Tag: Pieces of History
The issue of slavery divided the country under Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency. The national argument was simple: either keep slavery or abolish it. But Abraham Lincoln, known as the Great Emancipator, may have also been known as the Great Colonizer when he supported a third direction to the slavery debate: move African Americans somewhere else.
Long before the Civil War, in 1854, Lincoln addressed his own solution to slavery at a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois: “I should not know what to do as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” While Lincoln acknowledged this was logistically impossible, by the time he assumed the Presidency and a Civil War was underfoot, the nation was in such duress that he tried it anyway.
By early 1861, Lincoln ordered a secret trip to modern-day Panama to investigate the land of a Philadelphian named Ambrose Thompson. Thompson had volunteered his Chiriqui land as a refuge for freed slaves. The slaves would work in the abundant coal mines on his property, the coal would be sold to the Navy, and the profits would go to the freed slaves to further build up their new land.
Lincoln sought to test the idea on the small slave population in Delaware, but the idea met fierce … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on December 1, 2010, under - Civil Rights, - Civil War, News and Events.
Tags: abraham lincoln, american history, civil war, discovering the civil war, emancipation and deportation, lincoln on slaves, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, National Archives Official Blog, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, slavery, strange history, was lincoln racist, weird US history
According to Army Regulation 670-1, a soldier can now receive 31 military decorations “as a distinctively designed mark of honor denoting heroism, or meritorious or outstanding service or achievement.” During the Civil War, there was only one: the Medal of Honor.
The U.S. Army does not have a longstanding history of handing out awards. During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington handed out exactly three awards to recognize “any singularly meritorious action.”
Certificates were handed out for soldiers who distinguished themselves during the Mexican-American War, but that was discontinued when the conflict ended. At the start of the Civil War, there was no way to recognize the merit of the nation’s soldiers.
Gen. Winfield Scott approved of this. He believed medals smacked of European affectation.
By the summer of 1861, however, Congress had approved a medal of valor for the Navy, and within a year the Army had followed suit with a medal of honor “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection.” By 1863, Congress had modified the law to include officers and expanded its tenure beyond the Civil War.
In 1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton gave out about 300 of the medals to troops who extended their military tours to protect the nation’s capital. More than … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 30, 2010, under - Civil War.
Tags: american history, discovering the civil war, history of military decorations, history of the medal of honor, medal of honor and civil war, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, National Archives Official Blog, Pieces of History, Prologue magazine, random history, us history, weird US history
Yesterday was Veterans Day, and many of my friends on Facebook posted tributes to their family and friends, usually mentioning their grandfathers who fought in World War II.
Now, World War II was over 60 years ago, but I personally know WWII vets—my own grandfather and great-uncle. And my father knew family members who were WWI vets.
It is easy to think of historical events as happening in the long-ago past, in a vacuum where wars have a beginning and end rather than as lives that overlap from one event to another. But things run into each other—Theodore Roosevelt saw Lincoln’s funeral, and Roosevelt’s son Ted served in World War I and later was on the beach in Normandy in WWII, directing the troops as they came ashore.
But still, I was jolted when I saw the film footage of Civil War veterans. After all—the Civil War ended in 1865, before the invention of cars or telephone or airplanes. But there they were in motion, men who had been on the field at Gettysburg, chatting and talking, their long white beards blowing in the wind.
They were filmed in 1938, 20 years after WWI and just a few years before WWII. They had grown up with horses and trains, and they arrived at the Blue and Gray Reunion by car.
Seventy-five years after the Battle of Gettysburg, a Federal commission took on … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 12, 2010, under - Civil War, Facial Hair Fridays, Rare Videos.
Tags: civil war, discovering the civil war, Pieces of History, prologue blog, strange facts, things you didnt know about civil war, us history, weird but true
Today Part Two of “Discovering the Civil War” opens at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The exhibit is divided into a few sections, the last of which is entitled “Endings and Beginnings,” a reference to the end of the Civil War and the start of Reconstruction. As to the beginning and the end of the Civil War itself, there is only one man who book-ended it so literally. His name was Wilmer McLean.
On July 18, 1861, Confederate General Beauregard had sat down for supper in the home of a Manassas local when a cannonball pierced through the house and landed in the kitchen fireplace. It was something of a surprise, but not so overwhelming as to ruin Beauregard’s sense of humor “A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House,” he wrote in his diary. Perhaps the shell would have been more of a shock had it not been just one of many volleys in the first major campaign of the Civil War: the Battle of Bull Run.
The house belonged to a man named Wilmer McLean, who had purchased the property in 1854. Beauregard had commandeered the property—and McLean’s well-situated house and barn—as his headquarters and, later, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 10, 2010, under - Civil War, Myth or History.
Tags: american history, appomattox, bull run, civil war, discovering the civil war, NARA, national archives, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, strange facts, things you didnt know about civil war, us history, weird but true, weird US history, wilmer mclean
History is full of strange coincidences, and the Civil War is no exception. In the 1950s, Stefan Lorant was researching a book on Abraham Lincoln when he came across an image of the President’s funeral procession as it moved down Broadway in New York City. The photo was dated April 25, 1865.
At first it appeared like one of any number of photographs of Lincoln’s funeral procession, until he identified the house on the corner as that of Cornelius van Schaack Roosevelt, the grandfather of future President Teddy Roosevelt and his brother Elliot.
The coincidence might have ended there, but Lorant took a closer look. In the second=story window of the Roosevelt mansion he noticed the heads of two boys are peering out onto Lincoln’s funeral procession.
Lorant had the rare chance to ask Teddy Roosevelt’s wife about the image, and when she saw it, she confirmed what he had suspected: the faces in the windows were those of a young future President and his brother. “Yes, I think that is my husband, and next to him his brother,” she exclaimed. “That horrible man! I was a little girl then and my governess took me to Grandfather Roosevelt’s house on Broadway so I could watch the funeral procession. But as I looked down from the window and saw all the black drapings I became frightened … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on November 9, 2010, under - Civil War, Rare Photos.
Tags: abraham lincoln, american history, civil war, discovering the civil war, famous veterans, historic pictures, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, new york city, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, random history, rare pictures, strange facts, teddy roosevelt, things you didnt know about civil war, us history, weird but true, weird US history