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

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042 - The Southern Home Front

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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 those eleven seceded states whose political leaders sought independence but, instead, sowed the seeds and reaped the whirlwind for Southern turmoil and destruction.

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041 - The Northern Home Front

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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.

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040 - July 3, 1863 - Climax - The Third Day at Gettysburg

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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 in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word…”  Such was the weight and power of events that unfolded on Friday afternoon, July 3rd, 1863.  This is how it came to pass.

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039 - July 2, 1863 - A Rolling Thunder - The Second Day at Gettysburg

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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 and loneliness of command - both issuing orders which placed tens of thousands into harm’s way.  And when those orders were misinterpreted or went awry: anguish from thousands who suffered the convoluted and bloody consequences.  Such were the clashes this day that geographical features, fields, and orchards would be added to this nation’s list of iconic landmarks - the Round Tops, Devil’s Den, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s and Cemetery Hills.  This is the story of some of those men and their units that transformed those landmarks into hallowed ground.

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038 - July 1, 1863: A Meeting Engagement - The First Day at Gettysburg

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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 - the men of the 26th North Carolina and the 24th Michigan. All actors in a great historical drama, and played out - just as we are - as human beings.

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037 - The Confederacy’s “Greatest” Surrender - The Bennett Place

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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 to march in and through the Old North State’s capital.  Women, lining both sides of Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, greeted them.  They handed out meat, bread and tobacco.  On the western edge of town, a favorite place for soldiers to linger as they poured westward - at St. Mary’s, a school for women - where dozens of young ladies doled out food, water and encouragement.  Before them, Johnston’s ragtag force acted soldierly but, one of the young ladies, unable to mask the reality of what she was witnessing, gasped, “My God! Is this the funeral procession of the Southern Confederacy?”  Indeed, it was, for Johnston and Sherman’s men were on the final stretch of road that would lead to a rustic dwelling near Durham’s Station - the Bennett Place.  There in the North Carolina Piedmont region was the humblest of stages for the surrender of the last major Confederate army and, numerically speaking, the largest surrender of the great and terrible American Civil War.  Here, the story of those last days.  

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036 - Avenging Angel - John Brown

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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 a memorial service to honor the murdered activist. Owen Brown opened the gathering with a long, tearful prayer. At its conclusion, there was a long silence. Then, in the back, Owen Brown’s son rose and, stiffly, raised his right hand, then vowed, “Here before God, in the presence of these witnesses, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery.” It was 37-year-old John Brown’s first public statement on the inflammatory issue and, as time would tell, his message and actions would be ominous. And yet, on that Tuesday and in that service, this was John Brown of Hudson, Ohio.  It would take time and events to fully create the John Brown of “Bleeding” Kansas and Harpers Ferry.  From crusader to Old Testament avenging angel, this is his story.

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035 - Nathan Bedford Forrest - Part 2

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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 command. Now, we’ll delve into the remainder of his Civil War career as well as his post-war life. Both periods, perhaps unsurprisingly, are laced with controversy. And so, we pick up the fiery story that is Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Wizard of the Saddle.

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034 - Nathan Bedford Forrest - Part 1

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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, Sherman spat out, “that devil must be hunted down and killed if it costs 10,000 lives and bankrupts the Federal Treasury!” Later, in reflection, he offered that that devil, militarily speaking, was the most remarkable man the Civil War produced on either side. For this episode, part 1 of the man and officer who, particularly in these times, remains a lightning rod for knee-jerk-like reaction - both pro and con. This is the story of The Wizard of the Saddle. This is the story of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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May We Suggest - Bullets And Bandages: The Aid Stations and Field Hospitals at Gettysburg

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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 Hospitals at Gettysburg by James Gindlesperger is an impressive and enlightening look at the Battle of Gettysburg from a unique perspective. Here, Fred Kiger will share his thoughts and reflections on this new book from Blair Publishing.

You can purchase the book here.

 

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