On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Bitterly denounced in the South—and by many in the North—the Proclamation reduced the likelihood that the anti-slavery European powers would recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation and opened the way for large numbers of African Americans to join the U.S. armed forces. At the same time, tensions created by losses on the battlefield and sacrifices on both sides of the home front were reflected in public meetings and demonstrations. Though peace movements were increasing in strength in both the South and North, a majority on both sides remained bitterly determined to pursue the war to victory.

Only two months after the North’s major defeat at Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May 1863, the Union victory at Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), dramatically raised Northern morale. The fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4 militarily split the Confederacy in two—and set Ulysses S. Grant on the path to becoming the Union’s final and most aggressive general-in-chief. In the Confederate states, food shortages and exorbitant prices caused riots in several cities. Rampant guerrilla warfare in Kansas and Missouri created a war within the war.

The Sacking of Fredericksburg

On November 5, 1862, Lincoln replaced McClellan with Ambrose E. Burnside as the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac. Burnside moved quickly and arrived at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on November 17. Essential supplies moved more slowly. But by December 11 and 12, Union troops were preparing for the ill-fated attack that began on December 13. In this unpublished drawing, sketch artist Arthur Lumley described the deplorable behavior of Federal soldiers on the eve of battle: “Friday Night in Fredericksburg. This night the city was in the wildest confusion sacked by the union troops = houses burned down furniture scattered in the streets = men pillaging in all directions a fit scene for the French revolution and a discrace [sic] to the Union Arms. this is my view of what I saw. Lumley.”

Arthur Lumley (ca. 1837–1912), artist. Night. The Sacking of Fredericksburg—& Biovace [sic] of Union Troops, [December 12, 1862]. Pencil on paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (081.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-20787]

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From Parlor Table to Operating Table

As Union troops advanced throughout the South, civilians in the path of the armies had to decide whether to stay in their homes and hope for the best, or take what belongings they could and “refugee” elsewhere. Betty Maury’s family fled to Richmond before the Battle of Fredericksburg, but received reports from friends that her home in the city had been used as a Federal hospital. Surgeons performed amputations on her parlor table, and at least one soldier was buried in her yard.

Betty Herndon Maury (1835–1903). Diary entry, December 28, 1862. Betty Herndon Maury Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (082.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0082p1]

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Clara Barton

Twenty years before founding the American Red Cross, Clara Barton came to the aid of soldiers fighting in the Civil War. At the war’s outbreak, Barton worked as a U.S. Patent Office clerk and collected provisions and medical supplies for the Union army. Restless with her limited role and undeterred by War Department regulations and prevailing stereotypes, Barton became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” as she distributed supplies and tended to the wounded and dying. During the course of the war, Barton kept notes that documented the appalling carnage and medical conditions of the wounded transported to Fredericksburg.

Unattributed. Clara Barton, ca. 1862. Albumen silver print in carte-de-visite album. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (083.00.00) [Digital ID# cph-3g06307]

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Keeping Track of Soldiers

Clara Barton came to Fredericksburg on the eve of a major battle in December 1862 to provide supplies and nursing skills to Union medical staff. She tended to wounded soldiers in the temporary hospital established at the Lacy plantation house, and noted in her pocket diary information about the soldiers she encountered, should loved ones want to find the soldiers after the battle. Recording the identities of soldiers in her diaries was a practice she continued throughout the war.

Clara Barton (1821–1912). Diary, January–February 1863. Page 2. Clara Barton Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (084.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0084, cw0084p1]

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Hooker Appointed Commander

By January 1863, Lincoln recognized that General Burnside had lost the confidence of the Federal army. Summoning Joseph Hooker to the White House, Lincoln named him the new head of the Army of the Potomac. President Lincoln used the opportunity to warn Hooker that his earlier criticism of General Burnside, and the withholding of his support, had undermined the morale of the troops he now commanded. Aware of Hooker’s weaknesses as well as his demonstrated fighting ability, in crafting this letter Lincoln attempted to counsel his new commander.

Abraham Lincoln to General Joseph Hooker, January 26, 1863. Alfred Whital Stern Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (094.00.00) [Digital ID# al0166]

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Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation

On July 13, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln consulted Secretary of State William H. Seward and Gideon Welles, the secretary of the navy, on the particulars of the Emancipation Proclamation. Seward anticipated anarchy in the South and perhaps foreign intervention in the war. Lincoln let the matter rest, but on July 22 he presented this draft proclamation to the full cabinet, to mixed reactions. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Attorney General Edward Bates advocated the document’s immediate release. Salmon P. Chase, treasury secretary, was cool to the idea, fearing it would result in chaos. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair was in opposition and believed that it would lead to Republican defeat in the coming fall congressional elections. Seward favored waiting to release it until the Union achieved a battlefield victory. Lincoln again dropped the issue, but it was clear to his advisors that he was set on issuing an emancipation proclamation by year’s end.

Abraham Lincoln. Initial draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, July 22, 1862. Page 2. Abraham Lincoln Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (153.00.00) [Digital ID# al0153p1, al0153p2]

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Field Hospital at Work

Jefferson Davis first became impressed with the abilities of United States Army surgeon Samuel Preston Moore (1813–1889) during the Mexican War. A graduate of the Medical College of South Carolina, Moore was persuaded by Davis in 1861 to serve as the Surgeon General of the Confederate army, a position he would retain throughout the war. Despite severe shortages of doctors and medical supplies, Moore was conscientious in his responsibilities, establishing examining boards to remove unfit surgeons and organizing the Confederate medical services along the same lines as those provided by the United States Army. Aware of the critical need to improve surgical operations in the field, Moore directed the publication of this manual and had it distributed to all medical officers.

A Manual of Military Surgery Prepared for the Use of the C. S. A. Army. Richmond, Virginia: Ayreson & Wade, 1863. Page 2. Confederate States of America Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (085.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0085, cw0085p1]

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Presidential Fundraiser

The Emancipation Proclamation expanded the scope of Union war aims but was controversial in the North, where opinions remained mixed on the question of abolition. Nevertheless, white Unionists generally accepted the proclamation as a necessary war measure, and it was a great boost to the morale of African Americans and their allies. This broadside edition, one of only forty-eight copies printed, was signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and presidential secretary John G. Nicolay. The edition was specifically created to raise funds for the Sanitary Commission at the Great Central Sanitary Fair held in Philadelphia in June 1864. Signed copies could be purchased for ten dollars. The event attracted more than one hundred thousand visitors and raised more than one million dollars, but not all of the signed copies were sold.

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A Satanic Emancipator

The Southern Illustrated News published in Richmond was an attempt to offer a Confederate version of popular Northern illustrated periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly and Leslie’s Illustrated. This wood engraving from the issue of November 2, 1862, vividly pictures Southern hostility towards Abraham Lincoln following the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. The human mask of Lincoln in the figure’s left hand is removed to reveal Satan. The chain in the right hand represents efforts to subdue the Confederacy. Additional touches include a noose awaiting Lincoln on top of the then unfinished Washington Monument, and a scrolled copy of the Emancipation Proclamation on the ground.

Southern Illustrated News, November 2, 1862. Confederate States of America Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (088.00.00) Digital ID# cw0088]

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“I always carry a haversack”

Walt Whitman believed in the power of kind attention and “personal magnetism” to help wounded and ill soldiers heal. He visited the hospitals of Washington almost daily, using this leather haversack as a cornucopia of food and small gifts to lift the spirits or improve the health and comfort of the patients in the wards. “It is a comfort & delight to me to minister to them” he told William Davis, who sent a donation in response to Whitman’s fundraising appeals on behalf of the wounded. Whitman sat by the bedsides of the sick, wrote letters home for the wounded, and held the hands of the dying.

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Passing the Time in Prison

While incarcerated at the Old Capitol Prison complex in Washington, D.C., Antonia Ford of Fairfax Court House, Virginia, made this lace collar for her mother. Ford was thought to have provided intelligence to Confederate partisan John S. Mosby prior to his raid on Fairfax in March 1863, and her case was not helped by the honorary commission as an aide-de-camp to General J.E.B. Stuart that was found at her home. Although an ardent Confederate, during her imprisonment Antonia fell in love with Union Major Joseph C. Willard, co-owner of the famous Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. After she took an oath of allegiance to the United States and he resigned from the Union army, Ford and Willard married in March 1864.

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  • O.H. Willard, photographer. Antonia Ford Willard. Albumen print. Willard Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (094.01.00) [Digital ID# cw0094_01]

  • Antonia Ford Willard. Crocheted lace collar, 1863. Willard Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (098.01.00) [Digital ID# cw0098_01]

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The Loss of Jackson

The tremendous success of General Robert E. Lee’s daring maneuvers at Chancellorsville was tempered by the death of one of his most valuable subordinates, General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. While on a nighttime reconnaissance ride, Jackson was mistakenly fired upon by his own troops. His arm was successfully amputated, but pneumonia proved fatal. Before Jackson’s death Lee purportedly lamented, “He has lost his left arm but I my right arm.” With Jackson gone, Lee struggled to find another corps commander he trusted so completely. The loss of Jackson was felt deeply by his men and mourned by Confederates throughout the South.

Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828–1899) to Sara Hotchkiss, May 10, 1863. Page 2. Jedediah Hotchkiss Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (097.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0097, cw0097p1]

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Fields of Chancellorsville

English-born special artist Alfred R. Waud covered the action of the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to 1865 for the New York Illustrated News and Harper’s Weekly, shaping the image of war for the home front in the North. Waud portrayed the Eleventh Corps on the night of May 1, 1863, as they, in the words of Major General Daniel Sickles, “swept frantically over the cleared fields” away from the Confederate line at Chancellorsville. Stonewall Jackson attacked the flank, forcing other Union troops to double their efforts to keep his forces at bay.

Alfred R. Waud (1828–1891). Couch’s Corps Forming Line of Battle in the Fields at Chancellorsville to Cover the Retreat of the Eleventh Corps Disgracefully Running Away, May 1–3, 1863. Pencil, Chinese white, and black ink wash on brown paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (096.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-22527]

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Battlefield of Chancellorsville

In late April and early May, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia engaged Union troops near Chancellorsville, south of Fredericksburg, Virginia. A Confederate force of more than 60,000 soldiers launched an attack against Union troops. The battle resulted in a Confederate victory but at a tremendous cost. Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson, the hero of First Manassas (First Bull Run), died as a result of wounds suffered during the battle. This map illustrates actions in the early summer of 1863. Other military engagements in the region included the Battle of Fredericksburg of 1862 and the Wilderness Campaign of 1864.

Map of the Battlefield of Chancellorsville, Virginia, 1863. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (095.00.00) [Digital ID# g3884c-cw0528000]

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“Disloyal Sentiments”

Under orders from Major General Burnside, Representative Clement L. Vallandigham (D-Ohio), was arrested for violating Burnside’s General Order No. 38 by uttering “disloyal sentiments” and hindering the government’s prosecution of the war after giving an anti-war speech at Mount Vernon, Ohio, on May 1, 1863. Convicted by a military tribunal, Vallandigham was sentenced to prison for the duration of the war. Although President Lincoln commuted the congressman’s sentence to banishment behind Confederate lines, Vallandigham petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, unsuccessfully, to have his conviction overturned on appeal. In 1866, the use of military tribunals to try civilians in the United States would be limited by a Supreme Court decision in Ex parte Milligan.

Petition of Former Representative Clement L. Vallandigham (1820–1871), to the Supreme Court of the United States, October term, 1863. Transcript of testimony before the Military Commission held at Cincinnati on May 6 and 7, 1863. Page 2 - Page 3. Law Library, Library of Congress (098.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0098, cw0098p1, cw0098p2]

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Suspension of Habeas Corpus

Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis both confronted the challenge of balancing an effective prosecution of the war with respect for the civil liberties of each region’s citizens, especially with regard to suspending the writ of habeas corpus, which requires that a person taken into custody appear in court to be charged. In 1863 Congress gave Lincoln wide latitude in suspending the writ, whereas Jefferson Davis received only temporary suspension powers from the Confederate Congress in 1862 and 1864.

Jefferson Davis (1808–1889). “To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America,” February 3, 1864. Burton Norvell Harrison Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (099.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0099]

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Battleground of Gettysburg

One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 1–3, 1863. General Robert E. Lee came face to face with a Union army led by General George G. Meade. The map shows Union positions in black and Confederate positions is red. Himself a combatant at Gettysburg, The map’s creator, Charles Wellington Reed of the 9th Massachusetts Battery, was awarded the Medal of Honor for the conspicuous bravery he exhibited in saving the life of Captain John Bigelow during the second day of that battle.

Charles Wellington Reed (1841–1926). Plan of Gettysburg Battle Ground, 1863. Chas. W. Reed, 9th Mass. Battery, deposited for copyright 1864. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (105.00.00) [Digital ID# g3824g-cw0347000]

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The Devil's Den

The photographer Alexander Gardner literally composed this iconic image of a dead Confederate soldier at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The young soldier had fallen in battle on the southern slope of Devil’s Den. Four photographs were made of the soldier in that spot before Gardner moved the body about seventy-two yards away, placing him next to the picturesque stone wall. The soldier’s head rests on a knapsack. A rifle, propped up against the wall, completes the tableau.

Alexander Gardner (1821–1882). Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, 1863. Albumen silver print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (102.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-33066]

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“Make Our Effort Pretty Certain”

After two days of inconclusive fighting against the Union flanks at Gettysburg, General Lee ordered an attack against the center on July 3, known to history as “Pickett’s Charge.” C.S.A. colonel Edward P. Alexander’s artillery barrage tried to weaken the Union defenses, after which the infantry, under command of Lieutenant General James Longstreet, charged the Union center. Longstreet asked Alexander to advise Pickett whether or not to make the charge based on his artillery’s effectiveness against the enemy, and Alexander’s postwar scrapbook included Longstreet’s original battlefield notes and his own replies. Pickett’s Charge was a disaster for the Confederates.

James Longstreet (1821–1904) to Edward Porter Alexander (1835–1910), July 3, 1863, with annotation of Alexander’s reply. Page 2. Edward Porter Alexander Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (104.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0104, cw0104p1]

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Following the News

Telegraph lines sped up the dissemination of news in the mid-nineteenth century, but it could still take days to receive the latest telegraphic dispatches from the war, particularly in the South. In Richmond, Virginia, Anna J. Sanders recorded in her diary on July 5, 1863, that a battle in Gettysburg had begun well for the Confederates, whereas the battle had already ended with a Northern victory on July 3. By July 8 Sanders knew Vicksburg had fallen, and, on July 9, it was clear that both Vicksburg and Gettysburg had been lost by the Confederates.

Anna Johnson Sanders (ca. 1815–1890). Diary entries for July 1863. George Nicholas Sanders Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (106.00.00) Digital ID# cw0106]

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View of Vicksburg

On July 4, 1863, Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton and his Confederate garrison marched out of Vicksburg and surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant and the Federal army that had been targeting the city for nearly a year. The almost simultaneous Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg were the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. After Gettysburg, Lee’s forces never regained enough strength to seriously threaten the North. The fall of Vicksburg, and the last Confederate Mississippi River bastion, Port Hudson, a few days later, re-opened the Midwest to trade with the outside world and allowed the Union forces of Grant to operate with greater flexibility in the Deep South.

L. A. Wrotnowski. View of Vicksburg and Plan of the Canal, Fortifications, and Vicinity, 1863. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (107.00.00) [Digital ID# g3984v-cw0294000]

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Memoir of a Siege

Mary Ann Loughborough, wife of a Confederate officer, authored this vivid account of the hardships she and other citizens of Vicksburg experienced during the spring and summer 1863 when they took to living in caves they dug in hillsides within the beleaguered city. “I shall never forget my extreme fear during the night, and my utter hopelessness of ever seeing the morning light. Terror stricken, we remained crouched in the cave, while shell after shell followed each other in quick succession. I endeavored by constant prayer to prepare myself for the sudden death I was almost certain awaited me. My heart stood still as we would hear the reports from the guns, and the rushing and fearful sound of the shell as it came toward us.”

Mary Ann Webster Loughborough (1836–1887). My Cave Life in Vicksburg. With Letters of Trial and Travel. By a Lady. New York: D. Appleton, 1864. Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (110.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0110p4, cw0110, cw0110p1, cw0110p2]

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Civilian Privations

Adalbert Volck was a Baltimore dentist whose additional talents as an artist were channeled in producing a number of political prints reflecting his pronounced Southern sympathies. This copper engraving of a young woman in prayer is a case in point. Only on closer inspection does the viewer become aware that the woman is praying not in the comfort of her home but in a cave during the bombardment of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Volck was clearly communicating the idea that the Northern siege of the city was a barbaric act against innocent civilians.

Adalbert J. Volck (1828–1912). “Cave Life in Vicksburg” in V. Blada’s War Sketches. London [Baltimore]: 1864. Lithograph. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (109.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0109]

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Vicksburg Daily Citizen

Vicksburg, Mississippi, like many Southern cities, suffered acutely from the ravages of the Civil War. However, this final edition of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen attests to the determination of the city’s defenders. This issue of the Confederate newspaper is printed on the back of wallpaper because supplies of every kind had been exhausted during the long and difficult siege. The defiant spirit is still in evidence on July 2 as the paper reads: “The Yankee Generalissimo surnamed Grant has expressed his intention of dining in Vicksburg on the Fourth of July. . . . Ulysses must get into the city before he dines in it.” Vicksburg surrendered two days later. On July 4, 1863, Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton and his Confederate garrison marched out of Vicksburg and surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. On July 2, Vicksburg surrendered, the publisher fled, and the Union forces found the type of the Citizen still standing. They printed a new edition (characterized by the misspelled “CTIIZEN”) using material already in type and added the note quoted below:

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Pickett's Charge

The Battle of Gettysburg reached its apex on the afternoon of July 3. Federal troops on Cemetery Ridge saw, less than a mile away, Confederate forces massing for a great frontal assault. Led by men under the command of C.S.A. general George E. Pickett, 15,000 Confederates tried to break the center of the Union lines. The objective, “a little clump of trees,” was reached, but Federal reinforcements arrived, the line held, and the Confederates withdrew under heavy fire, having lost nearly 6,000 men. New York artist Edwin Forbes covered the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. His studio oil painting depicts the ill-fated “Pickett’s Charge” and is based on the artist’s eyewitness account.

Edwin Forbes (1839–1895). Pickett’s Charge from a Position on the Enemy’s Line Looking toward the Union Lines, Ziegler’s Grove on the Left, Clump of Trees on Right, between 1866 and 1870. Oil on canvas. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (103.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-22571]

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Assault on Fort Wagner

Having struggled for the right to fight, African Americans played an important role in the Union Army, ultimately comprising ten percent of the troops. This Kurz and Allison print captures the moment when Sergeant William Harvey Carney (1840–1908), who thirty-seven years later was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor in this battle, carried the United States flag to the walls of Fort Wagner on Morris Island in South Carolina. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, composed of free African Americans, took heavy losses, including the death of its commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1837–1863), in its failed bid to wrest the fort from Confederate forces.

Storming Fort Wagner. Chromolithograph. Chicago: Kurz & Allison Art Publishers, 1890. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (116.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-pga-01949]

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A Member of the 54th Massachusetts

Two days after the unsuccessful Union assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor, Lewis Douglass, son of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, wrote to his fiancée Amelia Loguen to assure her of his safety. Lewis’s thoughts focused on what his comrades in 54th Massachusetts Infantry had achieved at Fort Wagner in earning a reputation for courage and demonstrating their willingness to die for a worthy cause.

Lewis Henry Douglass (1840–1908) to Helen Amelia Loguen, July 20, 1863. Page 2. Carter G. Woodson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (117.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0117, cw0117p1]

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Recruitment for the Cavalry

Cavalry recruits of 1861 who expected to be engaged in offensive operations may have been disappointed to discover that most of their energies were aimed at reconnaissance screening, and the pursuit of retreating enemy forces. It was generally conceded that the Confederate cavalry had superior horseman during the first half of the war, as well as more daring leadership under figures such as General J. E. B. Stuart. Beginning with the Battle of Brandy Station in June 1863, the Union cavalry came into its own for the remainder of the conflict. Key reasons for the turnaround were vastly improved cavalry organization and the more than 600,000 horses procured for the Union cavalry by the U.S. Army, giving them a two-to-one advantage over the enemy.

Light Cavalry. Philadelphia: King & Baird, 1861. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (101.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0101]

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Identity Regained

When this ambrotype was acquired by a private collector, the identity of this tough-looking C.S.A. cavalry trooper had been lost over time, as is the case with thousands of keepsake photographic images of common soldiers on both sides of the conflict. In March 2012, the portrait appeared in a special Civil War supplement in the Washington Post. Karen Thatcher, from West Virginia, opened the paper and immediately identified “Uncle Dave.” Family photographs of Private Thatcher were used to confirm his identity.

Unattributed. [Private David M. Thatcher of Company B, Berkeley Troop, 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment], between 1861 and 1865. Sixth-plate, hand-colored ambrotype. Promised gift of the Liljenquist family, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (100.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-32680]

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Avoiding the Draft

After the initial rush to enlist at the start of the war had passed, both the Confederacy (in 1862) and the Union (in 1863) passed conscription laws encouraging enlistment and providing for drafting recruits when necessary. Age limits exempted youth or older men from service, and men in certain occupations that contributed to the war effort were also exempted. On both sides men could hire substitutes to serve in their place, which newspaper reporter Sylvanus Cadwallader did in 1864. This sheet music cover graphically conveys the inequities of the draft enacted under the Enrollment Act of 1863.

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  • “Certificate of Exemption on Account of Having Furnished a Substitute,” issued to Sylvanus Cadwallader (1825–1908), September 30, 1864. Sylvanus Cadwallader Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (112.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0112]

  • Frank Wilder, composer. “Wanted a Substitute.” Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., deposited for copyright 1863. Music Division, Library of Congress (111.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0111]

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The Draft Riots

On July 11, 1863, draft officers began drawing names in heavily Democratic New York City, where sentiment against abolition and conscription ran high and racial tensions had reached a boiling point. From July 13 to 17, 1863, New York erupted into four of the bloodiest days of mob violence in United States history. The uprising began with thousands of people foregoing work to demonstrate outside the draft office on Third Avenue. A stone hurled through an office window and the discharge of a pistol turned the demonstration into a riot. Surging into the draft office, the rioters smashed everything, then proceeded to the headquarters of the New York Times and the New York Tribune, and moved on to loot and burn the four-story Colored Orphan Asylum. Hundreds were injured and 105 killed.

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Union and Emancipation for a Common Cause

Emancipation as a war aim was never universally popular in the North. In a letter that would be read aloud to a Union mass meeting in Springfield, Illinois, on September 3, 1863, Lincoln explained that if white Americans did not want to fight for black Americans then they should fight to save the Union. Only force could quell the rebellion, and emancipation had weakened the enemy and provided soldiers for the North. But having made a pledge of freedom to black soldiers and their families, Lincoln was determined to keep the promise once the Union was saved.

Abraham Lincoln to James C. Conkling (1816–1899). Draft letter, August 26, 1863. Abraham Lincoln Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (115.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0115]

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Making Do With Less

The blockade of Southern seaports and the prohibition of trade with the North quickly depleted food supplies throughout the Confederacy. The deprivations forced Southern cooks to invent substitutes for the most basic foods and beverages. The only cookbook printed in the South during the war, the Confederate Receipt Book, contains recipes for apple pie without apples, artificial oysters, and substitutes for coffee and cream. In an effort to fend off insect infestation in cured meats, there was even a suggestion to “prevent skippers,” the nickname of that time for skipping insects such as locusts and grasshoppers.

Confederate Receipt Book. Richmond, Virginia: West & Johnston, 1863. Page 2. Confederate States of America Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (091.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0091, cw0091p1]

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Inflation in the Confederacy

This postwar table of the relative prices of gold and United States “greenback” currency relative to Confederate money shows at a glance one of the primary challenges faced by Confederate civilians. Their currency had lost more of its value with each year of the war. At the same time, wartime production disruptions and the Union naval blockade made basic commodities harder to come by, and they were sold at drastically inflated prices when they could be found.

Lancaster & Co. “Table of Prices in Confederate Currency of Gold and Greenbacks,” February 19, 1866. Manuscript document. Burton Norvell Harrison Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (093.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0093]

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A Civil War within the Civil War

Pro- and anti-slavery factions on the Kansas-Missouri border had a history of violence in the 1850s, and irregular guerrilla forces operated in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the war. Confederate “bushwacker” William Quantrill’s guerrillas burned the town of Lawrence, Kansas, and killed almost 200 men in August 1863. The Quantrill raid prompted Union general Thomas Ewing to issue General Orders No. 11, banishing all non-loyal inhabitants from several counties in western Missouri. Yet this war within a war continued.

John M. Schofield (1831–1906). “Events in Missouri, 1863” journal, August 26, 1863, entry. Page 2. John McAllister Schofield Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (119.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0119, cw0119p1]

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Johnny Clem

Philadelphia artist James Fuller Queen created a variety of images during the American Civil War that include sentimental lithographs with scenes from the front, portraits of famous generals, fund-raising images featuring local institutions for soldiers, and images of wounded soldiers recovering in local hospitals. His lithograph of folk-hero John Clem was reproduced widely. John Clem was nine years old when he was allowed to tag along with the 22nd Michigan regiment in 1861. The boy was first identified in news accounts as “Johnny Shiloh” after that 1862 battle before his fame grew as “the drummer boy of Chickamauga” in 1863. Clem became a career army man and retired as a general in 1915.

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Reality Becomes Legend

War has a way of embellishing the accomplishments of real people, including the nine- year-old boy who attached himself to the 22nd Michigan Infantry and was popularized as “Johnny Clem, The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga.” While historical sources dispute when Clem enlisted, where he actually served, and his real exploits during the war, U.S. brigadier general Richard W. Johnson cited Clem’s sterling example in a letter to his young son Harry as a lesson in what happens to good boys who follow orders and do their duty.

Richard W. Johnson (1827–1897) to Harry Johnson, January 27, 1864. Richard W. Johnson Correspondence, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (122.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0122]

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Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

Lookout Mountain rises nearly 2,000 feet above the Tennessee River at Chattanooga. This rocky outcropping was a popular spot for soldiers to pose for a portrait. One of the men gathered here with his telescope has been identified as Union officer, Major Charles S. Cotter, chief of artillery in the 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment. His regiment fought in the Battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga.

Attributed to Royan M. Linn, photographer. [Seven unidentified officers and soldiers in Union uniforms and one officer identified as Major Charles S. Cotter of 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment, with telescope, at Point Lookout, Tennessee], ca. 1863. Half-plate, hand-colored tintype. Promised gift of the Liljenquist family, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (123.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-34275]

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Ticket to Ride

Railroads served a vital transportation role for both the Union and Confederacy in terms of moving troops and supplies quickly. The North had more trains and miles of track than did the South, but the Confederates had the advantage of using their railroads as interior lines, whereas the Yankees often had to build their own infrastructure in enemy territory. Unlike the Union, however, the Confederacy lacked the power to effectively organize private railroads for military use or the industrial capacity to repair damaged lines.

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  • Quartermaster’s Department, Confederate States of America. Train ticket from Macon, Georgia, to Richmond, Virginia, December 27, 1862. Confederate States of America Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (124.00.00) [Digital ID# cw0124]

  • Quartermaster’s Department, Confederate States of America. Train ticket from Macon, Georgia, to Richmond, Virginia, December 27, 1862. Confederate States of America Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (124.00.01) [Digital ID# cw0124p1]

  • Isaac H. Bonsall. [Railroad Yard, Chattanoogna, Tenneessee], 1863 or 1864. Albumen silver print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (125.00.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-ppmsca-32286]

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Battle of Chattanooga

The Confederates were determined to starve the Federal troops out of Chattanooga, which could be used as a Union gateway for movement into Georgia. The Federals were just as determined to stay in possession and break the siege. President Lincoln recognized Chattanooga’s importance as a railroad center when he wrote: “If we can hold Chattanooga, and East Tennessee, I think the rebellion must dwindle and die.” As Secretary of War Stanton dispatched 20,000 reinforcements by rail from the east, Major General Grant, recently named commander of the Union’s newly created Military Division of the Mississippi, arrived in Chattanooga on October 23, 1863. By mid-November Major General William T. Sherman arrived with an additional 17,000 men, which gave the Federals sufficient strength to strike in late November in a series of battles that broke the siege. Chattanooga remained in Union hands for the rest of the war.

G. H. Blakeslee. Sketch Map Showing Fortifications, Union/Confederate Picket Lines, Rifle Pits, ‘Rebel camp[s]’, Roads, Railroads, and Streams, 1863. Pen and ink manuscript map. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (126.00.00) [Digital ID# g3964c-cw0398200r]

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