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

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.


United States


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.






059 - Connecting The Coasts: The Building Of The Transcontinental Railroad

About this episode: 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. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Grenville M. Dodge Theodore D. Judah Leland Stanford Thomas "Doc"...


058 - Breaking The Chains: The Passage Of The 13th Amendment

About this episode: 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. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Horace Greeley Lyman Trumbull Edward...


057 - Jefferson Davis: First and Final Confederate President

About this episode: 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 lost the war, Southern-born David Potter, a professor of history at...


056 - Abraham Lincoln: Commander-In-Chief

About this episode: 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 lead the that eastern army. The Pennsylvanian, Meade,...


055 - Bound To Duty: The Post-War Life Of Robert E. Lee

About this episode: 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 house at 707 East Franklin. There, he dismounted Traveller, gave...


054 - ”The River of Death”: The Battle Of Chickamauga

About this episode: 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 it. This is the story of the second bloodiest day of the...


053 - The Hero And The Humorist: The Friendship of U.S. Grant and Mark Twain

About this episode: 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. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Ferdinand Ward William Henry Vanderbilt Richard Watson...


052 - ”Let Us Have Peace”: The Post-War Life Of U.S. Grant

About this episode: 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 elected office. A man, who in many ways, found his political...


051 - ”Beat To Quarters!”: The C.S.S Alabama

About this episode: It was a Sunday, January 11, 1863 when the incredible tedium of blockade duty suddenly lurched into frenzied electricity. Five Federal Navy blockaders off Galveston, Texas had sighted a three-masted ship and, although it was some twenty miles from the fleet, the five-gun USS Hatteras moved to investigate. At about 100 yards, Lt. Commander Homer C. Blake demanded the mystery ship’s identity. In response, someone answered, “This is Her Britannic Majesty’s steamer Petrel.”...


050 - Lee’s Finest Hour: Chancellorsville

About this episode: In mid-April of 1863, Major General Joseph Hooker oozed with confidence. So assured was he about his offensive preparations to defeat and, in his mind, destroy the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, he remarked to a group of his officers, "My plans are perfect, and when I start to carry them out, may God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none." This is not the story of Joseph Hooker's greatest success, but that of the man he faced. For our 50th podcast, this...


049 - Concealed Stories: Sex in the American Civil War

*Listener discretion advised* About this episode: There have been more works written on the American Civil War than there have been days since it ended, and the number of topics can be overwhelming. However, one aspect of the military experience has largely been overlooked. Hidden from families and posterity, a topic as timeless as war itself. This episode: sex and the American Civil War. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - AKA Lewis...


048 - The Trent Affair

About this episode: James Murray Mason was a Virginian. As a former member of the U.S. Senate, he once served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. His credentials made him a natural selection for a diplomatic mission to London as a representative for the Confederate States of America. Then there was John Slidell, a native New Yorker, who moved to Louisiana where, as a young man, he embraced the French language and culture. He, too, was perfect for his assignment to...


047 - ”Into the Belly of the Beast” - Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign

About this episode: In July of 1863, Major General Henry Halleck posed a question to a fellow Major General, one who was encamped along the Big Black River down in Mississippi. Asked about the continued depth of Confederate resistance after the fall of Vicksburg, William Tecumseh Sherman answered that he felt Confederate belligerence would continue until southerners were made to suffer for a conflict he firmly believed they started. As he put it, “war is upon us, none can deny it. I would...


046 - Reaping the Whirlwind: Sherman’s March to the Sea - Part 2

About this episode: On Wednesday, November 16, 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman initiated a campaign that, as one military publication would put it, was either “one of the most brilliant or one of the most foolish things ever performed by a military leader.” Only eight days after Abraham Lincoln was re-elected, some 62,000 left behind a smoldering Atlanta and headed east for Savannah. As Sherman put it, “My first object was…to place my army in the very heart of Georgia.” And,...


045 - Reaping the Whirlwind: Sherman‘s March to the Sea - Part 1

About this episode: In the same month that Abraham Lincoln was re-elected, Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman began a campaign that cut a swath through the very heart of Dixie. Severing his supply line and committed to living off the country, he hoped to break the will of Southern resistance and knock Georgia out of the war. This episode, Part I, details the military chessboard that was late summer and fall of 1864 - the moves and calculations that had to occur in order to breathe life...


044 - Five Fateful Hours: The Battle of Franklin

About this episode: Major-General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was a native of the green jewel that is Ireland and commanded a division in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. For his military prowess, he was tabbed the “Stonewall of the West”, yet the warrior was often reserved and sentimental. That surfaced the day before the Battle of Franklin when he and his adjutant paused in a little village named Ashwood. There they found St. John’s Episcopal Church. Small and quaint, it was nestled in a...


043 - The ”Rock”, The ”Sledge”: George Henry Thomas

About this episode: While most history enthusiasts are aware that Virginia was the leading theater of the war, many of those same people are surprised when they learn that Tennessee was second. Indeed, the Western Theater of the American Civil War is shamefully neglected, despite the fact that it was in that theater where battles were fought and won that mortally wounded the Confederacy. The Battle of Nashville in December of 1864 was, perhaps, the most significant in helping to bring the...


042 - The Southern Home Front

About this episode: While actual combat was, indeed, nightmarish, being at home - helpless, constantly wondering about loved ones, fending for one’s selves - proved to be equally harrowing. That particularly was the case in the American South - the Confederacy - which served as the primary stage for the four-year-long conflict. And so we return to those eleven seceded states whose political leaders sought independence but, instead, sowed the seeds and reaped the whirlwind for Southern...


041 - The Northern Home Front

About this episode: While fighting raged at the front, loved ones back home waged their own battles. While worried about those in uniform, each day brought the additional burden of trying to cope with and find meaning to the all-consuming consequences of civil war. Here: the efforts, the people, and personalities of those on the Northern home front. ----more---- Some Characters Mentioned In This Episode: Clement L. Vallandigham Salmon Chase Andrew Carnegie John D....


040 - July 3, 1863 - Climax - The Third Day at Gettysburg

About this episode: In 1948, the Southern novelist, William Faulkner, wrote in Intruder in the Dust, ”For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand...