Civil War

Infernal Machines

On a misty night in October of 1863, the aptly named David, a small Confederate torpedo boat, set out to slay the much larger Union vessel, the New Ironsides. The David was the first important steam-powered...

Lincoln’s Life Masks

Abraham Lincoln had two "life masks" created--one in 1860 before the Civil War began and the other in 1865, when the war was ending. The masks were made to preserve what he really...

Sojourner Truth & Talking to Ashes

Sojourner Truth was once told that if she dared to preach, the building where she spoke would be burned. The famous abolitionist responded, "Then I will speak to the ashes." You gotta love it. This past...

No Small Feat–A Daring Civil War Escape

In the very early hours of May 13, 1862, a slave named Robert Smalls decided to make his move. Smalls had worked his way up to becoming a wheelman--a pilot--and the Confederates used him to...

The Confederate Death Trap

One hundred and fifty years ago this week, on February 17, 1864, a Confederate submarine made the first successful attack in history, sinking the USS Housatonic while trying to break the Federal blockade during...

Baseball, 1860 Style

Whenever I came off the field after a day playing vintage baseball, my hands were often stinging something fierce. That's because we played by 1860 rules, which meant NO GLOVES. And since I played...

Finding a More Complicated Lincoln

Edna Greene Medford became a historian at a time when the legacy of Abraham Lincoln had lost some of its luster in the African American community. So she said she never had any plans to...

The Myth of Black Confederates

My two worlds converged recently. In my world as a writer for the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, I recently did a story about the "Myth of Black Confederates"--a subject that...

What Was the Real Lincoln League?

Timothy Webster, the most famous spy during the first year of the Civil War, first encountered the Lincoln League when he was taken to a secluded hideout in the woods. He was taken there...

‘The Lincoln League’ Off the Press

Print copies of the The Lincoln League are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sources. It's also available as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, and iBook. The Lincoln League is based on the...