Americans: The Citizens, the Enslaved and the Free

Americans, free or enslaved, citizen or emigrant, were touched individually and collectively by the American Civil War: Its causes, fighting, “collateral damage,” unintended consequences and results. Here are a few blogs on some of that impact.


Appealing to God on Both Sides

Union and Confederacy appealed to God for their respective American causes.America in the 1860s identified itself as a devoutly religious–most often specifically as a Christian–nation. As the war between two Christian-based regional social orders heated up, increased “devotion” to God followed. Northern and Southern Americans vied for the claim of Heaven’s support and for Deity’s actual benediction. Each endeavored to see any outcome as a blessing from God, an endorsement of the nation or, at times, as a warning to repent.


Camp Nelson: Slave and Freedman Recruiting

Civil War Stories: Barracks at African-American recruiting station Camp Nelson.Kentucky’s Camp Nelson was the third largest Union recruiting center for African-Americans during the Civil War. After a rough and tragic start in a frozen November, it eventually became a safe haven for refugees.



Castle Thunder: Visiting the Southern Bastille

Confederates and YankeesCastle Thunder, a Confederate prison for political prisoners and deserters. could agree that Richmond’s unique prison Castle Thunder was a nightmare. Americans, white and black, men and women and children, were incarcerated in abominable conditions.



Confederados: Brazilian Neighbors I Never Knew

The cemetery of the original Os Confederados of Americana.Following the Civil War, an estimated 20,000 Americans fled the South, many trying to make a new life in the welcoming nation of Brazil where slavery was still legal. Would they be able to recreated the Antebellum South in South America?



First Confiscation Act: Awkward Beginnings to Freedom

General Butler proclaims escaping slaves as contraband.On August 6, 1861, Abraham Lincoln signed the First Confiscation Act, codifying General Benjamin Butler’s proclamation of three runaway slaves as “contraband.” Butler’s actions and the Act paved the way for eventual emancipation.



Roll, Jordan, Roll: A Book Review

Controversial, but amazingly look at SlaveryA fascinating, exhaustive, sometimes laborious, look at slavery: How slaves and slaveholders were impacted by the abusive institution and how they dealt with it. A Bancroft Prize winner published in 1976, it is sometimes criticized for his theory of paternalism. He does presents both slave and slaveholder perspectives, enriching the book and the reader with the voices of both. The author, Eugene Genovese, approached the topic as a marxist, looking at it in terms of class. Genovese apparently drifted rightward and died in 2012 as a conservative.



The Emancipation Proclamation

emancipation-proclamation-1At the time and ever since, Abraham Lincoln has been criticized and praised for signing the Emancipation Proclamation. But with courage and commitment, with a firm signature, he strengthened a great social change and refocused the North’s purpose in the Civil War.



The Rathbones and The Octagon House

Thomas Rathbone and Mary Rathbone owned Octagon House in MarylandThe real Thomas Rathbone fictional shadow appears in Civil War novel “A River Divides.” The Englishman arrived in the US just before the war. He served in Union Army during the conflict and became an American citizen.



Robert Frost: A Yankee Poet named for a Southern General

Civil War Stories: Novel "A River Divides" features Robert Frost poem.Quintessential “New England Poet” Robert Frost’s father was a Confederate at heart and named his son after Southern icon Robert E. Lee. Did Robert Frost chose not to use his middle name because of its Southern affiliation? I doubt anyone now knows.



“That Big Black Dog”: Nero or Hero?

Nero or Hero, Castle Thunders Most Famous Canine GuardOne of the war’s most famous or infamous dogs: Nero was a canine guard at Richmond’s Castle Thunder prison, a facility for traitors, escaped slaves and Confederate deserters. What was he really called? What breed was he? Was he vicious or gentle and loving? The answers depend on who’s telling the story.