During the Civil War, Americans observed an elaborate set of rules that governed their behavior following the death of a spouse or relative. After the loss of a husband, the widow was not to leave home without full mourning garb and weeping veil for one year and a day.

A Unionist circle of women in Atlanta was led by Vermonter Cyrena Stone. She and her pro-Union cohorts risked their lives to assist the escape of Union prisoners, to protect slaves, and to provide intelligence to General William Tecumseh Sherman's advancing army.

Survivor of the Worst U.S. Marine Disaster

Late in April of 1865, the Mississippi River stood at flood stage. Four years of war had ruined many levees, and the foaming water was over the banks for miles. More people died in the sinking of the steamboat Sultana than on the Titanic 47 years later, yet the tragic story is rarely mentioned in history books. Newspaper reports covered the latest event in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln: John Wilkes …Read More...

Wives Fought to Keep Families Together

Image: Unidentified African American soldier in Union Uniform with his wife in dress and hat and two daughters in matching coats and hats.

As the news of the attack on Fort Sumter spread, free black men hurried to enlist in the Union Army, but a 1792 Federal law barred African Americans from bearing arms for the United States. However, by the summer of 1862 the escalating number of former slaves and the pressing need …Read More...

Civil Unrest and Activism in the Confederate Capital

Image: North Carolina Emigrants: Poor White Folk, by James Henry Beard
During the Civil War, refugees like these traveled to Richmond hoping for a better life, but they only added to the overcrowding and lack of provisions that already existed there.

A group of working-class women gathered in Belvidere Hill Baptist Church in the Oregon Hill section of Richmond, Virginia on the evening of April 1, 1863. A few …Read More...

Daughter of Confederate General Robert E. Lee

The Lee daughters had impressive pedigrees. They were direct descendants of the aristocratic Lees of Virginia and England, as well as George and Martha Washington. Mrs. Robert E. Lee's father, George Washington Parke Custis, was the first president's adopted son and the man who established the 1,100-acre plantation called Arlington. Several years later, Custis built Arlington House (1817), the ancestral home of the Custises and Lees on the Potomac River overlooking Washington DC.