksom?ended their engagement. However, in his version, the protagonist was named Bertha. A few years later, J.P. Webster?who was not related to Henry Webster?sought words to a musical piece he was composing.

Published 5/18/2012

Why Don't You Take It?

By: Laura June Davis Category: Friday Funny

Good morning! Today's Friday Funny is an 1861 Currier & Ives sketch commenting on the Union's substantial advantage in terms war materiel.