The OAH Magazine of History

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Civil War at 150: Mobilizing for War

April 2012
Volume 26, No. 2

from the editor

Judith Carter Henry at the Crossroads, by Carl R. Weinberg

On the morning of July 21, 1861, Confederate sharpshooters took over Judith Carter Henry’s house. Located on the family estate of her late husband, Dr. Isaac Henry, a U.S. Naval officer, the “Spring Hill” house sat atop Henry Hill, a gently sloping rise located in a tiny, unincorporated patch of land in Prince William County, Virginia called Manassas Junction, named for two railroad lines that crossed there. Since dawn that day, tens of thousands of Union and Confederate troops had been clashing over a series of bridges and fords on a small local creek called Bull Run. And now the action had shifted to Henry Hill, where the outcome of the first major land battle of the Civil War would be decided. Read online >


Teaching and Un-Teaching Civil War Mobilization,
by Carol Sheriff
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Civil War Mobilizations,
by Louis P. Masur and J. Ronald Spencer
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Some of Them Also Served: White Civilians and Mobilization During the Civil War,
by Joan E. Cashin
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“Touched with Fire”: Uncommon Soldiers of the Civil War,
by Joseph T. Glatthaar
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Noncombatant Military Laborers in the Civil War,
by Thavolia Glymph
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Teaching Civil War Mobilization with Film,
by Kevin M. Levin
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Teaching Civil War Mobilization with Online Primary Sources,
by Anne E. Ward
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Teaching Civil War Mobilization with Historic Sites,
by James P. Whittenburg
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on the cover

“Bull Run, Va. Federal Cavalry at Sudley Ford,” July 21, 1861 (Photograph by George N. Barnard; Courtesy of Library of Congress)

On the morning of July 21, 1861, two boys in military dress watch as Union cavalry troops under the command of Major I. N. Palmer prepare to cross Carpathin Creek at Sudley Springs Ford, on the outskirts of Manassas Junction, Virginia. The boys are joined by two younger counterparts—possibly their sisters—one of whom eyes the photographer; the other girl seems unconcerned with the events taking place around her. Palmer’s cavalry formed the advance guard of the Union Army of Northeastern Virginia, commanded by Brigadier General Irwin McDowell, who hoped to turn the left flank of Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard’s Confederate forces at Manassas, secure an approach south- ward by rail to Richmond, the Confederate capital, and force an early end to the war. The Union provided its troops with horses; Confederate cavalrymen had to supply their own. A precious war mobilization resource, horses carried soldiers and hauled supplies, including artillery pieces that could weigh more than a ton. The presence in this photograph of both soldiers and local area residents—including young boys playing at war—reminds us of the ways that “civilian” and “military” spheres intersected and could become indistinguishable as the nation mobilized for the bloody conflict.