The Library of Congress bought a 7,000 book collection of rare Civil War photos in 1943, which they recently published on their website. Below, you’ll find some of the best photographs of the United States’s greatest war.
Brothers In Arms, But Enemies In War
This Union soldier had come across a Confederate soldier in an abandoned camp. The Union soldier seems to be very wounded and unfortunately, it looks like he was left behind by his comrades.
The Civil War was one of, if not the most devastating war of all time. There were so many people who lost their lives and those who were wounded and survived were never the same.
What Should Not Have Been Said
The man who is sitting in this photo is General Winfred Scott Hancock. He was one of the most experienced officers in the army. He was known as a Major General. Hancock died in 1886 at Governors Island, still in command of the Military Division of the Atlantic, the victim of an infected carbuncle, complicated by diabetes.
General Ulysses S. Grant would say losing him was, “greater than the loss of a whole division of troops.”
A 200 Pound Gun
This gun is something you won’t see again, but at the time, you could find it guarding Fort Wagner in Charleston Harbor. You may think because of the size only one would be necessary. However, there were 13 more in the surrounding area exactly like it. Fort Wagner was full of tired and hungry black soldiers who went to war on the evening of July 18, 1863. The Union Navy did their best to reduce the defenses but had very little success.
The constant shelling from the Union ships had forced the Confederate soldiers to evacuate. While the 54th Regiment suffered a heavy loss at Fort Wagner, it was still considered a success. This opened the doors wide open for numerous black soldiers in the Union Army for the remainder of the war.
The First Bombardment Was Intense
Fort Sumter is located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. It is most famous for being the location where the first shots were fired on April 12, 1861. After 34 hours of intense battling, the Union surrendered the fort on April 13th. The photo below gives you a perfect image to show the aftermath of this battle.
After President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, he got the news that Fort Sumter was low on supplies. Shortly after, he had announced that he was sending over three unarmed ships to relieve Fort Sumter. This was not something the South was a fan of since the fort was in their harbor. Fortunately, no one was killed during the bombardment, but Fort Sumter ultimately surrendered.
Counting the Cannon Balls
Although Fort Sumter was where the Civil War began, it ended in Appomattox, Virginia. However, the city of Richmond, Virginia was to serve as the capital to the Confederacy. The Confederates had a demise which is similar to most southern cities. As you can see, the cannon balls are stacked ever so neatly. They mean business.
In addition, you can see the cannon balls sitting on the ground after being hurdled through the air. You can imagine the catastrophic destruction that was caused by these balls of hot metal being lunged through the air. We’ll revisit Richmond again at the end of the article to show you what was left of this land.
A Fist Fight Stopped a Gun Fight
The picture below shows the positions that were held around Fredericksburg, Virginia. This area was the gateway to Richmond. This was an extremely bloody engagement between Union forces and the Confederate Army. The outcome was a crushing Union defeat, which strengthened the Confederate cause. However, something peculiar happened at the Battle of the Wilderness. During the battle, there was a Union soldier who had taken cover in a gully.
Only to find that there was already a Confederate soldier in it. Strangely, the two began to argue about who should surrender. It escalated to the point where the two began to fistfight. Reports stated that the battle in its entirety stopped until the two of them stopped fighting. The Confederate soldier had won the fight by belting the Union soldier. It was then that the Union soldier had agreed that he should surrender.
This Has To Be A Joke
This photo shows all that is remaining of the Confederate ironclad ram Albemarle. Named after Albemarle Sound, where she was built in 1863, and where she would terrorize Union ships for months. Although many bullets hit the ship, it managed to sink two ships at the cost of one man who opened a hatch to watch the battle. It was the last thing he saw. The Albemarle was a strong ship, but it wasn’t strong enough to sink the Union ship, Miami.
However, it was the ending for the Captain of the ship-Captain Fusser. Because there were cannon balls bouncing off the Albemarle's iron hull, he had ordered his crew to light a ten second fuse. This was unfortunately the last order he would give. One of the shells bounced off the Albemarle and landed at Captain Fusser’s feet seconds before it exploded. He didn’t have a chance at finding cover.
A Very Smart Man With A Very Bad Plan
The photograph below is a picture of an observation balloon that is being fueled with hydrogen gas. The name for this balloon is called the Intrepid and was invented by Thaddeus Lowe. These air balloons had been around for decades by the time the Civil War began, and Lowe insisted that they be used to aid the Unions. This was truly a new concept in North America. To sell the idea, Lowe, although smart, came up with a rather foolish plan to fly to Washington D.C and land on the White House lawn.
His plan did not goes as planned seeing as he caught a “rebel” wind which caused him to land right in enemy territory. He was arrested and escaped from being lynched. Afterward, he returned to Washington to demonstrate all the advantages soldiers would have if they were to use it as a way to observe.
This photo below was taken by a man named Andrew Russell. He was then published incorrectly as “Sherman’s Neckties” in reference to the Union General, William Tecumseh Sherman. This photo makes this block look rather harmless, however, it was an effective method used by Southerners to destroy Union railroad lines. The ties would be used as fuel, and the fire would produce a very high heat when it was against the steel.
Once the steel was hot enough, soldiers would stand on each side and twist the metal to the best of their ability so that it wouldn’t be able to be used for railroad tracks. “Sherman’s Neckties” ended up sticking, because the Union general at the time thought the tactic was very effective.
So Close, Yet Still Far
Former United States Senator, Jefferson Davis, was elected as the president when the Confederacy formed their government. In addition, they chose Richmond as their capital. As we all know, Virginia is the neighbor of Maryland where the US capital, Washington DC is located, which are only roughly 100 miles apart from one another. If this army looks bored to you, it’s because they most certainly are.
There were two attempts to take Richmond in the beginning of the war, but they were unsuccessful. At this point, they just watched their neighbors to the south until they were weak and tired enough to invade. It took a total of three years for the Union to make their way into the South. It’s apparent that these soldiers didn’t have much to do until then.
The President Was Under Fire
Abraham Lincoln is known for being one of, if not the tallest president there ever was. To make himself look even taller, he wore a top hap. However, the smaller you are, the more advantage you have if you’re in the Civil War. Being very tall almost cost Abraham his life in 1864.
The story goes that Lincoln was visiting the soldier lines in the midst of a Union army attack on Fort Stevens. There was Confederate rifle fire coming in extremely close. Colonel Oliver Wendell Holmes yelled at Lincoln telling him to lower his head and get down. Had Lincoln not listened, there is a good possibility that he would have died that day.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
What a cool and clear picture this is. The man who is sitting in the middle is Matthew Harrison Brady. He is considered to be the inventor of photojournalism, and the main reason why we have such a broad collection of Civil War photographs today. Brady wanted people to be able to experience warfare like they never have before. To do this, he put up roughly $100,000 of his money to finance said project.
Little did he know that he would live to regret making that decision. While the war was going on people were very intrigued and wanted to see his work. Following the war, people were incredibly devastated and didn’t want to see all that had happened. He ended up selling his work to Congress for a small fraction of the price. Mr. Brady died in 1895 up to his eyeballs in debt.
The Ironclads Changed Naval Warfare History
Pictured below are the crew members of the USS Monitor. It arrived on the Civil War battlefield just in the knick of time to save the Union. The Confederacy had just commissioned the CSS Virginia, formerly named the Merrimack, when the two met in the Chesapeake Bay on March 9, 1862. The Monitor was much different than anything anyone had seen before. So much so that it required 40 new patents. It rose 18 inches above the waterline.
What you see pictured behind the men is a gun turret which housed two 11-inch guns. The introduction of armored ships would change the game when it came to naval warfare. Between the Monitor and the Merrimack, the fight ended in a draw as both of the ships were made so well.
The Merrimack Sunk
When the Civil War first began, the CSS Virginia was the USS Merrimack, which happened to be a jewel in the United States Navy. The Union would have loved to have that ship, but it happened to be in the Norfolk Naval Yard, which was at the war’s outset. Therefore, it fell right into the hands of the Confederates. The Union sailors would ultimately end up sinking the ship while in harbor.
However, after a short couple of weeks, the Confederacy hired a group of men to salvage and rebuild the ship. Norfolk was a port that was very important to the Confederacy. With that being said, the Union Navy had quite an advantage, imposing a blockade which was a huge disadvantage to the Confederates at sea throughout the entire war.
Grant's Brilliant Move
This bridge, which was built on June 14, 1864, looks like there is not much going on here, but it was used by General Grant to pull off quite the stunt against the Confederates whom were defending Richmond. This bridge just happened to be not only the longest, but the most impressive bridge of the entire war.
It spanned the James River at two thousand feet wide and eighty-four feet deep at the point of crossing. Infantry, wagons, cattle, and a rear-guard cavalry were able to cross the bridge and blindside the Confederates. This caused the Confederate advanced guard to flee the next day.
Lee’s Many Nemeses
It is no secret that General Sheridan was a controversial figure, and no one in the South will forget “the Burning” he blazed in the Shenandoah Valley. He was a highly skilled commander, but he caused quite a few major problems for the Confederate army. Although it took a good amount of time, it was Sheridan who caused the Confederates to surrender when he crossed the bridge over the James River.
He also captured several of Robert E. Lee’s men and cut off his retreat at Appomattox. This act put a nail in the coffin for the Confederates.
This piece of weaponry is incredible. They called it the "Dictator", which was a 17,000-pound gun, and it was so large that to transport it you needed to use the railroad. Some of the photos that you’ve already seen are of buildings that worn torn apart in Richmond. The Dictator is the one to blame.
It was able to fire a 13-inch shell, weighing about 218 pounds at distances all the way up to 2.5 miles, wow! It’s hard to say how many times it was fired between the years of the Civil War, but it’s been said that the flat car recoiled 10 to 12 feet.
The Confederacy Needed Allies
The Civil War was mostly fought by Americans on American soil. You may be wondering what the European diplomats were doing hanging around a waterfall located in New York. The reason is that the Confederacy was making inroads with the English and to the French to some degree because they wanted to intervene on their behalf.
This photo from 1863 shows the Secretary of State William Seward having some down time with the Ambassadors of Sweden, Italy, Nicaragua, France, Great Britain, Russia, along with others. It was crucial that these relationships were in good standing at all times to ensure that it would just be an American war, and it was President Lincoln who was able to do that.
A Bad Commander With A Great Beard
General Ambrose Burnside’s beard is one that will go down in history as one of the most awesome. It would certainly be a hard one to top. However, he was a one-time commander of the Army of the Potomac, and he didn’t really do that great of a job leading his men into battle. President Lincoln picked General George McClellan to lead the army when defeating the South, but the two did not really get along.
Unfortunately, General McClellan had proved to President Lincoln that he was not aggressive enough in battle. Soon after, he was replaced with General Burnside. To his surprise, he didn’t necessarily want the job. However, he took on the job and led his army against Lee’s army in Fredericksburg. After the battle had ended, General Burnside had put in his resignation, which President Lincoln accepted after three months on the job.
You might look at the guy on the right and at first glance, you might not know who he is, but his name is George Armstrong Custer. Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the Civil War and was considered one of the most well-known soldiers in the entire country. However, he is known to have led his men to their death in the most controversial battle in U.S history, the Battle of Little Big Horn, in 1876.
His name is John “Gimlet” W. Lea, who was a Confederate officer. He was also a classmate of Custer’s at West Point. During the Battle of Williamsburg, Custer noticed that Lea had been injured in battle, and although they were on opposing sides, he carried Lea to a hospital nearby. Because of his grandiose personality, he insisted that Lea have his picture taken with him.
The Battle Of Gettysburg
As we have gathered at this point most of the battles in the Civil War took place in the Southern most states. So, the war at Gettysburg was obviously strange, and is considered to be the biggest battle in North American history. General Lee decided that he wanted to take the war to the Union. It was in a small town in southern Pennsylvania that he located their army.
A strange myth about the battle at Gettysburg was that it started because the Confederates had been looking for shoes. However, the truth is that they were looking for some trouble. There were ten roads that were going in and out of the town, so it was very likely that the two would stumble upon each other. The battle at Gettysburg lasted a total of three days and is known to be the deadliest battle in American history.
Just Three Days On The Job!
As previously stated, General Burnside only lasted about three months as the commander of the Potomac army. Following his resignation, General Hooker last three months longer, for a total of six months. Following his exit is the man who is pictured below, General Meade, who lasted for roughly a year as the commander. None of these men really stood a chance when lined up for battle against the Army of Northern Virginia, which was commanded by Lee. However, it was General Meade who was in charge during the most decisive battle of the war.
General Meade had only been the commander of the Army of the Potomac from three days when Lee came rolling and ready to go through Gettysburg. Although many lives were lost, Meade’s ordering of his army on the first day proved to be priceless by the end of the battle.
How Little Round Top Saved The Union Army
Although it is not the clearest photo, pictured below is Little Round Top. This probably sounds familiar to you because it’s where the Union soldiers were almost completely wiped out. The photo below was taken about two days following the fight. As you can see, the landscape is completely destroyed.
The Union army was extremely brave in their efforts at the end of the battle at Little Round Top. They had fought so well and so hard that they were able to save themselves from being defeated. Once General Lee had heard of their defeat, he made an impulsive decision that would lead to Pickett’s Charge.
The Biggest Artillery Barrage in North American History
The men in the picture below are firing their cannons onto the field. The Confederate army started off with 12,000 men and the bombardment is considered the largest in the history of the continent. However, as large as it may have been, it wasn’t as effective as you may have thought.
This was good news for the Union. Lee was unaware that a shell had hit one of the ammunition stores causing an enormous explosion. This made it seems as though all hell was breaking loose on the Union positions. As a result, Pickett would lose about half of his men. This would later be known as the “high-water mark of the Confederacy.”
A Notion Of Peace That Would Not Be Forgotten
You have to give a round of applause to the Confederate prisoners who were taken captive at the Battle of Gettysburg. Why? They’re army has been basically destroyed and have most likely lost people closest to them throughout the entire war. With all that being said, they still keep their heads high and positive even though the war has ended. Fifty years following the battle, a reunion was held for soldiers on both sides.
At this point, most of the men were in their 70’s and genuinely enjoyed the day. The reunion even involved a recreation of Picket’s Charge, how cool. It’s amazing how two groups of people can come together in such a way that when the soldiers got to the Union lines, they put up their hands to let them know they surrendered. This was extremely respectful of than to do. They then shook hands and buried the hatchet for good.
Meade Was Soft, And Grant Was Unstoppable
General Meade was getting a lot of heat from the media and even President Lincoln once the Battle of Gettysburg had ended. The Army of Northern Virginia was able to withdraw in one of their wagon trails that was seventeen miles long. This enraged the president that Meade had somehow let them ultimately escape. From an outside perspective it is understandable why Meade may have not wanted to fight them considering the fight his army had just gone through, but that is what President Lincoln expected of him and he did not deliver.
It took roughly three years to come across a man to do the job, but finally on March 10, 1864, Lincoln elected General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant is someone who you would read a lot about in history books. He completed the job of wiping out Lee’s army.
A Hospital For All
In the below photograph is a picture of Sister M. M. Joseph. She is accompanied by eight other Sisters of Mercy who worked at the Hammond Hospital which is located in North Carolina. Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War insisted that they take on a job that was a bit different than the job of most nurses. Early on in the war, the Hammond Hospital was seized by the Union army.
Sometime later they revamped it and turned it into a treatment center. The purpose of this hospital was to help the soldiers who had lost a limb in the line of duty. Surgery was not conducted at this facility, as it was meant for soldiers on both sides of the army to come and recover.
The Great Fire
This photograph depicts the very lonely city of Richmond. The Dictator and other guns left the walls here hollowed, and the structures were burnt to bits. This particular photo is a picture of the “Ruins of Haxalls Mills”, and as you can probably tell, it was taken once the war ended. Prior to the war, this mill was known as the best in the entire nation.
The flour produced had such high preservative qualities that the British Navy wanted it. During the Civil War, this is what fed the Confederate army. Ultimately, it was a fire that ended the Haxalls Mills, which was said to have destroyed roughly thirty blocks of Richmond’s business district.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis Escapes
In 1865, the defenses surrounding Richmond had been breached, and it was then that the people and government within the city knew that they could no longer defend it. On April 12, 1865, the Union army gave in to the Confederate capital while Jefferson Davis and those who defended the city left on the very last railroad line remaining. Seven days later, on April 9, 1865 the Northern Virginia army ended up surrendering, but Jefferson Davis remained on the run.
It was a sad day on April 14, because that was the day that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by the now famous John Wilkes Booth. It wasn’t until May 10th of that same year that the Union cavalry was finally able to catch up to Jefferson Davis and arrest him.
Lee's Mansion Is Now A National Cemetery
The gorgeous grounds at Arlington ended up becoming the United States’ most well-known cemetery for fallen soldiers. The photograph below shows soldiers and their wives who had gathered on the steps above the hill that overlooked Washington DC. An interesting tidbit of information here is that the mansion belonged to Robert E. Lee.
Prior to his assassination, Lincoln was looking for a place to break ground for a new national cemetery. The Quartermaster General made a suggestion that it be right in the very front of Lee’s residence. The purpose of doing this was to keep Lee from returning back to his home there, and it worked.
"The Boys’ War"
It's estimated that anywhere from 250,000 to 420,000 young boys (17 and under) fought in the American Civil War, on both sides. Approximately 100,000 Union soldiers were even younger than 15 years old.
Because of the large number of young soldiers compared to the number of older ones in the Civil War, an author once wrote it “might have been called The Boys’ War.” In this photo, you can see black and white teenaged soldiers of the Union army
The U.S. Civil War Soldier
H.H. Robin Junior represents the Civil War common soldier was described as a "white, native-born, farmer, protestant, single, between 18 and 29." He stood at about 5.8 feet tall and weighed about 143 pounds.
Yanks referred to Union soldiers from the North, while Rebs were the southern confederate soldiers.
Amputations in the Civil War
On June 18, 1864, a cannon shot took both of Alfred Stratton's arms. He was just 19 at the time. It is said that one in 13 soldiers became amputees during the Civil War. Battles weren't the only reason soldiers lost limbs. Military advances during the Civil War meant more powerful and destructive weapons which lead to more devastating injuries. Most of the doctors in America at that time were unprepared to treat such horrific wounds. Furthermore, because they weren't aware of bacteria and germs, they didn't recognize the need for sanitation- bandages were used again and again and on different people. So even wounds that could be treated easily today became very infected.
A common operation was an amputation, where a person's limb was removed by cutting it off quickly—in a circular sawing motion to keep the patient from dying from the pain or shock. Surprisingly, most patients survived this procedure.
Francis E. Brownell
Union soldier and The Medal of Honor recipient Francis E. Brownell, also known as "Ellsworth's Avenger," in a Zouave uniform, a rifle, and a bayoneted musket. He has a black cloth tied to his left arm in mourning for Col. E. E. Ellsworth, the first Union officer to die in the American Civil War.
In the Union army, 6 percent of the soldiers were in artillery, 14 percent in the cavalry, and 80 percent the infantry. Opposite to them, in the Confederate army, 5 percent were in artillery, 20 percent in the cavalry, and 75 percent of the soldiers served in the infantry.
Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made at least thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, including some of her family and friends, using the network coined the Underground Railroad.
During the Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. In her later years, Tubman served as an activist in the struggle for women's rights.
The Anaconda Plan
This military strategy proposed by Union General Winfield Scott early in the Civil War aimed to strangle the South via Union land and naval forces. It aided the Union's victory of the Civil War.
The plan had two main objectives: to build a naval blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico ports that were then controlled by the Confederacy and to transport 60,000 Union troops in 40 steam means of transport down the Mississippi River. They would also capture and hold forts and towns along the route.
Drummer Boys in the American Civil War
Historically, field drummers played the army drums used on the battlefield. Not only were they used for the men to march in step but were also an important part of the battlefield communications system, as various drum rolls signaled different commands from officers to troops. In the 18th century, most Western armies had a standardized set of marches and signals to be played, which were often accompanied by battlefield fifers.
These three young Fort Hamilton drummers of the Confederate army pose in their uniforms sometime in 1863, by then these boys were veterans of nine battles.
The Field Band of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry
Because music played a big role on both sides of the conflict, drummers played an important role in the American Civil War. Besides instruments issuing marching orders, they were also used for recreation and to boost the morale of the troops.
Whenever the opposing armies faced each other, the field bands from both sides would often play against each other on the night before a battle.
Little Johnny Clem
Drummer boy, Johnny Clem, was the youngest Union Army soldier to kill a man. Legend has it that during battle, he put down his drum, picked up a rifle, and shot a Confederate officer. This picture was taken circa 1863-1865.
Despite being captured and held prisoner by Confederate soldiers he would survive the war, and would even stay in the American Army after. When he left the service in 1915, after serving as a General and the last Civil War soldier still in the army.
Born in Kentucky, Lincoln came from a very poor family, educated himself, for the most part, and eventually became a successful lawyer, a renown politician, and of course the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the Civil War, which is considered the country's bloodiest war and its greatest moral and political crisis. Among his accomplishments are the preservation of the Union, abolishment of slavery, strengthening the federal government, and economy.
He became a prominent figure in the new Republican Party and gained national attention in 1858 after debating national Democratic leader, Stephen A. Douglas, in a Senate campaign. In 1860 he ran for President, sweeping the North and winning. Southern pro-slavery figures took his win as proof that the North was rejecting their "Constitutional right" to practice slavery, so they began the process of seceding from the union.
The Civil War Avenger
Edward P. Doherty was an Irish-Canadian-American Civil War officer who formed and led the detachment of soldiers that tracked, captured and killed John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, just two days after they received the order.
Doherty was living in New York when the war broke out, and enlisted in a 90-day militia unit and was assigned to be Private to Company A of the 71st New York Volunteers. He was later captured by the Confederates during the First Battle of Bull Run- the first major land battle of the Civil War. While a prisoner, he managed to escape.
The execution of Lincoln's assassination and conspirators took place on July 7, 1865. The four condemned conspirators: David Herold, Lewis Powell, Mary Surratt, and George Atzerodt, were given the death sentence. After the Lincoln assassination, several hundred people were arrested but most were soon released due to lack of concrete evidence. The government eventually charged eight people with conspiracy. The defendants were allowed to have attorneys and witnesses, but they were not permitted to testify themselves.
The execution of Mary Surratt, the first woman ever get the death sentence in the United States, had been a particular focus of criticism received after hanging took place.
Smalls was born a slave in South Carolina. During the American Civil War, he freed himself, his crewmate, and their families by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, the CSS Planter, an armed Confederate military transport, by dressing as the captain. He then sailed toward Union lines, waving a white sheet as a flag. His example and persuasion are what helped convince President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army.
After the war, Smalls went on to serve in the United States House of Representatives, representing his state, South Carolina.
The Alton Military Prison
Built in 1833, the notorious Alton prison was the first state penitentiary in Illinois, it later closed in 1857. In 1862, during the Civil War, the prison was reopened to house the growing population of Confederate prisoners of war. Thousands of Union men died of starvation and disease there.
This federal prisoner was nearly starved to death in Alton, also known as Camp Sumter. The picture was taken when the prisoner was released, around 1865.
The Lord of War
Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren, also known as 'father of American naval ordnance', was a United States Navy officer who led the Union Navy's ordnance department during the Civil War. He designed several different kinds of arms and cannons that were credited as part of the reason for the Union's victory.
Dahlgren designed a smoothbore howitzer, that was capable of adapting to many sizes of craft, as well as shore installations. He later introduced a cast-iron muzzle-loading cannon with increased range and accuracy, which became known as the Dahlgren gun. It eventually became the Navy's standard armament.
"Whipped Peter" or Gordon, was a slave from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The scars are a result of a whipping by an overseer, Artayou Carrier, who was fired by the "master" after the incident, as it took two months for Peter to recover from the horrific beating.
The photograph was taken sometime in 1863 and was widely distributed in the North during the war as proof of the brutality of slavery. Peter later enlisted in the Union Army and gained his freedom.
Children of the Civil War
When war broke out children from both sides of the battle said goodbye to their families, as their fathers, uncles, and cousins left for battle. Some children tended to their family's farms and other businesses while their parents were away, while other young boys and girls joined the military themselves, serving as drummers, fifers, nurses, and even soldiers. The minimum recruiting age for Union soldiers was 18, but many people willingly overlooked the law, while the Confederacy never bothered to set an age minimum.
These young children had to endure the horrors of war and were often killed in battle or suffered physical and mental wounds that they would carry for the rest of their lives. One famous example was Edward Black (1853–1872), a Union drummer boy, who is considered to be the youngest wounded soldier of the war. At only twelve years old, he was severely injured after his hand and arm were shattered by an exploding shell.
The Legendary Steam Gun on Wheels
This steam-powered centrifugal gun, also called the Winans Steam Gun, was invented by William Joslin and Charles S Dickinson, but oddly became associated with Ross Winans, a pioneering locomotive builder, and the inventor of the Winans Cigar ships. The Steam Gun used centrifugal forces rather than gunpowder to propel projectiles and was first used during the Civil War.
Newspapers readers across the U.S. learned of this strange, and powerful steam-powered weapon brought forth to fend off Union troops trying to pass through the town by rail to Washington.
Cavalry forces fought on horseback, armed with pistols, carbines, and their iconic sabers. During the first half of the war, the Confederate soldiers enjoyed the advantage in cavalry, as southern men and boys were more accustomed to the riding and shooting life. However, Confederate cavalry generals tended to mount spectacular stunts that failed in actuality failed to achieve strategic objectives.
By the second half of the war, the Union Army had gained greater cavalry capabilities. Although cavalry units proved to be very expensive to maintain, and unscrupulous agents would often exploit shortages by supplying defective animals at insane prices for that time.
Union Army Laundress in Washington D.C.
Tent life in the vicinity of Fort Slocum, in Washington, D.C., 1861, where a Union Army Laundress poses with a soldier and children. Most of these servicewomen came from the poorer parts of society, including African-Americans, as well as Caucasian women.
Washington, D.C., during the war, was the center of the Union war effort, which quickly turned it from a small city into a major capital with full civic infrastructure and powerful defenses. Despite the chaos, Abraham Lincoln insisted that the construction of the United States Capitol continue throughout the war.