Published On: Wed, May 20th, 2015
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Civil War History & Heritage

May 18-24, 1865

May 19 — From Galveston, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Orders No. 3, which declared emancipation in Texas. “Juneteenth” is now a recognized holiday.

May 22 — Jefferson Davis arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia, where he was put in chains and locked in a cell. He was never brought to trial, although many northerners felt vindictive toward him in light of President Lincoln’s assassination.

May 23 — President Johnson lifted the Union blockade of southern ports, which had been in effect since April 1861.

n Washington, D.C., held a grand review of the Army of the Potomac. For the first time in four years, flags on City Hall were at full staff.

n In the Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief, became the last Confederate general to surrender.

May 24 — Gen. Sherman’s army marched through Washington.

The idea for these columns began as Glenn Busse and his wife Sue were driving to the Lincoln Forum in November 2010. Glenn enlisted retired teacher Sheryl Hinman for the project. He presented the idea of a weekly column to Editor Tom Martin, who agreed to cover the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with columns that would describe each week’s events.

With the first column appearing Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, we have now arrived 229 columns later to write our last. We considered it fitting to write our reflections on covering the war.

So many stories

When a friend learned that I was going to be co-authoring weekly columns on every year of the Civil War, he said, “Sheryl, that’s a lot of columns. Do you think you will run out of stories?” I could confidently answer, “We’re more likely to run out of space.” For me, the fascination of researching the era lies in uncovering the little known tales of both leaders and the average citizens and soldiers.

As each column was sent back and forth, we delved into resources. A typical piece used eight or more books, articles, or websites to complete. Captions and references in letters often led to further research. For me, one of the most memorable columns was written about the relationship of Robert Lincoln with his father.

Speaking to a friend, he shared his feelings of loss. When Robert was young, his father was riding the circuit. Just when they could have had more time together, Robert left for private schooling and college. The demands of the presidency in such turbulent times left little time for father and son. Robert’s sense of deep personal loss echoes the feelings of many families who sacrificed to preserve the nation. I am humbled by their stories.

— Sheryl Hinman

The war was horrific

I read my first Civil War book about J E.B. Stuart as an eighth-grader in 1960. From there it was Bruce Catton’s trilogy and then I was hooked as a Civil War buff. Most of my reading and visits revolved around the battles and where they were fought. I read and studied them for the event, without a regard for the participants.

Researching and writing these columns brought me closer to the soldiers, civilians and others affected by the war. I realized that the tragedy of the battlefield was felt just as great on the home front. Our article on women marching on southern cities for food was very sobering.

The thing that most stands out for me during the last four years is the gruesome nature of the fighting and the unbelievable number of deaths and wounded. I have been to the hornet’s nest at Shiloh, walked Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, and stood in the Bloody Lane at Antietam. Never in those instances did I realize the horrific nature of the fighting until we wrote about it.

In many columns I wrote about the number of casualties. I learned that roughly 1 in 30 of all Americans living in 1860 was a casualty of the war. I read the letters and saw the pictures of wounded and dead soldiers.

As I researched the Battle of Franklin and tried to picture in my mind Confederate troops marching in a two-mile front into the murderous fire of the Union troops, I was amazed that men would fight like they did.

— Glenn Busse

We thank Tom Martin and Rob Buck for allowing us the experience of the last four years. We appreciate the many people who told us they liked the columns. We hope that our readers learned from them and developed a greater appreciation of the 150th anniversary. Even more so, we hope what happened in the past motivates us all to work together to forge a closer bond among all Americans today.

Tidbit

In a look at the high price of the war, 10,500 military actions occurred, Virginia witnessing more than any state with 2,154. Casualties have been estimated at 1.1 million dead, wounded or missing. Confederate direct costs estimated by economists including expenses by the Confederate and state governments, losses of men in the field, and destruction of property came to $3.3 billion in 1860 dollars. Federal expenses exceeded $3 billion in 1860 dollars.

The costs continue today with the federal government still paying a monthly pension of $73.13 to the elderly daughter of a Union Army veteran.

Sheryl Hinman is a retired English teacher and Glenn Busse is retired from teaching social studies. They taught for a combined 77 years at Galesburg High School.

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