This Month in the Civil War – Fort Fisher Surrenders – by S. McBride

As William Tecumseh Sherman was offering the capture of the key Confederate city of Savannah, Georgia to President Abraham Lincoln as a “Christmas gift”, a combined amphibious Army and Navy force was engaged in an attempt to capture Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina. That was the only remaining Atlantic seaport accessible to blockade runners who were bringing in supplies to keep the rapidly-fading Confederate hopes of victory alive.

Read the entire article in the Jan. 15th issue of the Express.

This Month in the Civil War: Sherman Moves to Georgia – By S. McBride


  “Mine eyes have beheld the Promised Land!”

   So wrote Major James Connolly of the 123rd Illinois Infantry to his wife, describing the arrival of Union forces on a high bluff overlooking the second-most important city in the Confederate States of America – Atlanta, Georgia - in mid-July of 1864.

   The Union soldiers, on seeing the city, gave voice to a cheer that Major Connolly supposed might have been heard all the way to Atlanta.  Within moments, he said, Generals William T. Sherman and George Thomas had joined them on the overlook, gazing southward across the Chattahoochee River at the city in the distance.  Atlanta was a strategic city, a rail hub with foundries, factories, munitions plants and supply depots all very vital to the survival of the Confederacy. Its importance to the rebellious south could not be overstated, and the Confederates had encircled it with elaborate fortifications.


Read the entire article in the July 10th issue of the Express.

This Month in the Civil War – June, 1864 Cold Harbor to Petersburg- by S. McBride


The Union’s Army of the Potomac had suffered a terrible loss of men in May, 1864 in battles at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse, but General Ulysses S. Grant was committed to bringing the bloody and costly War Between the States to an end before the year ended. The Confederates had suffered considerable losses as well.  Grant’s plan to prevent Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from being reinforced as Grant moved his troops toward Richmond was to have diversions in other places. Union General Franz Sigel had fought forces under Confederate General John Breckinridge at New Market in the Shenandoah Valley in mid-May.  Greatly outnumbered, Breckinridge had called up cadets from the Virginia Military Institute, some of them boys as young as 15, and most of whom were killed or wounded.  But they defeated Sigel.

Read the entire article in the June 19th issue of the Express.


Battle of the Wilderness – Part 1 – by Sandy McBride


When Ulysses S Grant arrived at the encampment of the Army of the Potomac north of the Rapidan River in Virginia in May of 1864, he was eyed by the veteran soldiers now under his command with a degree of curiosity.  One officer, seeing the new supreme commander of all Union forces for the first time, commented that he was “stumpy, unmilitary, slouchy.”  Indeed, he was a short man, not stately in demeanor, and he tended to be a bit frumpy in his attire.  But the men who had faced defeat, retreat and failure time and again under more flamboyant generals noticed what many others had already noticed about Grant.  Said one soldier, “We all felt that at last that the boss had arrived.”


Read the entire article in the May 15th issue of the Express.

The Red River Campaign April 1864 – by Sandy McBride

Although Ulysses S. Grant’s army had won a crucial victory at Vicksburg in July of 1863, taking control of trade and travel on the Mississippi River for the Union, the Confederacy had maintained control of the Trans-Mississippi region to the west of the river.  They were able to continue trade through Texas and Mexico, selling cotton to the nations of Europe in exchange for guns, thereby keeping their efforts to gain their independence going.

Grant had been given control of all the Union armies in March, 1864, and he had a plan to end the War Between the States by November.  He would concentrate the bulk of Union forces in the east to go after Robert E. Lee in Virginia and Joseph E. Johnston in Georgia.  He would push them back and force them to give up the fight.

Read the entire article in the April 24th issue of the Express