On July 1, 1878, the United States War Department hired Marcus J. Wright (1831-1922) a former Confederate brigadier general from Tennessee, as an agent to help collect records relating to the Civil War. Wright sent a copy of the circular announcing the appointment to his former commander-in-chief, Jefferson Davis, who responded with this letter on July 18, 1878.
Some editors called it the “great obscuration,” but despite the lighthearted superstition, Americans were extremely well informed about the total eclipse of October 19, 1865.
Ancient and early modern astronomers had long ago developed the principles used to predict solar and lunar eclipses and by the 1800s, American scientists could describe in great detail the timing and path of “obscurations.”
The most popular subjects of sketches by Civil War soldiers were their camps – no doubt a product of the amount of time they spent in those camps. Highlighted here are two such sketches from the Museum’s collections: a simple pencil and ink sketch of a simple camp at Neil’s Dam, Virginia, 1861, by Pvt. Kennedy Palmer of Company H, 13th Virginia Infantry, and a more elaborate sketch of the more elaborate winter quarters of an artillery battalion in Albemarle County, Virginia, 1863-1864.
One of the things we try to do as the education and interpretive staff at the American Civil War Museum is make sure our visitors understand how war affects everyone. It is not just soldiers that get caught up in the onslaught of war. Civilians too can find their lives drastically changed. One such person during the American Civil War was Mary O’Melia.
By Patrick Saylor
Director, Marketing Communication
Old homes hold many stories within their walls, and the house at 12th and Clay Streets in Richmond is no exception. As the residence of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861-1865, the White House was the scene of many conversations and interactions, both public and private, among family members, free and enslaved servants, and visitors.