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

25 - Assassination from the Bottom of the Sea - The Hunley

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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 blockade to negate both objectives, and in response, southern political and military administrators turned to radical naval design and innovation. The construction of ironclads was one response. Another: the very source for this episode. This is the story of the Confederacy’s desperate attempt to break the Union blockade - the first submersible to sink an enemy vessel. This is the incredible story of the H.L. Hunley.

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24 - Misery at Murfreesboro - the Battle of Stones River

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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. For Lincoln, far too cautious and deliberate generals allowed retreating Confederate armies to escape from Maryland and Kentucky. Both presidents had to accept that the conflict had no end in sight. And yet, as 1862 drew to a close, both saw opportunity in central Tennessee. Fought in weather that had to match the mood of weary men, officers, presidents, and American people, this is the story of the clash along the banks of Stones River. This is the story of the Battle of Murfreesboro.
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23 - Chattanooga - Part 2

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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 Confederate Army of Tennessee, Major General U.S. Grant was called in to resurrect sinking morale and restore hope. He corrected the former with the opening of a cracker line. Full bellies and ample ammunition lifted spirits. Now, the man from Galena, Illinois determined to flip the military situation. What his men and officers did was nothing short of amazing. This is the story of the incredible events along the Tennessee River, and atop the heights of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. This is part two of the story of The Battle Of Chattanooga.

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22 - Chattanooga - Part 1

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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 heartland was still a beating bastion of defiance.

That’s why Abraham Lincoln wanted to drive into eastern Tennessee. That’s why he wanted a major railroad hub in the southeastern corner of The Volunteer State. This is the story of the Union’s attempt to crack the Confederacy from within. This is part one of the story of The Battle of Chattanooga.
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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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