Reading the Aftermath of Civil War

I had the pleasure of attending “Ending a Mighty Conflict: The Civil War in 1864–1865 and Beyond,” a conference that took place at The Huntington last month. The lively talks by distinguished scholars reminded me of my recent encounters with the handwritten accounts of Civil War soldiers. Expressing noble sentiments, … Continue reading

Turbulent End to Civil War

By the spring of 1865, when surrenders at Appomattox, Durham Station, and elsewhere had finally delivered an end to four years of bloody battle, the American Civil War had killed a staggering 750,000 soldiers and 50,000 civilians—about two and a half percent of the U.S. population—and wounded hundreds of thousands … Continue reading

Remembering Gettysburg

On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the greatest speeches in American history: the Gettysburg Address. It was a delicate moment in the young nation’s identity. The Civil War had been raging for two years and the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) had claimed 50,000 lives. … Continue reading

Historical Moments Past and Present

Today Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term as president of the United States, although the public ceremony and inaugural speech won’t take place until Monday. In today’s New York Times, historian Ronald C. White Jr. explains why second inaugural addresses often fall flat, albeit with one … Continue reading

VIDEO | The Poetry of Photography

Heavy boxes of glass. A portable darkroom. Noxious chemicals. A cumbersome camera. Field photography during the U.S. Civil War was an arduous process far removed from the relatively effortless digital image-snapping of today’s pocket-sized cameras and phones. And it was the strange beauty of this process—so labor intensive, so unfamiliar … Continue reading