Threads From The National Tapestry: Stories From The American Civil War

Threads From The National Tapestry: Stories From The American Civil War header image 1

21 - “I Wish I Could Forget Myself” - Mary Ann Todd Lincoln

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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: “She had the most tragic public life in American history.”

This is the story of the woman who once said, “I wish I could forget myself.”

This is the story of Mary Ann Todd Lincoln.

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20 - In The Shadows: Spies, Raiders, and Intelligence Gathering

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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 the process. These are the stories of selected spies, raiders, and military analysts.
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19 - “Mighty Events Are On The Wing” - Second Manassas

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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. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia did with it. In a dramatic turnaround in the Eastern Theater, we return to ground through which ran a stream that locals called Bull Run. This is the story of the Battle of Second Manassas. Read the rest of this entry »

18 - “Hell Has Busted” - The Battle Of The Crater

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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 unfolded - which, if successful, might end the war. Instead, it added to the slaughter. This is the story of an engineering marvel - a tunnel. This is the story of The Battle Of The Crater. Read the rest of this entry »

17 - “His Name Might Be Audacity” - The Seven Days Campaign

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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 and the 1st of June, there were two messy, inconclusive days of battle. One of the casualties was a significant one: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston. Knocked from command of the army defending Richmond, President Jefferson Davis named another. That new commander was 55 years old, and for the first month he reorganized, ordered the digging of trenches, and postured before the enemy. For that supposed inactivity, the Richmond press derisively called him "Granny." Then came the 25th of June, and for the next week, what this commander unleashed was so audacious that no one ever called him "Granny" again. No one. This is the story of Robert E. Lee's first major offensive. This is the story of The Seven Days.
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16 - Hell On Earth: The Battle Of The Wilderness

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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 wore a third star; the first true lieutenant general since George Washington, and rather than be mired in political intrigue in the capital, he chose to travel with Meade's Army of the Potomac. Before, Union generals ordered the Army of the Potomac forward, gave battle, retreated, and then sat on its haunches for months at a time before the next offensive. That would not be the case come spring of 1864. U.S. Grant was going to give battle and do so in relentless fashion, and so in May, he launched a campaign unlike anything the Federal Army of the Potomac had ever experienced before. This is the story of the first battle in what would be called "The Overland Campaign." This is the story of the first encounter between Lee and Grant.
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15 - Shiloh

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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 heartland of the Confederacy. In the first week of March, Missouri was for all practical purposes lost to the confederacy thanks to Union victory at Pea Ridge. In the east, more cause for southern concern. The ironclad USS Monitor had revolutionized Naval warfare, and neutralized the Confederacy's CSS Virginia, and George B. McClellan finally stirred from his slows to land 121,000 men on the Virginia peninsula with its sights on Richmond. Though there had been all these military events, there were still some, North and South, who believed that particularly if the southern capital fell, the conflict would soon end. In fact a year earlier, A.W. Venable of Granville County, North Carolina declared that he would wipe of every drop of blood shed in the war with "this handkerchief of mine." Naive words. In his most vivid and terrible nightmares, he never dreamed of two days like April 6th and 7th, 1862. Neither had an entire nation. Two horrific days that churned and burned near a river landing and a little Methodist church built for the Prince Of Peace. Two bloody days that served as a national wake up call; a call that announced the sobering reality of how terrible civil war would truly be. This is the story of those two days. This is the story of the Battle of Shiloh.
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14 - “With Malice Toward None” - Lincoln’s Greatest Speech

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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 the east portico of the Capitol, the 16th president was introduced. He arose from his chair, put on his steel-rimmed eyeglasses, and stepped forward to speak. In his left hand was a copy of his inaugural address. It was his second, and with a nation weary of civil war, with a population hoping for peace, and before an expectant crowd that needed a soothing message, he began. As he did, the sun broke through the clouds . This is the story about what he said; his second inaugural address, and despite what you may think, the one he truly believed was his greatest. 
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13 - Thunder On The Rivers Tennessee And Cumberland: Forts Henry And Donelson

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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 Department or Department Number Two, three major rivers offered invasion avenues into the heartland of the south: The Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland. This is the story of a federal campaign led by an officer who was a most unlikely hero, one forced to resign from the United States Army back in 1854. This is about his campaign to blast open doors into the interior of the Confederacy. This is the story of Thunder On The Rivers Tennessee And Cumberland: Forts Henry And Donelson.
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12 - The Gibraltar Of The Confederacy - Fort Fisher

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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 he entered Savannah in December, he envisioned a similar path of destruction north through the Carolinas. That same month, over in Tennessee, George Thomas won a decisive victory at Nashville, and in Virginia, U.S. Grant continued to pin down Lee's army at Petersburg. Though the noose was being tightened round the neck of the Confederacy, there was still one major supply line and portal from which the shrinking Confederacy could count on supplies from the outside world. That railroad line was so vitally important Robert E. Lee tabbed it "the lifeline of the Confederacy." It ran from Petersburg south to Weldon, North Carolina and then down to the port city of Wilmington. This is the story of the massive fort that protected that city; that lifeline. Fort Fisher: The Gibraltar Of The Confederacy.
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