Civil War - U.S.

Rebel River: A Guide to Civil War Sites on the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James by Mark Nesbitt

Rebel River by Mark Nesbitt

Virginia's many rivers were strategic points in the Civil War. Thousands of men had to cross them at a time, whether by boat or pontoon bridge, or, in shallower places, on foot.  Major rivers slowed down--or, in the case of flood, could block movement entirely. Generals placed their supply depots on rivers, and gunboats patrolled the waters, blasting artillery positions as well as enemy strongholds in large plantation houses.

In Mark Nesbitt's Rebel Rivers, readers are treated to an easy-to-follow guide to river sites and their Civil War history. Rebel Rivers, published by Stackpole Books, is available to check out from the library. The author is also the creator of the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours® and the Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours.

This excerpt is used with the author/copyright holder's permission.

Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War

By H. Donald Winkler

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Rebel queen of Washington spies : Rose Greenhow -- Vanished without a trace : Sarah Slater -- "Singing as sweetly as ever" : Olivia Floyd -- Grant's most valuable Richmond spy : Elizabeth Van Lew -- The spy who saved ships : Elizabeth Baker -- Double trouble sister act : Ginnie and Lottie Moon -- The perils of Pauline : Pauline Cushman -- The heroine of Winchester : Rebecca Wright -- A glorious consummation : Harriet Tubman -- A teenage terrorist : Nancy Hart -- "No sacrifice too great" : Antonia Ford and Laura Ratcliffe -- Mosby's Merry Christmas : Roberta Pollock -- A secesh Cleopatra : Belle Boyd -- The clever masquerader : Emma Edmonds -- Trapped in a sting operation : Clara Judd -- Sarah's deadly revenge : Sarah Lane Thompson -- Hired to find herself : Loreta Velazquez -- Beyond the call of duty : more heroines -- Did she die for their sins? : Mary Surratt.

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Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker: The Unlikely Friendship of Elizabeth Keckley & Mary Todd Lincoln

By Lynda Jones

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In 1868, a controversial tell-all called Behind the Scenes introduced readers to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley. Mrs. Keckley was a former slave who had been Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker and friend during the White House years, and in the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination. How could such a bond have developed between a woman born into slavery and the First Lady of the United States? Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker answers this question by chronicling the extraordinary lives of these women.
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Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero

By Marissa Moss

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A story of a nineteen-year-old woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage and who distinguished herself as a male nurse during the Civil War, and later as a spy for the Union Army.
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Homework Helper: Virginia in the Civil War--The Battles

One hundred and fifty years ago, life was turned upside-down for residents in our communities.  Stafford County was occupied by Union troops. Fredericksburg changed hands many times between Union and Confederate and was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Spotsylvania County had the battles of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. Thousands of men encamped and fought here. Many died here. Our state—even just our own area--has some of the most fought-over ground in the country.

West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free

By Mark A. Snell

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"The only state born as a result of the Civil War, West Virginia was the most divided state in the nation. About forty thousand of its residents served in the combatant forces--about twenty thousand on each side. The Mountain State also saw its fair share of battles, skirmishes, raids and guerrilla warfare, with places like Harpers Ferry, Philippi and Rich Mountain becoming household names in 1861. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861, leaders primarily from the northwestern region of the state began the political process that eventually led to the creation of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. Renowned Civil War historian Mark A. Snell has written the first thorough history of these West Virginians and their civil war in more than fifty years."

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The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword

By James S. Price

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"In the predawn darkness of September 29, 1864, black Union soldiers attacked a heavily fortified position on the outskirts of the Confederate capital of Richmond. In a few hours of desperate fighting, these African American soldiers struck a blow against Robert E. Lee's vaunted Army of Northern Virginia and proved to detractors that they could fight for freedom and citizenship for themselves and their enslaved brethren. For fourteen of the black soldiers who stormed New Market Heights that day, their bravery would be awarded with the nation's highest honor--the Congressional Medal of Honor. With vivid firsthand accounts and meticulous tactical detail, James S. Price brings the Battle of New Market Heights into brilliant focus, with maps by master cartographer Steven Stanley."

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A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

By Amanda Foreman

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"Even before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress, British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable. Britain was dependent on the South for cotton, and in turn the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for guns, bullets, and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the two and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. For four years the complex web of relationships between the countries led to defeats and victories both minute and history-making. In A World on Fire, Amanda Foreman examines the fraught relations from multiple angles while she introduces characters both humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over the course of her sweeping and brilliant narrative."
A New York Times bestseller that is available in standard print format, as an eBook, and as an unabridged audio book.

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The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War

By James Robertson

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A very browsable book with the sort of gorgeous photographs one expects from its publisher, National Geographic. "The Human Side" is encapsulated in a unique format--pithily and adroitly told tales on one page accompanied by a full page visual rendering of the subject. Some topics will be quite familiar to locals, such as the Angel of Marye's Heights but many will be new to readers. There is also a detailed, double-page photo spread at the beginning of the first chapter showing Grant and his men enjoying themselves in the pews of Massaponax Church--which they have dragged into the yard for a makeshift headquarters. The stories from both perspectives--North and South--are lively, yet it is not surprising that most of the battlefield images come from from Union artists and photographers.

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What Was Christmas Like During the Civil War?

Present-day Christmas conjures memories of snow, lighted trees, cinnamon, gifts, parties, and music. If we lived during the Civil War, what kinds of memories would we have? Would they be of family, food, warmth, and parties, or would they be of just trying to survive and stave off hunger? Would there be presents under the tree, or would we be happy just to be present with our loved ones. To learn a bit more about Christmas during the years 1861-1864, explore the items in the library and the Web sites listed below.

In the Library: