Archiving the Civil War’s Text Messages

A Massive Crowdsourcing Project Is Digitizing Thousands of Coded Union Telegrams, and Unearthing Astonishing “Emails”

The Thomas T. Eckert Papers—consisting of records, ledgers, and cipher books kept by the head of the War Department’s military telegraph office—came to us at the Huntington Library four years ago via a long and winding road. The collection includes nearly 16,000 telegrams reporting on the U.S. Civil War as it happened, and they are already beginning to tell scholars astonishing things.

The Eckert Papers were initially sold at a private auction in 2009. The sellers were apparently descendants of Eckert’s, and the auction sale was a surprise, because the papers …

With Free State of Jones, Hollywood’s Civil War Comes Closer to History’s

Pop Culture May Finally Be Ready to Surrender the Myth of a Noble, Confederate Lost Cause

The setting is the piney woods of Civil War Jones County, Mississippi. The white farmer Newt Knight leads a band of deserters against Confederate forces. An enslaved woman, Rachel, lends …

Growing Up at Gettysburg

My Family’s Antique Shop by the Historic Battlefield Has Helped Customers—and Me—Connect to Our Nation's History

“Do you have the kind of bullet that killed Lincoln?” asked a tourist buying a Derringer pistol, wearing a God Bless America t-shirt. I looked up from the counter a …

The Civil War Was Won By Immigrant Soldiers

Fully One in Four Union Fighters Was Foreign-Born

In the summer of 1861, an American diplomat in Turin, then the capital of Italy, looked out the window of the U.S. legation to see hundreds of young men forming …

Did the End of the Civil War Mean the End of Slavery?

April 1865 Marked the Beginning of a New Battle for American Abolitionists

On the same morning that Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet, noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was quietly gloating by the Charleston, South Carolina graveside of John C. Calhoun. …

Where Lincoln Was President and Conqueror

The Commander-in-Chief’s Surprisingly Humble Journey into Richmond, Virginia, After the Confederacy’s Fall

April 4, 1865. The conqueror entered Richmond, Virginia, on a rowboat with his son Tad, after nearing the fallen city by military steamer. President Abraham Lincoln was escorted and guarded …