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History is, indeed, a story. With his unique voice and engaging delivery, historian and veteran storyteller Fred Kiger will help the compelling stories of the American Civil War come alive in each and every episode. Filled with momentous issues and repercussions that still resonate with us today, this series will feature events and people from that period and will strive to make you feel as if you were there.
 
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About this episode: Major-General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was a native of the green jewel that is Ireland and commanded a division in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. For his military prowess, he was tabbed the “Stonewall of the West”, yet the warrior was often reserved and sentimental. That surfaced the day before the Battle of Franklin when he…
 
About this episode: While most history enthusiasts are aware that Virginia was the leading theater of the war, many of those same people are surprised when they learn that Tennessee was second. Indeed, the Western Theater of the American Civil War is shamefully neglected, despite the fact that it was in that theater where battles were fought and wo…
 
About this episode: While actual combat was, indeed, nightmarish, being at home - helpless, constantly wondering about loved ones, fending for one’s selves - proved to be equally harrowing. That particularly was the case in the American South - the Confederacy - which served as the primary stage for the four-year-long conflict. And so we return to …
 
About this episode: While fighting raged at the front, loved ones back home waged their own battles. While worried about those in uniform, each day brought the additional burden of trying to cope with and find meaning to the all-consuming consequences of civil war. Here: the efforts, the people, and personalities of those on the Northern home front…
 
About this episode: In 1948, the Southern novelist, William Faulkner, wrote in Intruder in the Dust, ”For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready i…
 
About this episode: On Thursday, July 2, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg tumbled into its second day. What on Wednesday, the 1st, had been a meeting engagement was now a set battle - one with far more men on the scene and still much at stake. On this day, Robert E. Lee and George Gordon Meade would experience the crushing weight of responsibility an…
 
About this episode: From the Battle of Gettysburg, there are as many stories as participants. For this episode, selections from the first day: stories about the first shot, the arrival and instantaneous death of a Union corps commander, the desperate struggle for a flag, an unlikely 69-year-old volunteer, and two infantry regiments savagely engaged…
 
About this episode: It was a Tuesday, April 11, 1865 - only two days after Robert E. Lee had surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia. Down in North Carolina, with Major General William T. Sherman’s relentless blue wave only some 30 miles to the southeast of Raleigh, NC, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s men of the Army of Tennessee began t…
 
About this episode: The stage: the town of Alton in southern Illinois. The date of the act committed: the 7th of November, 1837. On that Tuesday, an angry mob murdered Elijah Lovejoy, the Presbyterian minister who was the founder of the Illinois State Anti-Slave Society. Two days later, some 500 miles east in Hudson Ohio, a church congregation held…
 
About this episode: Thus far, we have offered anecdotal insight as to Bedford Forrest’s humble origins: his makeup and antebellum experiences. We’ve detailed his entrance into the great conflict and his meteoric rise to command - his fights at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Fallen Timbers, and his dogged, relentless pursuit of Colonel Abel Streight’s Union…
 
About this episode: Major General William T. Sherman, the officer who disemboweled the Confederacy with his marches across Georgia and through the Carolinas, understood the nature of total war. That uniquely qualified him to offer assessment of one of the most remarkable and yet controversial officers in all of the Confederacy. During the war, Sher…
 
About: Through our continuing research on The Civil War, we here at Threads From The National Tapestry will come across some truly remarkable works that deserve to be shared with you, our loyal listeners. Our first such sharing sets a high bar for all future recommendations to match: the book Bullets And Bandages: The Aid Stations and Field Hospita…
 
About this episode: For those in power in the state of South Carolina, the November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln was the final straw. Convinced that he and the Republican party were certain to forever change their economic, political, and cultural world, it was time to act. And so, even before the election year was out, the Palmetto State initi…
 
About this episode: The year was 1860. The nation was coming apart and yet, its political parties made plans to come together - to gather in convention despite deep-seated and festering sectional issues, each to nominate a candidate and approve platforms that, as it turned out, united regions but not a nation. That meant dark consequences, ensuring…
 
About this episode: A few nights after September the 22nd, 1862, a band came to serenade the 16th president. Moved by the music and supportive crowd, Abraham Lincoln stepped onto the executive mansion’s balcony and, referring to his recent Emancipation Proclamation, remarked: “I can only trust in God I have made no mistake. It is now for the countr…
 
About this episode: In a conflict that staged over ten thousand fights, Virginia led as a theater of war. The Volunteer State of Tennessee, second. What surprises many is that the third most active theater in the American Civil War was the border state of Missouri, a slave-holding state that remained within the Union. There, the curtain for violenc…
 
About this episode: Far too many see the Union war effort in the American Civil War as a monolith - patriotic men across the north from Maine to Minnesota, flocking en masse together under national colors - to fight to preserve the Union, and to rid the nation of the hateful institution of slavery. As will be evidenced in this episode, nothing coul…
 
About this episode: For John Wilkes Booth, time was ticking down to the moment he knew he would act. At a tavern next to Ford’s Theatre, he asked for a bottle of whiskey and water. While steeling his nerve for what he would soon do, there came a voice from the back of the dark and smoky bar: “You’ll never be the actor your father was!” Booth smiled…
 
About this episode: Eight decades ago, popular historian Bruce Catton, and journalist/author Jim Bishop wrote works that profoundly affected my life and future profession: teaching. Catton's This Hallowed Ground and Bishop's The Day Lincoln Was Shot were both written in such dramatic prose that the events, people - indeed, the very era itself - cam…
 
About this episode: E.B. and Barbara Long’s monumental The Civil War Day By Day reveals that there were 10,455 military events during the American Civil War. Here’s a few examples selected from the 16 classifications that they used: there were 79 captures, 727 expeditions, 6337 skirmishes, 76 major battles, and 29 campaigns. No surprise that Virgin…
 
About this episode: At the beginning of the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America were faced with creating an army and, even more daunting, a navy. Starting essentially from scratch, it needed warships to defend ports and harbors, and a merchant marine to establish desperately needed trade with foreign nations. Mr. Lincoln ordered a…
 
About this episode: For Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the summer and fall of 1862 was a veritable roller coaster ride of emotion, from glimmering hope to hand-wringing despair. For Davis, the Confederate summer offensive may well have been the South’s greatest chance for foreign recognition - but by the end of October, that moment had passed…
 
About this episode: The Union commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, was beside himself. In the northwestern corner of Georgia, there had been defeat and near-disaster back in September of 1863. There, along the banks of Chickamauga Creek, and now in November, the real possibility of yet another reversal at Chattanooga. Besieged by Braxton Bragg’s Co…
 
About this episode: It was fall in the year 1863. Much had changed since the summer. Back in July, a doomed assault on Cemetery Ridge meant Confederate defeat at Gettysburg - and now, back in central Virginia, Lee and Meade’s armies sparred. That same July, Vicksburg fell, and the Mississippi River became a federal highway. Yet the Confederacy’s he…
 
About this episode: Three of her four children did not live to adulthood, and her husband was assassinated while he held her hand. If anyone ever deserved to be troubled, it was the wife of the sixteenth president. James Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois said simply: “S…
 
About this episode: During the American Civil War, great drama was not exclusive to just the battlefield. There were many instances when what took place behind the lines, or behind enemy lines, was just as engaging and significant. Those instances bring life to the men and women who operated in the shadows, who dared to infiltrate and risk all in t…
 
About this episode: In the light of Union frustration after the unsuccessful Peninsula Campaign failed to take Richmond, and the Confederacy’s Seven Days Campaign which repelled the Union Army of the Potomac, the North’s military powers-that-be surrendered something they would regret: the strategic initiative. This is the story of what Robert E. Le…
 
About this episode: It was the fourth summer of the war, and Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign had sledgehammered its way down to Petersburg, Virginia. It had been a campaign that had bled both blue and grey armies white. There, east of town, under oppressive heat and humidity that walks hand-in-hand with the month of July, a daring plan unfolde…
 
About this episode: In March of 1862, Major General George B. McClellan began to land his massive army on the Virginia peninsula, created by the York and James Rivers. Its objective: Richmond. That army got as close as 4-5 miles, close enough to set their time pieces to the ringing church bells of the Confederate capital. Then, on the 31st of May a…
 
About this episode: Since the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, the two, George Gordon Meade and Robert E. Lee, and their respective armies had shadowboxed down in Central Virginia. The sparring continued throughout the fall and winter, but in spring, there was a new federal presence, and he meant business. General-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant now…
 
About this episode: It was April of 1862, and the war was just about to enter its second year. The beginning of that year had been a bleak one for the Confederacy. In February, Fort Henry, Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and Fort Donelson all fell. Now there were invasion routes into "The Old North State," the interior of Tennessee, and the very he…
 
About this episode: The Associated Press reported the address would be brief. The day of the speech, Saturday, March 4th, 1865 dawned with steady rain. Streets oozed with mud. Like a shroud, fog wrapped its gray arms around the city. At 11:40 that morning, the rain suddenly ended. The clouds began to part, and finally, on a wooden platform before t…
 
About this episode: At 750,000 square miles, the Confederacy was huge, and to put down the rebellion, Mr. Lincoln's armies had to go on the offensive. They would have to be the aggressor. It was a daunting task; even more so in the Confederate West where there existed poor transportation and communication networks. Known early on as The Western Dep…
 
About this episode: By late December of 1864, dark waters were closing over the Confederacy. Back in August, David Farragut's fleet successfully bottled up Mobile Bay. Two months later, up in the Shenandoah, federal victory at Cedar Creek opened the valley to fire and desolation. In November, William Sherman marched his army across Georgia, and as …
 
About this episode: Fredericksburg, Virginia was a little town with a long history. It was here that a young George Washington roamed. And, there were others of national fame who once made this locale home; John Paul Jones and James Monroe. But during civil war, its location made it, some 51 miles north of Richmond and 52 miles south of Washington …
 
About this episode: This is the story of a man and his words. It begins in the aftermath of bloody consequences that emanated from the first three days in July, 1863. This is the story of Mr. Lincoln's trip to Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: George Gordon MeadeRobert E. LeeHerman HauptA…
 
About this episode: This is the story of the Ram Of Roanoke - The CSS Albemarle, an ironclad constructed not in a shipyard, but incredibly, in a Halifax County, North Carolina corn field. It would completely reshape Federal strategic plans in North Carolina, Virginia, and the entire Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. ----more---- Some Chara…
 
About this episode: This is the story of the Battle of Sharpsburg, of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in the history of this nation. It was an engagment that moved popular historian Bruce Catton to write that September 17, 1862 was a day of sheer, unadulterated violence. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Bruce CattonGeorge …
 
About this episode: It's been written that Helen of Troy possessed "the face that launched a thousand ships." Well, may I introduce to you Ellen Marcy McClellan, the wife of Union MG George Brinton McClellan, who launched thousands of words. Her husband wrote to her daily, and through his letters, we know so much more than, perhaps, he ever intende…
 
About this episode: In the first months after war began, both North and South mobilized. Men were needed to fill the ranks. In the North, the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, called for 75,000 three-month volunteers. Seeking excitement, adventure and certain this would be a short war, they came en masse. To them, politicians and the press, the war'…
 
About this episode: His journey had been nothing short of remarkable. From an orphan from western Virginia to matriculation to West Point where, there, along the banks of the Hudson, he had been an Immortal - placed in the weakest academic section. And yet, he willed himself to graduate 17th out of 59 in the talented Class of 1846 - a class that pr…
 
About this episode: “Stonewall” Jackson would’ve been the perfect protagonist for Greek or Shakespearean tragedy; a commanding officer struck down only hours after his greatest tactical success. An officer and man who saw life in the most simplistic terms, he was modest and impeccably honest. Interestingly, he was a study in contrasts: complex yet …
 
About this episode: It was a conflict that stretched four years. It began in April and, that same month four years later, so began the beginning of the end. In many wars before and since, winning the war was only half the challenge for, then, victors had to win the peace. And, winning the peace after a civil war presented an ominous set of issues. …
 
About this episode: Perhaps, the last time Americans volunteered en masse was in the days and weeks immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet, as my father and many of his generation found, many more men were needed to wage a two-front war and, so, there was conscription. In the American Civil War, conscription was, also, event…
 
About this episode: For the United States and North Korea, with each verbal jab between respective leaders, with each thrust and parry by diplomats, with reports of more joint military exercises and hundreds of thousands of troops eyeballing one another along the world's most fortified border, I have recently pondered if the DMZ's Panmunjom is the …
 
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