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Civil War Articles
Special Order 191: Ruse of War
Lincoln and the Telegraph
CSS Stonewall
Burning of New York
Battle of Chickamauga
Sherman's March
Was the Civil War Modern?
Movement around Pope's Army
Timothy Webster, Pinkerton Man and Spy
Third Day at Gettysburg
Colonel Patrick O'Rorke
Stanley at Shiloh
The Ringgold Cavalry

Special Order 191: Ruse Of War

By Joseph Ryan

On September 5, 1862, General Lee crossed his army over the Potomac into Western Maryland. It had taken him four months to maneuver Lincoln's armies out of Virginia and the effort had left his soldiers decimated and the survivors staggering. He needed to get them into the Shenandoah Valley, the only place within a radius of sixty miles from his position, after the fierce battle at Manassas, where they could find subsistence, rest, and reorganize. But, in turning his army back from the environs of Washington, it was impossible for him to lead it directly across the Blue Ridge into the Valley. Lincoln's armies would consolidate under McClellan's command again and would either follow him or move toward Richmond, and he would have to hurry his soldiers across the wasteland of Northern Virginia to intercept them. Only one strategy would keep the enemy away from Richmond and that was to march to the Valley indirectly, through Maryland.

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What Lincoln’s Telegraph Can Teach Us about Wartime Adaptation

By Richard Tilley

The American Civil War was nearly over before it really began. When Union General McDowell and his 35,000 soldiers strode from Washington, D.C. southward in July 1861, they seemed destined to take Richmond. Fortunately for the Confederacy, the Virginia Central Railroad allowed last-second reinforcements to rush from the Shenandoah Valley and turn back McDowell at the First Battle of Bull Run. Two years later, another seminal invention took center stage as the rifled musket decimated Confederate General Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, setting the stage for Confederate surrender at Appomattox by 1865. For many historians, railroads to and rifles on American battlefields fashioned modern warfare. Yet, the enduring legacy of these innovations has faded with time. The railroad was a modest improvement on the horse as a means of soldier transportation and was quickly supplanted by internal combustion and jet engines for ground and air maneuver, respectively.

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Under Six Flags: The Intriguing Saga of the CSS Stonewall

By Larry G. Parker

On Nov. 25. 1864, eight men walked the streets of Manhattan, New York. The group, calling themselves the Confederate Army of Manhattan, split up and approached a series of hotels on their lists and checked in. “At 17 minutes of nine the St. James Hotel was discovered to be on fire in one of the rooms,” The New York Times reported. Bedding and furniture had been saturated with an accelerant and set aflame. A few minutes later, Barnum’s Museum was ablaze. About the same time, four rooms of the St. Nicholas Hotel were ablaze. By 9:20 p.m. a room in the Lafarge House was ln flames. Then the Metropolitan House, Brandreth House, Frenche’s Hotel, the Belmont House, Wallack’s Theatre and several other buildings were on fire. Included in the incendiary maelstrom were 5th Ward Museum Hotel, Astor House, the Belmont Hotel, the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the Howard Hotel, La Farge House, Lovejoy's Hotel, the Metropolitan Hotel, the St. James Hotel, the St. Nicholas Hotel, the Tammany Hotel, and the United States Hotel. [1]

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Burn, New York, Burn! The Confederate Plot to Burn Manhattan

By Walter Giersbach

On Nov. 25. 1864, eight men walked the streets of Manhattan, New York. The group, calling themselves the Confederate Army of Manhattan, split up and approached a series of hotels on their lists and checked in. “At 17 minutes of nine the St. James Hotel was discovered to be on fire in one of the rooms,” The New York Times reported. Bedding and furniture had been saturated with an accelerant and set aflame. A few minutes later, Barnum’s Museum was ablaze. About the same time, four rooms of the St. Nicholas Hotel were ablaze. By 9:20 p.m. a room in the Lafarge House was ln flames. Then the Metropolitan House, Brandreth House, Frenche’s Hotel, the Belmont House, Wallack’s Theatre and several other buildings were on fire. Included in the incendiary maelstrom were 5th Ward Museum Hotel, Astor House, the Belmont Hotel, the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the Howard Hotel, La Farge House, Lovejoy's Hotel, the Metropolitan Hotel, the St. James Hotel, the St. Nicholas Hotel, the Tammany Hotel, and the United States Hotel. [1]

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The Battle of Chickamauga: The Beginning of the End for the Confederate Army

By Roger Craig and Michael Artis

The Battle of Chickamauga is a historic battle fought near Chickamauga Creek in Chickamauga, Georgia, during the Civil War, in 1863. The recent Union Army victories took its toll on the Confederate forces both in physical ways and emotional ways. General Braxton Bragg and General William Rosecrans met on the battlefield before the Battle of Chickamauga. They met and fought at the Tullahoma Campaign. General Rosecrans emerged victorious in the Tullahoma Campaign. General Bragg and his troops suffered a loss, but the fight for this region was not over. The importance of the region demanded that each side put all they had into controlling that vital supply route. The Confederate Army won the battle. However, the Battle of Chickamauga was the Confederate victory that led to the defeat of the Confederate Army in the American Civil War.

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Sherman's March: A Remarkable Success

By Michael Irvin

Sherman’s March to the Sea proved to be a decisive campaign deep in the heartland of the South to which many have claimed was a criminal act but, in examining the facts, was nothing of the sort. Beginning in November 1864, approximately 60,000 Union soldiers left the city of Atlanta determined to reach the Atlantic coast while removing Georgia’s ability and will to contribute any more to the Confederate cause. This bold move was at first cautioned by Lincoln and Grant who were unsure of the likelihood of success but, through Sherman’s conviction and desire, was ultimately granted approval. The march has since gone down as one of the most storied and controversial undertakings of the Civil War and arouses an almost mythical stature for its followers. Sherman’s men were products of the 19th century and so did carry out acts that today would be seen as unacceptable but they were no criminals and committed no war crimes.

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Was the Civil War Modern? – No.

By Michael Collie

After the Second World War, many American Civil War historians came to argue that the Civil War was the first modern/total war. As summarized by Mark Grimsley, in The American Civil War: a Handbook of Literature and Research this theme includes a number of contentions. Troops armed with breech-loading infantry arms and artillery, primitive machine guns, and ironclad ships, early balloons, and trench warfare in the Civil War are cited as evidence. The use of railroads, steam ships and riverboats, and telegraph are said to have affected strategy. New mass armies of volunteers and emphasis on industrial capacity influenced battles and campaigns. The status of civilians as legitimate targets of armies and strategy may be the most significant aspect making the American Civil War the first modern and total of the new period of war, so the argument goes.[1]

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Origin of the Movement Around Pope's Army of Virginia, August 1862

By Michael Collie

Following the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1863 the Army of Northern Virginia went into winter quarters along the south bank of the Rappahannock River. Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's headquarters was at the Moss Neck Plantation eleven miles southeast of Fredericksburg. General Robert E. Lee and Major General J.E.B. Stuart made camp near Hamilton Crossing within 8 miles of Moss Neck and about four miles south of Fredericksburg. The proximity of these headquarters allowed frequent contact between the staffs during the winter of 1862-1863.[1]

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Timothy Webster, Pinkerton Man and Spy

By Walter Giersbach

Few people admire a spy who lives by duplicity, subterfuge and lies, even if he or she is your ally. However, Timothy Webster was a man of honor serving an honorable cause. And he was the first Union spy hanged by the Confederates for it. Webster was born into a large family in Newhaven, Sussex County, England in 1822. Foreshadowing the mass emigrations to come, the Websters moved to Princeton, N.J. in 1830. About ten years later, he moved again, to New York City, and in 1841, at the age of 19, he married 23-year-old Charlotte Sprowls. A year later their first child, a son, was born. They would have four children in all. [1]

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Four Attacks – Four Failures: The Third Day at Gettysburg

By Bryan J. Dickerson

The Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War is one of the most researched and written about events in world history. A great many historians have researched, interpreted, analyzed and re-interpreted what happened leading up to, during and after these three epic days of battle in the Pennsylvania countryside. Run a search through Barnes & Noble or Amazon’s websites on Gettysburg and you will find literally several thousand books on the subject. Historians, scholars, and persons from all walks of life have debated and argued over these three days like few other events in history.

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Colonel Patrick O'Rorke: Unsung hero of Little Round Top

By Roger Daene

The one who writes the history is oftentimes the one who receives the glory. This is especially true in military history. Those who survive the battle are able to tell their story known to the public. In some cases, those who die in battle can either be relegated to obscurity or their achievements are underrated because there is no one to tell their story. The Colonel of the 140th New York at the Battle of Gettysburg was one whose story is relatively unknown. The town of Gettysburg had grown in size and importance once the railroad had come to town. Gettysburg was a crossroads town and after the war had begun, supplies had moved through this bustling Pennsylvania town.

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Stanley at Shiloh: An Improbable Indiana Jones

By Walter Giersbach

The early days of April 1862 didn't turn out well for Henry Morton Stanley. A few months into his enlistment in the Dixie Greys—the 6th Arkansas Regiment—found the young man marching toward the disastrous Battle of Shiloh. This would set him on a course he couldn't have imagined. Stanley wasn't his real name, nor was he an American—just an Englishman from Wales who liked to read and write and happened to find himself in Arkansas when war broke out. Joining the Dixie Greys came as much from the lure of adventure as patriotism. Then, on the morning of April 7, he found himself virtually the only soldier in gray facing a sea of bluecoats. His fight at Shiloh was over when a Yank shouted, "Down with that gun, Secesh, or I'll drill a hole through you!"

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The Ringgold Cavalry Company in the Alleghenies, June to November 1861

By Richard D. Pitts

At the beginning of the Civil War, the US Army possessed only the basics to conduct military operations, standard infantry units pulled from garrison duty, artillery units equipped with artillery pieces little changed from the Napoleonic period, and cavalry units varying in title and purpose. The cavalry of the regular army consisted of two regiments of regular cavalry the 1st and 2nd , troopers armed with sabers and pistols for close order combat on horseback, two regiments of dragoons also the 1st and 2nd, units, which used horses to get from one fight to the next, and the 1st Mounted Rifles, infantrymen on horseback[1] . Scattered across the United States these units provided the only horsemen available to Union except for one particular independent cavalry unit, a unit, which trained as a Pennsylvania militia unit since 1847 and remained ready for action right up to the callout of volunteers on April 15, 1861.

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