Civil War - U.S.
Beyond the 95 Corridor
Drive out Route 17 north from Falmouth, past the strip malls, the shopping centers and the subdivisions, and you’ll find that as the roadside gets less crowded, the scenery becomes more historic. In the 18th century, this corridor was more a place for pioneers than for fancy plantation owners, though there were a few of those, too. According to the book They Called Stafford Home, the oldest houses were mainly hewn of logs and did not survive into modern times. Between the natural aging process and the devastating Federal occupation during the Civil War, the Hartwood area saw and suffered through a lot of important history. It would take determined efforts in the late 20th century and beyond to preserve its place in the past and present it to future generations.
Now that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville is upon us, it seems a fitting time to look at how the lives of a family of mainly young women were affected by being suddenly thrust into a war zone and how they were able to survive with the aid of an enemy officer. Sue Chancellor was only fourteen when the area around her home became a bloody battlefield. Their house, called Chancellorsville, was used for a headquarters by first the Confederate and then the Union army while the family continued to live there.
By Jane Kosa
Food was abundant at the beginning of the war, but it soon became scarce for Southern soldiers as well as for the civilians. Behind the Blue and Gray: The Soldier's Life in the Civil War, by Delia Ray, provides graphic descriptions of the rations that the soldiers received:
"With the lack of fresh food, the Federals resorted to satisfying their hunger on flour-and-water crackers called 'hardtack.' These biscuits were a half-inch thick and so hard they earned names such as teeth dullers' and 'sheet-iron' crackers.' Even worse, the hardtack was frequently infested with worms and weevils. One soldier counted thirty-two worms in a single cracker."
"We Have the War Upon Us helps us understand what the major actors said and did: the Republican party, the Democratic party, southern secessionists, southern Unionists; why the pro-compromise forces lost; and why the American tradition of sectional compromise failed."
The Central Rappahannock Regional Library will host Civil War 150, a national traveling exhibition, on display at the library headquarters, 1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, from Tuesday, November 27 to Sunday, December 16.
The library is inviting the public to an opening reception, Friday, November 30, at 5:30. National Park Service Chief Historian John Hennessy will briefly address the themes of the exhibit.
As part of the area’s ongoing commemoration of the war’s sesquicentennial, the library invites the community to view this major exhibit that explores “the war and its meaning through the words of those who lived it," to experience the battle through the eyes of major political figures, soldiers, families, and freedmen. Through reproductions of documents, photographs, and posters, the exhibition invites visitors to learn about events that took place during the war. By virtue of letters, personal accounts, and images, learn how people grappled with the end of slavery, the nature of democracy and citizenship, the human toll of civil war, and the role of a president in wartime.
The Civil War 150 exhibition planners recommend these titles for possible book group discussions. Books whose titles are linked may be found in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Please click on the title to begin the reserve process. Other books may be available through our interlibrary loan service.
Causes behind the Civil War:
On Tuesday, September 18, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Antietam--the single bloodiest day of battle on American soil, PBS’ American Experience will premiere a new NEH-funded documentary, Death and the Civil War, by six-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns.
Based on the book This Republic of Suffering by historian Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ 2011 Jefferson Lecturer, the documentary examines how the unprecedented death toll and carnage of the war challenged American cultural attitudes about death and fundamentally transformed federal government policies towards soldiers.
The opening months of the Civil War had a certain boldness and cachet to them. Young men in particular signed up in droves. Picnickers came down from D.C. to take a gander at the First Battle of Manassas, discovering all too quickly that war is no theatrical entertainment. However, four years later when the South was playing an end-game, the damage to not just its army but also to its civilians was clearly a factor in its surrender. In 1863, there had been bread riots in Richmond. In 1864, the Shenandoah Valley’s crops and businesses had been burned by Union General Sheridan who was advised by his commander Grant to ”Give the enemy no rest ... Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can.”
And so it was. The civilians and soldiers alike were hit with shortages, and the last year of the war was a particularly brutal time. In William C. Davis’ and James I. Robertson, Jr.’s Virginia at War: 1865, the editors include eight essays by modern scholars and a diary from a Virginia woman, the wife of a minister, who observed that last year from her refugee quarters in Richmond where she served as a nurse and a clerk.
The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series concludes on Thursday, April 26, with a lecture on lives of Civil War soldiers by James Robertson, author of The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War.
Professor Robertson spoke previously as part of the Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series on Stonewall Jackson. He returns to UMW to discuss the daily lives of the Civil War soldiers. That topic is treated in the latest of his numerous books, The Untold Civil War, which is a visually striking collection of the 132 episodes of his popular public radio “Civil War Series” stories, illustrated with 475 rare images of battle scenes, artifacts, and people. Having retired recently from the history faculty at Virginia Tech, he achieved iconic stature as a Civil War scholar, going back to his appointment as executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, working with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in marking the war’s 100th anniversary. The recipient of every major award given in the Civil War field— and a mesmerizing lecturer of national acclaim — Bud Robertson is probably more in demand as a speaker before Civil War groups than anyone else in the field.
All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.
For more about the life of a Civil War soldier check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.