Threads From The National Tapestry: Stories From The American Civil War

Threads From The National Tapestry: Stories From The American Civil War

History is, indeed, a story. With his unique voice and engaging delivery, historian and veteran storyteller Fred Kiger will help the compelling stories of the American Civil War come alive in each and every episode. Filled with momentous issues and repercussions that still resonate with us today, this series will feature events and people from that period and will strive to make you feel as if you were there.

Episodes

February 23, 2024 70 mins

About this episode: 

When exercising power, the 16th President’s stocky and sphinxlike Secretary of War could demonstrate a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Personally honest, he could be unforgiving and given to histrionics when he thought them necessary. And again, when required, warm hearted, selfless and patriotic. In charge of the Union’s land-based operations, he made tough decisions and did so with little regard for those affec...

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For most of us, our mental snapshot of 19th-century battlefield medicine is captured when Union Major General Carl Schurz recorded a ghastly scene at Gettysburg: “There stood the surgeons, their sleeves rolled up to their elbows … [One] surgeon snatched his knife from between his teeth …, wiped it rapidly once or twice across his bloodstained apron, and the cutting began. The operation accomplished, the surgeo...

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December 26, 2023 69 mins

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Back in December of 2018, we told the story of an engagement that took place along the banks of the Rappahannock and detailed events that took place afterwards.  Now, five years later, we return to that story but with greater detail, and the addition of first person accounts.  Once again, we would like to take you back to November and December 1862, when yet another Federal commander wanted Richmond but, in or...

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By 1864, a desperate Confederacy realized it must resort to desperate measures.  Measures not only confined to land battles and trying to break the Union blockade, but the procuring and use of commerce raiders which would scour the oceans to wreak havoc on the North’s vast merchant marine.  Anything to create economic hardship. Anything to doom Abraham Lincoln’s chances for reelection.  This is the story of on...

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The Native Americans referred to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley as “Daughter of the Stars.” Yet, both the Federal Union and the Confederacy knew it to be the “Breadbasket of Virginia” - and that made it a theater for military operations. Both sides very aware of “Stonewall” Jackson’s assessment in 1862, “If the Valley is lost, then Virginia is lost.” Played out in 1864, this is the story of the dramatic ebb and ...

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This time around, a different delivery, a different approach. Rather than anecdotes and stories from a biography, battle or campaign, this time a series of facts, figures, theories and themes that set the stage for waging civil war. This session: Strategy, Tactics, Arms and Technology - a basis for understanding why our civil conflict was so long and so costly.

                        

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Some Charac...

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It was over 140 years ago that the American Red Cross was founded. Though most know its founder, few know the details of her lifetime of charity, sacrifice and service. This is an attempt to correct that. This is the story of an American pioneer - an American hero. This is the story of Clara Barton.

                        

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Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode:

Charles Sumner

Frances Gage

Dor...

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In the first days of the American Civil War, Winfield Scott, the then 74-year-old Union General-in-Chief, advised a strategy that he believed was key in putting down the Southern rebellion.  Derisively tabbed the “Anaconda” Plan, Scott believed: one, the Border States had to be held and used as avenues for invasion; two, Southern ports should be blockaded and, third, to split the Confederacy, the Mississippi R...

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June 30, 2023 61 mins

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It was January 1872. In Lexington, Virginia and on the campus of recently re-named Washington and Lee College, former Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early was on a mission: a mission to venerate Robert E. Lee, and to give Southerners a positive spin on their defeat - not only to address the recent past, but to arm them and their descendants with, as he and his disciples put it, a “correct” narra...

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It was May 1864 and Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign was underway. After two days of violence in the Wilderness and a swing to the southeast, weary men from the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac found themselves eyeball to eyeball yet again. The fighting to come: savage, up close, personal, hand to hand. The consequences: bloody, even ghastly. This is the story of the most vicious episo...

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The United States Military Academy has a long and distinguished history. Established in 1802, its stated mission continues to be “to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.” Six...

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It was March of 1865 and the men under William Tecumseh Sherman had punched their way into North Carolina. In this, the Carolinas Campaign, over 60,000 battle-hardened veterans marched, as they had since they left Atlanta, in two columns. To confront the blue surge, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston boldly planned to throw some 21,000 men upon one of the isolated Federal wings. And so would be fought, on ...

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It was early 1863 and in the very midst of a civil war that challenged the continued existence of the Union, an event that looked to its future.   Indeed, a daunting enterprise – the breaking of ground for the Central Pacific Railroad.  This is the story of a great undertaking.  This is the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad.

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Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode:

Grenvil...

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Shockingly brief given the lives lost, cost, and national trauma, but the American Civil War’s two greatest significances are that the nation was preserved and that slavery was ended. This is the story of a major step in ridding this country's association with “the peculiar institution.” This is the story of the labored steps for the passage of the 13th Amendment.

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Some Characters Mentioned In Th...

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There are some sixteen accounts about the life of the President of the Confederacy. Unlike his counterpart, Abraham Lincoln, this President, from the perspective of most historians, has not fared well.  Brittle, ill-tempered, one who held grudges, possessed poor political skills.  In short, a second-rate leader who loved bureaucracy and was unable to grow with responsibility.  When asked why the Confederacy lo...

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November 28, 2022 72 mins

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It was a Thursday, March 10, 1864, when the brand-spanking new General-in-Chief of all US forces arrived at Brandy Station, Virginia where Major General George Gordon Meade made his headquarters. Fully aware the most pressing military matter was for the Army of the Potomac to forcefully campaign, Lieutenant General U. S. Grant arrived from Washington City to do what he believed he had to do - find a new man to...

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The former Confederate general entered the ruined city of Richmond from the south and in the midst of a heavy April shower.  His route took him through the portion of city that was most thoroughly burned in the evacuation fires of April 2nd.  People stopped and stared or pointed as he made his way up Main Street.  To them, he tipped his hat. Eventually, he turned and stopped in front of a three-story red brick...

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Just some fifteen miles south of Chattanooga - there in the northwest corner of Georgia - there runs a creek with a harsh name.  Indeed, its Cherokee or Creek origin means “River of Death.”  That name was never more appropriate than in mid-September 1863 when Union and Confederate armies fought as if the entire war hinged on its outcome.  In the end, it may well have, for all the circumstances that flowed from...

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The two were quite famous. One went to war with weapons and men, and the other could do the same with words and wit - yet their separate paths became one. During this country’s great and terrible civil war, U. S. Grant saved the nation. After the war, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) would save U. S. Grant. This is the story of their remarkable friendship.

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Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode:

F...

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Since its creation, this nation has so embraced several of its victorious generals that it elected them as presidents.  Up until the American Civil War, most notably George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor come to mind.  This, in the aftermath of war, is the story of another - a man who, like the president he served, came from the humblest of origins and found himself in this nation’s highest elec...

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