September 17, 2001
Fall Issue of Prologue Reveals New insights into America's Civil War
America's Civil War in 1861-65 is usually remembered for the battles that Union and Confederate forces fought at places such as Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh as well as the famous generals who directed the armies of the North and the South: Grant and Sherman, Lee and Jackson.
Often overlooked in histories of the Civil War were accounts of how the war was fought on the waters, especially along the Eastern Seaboard. A special report in the Fall 2001 issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration discusses how the Union fought the war on the Atlantic.
"The navy indeed provided Uncle Sam with what Lincoln called 'web feet.' But 'Uncle Sam's web feet' were in some ways 'forgotten' because the Union leadership failed to formulate a continuing strategy. With some semblance of a progressive military strategy, the greatly superior naval forces could have made a quicker and more substantial contribution to Confederate defeat," writes Robert M. Browning Jr. in an article "Defunct Strategy and Divergent Goals." Browning is chief historian for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Browning's article is one of three in the Fall Prologue on the naval aspects of the Civil War. Joseph P. Reidy, professor of history at Howard University, in "Black Men in Navy Blue During the Civil War," writes about how the story of African American sailors during the Civil War was different from African Americans who were soldiers. Kevin J. Foster, chief of the National Maritime Heritage Program of the National Park Service, tells about how a small group of dedicated government employees in the State Department worked to prevent the Confederacy from acquiring all the ships it needed to fight the Union navy.
The three articles grew out of an annual Civil War symposium co-sponsored by the Great Lakes Region of NARA in Chicago and several Chicago institutions.
For more than 30 years, Prologue has shared with readers the rich resources and programs of the National Archives, its regional archives, and the Presidential libraries. From the First Continental Congress to the conflict in Vietnam, Prologue tells the story behind the story, revealing many intriguing and little-known details from our nation's past. In every issue, there are thought-provoking and entertaining articles-based on research in the National Archives' magnificent holdings-written by noted historians, archivists, and experts recognized in their fields. The Washington Post said, "Prologue . . . can be regarded quite literally as an invitation for further study. It is also consistently absorbing reading."
The Fall issue of Prologue contains several other articles of interest:
- In "Eisenhower and the Red Menace," Michael J. Birkner, Benjamin Franklin Professor of Liberal Arts at Gettysburg College, describes the strategy President Dwight D. Eisenhower used during the 1950s in combatting Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for communists in the government.
- In "Genealogy Notes," NARA staffer Michael F. Knight examines records of a Freedmen's Bureau experiment in "The Rost Home Colony, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana."
- In the "Spotlight on NARA" feature, the work of the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, which NARA chairs, is described. The IWG is charged with declassifying as much as possible of U.S. government records about war criminals and crimes committed by the Nazis and their allies, including the Japanese.
You can view selected past articles from Prologue at its web site at http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/.
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