The American Civil War Portal
The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States, formed of eleven southern states‘ governments which moved to secede from the Union after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. The Union’s victory was eventually achieved by leveraging advantages in population, manufacturing and logistics and through a strategic naval blockade denying the Confederacy access to the world’s markets.
In many ways, the conflict’s central issues – the enslavement of African Americans, the role of constitutional federal government, and the rights of states – are still not completely resolved. Not surprisingly, the Confederate army‘s surrender during the spring of 1865 did little to change many Americans‘ attitudes toward the potential powers of central government. The passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution in the years immediately following the war did not change the racial prejudice prevalent among Americans of the day; and the process of Reconstruction did not heal the deeply personal wounds inflicted by four brutal years of war and more than 970,000 casualties – 3 percent of the population, including approximately 560,000 deaths. As a result, controversies affected by the war’s unresolved social, political, economic and racial tensions continue to shape contemporary American thought. The causes of the war, the reasons for the outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of much discussion even today.
The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane (1871–1900). Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound—a “red badge of courage”—to counteract his cowardice. When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer.
Although Crane was born after the war, and had not at the time experienced battle firsthand, the novel is known for its realism. He began writing what would become his second novel in 1893, using various contemporary and written accounts (such as those published previously by Century Magazine) as inspiration. It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville; he may also have interviewed veterans of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the Orange Blossoms. Initially shortened and serialized in newspapers in December 1894, the novel was published in full in October 1895. A longer version of the work, based on Crane’s original manuscript, was published in 1982.
The novel is known for its distinctive style, which includes realistic battle sequences as well as the repeated use of color imagery, and ironic tone. Separating itself from a traditional war narrative, Crane’s story reflects the inner experience of its protagonist—a soldier fleeing from combat—rather than the external world around him. Also notable for its use of what Crane called a “psychological portrayal of fear”, the novel’s allegorical and symbolic qualities are often debated by critics. Several of the themes that the story explores are maturation, heroism, cowardice, and the indifference of nature. The Red Badge of Courage garnered widespread acclaim—what H. G. Wells called “an orgy of praise”—shortly after its publication, making Crane an instant celebrity at the age of twenty-four. The novel and its author did have its initial detractors, however, including author and veteran Ambrose Bierce. Adapted several times for the screen, the novel became a bestseller. It has never been out of print, and is now thought to be Crane’s most important work and a major American text.
Grand Parade of the States
At the time of the American Civil War, Canada did not yet exist as an independent country. Instead, the territory consisted of the seven remaining colonies of British North America and crown territory administered by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The United Kingdom (and therefore its North American colonies) was officially neutral for the duration of the American Civil War and sympathies in the nation were divided. Despite this, tensions between Britain and the North were high due to incidents on the seas, such as the Trent Affair and the Confederate commissioning of the CSS Alabama from Britain. If the conflict had continued to escalate, Canada would probably have been the first target of Union forces. During the war, Britain thus reinforced its garrisons in Canada.
At the same time, however, Canadians were almost universally opposed to slavery, and Canada had long been the terminus of the Underground Railroad. Close economic and cultural links across the long border also encouraged Canadian sympathy towards the Union. Some Canadians even served in the U.S. Army, including the writer of the future Canadian national anthem.
Nelson Appleton Miles (August 8, 1839 – May 15, 1925) served as a commander in the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and the Spanish-American War. In his late 70s, he volunteered to serve in the army during World War I as well, but was turned down by President Woodrow Wilson due to his age.
Miles was working as a crockery store clerk in Boston when the Civil War began. He entered the Union Army on September 9, 1861, as a volunteer and fought in many crucial battles. He became a lieutenant in the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, and was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 61st New York Infantry Regiment on May 31, 1862. He was promoted to colonel after the Battle of Antietam. Other battles he participated in include Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and the Appomattox Campaign. Wounded four times in battle (he was shot in the neck and abdomen at Chancellorsville), he received a brevet of brigadier general of volunteers and was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry, both in recognition for his actions at Chancellorsville. He was advanced to full rank on May 12, 1864, for the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, eventually becoming a major general of volunteers at age 26.