Monday, July 12, 2021

New & Noteworthy: Campaign Fort The Confederate Coast: Blaocking, Blockade Running and Related Endeavors During the American Civil War, Gil Hahn



Campaign for the Confederate Coast: Blockading, Blockade Running and Related Endeavors During the American Civil War, Gil Hahn, 2021.$21.95, 322 pp., illustrations, index, bibliographic notes, West 88th Street Press 

Hahn offers a through but concise discussion of the aims, means available to the Confederacy as it seeks to maintain its economic trade with Europe and the aims and means available to the Union to restrict and minimize that economic intercourse. He well establishes the social and economic circumstances involved along with the evolution of the sea tactics and the emerging technologies of blockade and blockade running which include naval rams and seacoast fortresses.

Also, Hahn reviews the variety of ‘laws of the sea’ along with the rights of belligerents. His chapters on the commerce suppression campaigns of 1861 through 1863 and the successful adaptions made by the Federals during 1864 and 1865.

Benefiting readers, Hahn offers 13 chronological charts composed of the attempts, the seasonal successes and the losses of block-runners for the Confederate ports of Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, St. Marks, Mobile, New Orleans, and Galveston.

Additionally, for 1859-1865 Hahn presents charts for the production, the consumption, and the exports and the imports of 500 pound bales of cotton. These charts show related trends and blockade successes.  Importantly the charts include U.S. imports of cotton from the U.K and from the British West Indies and causes Civil War Librarian to wonder: Did the U.S. import cotton which had previously run the naval blockade? 

Campaign for the Confederate Coast: Blockading, Blockade Running and Related Endeavors During the American Civil War clearly and cogently describes, from both Southern and Northern points of view, the dozens upon dozens economic, technology and military policy conditions and adaptations which created military outcomes of the war. Throughout, Hahn offers these discussions in a writing style which is both accessible and concise. 

Forthcoming: Civil War Witnesses and Their Books, Fall 2021

Civil War Witnesses and Their Books: New Perspectives on Iconic Works (Number 74 in the series, Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War), Gary Gallagher et al., 314 pp., Louisiana State University Press, $45.00

From the Publisher: 

Civil War Witnesses and Their Books: New Perspectives on Iconic Works serves as a wide-ranging analysis of texts written by individuals who experienced the American Civil War. Edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Stephen Cushman, this volume, like its companion, Civil War Writing: New Perspectives on Iconic Texts (2019), features the voices of authors who felt compelled to convey their stories for a variety of reasons. Some produced works intended primarily for their peers, while others were concerned with how future generations would judge their wartime actions. One diarist penned her entries with no thought that they would later become available to the public. The essayists explore the work of five men and three women, including prominent Union and Confederate generals, the wives of a headline-seeking US cavalry commander and a Democratic judge from New York City, a member of Robert E. Lee’s staff, a Union artillerist, a matron from Richmond’s sprawling Chimborazo Hospital, and a leading abolitionist US senator.

Civil War Witnesses and Their Books shows how some of those who lived through the conflict attempted to assess its importance and frame it for later generations. Their voices have particular resonance today and underscore how rival memory traditions stir passion and controversy, providing essential testimony for anyone seeking to understand the nation’s greatest trial and its aftermath.


 From Manassas to Appomattox: James Longstreet’s Memoir and the Limits of Confederate Reconciliation,” Elizabeth R. Varon

“A Modern Sensibility in Older Garb: Henry Wilson’s Rise and Fall of the Slave Power and the Beginnings of Civil War History,” William Blair

“‘The Brisk and Brilliant Matron of Chimborazo Hospital’: Phoebe Yates Pember’s Nurse Narrative,’” Sarah E. Gardner

“George McClellan’s Many Turnings,” Stephen Cushman

“Maria Lydig Daly: Diary of a Union Lady 1861–1865,” J. Matthew Gallman

John D. Billings’s Hardtack and Coffee: A Union Fighting Man’s Civil War,” M. Keith Harris

“One Widow’s Wars: The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the West in Elizabeth Bacon Custer’s Memoirs,” Cecily N. Zander

“Proximity and Numbers: Walter H. Taylor Shapes Confederate History and Memory,” Gary W. Gallagher

 Publisher's Page:

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Finding Unionists in Virginia: John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History & Building a Digital History Website

UVA Unionists: Digital Project Studying University of Virginia Alumni Who Stayed Loyal to the Union

On May 4 at 7 pm ET, the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia officially launched its second digital project, UVA Unionists. This project chronicles the more than sixty UVA students, alumni, or professors who served the Union cause during the Civil War. Editorial Assistant Brian Neumann and Digital Historian Will Kurtz discussed the projects findings and give a short demonstration of the website.

YouTube Video:  University of Virginia Unionists

 Journal of the Civil War online publication, Muster,  

Nau Center for Digital Projects


Monday, May 03, 2021


Army University Press: The ‘Union Army’ Is No More,  By Fred Bauer, National Review, April 27, 2021

 Having triumphed over rebel forces 160 years ago, the Union army now faces a new challenge: the effort to erase it from history books  The Army University Press announced new guidelines for article and book submissions that strongly discourage the use of the term 'the Union' to refer to the forces of the U.S. government during the Civil War.

Similarly, citizens in states who remained loyal to the United States did not all feel a strong commitment towards dissolving the institution of slavery, nor did they believe Lincoln’s views represented their own.

Thus, while the historiography has traditionally referred to the “Union” in the American Civil War as “the northern states loyal to the United States government,” the fact is that the term “Union” always referred to all the states together, which clearly was not the situation at all. In light of this, the reader will discover that the word “Union” will be largely replaced by the more historically accurate “Federal Government” or “U.S. Government.” “Union forces” or “Union army” will largely be replaced by the terms “U.S. Army,” “Federals,” or “Federal Army.

 However, it’s not just “the historiography” in the abstract that has referred to the states loyal to the federal government as “the Union.” The people who fought to preserve the Constitutional order called their side “the Union,” too. In his memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant referred many times to the “Union army” or “Union troops.” Countless documents written during the Civil War (by those who fought against the Confederacy) spoke of the “Union army.” Referring to the effort to preserve the U.S. federal government during the Civil War as “the Union” is not some retrospective invention of historians.

In fact, it’s arguable that erasing the term “the Union” from historiographical discourse, far from being “more historically accurate,” distorts the vision of Lincoln, Grant, and many other Americans.

“Union” has a particular charge in American discourse, from the Constitution’s “more perfect Union” onward. In his first inaugural address, Lincoln reflected on the centrality of the hopes of union for the American republic. He held in that address that secession was not just the splintering of the United States but the obliteration of political order: “The central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.” The secession crisis threatened the U.S. government, but Lincoln and his contemporaries also saw violent secession as threatening the prospect of democratic governance in general.

The project of Union was about the U.S. federal government, but it was about more than that, too. Union was the hope of reconciling conflict within a democracy. Union was the assertion of the rule of law over factional violence. Union was securing the prospect of republican liberty. For many Americans, the army that marched under the Stars and Stripes was in that deeper sense the Union army.

In his funeral sermon for Abraham Lincoln, the minister Phineas Gurley did not once mention the “federal government” or even “United States.” Instead, he spoke again and again about “union”: “through all these long and weary years of civil strife, while our friends and brothers on so many ensanguined fields were falling and dying for the cause of Liberty and Union.” If one of the goals of historical study is to capture the textures of past eras, erasing “the Union” and “the Union army” from historical discourse would make it harder to understand the passions and principles of those who risked their lives to preserve the American republic.

 Text Source: National Review April 27, 2021

Image:  accompanying National Review online article
Union troops form near the battlefield during a re-enactment of “The Wheatfield” as part of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pa., July 5, 2013. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Friday, April 30, 2021

Both Union and Confederate Armies Faced a Third Army


Lessons learned — and forgotten — from the horrific epidemics of the U.S. Civil War, Jonathan S. Jones April 18, 2021 STAT, April 18, 2021

 Andersonville Prison

As the U.S. approaches 600,000 deaths from Covid-19, it is hard to fathom that this calamity pales in comparison to America’s worst outbreak of epidemic diseases during and just after the Civil War.

From smallpox and measles to dysentery and typhoid, the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, triggered an explosion of deadly epidemics on a scale never seen in the U.S., before or since. A million sick soldiers, newly emancipated ex-slaves, families caught in the crossfire, and hungry refugees died during the war, about 3% of the U.S. population. Two-thirds of these deaths were from disease. For comparison, it would take nearly 10 million Americans deaths from Covid-19 to reach the Civil War’s death toll.

As a medical historian, I’ve spent countless hours poring through vintage medical journals, public health reports, and eyewitness accounts of the health nightmare that was the Civil War. These sources are full of sobering parallels between that war and Covid-19, as well as the valuable but essentially forgotten lessons it taught the country about public health.

Complete text is found at STAT