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

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

History Podcasts


United States






25 - Assassination from the Bottom of the Sea - The Hunley

About this episode: At the beginning of the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America were faced with creating an army and, even more daunting, a navy. Starting essentially from scratch, it needed warships to defend ports and harbors, and a merchant marine to establish desperately needed trade with foreign nations. Mr. Lincoln ordered a blockade to negate both objectives, and in response, southern political and military administrators turned to radical naval design and...


24 - Misery at Murfreesboro - the Battle of Stones River

About this episode: For Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the summer and fall of 1862 was a veritable roller coaster ride of emotion, from glimmering hope to hand-wringing despair. For Davis, the Confederate summer offensive may well have been the South’s greatest chance for foreign recognition - but by the end of October, that moment had passed. For Lincoln, far too cautious and deliberate generals allowed retreating Confederate armies to escape from Maryland and Kentucky. Both...


23 - Chattanooga - Part 2

About this episode: The Union commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, was beside himself. In the northwestern corner of Georgia, there had been defeat and near-disaster back in September of 1863. There, along the banks of Chickamauga Creek, and now in November, the real possibility of yet another reversal at Chattanooga. Besieged by Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee, Major General U.S. Grant was called in to resurrect sinking morale and restore hope. He corrected the former with...


22 - Chattanooga - Part 1

About this episode: It was fall in the year 1863. Much had changed since the summer. Back in July, a doomed assault on Cemetery Ridge meant Confederate defeat at Gettysburg - and now, back in central Virginia, Lee and Meade’s armies sparred. That same July, Vicksburg fell, and the Mississippi River became a federal highway. Yet the Confederacy’s heartland was still a beating bastion of defiance. That’s why Abraham Lincoln wanted to drive into eastern Tennessee. That’s why he wanted a major...


21 - "I Wish I Could Forget Myself" - Mary Ann Todd Lincoln

About this episode: Three of her four children did not live to adulthood, and her husband was assassinated while he held her hand. If anyone ever deserved to be troubled, it was the wife of the sixteenth president. James Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois said simply: “She had the most tragic public life in American history.” This is the story of the woman who once said, “I wish I could forget myself.” This is...


20 - In The Shadows: Spies, Raiders, and Intelligence Gathering

About this episode: During the American Civil War, great drama was not exclusive to just the battlefield. There were many instances when what took place behind the lines, or behind enemy lines, was just as engaging and significant. Those instances bring life to the men and women who operated in the shadows, who dared to infiltrate and risk all in the process. These are the stories of selected spies, raiders, and military analysts. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This...


19 - "Mighty Events Are On The Wing" - Second Manassas

About this episode: In the light of Union frustration after the unsuccessful Peninsula Campaign failed to take Richmond, and the Confederacy’s Seven Days Campaign which repelled the Union Army of the Potomac, the North’s military powers-that-be surrendered something they would regret: the strategic initiative. This is the story of what Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia did with it. In a dramatic turnaround in the Eastern Theater, we return to ground through which ran a stream...


18 - "Hell Has Busted" - The Battle Of The Crater

About this episode: It was the fourth summer of the war, and Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign had sledgehammered its way down to Petersburg, Virginia. It had been a campaign that had bled both blue and grey armies white. There, east of town, under oppressive heat and humidity that walks hand-in-hand with the month of July, a daring plan unfolded - which, if successful, might end the war. Instead, it added to the slaughter. This is the story of an engineering marvel - a tunnel. This is...


17 - "His Name Might Be Audacity" - The Seven Days Campaign

About this episode: In March of 1862, Major General George B. McClellan began to land his massive army on the Virginia peninsula, created by the York and James Rivers. Its objective: Richmond. That army got as close as 4-5 miles, close enough to set their time pieces to the ringing church bells of the Confederate capital. Then, on the 31st of May and the 1st of June, there were two messy, inconclusive days of battle. One of the casualties was a significant one: Confederate General Joseph E....


16 - Hell On Earth: The Battle Of The Wilderness

About this episode: Since the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, the two, George Gordon Meade and Robert E. Lee, and their respective armies had shadowboxed down in Central Virginia. The sparring continued throughout the fall and winter, but in spring, there was a new federal presence, and he meant business. General-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant now wore a third star; the first true lieutenant general since George Washington, and rather than be mired in political intrigue in the capital, he...


15 - Shiloh

About this episode: It was April of 1862, and the war was just about to enter its second year. The beginning of that year had been a bleak one for the Confederacy. In February, Fort Henry, Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and Fort Donelson all fell. Now there were invasion routes into "The Old North State," the interior of Tennessee, and the very heartland of the Confederacy. In the first week of March, Missouri was for all practical purposes lost to the confederacy thanks to Union victory...


14 - "With Malice Toward None" - Lincoln's Greatest Speech

About this episode: The Associated Press reported the address would be brief. The day of the speech, Saturday, March 4th, 1865 dawned with steady rain. Streets oozed with mud. Like a shroud, fog wrapped its gray arms around the city. At 11:40 that morning, the rain suddenly ended. The clouds began to part, and finally, on a wooden platform before the east portico of the Capitol, the 16th president was introduced. He arose from his chair, put on his steel-rimmed eyeglasses, and stepped...


13 - Thunder On The Rivers Tennessee And Cumberland: Forts Henry And Donelson

About this episode: At 750,000 square miles, the Confederacy was huge, and to put down the rebellion, Mr. Lincoln's armies had to go on the offensive. They would have to be the aggressor. It was a daunting task; even more so in the Confederate West where there existed poor transportation and communication networks. Known early on as The Western Department or Department Number Two, three major rivers offered invasion avenues into the heartland of the south: The Mississippi, Tennessee, and...


12 - The Gibraltar Of The Confederacy - Fort Fisher

About this episode: By late December of 1864, dark waters were closing over the Confederacy. Back in August, David Farragut's fleet successfully bottled up Mobile Bay. Two months later, up in the Shenandoah, federal victory at Cedar Creek opened the valley to fire and desolation. In November, William Sherman marched his army across Georgia, and as he entered Savannah in December, he envisioned a similar path of destruction north through the Carolinas. That same month, over in Tennessee,...


11 - Fredericksburg And The Winter Of 1862-'63

About this episode: Fredericksburg, Virginia was a little town with a long history. It was here that a young George Washington roamed. And, there were others of national fame who once made this locale home; John Paul Jones and James Monroe. But during civil war, its location made it, some 51 miles north of Richmond and 52 miles south of Washington City, a military target. On November 7, 1862, some forty miles or so to the northwest, there was an event that, when played out, would put...


10 - Mr. Lincoln Goes To Gettysburg

About this episode: This is the story of a man and his words. It begins in the aftermath of bloody consequences that emanated from the first three days in July, 1863. This is the story of Mr. Lincoln's trip to Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: George Gordon Meade Robert E. Lee Herman Haupt Alexander Gardner Timothy O'Sullivan Alfred R. Waud Matthew Brady David Wills Edward Everett Mary Todd Lincoln Other...


9 - The Ram Of The Roanoke - The CSS Albemarle

About this episode: This is the story of the Ram Of Roanoke - The CSS Albemarle, an ironclad constructed not in a shipyard, but incredibly, in a Halifax County, North Carolina corn field. It would completely reshape Federal strategic plans in North Carolina, Virginia, and the entire Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Stephen Russell Mallory John L. Porter John M. Brooke Ambrose E. Burnside Gilbert Elliott James W....


8 - Sheer Unadulterated Violence: The Battle Of Antietam

About this episode: This is the story of the Battle of Sharpsburg, of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in the history of this nation. It was an engagment that moved popular historian Bruce Catton to write that September 17, 1862 was a day of sheer, unadulterated violence. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Bruce Catton George B. McClellan General Edmund Kirby-Smith Braxton Bragg Charles Francis Adams Jefferson Davis James Longstreet D.H. Hill Joseph...


7 - Little Mac: Letters From George B. McClellan

About this episode: It's been written that Helen of Troy possessed "the face that launched a thousand ships." Well, may I introduce to you Ellen Marcy McClellan, the wife of Union MG George Brinton McClellan, who launched thousands of words. Her husband wrote to her daily, and through his letters, we know so much more than, perhaps, he ever intended for us to know. Excerpts of more than 250 of his letters to her were included by Geroge McClellan's literary executor, William C. Prime, in...


6 - The Plains Of Manassas

About this episode: In the first months after war began, both North and South mobilized. Men were needed to fill the ranks. In the North, the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, called for 75,000 three-month volunteers. Seeking excitement, adventure and certain this would be a short war, they came en masse. To them, politicians and the press, the war's strategy was simple, "On to Richmond." This is the story of how wrong they were. July 21, 1861 - a day when expected battlefield glory morphed...