Civil War

Burnsides’ Sideburns

Thank General Burnsides for the word "sideburns." General Ambrose Burnsides was a Union general during the Civil War known for his facial hair, which came down the sides of his face and connected with his...

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...

‘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...

The Nastiest Fence in the United States

The fence you see in these photos has to be the wickedest looking fence I have ever laid eyes upon. It is perhaps the most dangerous non-electrified fence in the country. My wife and I...

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...

Wilmer’s War

The Civil War Followed Him From Beginning to End "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor," said Wilmer McLean. And he was right. The First Battle of Bull Run on...

The Civil War in Living Color

During the past month, I have been doing research on the wet-plate photographic method, also known as the collodion process. This early photographic process was introduced in the 1850s, and by the time the...

A Shocking First Battle

No one expected the American Civil War to last very long. Senator James Chestnut of South Carolina even boasted that he would be able to drink all of the blood spilled during the brief...

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 Lincoln League’ Available as E-Book!

You can now purchase my new novel, The Lincoln League, in e-book formats--Kindle, iBook, and Nook. The Lincoln League is inspired by the true story of John Scobell, one of the first African American spies for...