The siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi by Union forces under Major General Ulysses S. Grant began 150 years ago on May 18, 1863. Confederates forces would surrender the fortress city after 40 days, effectively yielding control of the Mississippi River to the Union.
Map of the Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., By the U. S. Forces Under the Command of Maj. Genl. U. S. Grant, U. S. Vls., Maj. F. E. Prime, Chief Engr. Surveyed and constructed under direction of Capt. C. B. Comstock, U.S. Engrs., and Lt. Col. J. H. Wilson, A. I. Genl. 1st Lt., Engrs….Drawn by Chs. Spangenberg, Asst. Engr., 08/20/1863
Photograph of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson
Accidentally shot by his own troops following the Battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Robert E. Lee’s “right arm”, died of complications from his injury on May 10, 1863.
150 years ago the Battle of Chancellorsville pitted the Union Army of the Potomac, under Major General Joseph Hooker, against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee. Lee decided to divide his forces in the face of a larger Union army, which resulted in a major Confederate victory, Lee’s “perfect battle”. Despite having a reputation as an aggressive division commander, Hooker’s failure to take the initiative during the engagement lost him not only the battle but also President Lincoln’s confidence and he was replaced soon afterwards as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
- Map of Field of Occupation, Army of the Potomac, [from Dumfries south to Port Royal and west to Chancellorsville]. Prepared by order of Gen. Hooker from reconnoisances made under Capt. R. S. Williamson, Lt. N. Bowen, Gen. D. P. Woodbury, and others. From the Civil Works Map File
- Wilderness, near Chancellorsville, Va, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865. From the Matthew Brady Photographs series.
Another Submission for #NationalParksWeek!
— Michael (@georgiadog)
Happy DC Emancipation Day!
DC Emancipation Act (by usnationalarchives)
Predating the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the District of Columbia Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862, freeing enslaved persons in Washington, DC and ending “the national shame” of slavery in the nation’s capital. Unlike the later terms of the Emancipation Proclamation, slave owners in DC were compensated by the U.S. Treasury Department.
In this Inside the Vaults video short, Documentary Archivist Damani Davis discusses the petitions filed by owners and slaves under the Act and the details they reveal about the enslaved African-American community at the time. Archivist Robert Ellis explains how the process worked.
Learn more about the DC Emancipation Act and the journey to Emancipation in the new free eBook from the National Archives: The Meaning and Making of Emancipation, in ePub, iBook and Scribd formats.
“This is the private box in Ford’s Theater, Washington, where President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, on the night of April 14, 1865. “
For another perspective on that evening, see the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police blotter of April 14, 1865.
“‘Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer.’
The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat for his picture.”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 4/2/1863
This 1863 photograph of “Peter,” a former slave displaying scars from his overseer’s whippings, was widely reproduced as evidence of slavery’s cruelty. The image was sometimes paired with a photo or drawing of “Peter” after his enlistment in the U.S. Army. “Peter” was sometimes identified as “Gordon.”
During their presidencies, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis suffered the death of a child—a not uncommon event for most American parents in the 19th century. Starting with the death of Willie Lincoln in 1862 and the tragic accident that befell Joseph Davis in 1864, Catherine Clinton explores Victorian mourning and the embrace of rituals of grief and symbols of remembrance during the Civil War.
Join us at noon on March 29 in the McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, or watch online at our Ustream channel.
Image: Abraham Lincoln and his youngest son Tad (ARC 52628). While Lincoln was President, Tad’s older brother Willie—the middle child—died of typhoid fever while living in the White House. Tad himself died at age 18 in Chicago in 1871. Only the oldest son, Robert, lived to adulthood.
Letter from Brigadier General W. Sooy Smith to the Commander of the 1st Division of the 16th Army Corps. 3/27/1863
After the Emancipation Proclamation, the stream of slaves running to freedom swelled to a flood. Gen. W. Sooy Smith, who commanded Union troops in Tennessee, faced a dilemma. Men loyal to the Union wanted their property returned. But Smith’s orders were to refuse such requests. This letter asks how to avoid “the charge of furnishing Asylum to the Servants of loyal men.” The War Department usually advised that runaways be employed by the Army.
The Battle of Hampton Roads began March 8, 1862 when the newly-launched Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia (built on the hull of the former USS Merrimac) engaged the USS Congress and USS Cumberland, defeating the two conventional wooden vessels.
Also shown is an excerpt of a first-hand account by Rear Admiral Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr. At the time of the battle, Selfridge was a lieutenant in command of a gun division aboard the Cumberland.
The Sinking of the Cumberland by the Iron Clad Merrimac, off Newport News, Virginia, March 8th, 1862. Cumberland went down with all her Flags flying: destroyed but not conquered. Copy of lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1862.
(Ed. note: As a rare personal aside, my great-great grandfather served as a Marine aboard the Congress and was wounded during the battle. Luckily he survived, although the injuries troubled him long afterwards, according to his pension records. -D.)
Enlistment paper of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody from his compiled military service record, 7th Kansas Cavalry, Civil War., 02/19/1864
They have the art, we have the documents!
Join us for a fascinating discussion on Thursday, February 7, at 7 p.m.
Eleanor Jones Harvey, chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and Michael Hussey, historian at the National Archives, will use images from the exhibit “The Civil War and American Art” at SAAM to explore the connections between these works of art and records from the National Archives.
Rex M. Ellis, associate director for curatorial affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderates a panel that includes Ira Berlin, professor of history at the University of Maryland.
The program is free! Enter through the “Special Events” extrance on Constitution Avenue. Take the Green/Yellow Metro lines to the “Archives” stop.
Image: Courtesy of SAAM’s exhibition “The Civil War and American Art.” Eastman Johnson, “A Ride for Liberty—The Fugitive Slaves,” March 2, 1862, oil on board, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. The Paul Mellon Collection, Photo: Katherine Wetzel, © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Thirteenth Amendment, passed by Congress on January 31, 1865:
The news of the Emancipation Proclamation was greeted with joy, but it did not free all the slaves. Because of the limitations of the proclamation, and because it depended on a Union military victory, President Lincoln knew the Emancipation Proclamation would have to be followed by a constitutional amendment.
After the Senate passed a bill for an amendment in April 1864, but the House of Representatives did not, Lincoln suggested that the bill be taken up by the Republican Party in its 1864 platform for the upcoming Presidential elections.
His efforts met with success when the House passed the bill in January 1865. On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. The necessary number of states ratified it by December 6, 1865.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution formally abolished slavery in the United States. It provides that ”Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Image: Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 01/31/1865–01/31/1865; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789–2008; General Records of the United States Government, 1778–2006, Record Group 11; National Archives (National Archives Identifier: 1408764)