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Our episode on John Brown from Discerning History: Causes of the Civil War, has been selected as a semi-finalist at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. The trailer for the festival is above, and you can see the link for our film here.
How Eli Witney invented the cotton gin, a machine that changed the economics of America forever.
We are are producing a series of weekly video history shorts on youtube! Subscribe to us there, and check back every week for new videos.
Join the Horn Family for their 2012 Tour on the Civil War in September. You can get all the details here.
Yesterday we drove up to Maryland for an interview with Thomas Dilorenzo, an economics professor and historian for our video series, Discerning History. He wrote the Real Lincoln, a very interesting book on whether Lincoln was actually the great man that almost everyone sees him as today. We interviewed him on the economics and states rights issues leading up to the Civil War.
|Cannon like that on the Ivy|
The Confederates around New Orleans have begun to make preparations to drive off the blockading squadron which was obstructing the shipping from the Mississippi River. One hundred and fifty years ago today a small steamer, the CSS Ivy, skirmished with the large Union sloops. The Union commander, John Pope, panicked because the Ivy’s guns were rifled and long range.
Sir: I have to report that the Ivy (steamer) has been down this after noon and made an attack upon these ships, throwing shot and shell over this ship and the Preble, keeping herself entirely out of the range of any guns on board either of the ships, her shot passing some 500 yards over this ship, which makes it evident that we are entirely at the mercy of the enemy. We are liable to be driven from here at any moment, and, situated as we are, our position is untenable. I may be captured at any time by a pitiful little steamer mounting only one gun. The distance at which she was firing I should estimate at 4 miles, with heavy rifled cannon, throwing her shot and shell far beyond us. This may have been an experiment to ascertain the range of our guns, which they now have, and of course will quickly avail themselves of the knowledge….
As the coming battle would show, Pope’s fears were unfounded. The Ivy and her sister ships were too weak to actually do significant damage to the Union vessels.
1. Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, I, v. 16, p. 699 – 700
The New York Time’s blog on the Civil War published an interesting article about counting the number of deaths from the Civil War.
Even as Civil War history has gone through several cycles of revision, one thing has remained fixed: the number of dead. Since about 1900, historians and the general public have assumed that 618,222 men died on both sides. That number is probably a significant undercount, however. New estimates, based on Census data, indicate that the death toll was approximately 750,000, and may have been as high as 850,000.
|Seige of Lexington|
150 years ago today Stirling Price
captured Lexington, Missouri after a 8 day seige. After their victory
at Wilson’s Creek the Missouri State Guard under General Stirling
Price advanced into the northern portions of the state. John C.
Fremont, commander of the Union Department of the West, decided to
defend Lexington. It occupied an important position on the Missouri
River, and it was in a very pro-Confederate area. The commander in
the town was Col. James Mulligan. He put his 3,500 troops in motion
to build entrenchments in preparation for a seige. More
reinforcements were on the way, but they were ambushed by the
arriving Confederates and forced to retire. The Confederates were
aware of their position because they had tapped the telegraph line,
allowing them to spy on the Union messages.
|Cannon Ball in the Lexington Court House. Credit.|
Price arrived in front of the town on
September 11th and launched an attack two days later. They found the
Federal works to strong to be taken with a direct assault, so they surrounded the town and began shelling the Federal positions with
their artillery. On September 18th the Confederates attacked again,
and drove the Union forces from their outlying works. By this time
the Union forces in the town were in severe lack of water. The wells
had gone dry, and Confederate sharpshooters shot anyone who tried to
reach a spring between the lines. On September 19th the Missourian
forces prepared for their final attack. They brought up hemp bales
soaked in water to use as mobile breastworks. These were very
effective, and allowed the Confederates to roll them forward, all the
time sheltered from Union fire.
|Hill up which the Confederate Forces advanced|
The Confederate forces advanced to
attack on the morning of the 20th of September. The rolled the bales
forward, hidden from the rifles of the Union soldiers. The Union
attempted to set the bales ablaze by using red-hot cannon balls
heated in ovens, but the bales were so wet that they were immune to
the tactic. At noon Mulligan, seeing that the Confederate troops had
advanced to the point where they could easily take the trenches with
a final charge, requested terms of surrender.
light. The Missouri State Guard had suffered only 25 killed and 72
wounded, while the Federal forces had 39 killed and 120 wounded, with
their entire force being taken prisoners. The light casualties of the
defenders resulted from the brilliant idea of using the soaked bales
as movible defenses. Jefferson Davis later wrote, “The expedient
of the bales of hemp was a brilliant conception, not unlike that
which made Tarik, the Saracen warrior, immortal, and gave his name to
the northern pillar of Hercules.”
|Much fighting took place over this house. Credit.|
|Earthworks on Cheat Mountain|
In accordance with his mission to redeem the fortunes of the Confederacy in Western Virginia, R. E. Lee made plans for an assault on the Union positions on Cheat Mountain. Five regiments were in a defensive position at the foot of the mountain, while another was posted at the summit. Lee’s plan was way to complicated for the inexperienced troops and generals, and it involved several uncoordinated advances that were supposed to attack in unison. This movement, impeded by the rain and mountain roads, would have been difficult to execute even with experience troops. As the troops were moving on September 11th, the columns never made contact with each other. The commander of the attack on the fort on the summit decided not to go forward with the plan because they had captured some prisoners who told them that the Union force greatly outnumbered them. It was actually only 300 men, compared to the Confederate’s 3000. After skirmishing for a few days, Lee called off the other attack as well. Both sides had only a few dozen casualties. This failure earned Lee the nickname of “Granny Lee.” It was believed that although great things had been hoped from him, the opinion of the generals in the old army was mistaken. However, in a few months Lee would prove these critics wrong. In this battle Lee learned many things regarding what to expect from inexperienced troops, and how to deal with troublesome subordinates.
|House on the Battlefield|
Today the Battle of Carnifex Ferry orrcured in West Virginia. General Robert E. Lee, the military secretary of Jefferson Davis, had been sent by him to what is now West Virginia. The Confederate commanders in Virginia were very divided. Most of them were politicians, including Henry Wise, a former governor of Virginia. Lee had difficulty getting them to work together to hold back the Federal advances. General Henry Floyd determined to make a stand at Carnifex Ferry against an advancing Federal column under Rosecrans. Floyd’s men were position in a fortified camp. Roscrans attacked in the afternoon, and sent some of his troops in a flanking movement. By dark they had not driven the Confederates back, so Rosecrans ordered his men to fall back. They had lost 17 killed and 141 wounded. Floyd retreated during the night, claiming a brilliant victory.