This Day in History: The first shot of the Civil War, sort of

On this day in 1861, shots are fired at a merchant ship acting on behalf of the federal government in Charleston Bay. “Good God! Is this true?” one witness wrote. “Is this the beginning of the Civil War of which we have heard so much . . . ?” It wasn’t. But it sure was […]

This Day in History: The origins of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

On or around this day in 1861, Julia Ward Howe is inspired to write the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Did you know that this much-loved patriotic song has its roots in the Civil War years? Julia was the daughter of a Wall Street broker and a poet. She was well-educated and was able to […]

This Day in History: USS San Jacinto picks a fight with Great Britain

On this day in 1861, the captain of the USS San Jacinto fires shots at a British mail steamer, the RMS Trent. He seizes two Confederate emissaries who were aboard. The so-called “Trent Affair” nearly provoked a war between the United States and Great Britain! Can you imagine? What if Union forces had been at […]

This Day in History: Union and Confederate forces face off at Antietam

On this day in 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee decides to make a stand! His decision would lead to the bloody Battle of Antietam. Federal forces were then reeling from their defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run. (See August 30 history post.) That battle had left Union General John Pope’s army retreating […]