Constitutional Amendments

In the years immediately following the American Civil War, there were three significant Amendments to the United States Constitution that were created.  They became known as the Reconstruction Amendments.  These three Amendments basically helped to create a new way of life for the United States and helped to “reconstruct” the southern states, as well as the northern states after the war.  The Amendments were the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.

The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified in 1865.  This amendment declared slavery and involuntary servitude illegal.  Although many slaves were set free by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the future of once-enslaved people was still a bit unstable.  Hence, the development of the Thirteenth Amendment.  The northern states quickly ratified this Amendment, with many bordering states following.  With the support of President Johnson, who followed President Lincoln after Lincoln’s assassination, the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina also adopted the new Amendment quite quickly.

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Rose O’Neal Greenhow

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During the Civil War time period, there were many prominent figures who played a key part in the outcome of the war.  Many are highlighted in our history books for their acts of heroism, leadership, and defining the history of the United States.  One person who had a significant role during the Civil War was a woman named Rose O’Neal Greenhow.  She is most famously known for being a spy for the Confederate Army.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow was born in Maryland during the early 1800’s (historians believe either 1813 or 1814).  Her parents both died when she was young, and Rose went to live with her aunt in Washington, DC.  Rose and her sisters adjusted well to life in Washington, and became acquainted with many prominent people. 

In 1835, Rose was married to Dr. Robert Greenhow, Jr.  Robert worked for the U.S. Department of State.  As a young couple, they enjoyed the social life that Washington, DC offered.  Eventually, they had four daughters.  Due to Robert’s work with the State Department, the family moved around a few times.  They first moved to Mexico City, Mexico then to San Francisco, California.  In 1854, Robert died while in San Francisco, and Rose moved back to the Washington, DC area.

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First Battle of Bull Run

The First Battle of Bull Run was the first of many major battles of the American Civil War.  This battle took place just a little north of Manassas, Virginia on July 21, 1861.  It is also known as the First Battle of Manassas.   

The First Battle of Bull Run occurred just a few short months after the initial start of the Civil War, which was the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC.  The First Battle of Bull Run ended up being a bloody battle with many losses and casualties on both sides, and highlighted the weaknesses of untrained and unprepared military personnel.  It ended up being a victory for the Confederate army and boasted morale and confidence throughout the southern states.

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General Sherman

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When people think about important leaders during the Civil War, they often think of the man named General William T. Sherman.  Throughout the southern part of the United States, General Sherman is a name often associated with the burning and destruction of many cities during the Civil War; namely Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina.  A prominent general for the Union Army, General Sherman was often thought of as a relentless leader who promoted total war on the Confederate states.

William Tecumseh Sherman was born in Ohio in 1820.  He had 10 siblings and was the son of a prominent lawyer and his wife.  Sherman’s dad died in 1829, and his mom was left with eleven children and very little money.  William moved into a neighbor’s home and was raised by another lawyer, Thomas Ewing, Sr. and his wife.  Coincidentally, William would marry his half-sister, Ellen Ewing, in 1850, and they would eventually have eight children.

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The University Greys

The Civil War, also known as the War Between the States, was the deadliest war that has ever been fought on American soil.  Approximately 620,000 soldiers perished during the war, which began in 1861 and ended in 1865.  Some of the main issues that instigated the Civil War included conflicts over slavery, westward expansion, and states’ rights.  These issues were sources of conflict between the states for many years prior to the start of the Civil War. 

Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States in 1860.  Shortly after his inauguration, seven Southern states seceded and joined together to create a new nation, the Confederate States of America.  These seven initial states included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

There are many stories that can be told regarding the nuances of the Civil War.  One such story is that of the University Greys.  This group of men were very rare, but not for a reason that you might believe.  Their story ends with results that were not desirable: 100 percent of the men in their company became a casualty.  Every single member in their military company either perished or was wounded, mostly at the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Civil War Submarines

Submarines played an important role during the Civil War.  It may be hard to imagine that submarines were already developed in the 1860’s; however, they actually were first created in the 1600’s.  In the North, submarines were mainly used as a tool for clearing coastal harbors from obstructions, rather than a combat machine.  In the South, submarines were created as a means to attack Union blockades.  Both forces, during the Civil War, used submarines for military purposes.

One of the most famous submarine creators in the South was from Mobile, Alabama.  His name was Horace Hunley.  In 2000, one of his most famous submarines, The H.L. Hunley, which had been located off the South Carolina shores, was raised from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  Currently, the H.L. Hunley submarine is on display for all to visit at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, which is located in North Charleston, SC.

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Women’s Roles During the War

When a person thinks about the soldiers or important roles that people had during the Civil War time period, they probably don’t think of the roles that women played or women on the battlefields.  However, lots of women from both sides of the country joined their perspective army and many more women had very important roles of leadership or support.

More than four hundred women disguised themselves as men and joined either the Confederate army or Union army.  There were several reasons why they decided to make that choice.  Some women wanted to fight for what they believed in, and since women were not allowed to join the military, a disguise was their only option.  Others disguised themselves as men in order to join the military because of the money they could earn.  A soldier could make approximately $13.00 per month, and since that was more money than women could make in most other jobs, they would join the fighting forces.  Other women also joined the military for the adventure and purpose that the fighting served.  Some women kept their secret long after the end of the Civil War, and some even kept their secret until death.

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The Telegraph

Today, our world is teeming with technology.  From smart phones and appliances to computers and VoIP phones, it seems as if new technology is being invented daily.  If you own a business, just look online for computer support Birmingham AL and you’ll find hundreds of technology companies offering a wide range of services.

People who lived during the Civil War period were not that fortunate.  The ease of spreading communication was much more difficult due to the lack of the advanced technology that we have today.  One invention that did occur during the mid-1800’s, though, was the telegraph.  The invention of the telegraph improved the way people communicated during the Civil War.

Samuel Morse is credited for creating the first functioning telegraph in the United States.  Although there were other telegraphs invented prior to Morse’s telegraph of 1837, he created the one that actually sent the first telegram in the U.S., which was on January 11, 1838.  Morse and his partner, Alfred Vail, also developed the Morse Code, which is a series of dots and dashes that symbolizes specific letters of the alphabet in order to create words and phrases.  The telegraph became more and more popular throughout the country.

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Prisoners of War


Did you know that an estimated 410,000 soldiers were held captive in prison camps during the Civil War? In addition, a large portion of the prisoners perished while they were detained in the prison camps.  Approximately 16% of captives held in Southern prisons died, and about 12% of captives in the Northern prisons died.  There were multiple prisons throughout the North and the South, and many different conditions within the prisons. 

During the early years of the Civil War, between 1861 and 1863, prison camps were not very common because prisoners of war were either paroled or exchanged, usually within a matter of days after capture.  Exchanges of prisoners were based on the military ranking of that person.  For example, a military private or a seaman were seen as equal ranks; whereas, an Army colonel or a Navy captain were also seen as equals.  If the exchange involved a high-ranking person, then they could be exchanged for several privates or seamen, if they were not being exchanged for an equally important military person.  The exchange system eventually broke down during the Civil War, mainly because the Confederacy refused to treat black prisoners the same way that the white prisoners were treated.  Southerners believed that the black Northern soldiers were probably ex-slaves; therefore, they really didn’t belong to the Union Army, so an exchange was not possible for them.  After the exchange system collapsed, prison camps in the South and in the North soared in population.  For this reason, many more prison camps were created and conditions within the camps went from terrible to unbearable.

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The Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln

Before Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States, he said, “America cannot be a house divided.  This government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.  It will become all one thing, or all the other”.  Abraham Lincoln became the United States’ 16th President on March 4, 1861.  He would remain President until his death on April 15, 1865.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809.  He was nineteen years old when he witnessed his first slave market in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He was shocked to see that people were being sold like property.  Soon, he acquired his law degree and became interested in politics.  He also began to publicly speak out against slavery.

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