Welcome to the Civil War Online Exhibition - 2011 is the 150th anniversary, the sesquicentennial, of the beginning of the Civil War, still the deadliest war in American history. On the following pages are materials from our special collections and other resources documenting the activity during the Civil War. Explore the table of contents and find information on the following:
Battles - The conflict between the North and the South spanned four years. During that time there were estimated to be 76 battles, 310 engagements with approximately 610,000 deaths, which equaled 14% for the armed forces, and approximately 1,000,000 injuries. Learn about some of the battles with images from Free Library’s special collections. These pages contain books, maps, photographs, prints, and video documenting some of the battles.
Confederate States - With the discussions of abolishing slavery, states’ rights and the tariffs on industry, the Southern states were beginning to feel dissatisfied with policies as early as 1820 but it was the election of President Abraham Lincoln which ultimately made seceding inevitable. These pages include books, maps, photographs, and prints from the special collections on the Confederate States.
Music – There is no question that music is an important part of life, self-evident in its uses during the Civil war. It has been said that the story of the Civil War could be told using the music of the time. These pages contain examples of the music from the Free Library’s Music department in both image and audio formats.
Pennsylvania - We could not assemble these materials for this exhibit without including our state. Pennsylvania, active in both battles and troop support, was vital to the Union cause. On these pages are books, maps, photographs, and prints documenting Pennsylvania’s involvement in the Civil War.
Politics – There were issues before the war and after its end. These pages contain some political cartoons illustrating public opinions about some of the platforms.
Recruiting – Posters appealing to patriotic feeling or promises of enlistment bonuses drew men by the thousands. The local and federal division did their part to encourage enlistment. On these pages are a few examples of recruiting imagery.
The Union – Trying to preserve an idea and prepare for the worst, the Union was in a constant state of fortification. These pages include books, documents, photographs, and prints of its war efforts.
On April 10, 1861, Brig. Gen. Beauregard, in command of the provisional Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina, demanded the surrender of the Union garrison of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Garrison commander Anderson refused. On April 12, Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort, which was unable to reply effectively. At 2:30 pm, April 13, Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter, evacuating the garrison on the following day. The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the opening engagement of the American Civil War. Although there were no casualties during the bombardment, one Union artillerist was killed and three wounded (one mortally) when a cannon exploded prematurely while firing a salute during the evacuation on April 14.
Source: Battle Summary provided by National Park Services, U.S. Department of the Interior
Link to the source: http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/sc001.htm
This Civil War thriller from Wilson (Armada ) fails to deliver on the promise of its gripping opening scene at the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861. When hot-headed Yankee Capt. Fitz Dunaway defies the retreat order of his superior, Colonel Pettibone, and rallies his command to repel a Confederate attempt to break through the Union line, Dunaway winds up in the guardhouse for insubordination. Thaddeus Prescott, the U.S. assistant secretary of war, hands Dunaway a way out by offering him a place on President Lincoln’s protective detail, but Dunaway’s real job is to pose as a malcontent eager to join forces with conspirators seeking to assassinate the president. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t supply enough plot twists or psychological depth to compensate for the lack of suspense about the outcome of any design on Lincoln’s life in 1861. Readers looking for quality political intrigue and mystery against a Civil War backdrop might turn instead to Owen Parry’s Abel Jones series (Rebels in Babylon , etc.). (May) --Staff (Reviewed March 10, 2008) (Publishers Weekly, vol 255, issue 10, p59)
Source: Novelist PLUS
1861 April 18: Harper’s Ferry Armory published in the April 24, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star.
Carlisle, Pa., April 18.
Lieut. Jones late in command at Harper’s Ferry, arrived here with his command of 43 men at 3 P.M. to day.
Lieut. Jones having been advised that a force of 2,500 troops had been ordered by Gov. Letcher to take possession of Harper’s Ferry, and finding his position untenable, under direction of the War Department, he destroyed all the munitions of war, armory, and all the buildings. He withdrew his command under cover of night and almost in the presence of 2,500 troops.
He lost three men and 15,000 stand of arms were destroyed. The command made a forced march last night thirty miles from Harper’s Ferry to Hagerstown, Maryland. Lieut. Jones looked much fatigued. They were most enthusiastically received by the whole population.1
1. Virginia passed their ordnance of secession on April 17, 1861, and the Harpers Ferry Armory became an immediate target for the Confederates. Lieut. Roger Jones (1831-1889) of the U.S. Army “defended the Armory on the evening of April 18, 1861, with 50 regulars and 15 volunteers. In nearby Charles Town several companies of Virginia militia—360 men in all—assembled and advanced toward Harpers Ferry. Jones, outnumbered and unable to obtain reinforcements, set torches to the Armory and Arsenal buildings before retreating across the Potomac River. Further destruction will come with Confederate occupation of Harpers Ferry in the spring of 1861. Southern forces confiscated the Armory’s ordnance stock, machinery, and tools before burning many of the remaining Armory buildings. By war’s end, only the Armory’s fire engine and guard house will remain intact.” (See the Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park website for more information.) Jones will eventually become Inspector General of the U.S. Army, 1888-1889.
Source: "1861 April 18: Harper’s Ferry Armory" published in the April 24, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star, Reissued by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Archive, April 18, 2011
Link the source: http://thecivilwarandnorthwestwisconsin.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/1861-april-18-harpers-ferry-armory/
Excerpts from "The Death of Colonel Ellsworth: The first Union officer killed in the Civil War was a friend of President Lincoln's" by Owen Edwards, Smithsonian magazine, April 2011
On May 24, 1861, the day after Virginia voters ratified the state convention’s decision to secede from the Union, Ellsworth and his troops entered Alexandria, Virginia, to assist in the occupation of the city. As it happened, an 8- by 14-foot Confederate flag—large enough to be seen by spyglass from the White House—had been visible in Alexandria for weeks, flown from the roof of an inn, the Marshall House.
The regiment, organized only six weeks earlier, encountered no resistance as it moved through the city. Barber notes, however, that “the Zouaves were an unruly bunch, spoiling for a fight, and when they got into Alexandria they may have felt they were already in the thick of it. So Ellsworth may have wanted to get that flag down quickly to prevent trouble.”
At the Marshall House, Barber adds, “Colonel Ellsworth just happened to meet the one person he didn’t want to meet”—innkeeper James Jackson, a zealous defender of slavery (and, says Barber, a notorious slave abuser) with a penchant for violence.
Ellsworth approached the inn with only four troopers. Finding no resistance, he took down the flag, but as he descended to the main floor, Jackson fired on Ellsworth at point-blank range with a shotgun, killing him instantly. One of Ellsworth’s men, Cpl. Francis Brownell, then fatally shot Jackson.
Source: "The Death of Colonel Ellsworth: The first Union officer killed in the Civil War was a friend of President Lincoln's" by Owen Edwards, Smithsonian magazine, April 2011
To link to the full article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Death-of-Colonel-Ellsworth.html#ixzz1YcK4UByC
Discussion by James Barber, historian at the National Portrait Gallery.
Excerpts from "FIRST BULL RUN: AN OVERVIEW, Prelude to Battle"
On 15 April 1861, the day after South Carolina military forces had attacked and captured Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring an insurrection against the laws of the United States. Earlier, South Carolina and seven other Southern states had declared their secession from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.
To suppress the rebellion and restore Federal law in the Southern states, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers with ninety-day enlistments to augment the existing U.S. Army of about 15,000. He later accepted an additional 40,000 volunteers with three-year enlistments and increased the strength of the U.S. Army to almost 20,000. Lincoln’s actions caused four more Southern states, including Virginia, to secede and join the Confederacy, and by 1 June the Confederate capital had been moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia.
In Washington, D.C., as thousands of volunteers rushed to defend the capital, General in Chief Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott laid out his strategy to subdue the rebellious states. He proposed that an army of 80,000 men be organized and sail down the Mississippi River and capture New Orleans. While the Army “strangled” the Confederacy in the west, the U.S. Navy would blockade Southern ports along the eastern and Gulf coasts. The press ridiculed what they dubbed as Scott’s “Anaconda Plan.” Instead, many believed the capture of the Confederate capital at Richmond, only one hundred miles south of Washington, would quickly end the war.
Excerpts from "FIRST BULL RUN: AN OVERVIEW, Prelude to Battle", U.S. Army Center for Military History website
Full content : http://www.history.army.mil/StaffRide/1st%20Bull%20Run/Overview.htm
Excerpts from "Reading 1: The Civil War in the Pensacola Area"
Before dawn, on October 9, more than 1,000 Confederates landed four miles east of Fort Pickens and advanced against the Union lines. Darkness provided surprise but some soldiers lost their way among the sand dunes and scrub vegetation. One Union camp was taken and burned, but the approaching dawn and fear of Union gunboat attacks on their transport boats led the Confederates to withdraw eastward toward their landing place. In the meantime, Union troops from Fort Pickens counterattacked and the battle became a running skirmish down the island. Finally, the Confederates reached their boats and rapidly crossed the bay to safety. Known as the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, this confrontation was one of the first significant land battles of the Civil War fought in Florida.
Colonel Brown termed the attack a "gross insult to the flag" and was determined to punish the Confederates through a massive display of Union firepower from both Fort Pickens and ships in the gulf. At 10 a.m. Saturday morning, November 22, 1861, an all-day bombardment began. The Confederates did not wait long to respond. The next day both sides continued their bombardments. During those two days, 5,000 Union and 1,000 Confederate projectiles were fired from the big guns. The noise staggered the imagination. So enormous were the reverberations from the firepower that thousands of dead fish floated to the surface of Pensacola Bay, and windows shattered seven miles away in the town of Pensacola. When the bombardment ended late on November 23, little had been gained or lost by either side. At Fort Pickens, one man had been killed by enemy fire and two guns had been disabled (one had burst from too much use). The Confederates did not suffer many casualties or loss of equipment either, despite the fierce bombardment. Fort McRee was heavily damaged, however.
Source: "Reading 1: The Civil War in the Pensacola Area", National Park Services.
Link to full article: http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/38pickens/38facts1.htm
Excerpt from "Action between USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, 9 March 1862"
The first battle between ironclad warships had ended in stalemate, a situation that lasted until Virginia's self-destruction two months later. However, the outcome of combat between armored equals, compared with the previous day's terrible mis-match, symbolized the triumph of industrial age warfare. The value of existing ships of the line and frigates was heavily discounted in popular and professional opinion. Ironclad construction programs, already underway in America and Europe, accelerated. The resulting armored warship competition would continue into the 1940s, some eight decades in the future.
Note: The CSS Virginia formerly USS Merrimack and persistently mis-identified in accounts of this battle by that name or as "Merrimac".
Source: "Action between USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, 9 March 1862:, Navy History & Heritage, department of the Navy
Link to the source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/civilwar/n-at-cst/hr-james/9mar62.htm
This was the sixth and last of the Seven Days’ Battles. On July 1, 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee launched a series of disjointed assaults on the nearly impregnable Union position on Malvern Hill. The Confederates suffered more than 5,300 casualties without gaining an inch of ground. Despite his victory, McClellan withdrew to entrench at Harrison’s Landing on James River, where his army was protected by gunboats. This ended the Peninsula Campaign. When McClellan’s army ceased to threaten Richmond, Lee sent Jackson to operate against Maj. Gen. John Pope’s army along the Rapidan River, thus initiating the Northern Virginia Campaign.
Source: Malvern Hill, National Park Services, U.S. Department of the Interior
LInk to the source: http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/va021.htm
The Battle of Antietam
September 16-18, 1862
"On September 16, 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and his Union Army of the Potomac confronted Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. At dawn on September 17, Maj. General Joseph Hooker’s Union corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the Battle of Antietam, and the single bloodiest day in American military history. Repeated Union attacks, and equally vicious Confederate counterattacks, swept back and forth across Miller’s cornfield and the West Woods. Despite the great Union numerical advantage, Stonewall Jackson’s forces near the Dunker Church would hold their ground this bloody morning. Meanwhile, towards the center of the battlefield, Union assaults against the Sunken Road would pierce the Confederate center after a terrible struggle for this key defensive position. Unfortunately for the Union army this temporal advantage in the center was not followed up with further advances...During the night, both armies tended to their wounded and consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan on the 18th, while removing his wounded south of the Potomac. McClellan, much to the chagrin of Abraham Lincoln, did not vigorously pursue the wounded Confederate army. While the Battle of Antietam is considered a draw from a military point of view, Abraham Lincoln and the Union claimed victory. This hard-fought battle, which drove Lee’s forces from Maryland, would give Lincoln the “victory” that he needed before delivering the Emancipation Proclamation - a document that would forever change the geopolitical course of the American Civil War."
Excerpts from "The Battle of Antietam: Sharpsburg, September 16-18, 1862", The Civil War Trust website
For the complete article link to: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam.html?gclid=CKrDte-2pKsCFSM65QodyAE50A
Excerpts from "McClellan at Antietam" by Stephen Sears
In all his months as army commander, Major General George Brinton McClellan fought just one battle, Antietam, from start to finish. Antietam, then, must serve as the measure of his generalship. Colonel Ezra Carman, who survived that bloody field and later wrote the most detailed tactical study of the fighting there, had it right when he observed that on September 17, 1862, “more errors were committed by the Union commander than in any other battle of the war.”
General McClellan’s most grievous error was hugely overestimating Confederate numbers. This delusion dominated his military character. In August 1861, taking command of the Army of the Potomac, he began entirely on his own to over-count the enemy’s forces. Later he was abetted by Allan Pinkerton, his inept intelligence chief, but even Pinkerton could not keep pace with McClellan’s imagination. On the eve of Antietam, McClellan would tell Washington he faced a gigantic Rebel army “amounting to not less than 120,000 men,” outnumbering his own army “by at least twenty-five per cent.” So it was that George McClellan imagined three Rebel soldiers for every one he faced on the Antietam battlefield. Every decision he made that September 17 was dominated by his fear of counterattack by phantom Confederate battalions.
Source: "McClellan at Antietam" by Stephen Sears, The Civil War Trust
Link to the full article: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam/history/mcclellan-at-antietam.html
Excerpt from "The Battle of Antietam, Sharpsburg, September 16-18, 1862"
At dawn on September 17, Maj. General Joseph Hooker’s Union corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the Battle of Antietam, and the single bloodiest day in American military history. Repeated Union attacks, and equally vicious Confederate counterattacks, swept back and forth across Miller’s cornfield and the West Woods. Despite the great Union numerical advantage, Stonewall Jackson’s forces near the Dunker Church would hold their ground this bloody morning. Meanwhile, towards the center of the battlefield, Union assaults against the Sunken Road would pierce the Confederate center after a terrible struggle for this key defensive position.
Source: "The Battle of Antietam, Sharpsburg, September 16-18, 1862", The Civil War Trust
To view the full article link to: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam.html?gclid=CIeurunppKsCFUM45Qod6BSv1A
A two minute presentation of the event of the Bloody Lane at Antietam.
Publishers Weekly: Probably more raw material (letters, diaries, unit histories) about the CivilWar battle of Antietam has been crammed into this volume than any other book onthe subject. Unfortunately, the author, a Maryland high-school teacher, offersthe barest minimum of analysis or interpretation. Presented in chronological order, these excerpts reduce the confrontation between Lee's Army of NorthernVirginia and McClellan's Army of the Potomac on September 16-18, 1862, to aclotted mass of vignettes that provides vivid individual glimpses of the fighting but adds up to an unintentional exemplification of the ``fog of war.'' There are 72 maps of the action included, but the absence of a master map renders them all but useless. Such familiar topographical features as the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, Burnside's Bride and the Maryland village of Sharpsburg areshown on certain of the maps, but their location in relation to each other is not. (July)
The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863
"Gen. Robert E. Lee concentrated his full strength against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at the crossroads county seat of Gettysburg at what would come to be known as the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 1, Confederate forces converged on the town from west and north, driving Union defenders back through the streets to Cemetery Hill. During the night, reinforcements arrived for both sides. On July 2, Lee attempted to envelop the Federals, first striking the Union left flank at the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Round Tops with Longstreet’s and Hill’s divisions, and then attacking the Union right at Culp’s and East Cemetery Hills with Ewell’s divisions. By evening, the Federals retained Little Round Top and had repulsed most of Ewell’s men. During the morning of July 3, the Confederate infantry were driven from their last toe-hold on Culp’s Hill. In the afternoon, after a massive artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett-Pettigrew assault (more popularly, Pickett’s Charge) momentarily pierced the Union line but was driven back with severe casualties. Stuart’s cavalry attempted to gain the Union rear but was repulsed. On July 4, Lee began withdrawing his army toward Williamsport on the Potomac River, thus concluding the Battle of Gettysburg. His train of wounded stretched more than fourteen miles."
Quoted from "The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863," The Civil War Trust, http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg.html?gclid=COeN4bq2pKsCFYlM4AodOX2L1w
Matt Spruill is the author of four previous Civil War battlefield guide books. He studied and taught at the U.S. Army General Command and Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
Excerpt from "The Army Nurse Corps: The Civil War (1861-1865) and After"
Many women served as nurses in the hospitals of both the Union and Confederate Armies, often also performing their humanitarian service close to the fighting front or on the battlefields themselves – earning the undying respect and gratitude from those whom they served.
On June 10, 1861, two months after the Civil War began, the Secretary of War appointed Dorothea Lynde Dix as Superintendent of Women Nurses for the Union Army.
Around 6,000 women performed nursing duties for the federal forces. It is estimated that some 181 black nurses served in convalescent and U.S. Government hospitals during the war.
Source: The official homepage of the U.S. Army, Women in the U.S. Army
For the full article link to: http://www.army.mil/women/nurses.html
"When the Civil War broke out, women answered the call for help. They broke away from their traditional roles and served in many capacities, some of them even going so far as to disguise themselves as men and enlist in the army. Estimates of such women enlistees range from 400 to 700. About 60 women soldiers were known to have been killed or wounded. More than sixty women who fought or who served the Union or Confederacy in other ways are featured. Among them are Sarah Thompson, the Union spy and nurse who brought down the famous raider John Hunt Morgan; Elizabeth Van Lew, the Union spy instrumental in the largest prison break of the war; Sarah Malinda Blalock, who fought for the Confederacy as a soldier and then for the Union as a guerrilla raider; Dr. Mary Walker, a doctor for the Union and the only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for Civil War service; and Jennie Hodgers, the longest serving woman soldier (and the only woman to receive a soldier's pension)."
Synopsis provided by Bowker's Global Books in Print
Excerpt from "Battle of Gettysburg: Devil's Den and Little Round Top (2009)
July 2, 1863"
On July 2, Lee attempted to envelop the Federals, first striking the Union left flank at the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Round Tops with Longstreet’s and Hill’s divisions, and then attacking the Union right at Culp’s and East Cemetery Hills with Ewell’s divisions. By evening, the Federals retained Little Round Top and had repulsed most of Ewell’s men. During the morning of July 3, the Confederate infantry were driven from their last toe-hold on Culp’s Hill. In the afternoon, after a preliminary artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett-Pettigrew assault (more popularly, Pickett’s Charge) momentarily pierced the Union line but was driven back with severe casualties. Stuart’s cavalry attempted to gain the Union rear but was repulsed. On July 4, Lee began withdrawing his army toward Williamsport on the Potomac River, thus concluding the Battle of Gettysburg. His train of wounded stretched more than fourteen miles.
Source: "Battle of Gettysburg: Devil's Den and Little Round Top (2009)
July 2, 1863", The Civil War Trust
For the full citation link to : http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/maps/gettysburg-devils-den-and.html
Illustrating "the Battle of Gettysburg: Devil's Den and Little Round Top" (2009)
The battle between the C.S.S. Alabama and the U.S.S. Kearsarge
Map taken from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: IV: The Way to Appomattox, p.608
"The 118th Pennsylvania Regiment was a volunteer infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Corn Exchange Regiment because a bounty of $10 for each man, as well as the funds necessary for raising the regiment, were furnished by the Corn Exchange Association with their hall at 2nd and Gold Streets in Philadelphia."
Excerpt from Wikipedia, link to the source for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/118th_Pennsylvania_Infantry
At midday on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee rode into this yard, dismounted, and disappeared into the McLean House. Grant, surrounded by generals and staff officers, soon followed. Dozens of officers, horses, and onlookers waited outside. After 90 minutes, Lee and Grant emerged. To the silent salutes of Union officers, Lee rode back through the village – to his defeated army.
The home that hosted the surrender meeting was one of the best in Appomattox. Built in 1848, it had since 1862 been owned by businessman Wilmer McLean. The house became a sensation after the surrender. Union officers took some mementos; and in 1893 it was dismantled for display in Washington, D.C. But that display never happened, and the National Park Service reconstructed the building on its original site in the 1940s.
Source: McLean House, Historical Marker Database
Link to the source: http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=5962
Reveals why the last month of the American Civil War was so pivotal in preserving the Union, describing such key events as the fall of Richmond, Lee's retreat, the surrender at Appomattox, and Lincoln's assassination.
Source: NoveList Plus