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On April 19, 1861, the first blood of the American Civil War is shed when a secessionist mob in Baltimore attacks Massachusetts troops bound for Washington, D.C. Four soldiers and 12 rioters were killed.
One week earlier, on April 12, the Civil War began when Confederate shore batteries opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor. During a 34-hour period, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. The fort’s garrison returned fire, but lacking men, ammunition, and food, it was forced to surrender on April 13. There were no casualties in the fighting, but one federal soldier was killed the next day when a store of gunpowder was accidentally ignited during the firing of the final surrender salute. Two other federal soldiers were wounded, one mortally.
On April 15, President Abraham Lincoln issued a public proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to help put down the Southern “insurrection.” Northern states responded enthusiastically to the call, and within days the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was en route to Washington. On April 19, the troops arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, by train, disembarked, and boarded horse-drawn cars that were to take them across the city to where the rail line picked up again. Secessionist sympathy was strong in Maryland, a border state where slavery was legal, and an angry mob of secessionists gathered to confront the Yankee troops.
Hoping to prevent the regiment from reaching the railroad station, and thus Washington, the mob blocked the carriages, and the troops were forced to continue on foot. The mob followed close behind and then, joined by other rioters, surrounded the regiment. Jeering turned to brick and stone throwing, and several federal troops responded by firing into the crowd. In the ensuing mayhem, the troops fought their way to the train station, taking and inflicting more casualties. At the terminal, the infantrymen were aided by Baltimore police, who held the crowd back and allowed them to board their train and escape. Much of their equipment was left behind. Four soldiers and 12 rioters were killed in what is generally regarded as the first bloodshed of the Civil War.
Maryland officials demanded that no more federal troops be sent through the state, and secessionists destroyed rail bridges and telegraph lines to Washington to hinder the federal war effort. In May, Union troops occupied Baltimore, and martial law was declared. The federal occupation of Baltimore, and of other strategic points in Maryland, continued throughout the war. Because western Marylanders and workingmen supported the Union, and because federal authorities often jailed secessionist politicians, Maryland never voted for secession. Slavery was abolished in Maryland in 1864, the year before the Civil War’s end. Eventually, more than 50,000 Marylanders fought for the Union while about 22,000 volunteered for the Confederacy.
READ MORE: Civil War: Causes, Dates & Battles
CWT Book Review: Civil War’s First Blood
When Rebel forces led by P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in 1861, the Civil War began. Right? Wrong. Try 1854 in Missouri.
As James Denny and John Bradbury point out in The Civil War’s First Blood—Missouri 1854-1861, the turmoil and drastic action that precipitated the nation’s epic four-year struggle had become commonplace in the Show-Me State before the war’s start. In 1838, for instance, the government of Missouri declared war on the Mormons. Ten years later, as Missourians by the score joined in the war with Mexico, thousands of antislavery Germans fleeing the failed democratic revolution in their native lands arrived in the state, sparking more terror. (Missouri was a slave state, with laws that specified life imprisonment for anyone advocating abolition.) The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise, would trigger seven more years of devastating bloodshed leading up to Fort Sumter.
This tangled tale is ably told by two polished historians with a combined 50 years’ experience in the Missouri archives. The book includes 102 excellent illustrations—many in color—in addition to 12 first-rate maps.
Originally published in the June 2008 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.
Fort Sumter: How Civil War Began With a Bloodless Battle
A mule was its only fatality, but the Battle of Fort Sumter nevertheless led to the United States' deadliest war, as historian Mark Jenkins recounts.
During the winter of 1860-61, the citizens of Charleston (map), South Carolina, were so sure that no war would follow their recent move to secede from the United States of America that the fiery editor of the Charleston Mercury supposedly vowed to eat the bodies of all who might be slain as a result.
Not to be outdone, former U.S. Senator James Chesnut, Jr., promised to drink any blood spilled. After all, "a lady's thimble," as a common saying had it, "will hold all the blood that will be shed."
Perhaps the most visible reminder to Charlestonians of the U.S. government's dominion over them was in their harbor, where atop the lonely bulk of Fort Sumter the Stars and Stripes still flew (pictures of Fort Sumter before and during the Civil War).
The November election of the notably antislavery Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States had so angered seven slave-owning states that they had chosen to secede and form their own union. Roughly five months later, on April 12, 1861, decades of high-flown oratory were reduced to a struggle for that pile of brick and mortar.
(See National Geographic Traveler magazine's top ten U.S. Civil War sites.)
Fort Sumter in First Line of Defense
Fort Sumter was only one in a series of imposing masonry fortresses, decades in the building, which studded the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Maine to Texas.
The nation's single biggest public expenditure and traditionally its first lines of defense, these symbols of sovereignty once carried an aura of impregnability—from without, if not from within.
During the four months leading up to Lincoln's Inauguration, the seceding states, one after another, seized federal forts, arsenals, and customs houses within their borders.
There was little to oppose the breakaway forces, a caretaker and a guard or two comprising many of the garrisons. Most of the 16,000 or so regular Army soldiers had been posted to the western frontier to protect settlers against the perceived threat from American Indians.
On March 4, 1861, Lincoln was inaugurated, promising the seceding states that he would use force only "to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places" belonging to the federal government.
The stage was set for the inevitable showdown.
As of March, only four Southern forts were still under federal control. Two of them, Forts Taylor and Jefferson, were remote way stations in the Florida Keys. They would remain in government hands, useful as prisons and coaling stations throughout the four years of the coming Civil War.
The other two federal forts, however, became pawns in a game of war or peace.
The Civil War might as easily have erupted at Fort Pickens, outside Pensacola, Florida, as at Fort Sumter. Seen as easier to defend than smaller bastions nearby, both forts had been hastily garrisoned early in the secession crisis. (Read "Civil War Battlefields" in National Geographic magazine.)
Though the plight of both garrisons remained in the public eye, Fort Pickens stood to the outside of Pensacola Bay, while Fort Sumter was positioned in the middle of Charleston Harbor, surrounded by hostile batteries. Sumter, therefore, became a symbol of contested sovereignty.
Neither the new President nor the new Confederacy could afford to lose face by surrendering the Charleston fort. The only question was, who would shoot first?
In early January the South Carolinians had actually done so, turning away the Star of the West, a federal supply ship, with gunfire. But those were more or less warning shots that kicked up plumes of spray but caused no damage.
The Battle of Fort Sumter
As March turned to April, Lincoln, having dispatched another relief fleet to supply the beleaguered and increasingly hungry garrison, was willing to shoot his way through if need be.
Lincoln soon thought better of it, however, instead informing the rebellious Southerners that the fleet would carry only supplies into Sumter. The warships would remain outside the harbor.
Should the Confederates choose to fire on this "mission of humanity," as Lincoln called the supply run, they would then become the aggressor.
The Confederate government, knowing that its claims to sovereignty depended on no "foreign" power occupying any of its coastal forts, decided to act before the relief expedition arrived.
Confederate leaders, therefore, ordered Charleston's chief military officer, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, a flamboyant Louisiana Creole, to demand Fort Sumter's surrender. Should that be refused, he was to open fire on the stronghold.
James Chesnut, Jr., the former U.S. senator who'd pledged to drink the blood of casualties, was one of two emissaries who delivered the ultimatum to an ashen-faced Anderson at 3:25 a.m. on April 12, 1861—150 years ago today.
An hour later a signaling shot curved high in the sky and burst directly over the fort. A cacophonous barrage erupted, as 43 guns and mortars opened up on Sumter.
The pyrotechnic uproar had soon summoned all Charleston to the rooftops, where the citizens spent a sleepless night, watching the arcs of mortar shells. They spent the following day deafened by the din, peering through the smoke.
According to Union accounts, the noise was indescribable within the Fort Sumter's brick gun enclosures, but Anderson's men gamely returned fire, discharging about a thousand rounds as opposed to the almost four thousand shells that smashed into their walls or dropped into their courtyard.
Fires were devouring the barracks and edging dangerously close to the powder magazine by the time the white flag came fluttering up Sumter's flagstaff, some 34 hours after the bombardment had begun.
The opening gunfire of the Civil War—the first shots exchanged in anger between the United States and the Confederate States—then fell silent. (Interactive Map: Battlefields of the Civil War.)
As the smoke cleared the toll of battle was taken, and it amounted to one mule. Not a single person had been killed (though one man soon died in an accidental explosion). The South had indeed won the contest over that symbol of sovereignty without spilling enough blood to fill a thimble.
Fort Sumter Battle a "Bolt From the Sky"
By firing first, the Confederates had allowed Lincoln to claim the high ground. On April 15, some 75,000 Union loyalists volunteered to help "repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union."
The Northern states fell in behind Lincoln, while Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee duly tumbled into the Confederacy.
But the Battle of Fort Sumter was a call to arms for both sides. The great convulsion had come at last, releasing stresses accumulated over generations of sectional strife.
"We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky," wrote the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and the "cry now is for war, vigorous war, war to the bitter end. . "
Huge, flag-waving crowds gathered in cities and towns across the country, flushed with a kind of mass hysteria, a contagious abandon, an almost suicidal zeal. "It is a war of purification," claimed Virginia's Governor Henry Wise, "You want war, blood, fire, to purify you."
Hundreds of thousands of young militiamen, parading by torchlight to the dazzle of fireworks and the music of bands, soon marched into the crucible. Many of them would never return, for the war that was ignited that April night would eventually cost nearly 620,000 men their lives—2 percent of the United States' population at the time, and nearly as many as those killed in all the country's other wars combined.
The shooting was practically over by April 14, 1865, when—four years to the day after the Stars and Stripes had been lowered in defeat—the U.S. flag again rose over the rubble of Fort Sumter. But one more bullet found its victim that night. While watching a play in Washington, D.C.'s Ford's Theater, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
The dislocations of the Civil War "wrought so profoundly upon the entire national character," as writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner put it in 1873, "that the influence cannot be measured short of two or three generations."
Nearly five generations have now passed since the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, and still their reverberations are being felt.
Mark Collins Jenkins, a historian formerly with the National Geographic Society, is co-author of the new book The Civil War: A Visual History.
First blood in the Civil War - HISTORY
Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors," the proper balance of which maintained health.
C. 2500 BCE: Egyptians Use Bleeding
A tomb illustration in Memphis, Egypt, depicts a patient being bled from the foot and neck. Though the bloodletting was often recommended by physicians it was carried out by barbers, eventually symbolized by the red-and-white-striped barber pole.
1897: Dracula by Irish Author Bram Stoker is Published
Remembered as the quintessential vampire novel, it provided the basis of modern vampire fiction… the taking of blood from the living to sustain the "life" of the undead.
Late 1800s: Bloodletting Medically Questioned
The benefits of bloodletting began to be seriously questioned in the second half of the 1800s. Some still considered it beneficial in some circumstances, for instance to "clear out" infected or weakened blood or to stop hemorrhaging. Some forms of bloodletting persisted into the 20th century.
1860. One of only three known bloodletting photographs (tintype). Source
1492: First Historical Transfusion Attempt
The blood of three 10-year-old boys was infused by mouth into Pope Innocent VIII as he sank into a coma. The Pope and the boys died.
1667: First Recorded Human Transfusion
The first fully documented human blood transfusion was administered in France. King Louis XIV's doctor transfused the blood of a sheep into a 15-year-old boy, who survived.
1818: First Recorded Human-to-Human Transfusion
British obstetrician and physiologist James Blundell performs the first recorded human-to-human blood transfusion. He injected a patient suffering from internal bleeding with 12 to 14 ounces of blood from several donors. The patient died after initially showing improvement.
1901: Three Main Blood Groups Discovered
Discovery of the three main human blood groups, A, B, and C, which is later changed to O. Research charts the regular pattern of reaction that occurs after mingling the serum and red cells of an initial set of six blood specimens.
1902: Fourth Blood Group Discovered
Fourth blood group, AB, is identified.
1907: First Use of Cross Matching
Cross matching checks the blood of donors and recipients for signs of incompatibility.
1914: First Non-Direct Transfusion
The first transfusions had to be made directly from donor to receiver before coagulation. Researchers discover that adding sodium citrate to blood will prevent it from clotting. Adding anticoagulant and refrigerating the blood made it possible to store it for days, opening the way for blood banking.
1917: First Blood Depot
Army doctor collects and stores type O blood, with citrate-glucose solution, in advance of the Battle of Cambrai in World War I.
1492. Pope Innocent VIII. Source
c.1820. James Blundell. Source
The Impact of War
1922: Blood Donor Service Established in London
Volunteers agree to be on 24-hour call and to travel to local hospitals to give blood as the need arises. All volunteers are screened for disease, tested for blood type, and their names are entered into a phone log.
1930: First Network of Blood Facilities
The Soviets are the first to establish a network of facilities to collect and store blood for use in transfusions at hospitals.
1935: First In-Hospital Blood Facilities
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN is the first to begin storing citrated blood and utilizing it for transfusions within a hospital setting in the U.S.
1936: Barcelona Blood-Transfusion Service
The Barcelona Blood-Transfusion Service collects blood, tests it, pools it by blood group, preserves and stores it in bottles under refrigeration, and by way of vehicles fitted with refrigerators, transports it to front line hospitals during the Spanish Civil War.
1937: Term "Blood Bank" Coined
Dr. Bernard Fantus at Chicago's Cook Co. Hospital coins the term "blood bank."
1939-40: Discovery of Rh Blood Group
Discovery of the Rh blood group and identification of the antibody causing still births as the anti-Rh.
1940: U.S. Sends Blood Plasma to Great Britain
U.S. processes, tests, and stores plasma for shipment to Great Britain.
1941: Red Cross Organizes Blood Plasma War Effort
Red Cross agrees to organize a civilian blood donor service to collect blood plasma for the war effort.
1943: Transfusion-Transmitted Hepatitis
First description of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis.
1947: American Association of Blood Banks
Community blood banks join together to form a national network of blood banks called the American Association of Blood Banks.
1948: Development of Plastic Bag
Development of the plastic bag revolutionizes blood collection.
1962: America's Blood Centers Founded
Seven community-based blood centers came together with the help of local hospitals, physicians and civic groups to establish America's Blood Centers.
1964: Community Blood Center Established
Community Blood Center (CBC) established in a Dayton medical building basement.
1971: CBC Moves to Current Location
CBC moved to current Dayton headquarters.
1965: Cryoprecipitates Developed
The discovery that slowly thawed frozen plasma yields deposits high in Factor VIII. These deposits, called cryoprecipitates - or cryo - are found to have much greater clotting power than plasma and are given to hemophiliacs to stop bleeding episodes.
1971: FDA Regulation
Regulation of blood banking transfers from the Division of Biologics Standards (DBS) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
1971: Testing for Hepatitis B
Development of a test for hepatitis B antibodies, thereby identifying infected donors the test is mandated by the FDA.
c.1918. Amercian Red Cross in Great Britain. Source
1941-1945. American Red Cross World War II Poster. Source
The plastic blood bag was introduced to blood banking shortly after World War II.
America's Blood Centers was founded in 1962.
Community Blood Center, founded in 1964, maintains its headquarters in Dayton, OH.
The Era of Aids
1981: First Case of AIDS
The first cases of a syndrome initially called GRID (Gay-related Immunodeficiency Disease), due to its prevalence among gay men, are reported. It is later renamed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
1982: Blood-Borne Theory
When hemophiliacs also begin to develop GRID, theory developed that the syndrome may be blood borne.
1983: AIDS Virus Isolated
Researchers isolate the virus that causes AIDS.
1984: AIDS Virus Identified
Virus that causes AIDS identified as HTLV III - human T-cell lymphotropic virus.
1985: First AIDS Blood-Screening Test
First blood-screening test to detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. The ELISA test is universally adopted by American blood banks and plasma centers.
1999: NAT Testing
Blood centers in the United States begin implementation of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) for all blood donations. It narrows the so-called window period - after - a donor is infected by HIV, Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-C but - before - the condition is detectable by routine methods.
2007. CDC microbiologist conducting an ELISA blood-screening test. Source
Before the Civil War, Congress Was a Hotbed of Violence
Scuffles seem to break out in parliaments and legislatures around the world. The last few years saw a brawl in Taiwan, a face-punch in Ukraine and a mass fight in South Africa.
The floor of the U.S. Congress is home today to plenty of verbal abuse and name-calling, but rarely sees anything physical. In her new book, Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman, Yale professor of history and American studies, finds that violence used to be the norm in the Capitol, almost two centuries ago, when fists flew, pistols were drawn and the threat of violence was all pervasive. She writes, “The antebellum Congress had its admirable moments, but it wasn’t an assembly of demigods. It was a human institution with very human failings.”
The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War
In The Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress.
Bearing witness to those failings was Benjamin Brown French, a New Hampshire lawyer and editor who worked in Washington in the lead up to the Civil War. During his four decades in the nation’s capital, he crossed paths with presidents, learned the inner-workings of politics and journaled almost daily about the violence and tension he saw there. Freeman mined French’s work to provide an insider’s perspective on an increasingly contentious Congress.
Freeman’s book Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is out on September 11. She spoke with Smithsonian about what antebellum Congress was really like.
Who is our guide to Washington in your book?
Benjamin Brown French came to Washington in 1830 and died there in 1870. And the entire time he was there, he was essentially either in Congress as a clerk or surrounded by Congressmen. So he was the ideal eyewitness for the world of the antebellum Congress. And in his diaries and in his letters to his brothers and sister, he has a gripping, you-are-there way of understanding the culture and climate.
At the beginning of my book, he's a very collegial fellow. People liked him, all parties, North and South. And by the end, he goes out to buy a gun in case he needs to shoot some Southerners. My question for the book was: How does a person begin thinking, "I love my country. I shall do anything for the Union. I like everyone. Everyone likes me," to "I better carry a gun in case some Southerners do something risky on the street to me"?
You write that he always seemed to be at the right place at the right time. What were some of the things that he witnessed?
There was an assassination attempt against President Andrew Jackson that French saw happen. John Quincy Adams has a stroke after his presidency, when he's serving in the House. He's pulled off the floor into a room off of the House, and French is there by his side holding his hand.
Most striking of all, when President Lincoln is assassinated, French is in the middle of it. By that point, he's in charge of, in essence, security in Washington. So he's running around trying to close buildings. He stands by Lincoln's side after he dies, while waiting for people to come and deal with the body. It's remarkable the degree to which [events that] we would consider the smash-bang highlight moments of this period, French doesn't necessarily play a central role in any of them. But he saw them, and even better, he wrote about them.
What was Congress like in the decades leading up to the Civil War?
The paintings from the time show senators in black frocks debating, their fingers thrust into the air in emphasis. But in truth, Congress was a violent place. That was in part because the nation was violent, too. There were riots in cities over immigration and fighting on the frontier over Native American land. The system of slavery was grounded in violence. It was not a kind era.
A lot of people have heard of the caning of Charles Sumner in the Senate chamber in 1856, but you found many more examples.
I found roughly 70 violent incidents in the 30 years before the Civil War—and very often the incidents featured a Southerner trying to intimidate a Northerner into compliance. It’s all hidden between the lines in the Congressional record it might say “the conversation became unpleasantly personal.” That meant duel challenges, shoving, pulling guns and knives. In 1858, South Carolina representative Laurence Keitt started trouble with Pennsylvania's Galusha Grow. It turned into a mass brawl between Southerners and Northerners in the House.
How did voters feel about the violence?
That changes over time, which isn't surprising. And it wasn't the same for everyone. There were certain people who were elected to Congress because they played rough. That's why their constituents sent them there, to play rough, to defend their interests with gusto. And that included sometimes threats and even also sometimes fists or weapons.
People knew who they were electing to Congress, and they did it for a reason. The most striking example of that is, over time, increasingly confrontational Northerners get sent to Congress.
Joanne Freeman (Beowulf Sheehan)
What role did the press play in the violence?
Over time, it played a more central role as things like the railroad, the telegraph, the steam powered printing press, and new ways of creating paper—there are all of these technological innovations that make the press bigger and faster and further reaching between the 1830s and the Civil War.
What starts out as a pretty small press community, in which Congressmen knew who was sitting in the House and Senate recording things and often went and corrected the record, changes to all kinds of people from all over the country reporting in Congress, relying on the telegraph to be able to send their messages home. And Congressmen don't have control of that spin. The press begins to play a more central, obvious role.
Do you think this atmosphere helped push the country toward war?
It fueled the progression. Southerners came to see Northerners as weak, because they put up with the bullying. And if you’re a Northerner in Congress, how do you say, “I’m up for a compromise”? You’re going to look like a coward. The press played up the fighting, creating an endless loop of anger. This wasn’t just about goofy guys in Washington—what goes on in Congress reflects the state of the nation.
When writing the book, did you see similarities or differences to the tension in our contemporary Congress? Could this type of physical violence occur in Congress today?
I have no idea whether it could happen in the modern Congress. Partly because who knows what's going to happen about anything at this point. To get to the point, in modern day, where you have physical violence, that would suggest such an extreme division on such a high level between people, that they can't even really see themselves as playing on the same team at all. That would be meaningful and really worrying, I would say.
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This article is a selection from the September issue of Smithsonian magazine
Since our founding by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross has been dedicated to serving people in need. We received our first congressional charter in 1900 and to this day we are tasked by the federal government with providing services to members of the American armed forces and their families as well as providing disaster relief in the United States and around the world. In 2021, the Red Cross celebrated 140 years of compassionate service. Learn how we commemorated our anniversary.
Even while the Red Cross adapts to meet the changing needs of the people we serve, we always stay true to those roots. Are you familiar with the classic images of Red Cross nurses helping American soldiers and civilian war victims during World War I? In fact, as you read this Red Cross staff and volunteers are still deploying alongside America’s military. Maybe you’ve taken a class through the Red Cross, such as first aid certification or how to swim. Did you know we’ve been offering similar training since the early 1900s? Have you ever given blood or received donated blood? The Red Cross developed the first nationwide civilian blood program in the 1940s and we still provide more than 40% of the blood products in this country.
Today, as throughout our long history, the Red Cross depends on generous contributions of time, blood, and money from the American public to support our lifesaving services and programs. We invite you to learn about our history and hope you will feel inspired to become more involved with the Red Cross.
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Ohio politics during the War Edit
Much of southern Ohio's economy depended upon trade with the South across the Ohio River, which had served for years as passage and a link with the slave states of Virginia and Kentucky. The culture of southern Ohio was closer to those states than it was to northern parts of the state, owing to many settlers coming from the South and being formerly territory of the state of Virginia as part of the Virginia Military District. Most of the state's population was solidly against secession. During the 1860 Presidential Election, Ohio voted in favor of Abraham Lincoln (231,709 votes or 52.3% of the ballots cast) over Stephen Douglas (187,421 42.3%), John C. Breckinridge (11,406 2.6%), and John Bell (12,194 2.8%). 
A number of men with Ohio ties would serve important roles in Lincoln's Cabinet and administration, including Steubenville's Edwin M. Stanton as Attorney General and then Secretary of War, and former Ohio U.S. Senator and Governor Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. Prominent Ohio politicians in Congress included Senators John Sherman and Benjamin F. Wade. 
During the war, three men would serve as Governor of Ohio– William Dennison, David Tod and John Brough. Without being asked by the War Department, Dennison sent Ohio troops into western Virginia, where they guarded the Wheeling Convention. The convention led to the admission of West Virginia as a free state. Tod became known as "the soldier's friend," for his determined efforts to help equip and sustain Ohio's troops. He was noted for his quick response in calling out the state militia to battle Confederate raiders. Brough strongly supported the Lincoln Administration's war efforts and was key to persuading other Midwestern governors to raise 100-day regiments, such as the 131st Ohio Infantry in early 1864, to release more seasoned troops for duty in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's spring campaign. 
Through the middle of the war, the Copperhead movement had appeal in Ohio, driven in part by noted states rights advocate, Congressman Clement Vallandigham, a leading Peace Democrat. After General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38 in early 1863, warning that the "habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy" would not be tolerated in the Military District of Ohio, Vallandigham gave a major speech charging the war was being fought not to save the Union, but to free blacks and enslave whites. 
Burnside ordered his arrest and took Vallandigham to Cincinnati for trial. At the trial, Vallandigham was found guilty. The court sentenced him to prison for the duration of the war. President Lincoln attempted to quiet the situation by writing the Birchard Letter, which offered to release Vallandigham if several Ohio congressmen agreed to support certain policies of the Administration. To try to prevent political backlash and preserve authority of Gen. Burnside, Abraham Lincoln changed Vallandigham's sentence to banishment to the South. The threat was imprisonment if Vallandigham returned to northern soil. The South allowed Vallandigham to migrate to Canada, from where he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor against Brough in 1863. Vallandigham's campaign bitterly divided much of Ohio, Vallandigham's votes were especially heavy in central and northwestern Ohio. He lost his home county of Montgomery (Dayton) but by a narrow margin.  
1864 election Edit
Public sentiment shifted more in favor of the Lincoln Administration, particularly as Ohio generals rose in prominence, with military successes in the Atlanta Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and Sheridan's Valley Campaigns. In the 1864 Presidential Election, Ohio strongly supported Lincoln's reelection. The state gave the president 265,674 votes (56.4% of the total) versus 205,609 votes (43.6%) for General George McClellan. 
En route to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration, President Lincoln passed through Ohio by train, with brief stops in numerous cities. His first formal speech given after his election was in Hudson, Ohio, a stop he made en route to Cleveland. Although Lincoln had visited the state several times before the war, he would not return during the Civil War. In 1865 his funeral train carried his body through the state, bound for Springfield, Illinois.
Newspapers engaged in very lively discussion of war issues, from the Republican, War Democrat and Copperhead perspectives. 
Military recruitment Edit
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, in response to a call to arms by President Lincoln, Ohio raised 23 volunteer infantry regiments for three months' service, 10 more regiments than the state's quota. When it became evident that the war would not end quickly, Ohio began raising regiments for three-year terms of enlistment. At first the majority were stocked with eager volunteers and recruits. Before the war's end, they would be joined by 8,750 draftees. 
Nearly 320,000 Ohioans served in the Union army, more than any other northern state except New York and Pennsylvania.  Of these, 5,092 were free blacks. Ohio had the highest percentage of population enlisted in the military of any state. Sixty percent of all the men between the ages of 18 and 45 were in the service. Ohio mustered 230 regiments of infantry and cavalry, as well as 26 light artillery batteries and 5 independent companies of sharpshooters. Total casualties among these units numbered 35,475 men, more than 10% of all the Buckeyes in uniform during the war. There were 6,835 men killed in action, including 402 officers. 
Dozens of small camps were established across the state to train and drill the new regiments. Two large military posts were created: Camp Chase in Columbus and Camp Dennison near Cincinnati. The 1st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) would eventually be joined on the muster rolls by more than 100 additional infantry regiments. 
Ohioans first had military action at the Battle of Philippi Races in June 1861, where the 14th and 16th Ohio Infantry participated in the Union victory. Ohioans comprised one-fifth of the Union army at the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh, where 1,676 Buckeyes suffered casualties. Ohio would suffer its highest casualty count at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, with 3,591 killed or wounded. Another 1,351 men were taken prisoner of war by the Confederates. Among these prisoners, 36 men from the 2nd Ohio Infantry would perish in the infamous Andersonville prison, as did hundreds more Buckeye soldiers there. 
Several Buckeye regiments played critical roles in other important battles. The 8th OVI was instrumental in helping repulse Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. At the same battle, the 66th OVI flanked repeated Confederate assaults and helped secure the crest of Culp's Hill. George Nixon, great-grandfather of President Richard Nixon, died at Gettysburg in the 73rd OVI. 
John Clem, celebrated as "Johnny Shiloh" and "The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga," became the youngest person to become a noncommissioned officer in United States Army history. More than 100 soldiers from Ohio units earned the Medal of Honor during the conflict. Several were awarded it for the ill-fated Great Locomotive Chase.
President Lincoln had a habit on the eve of a battle of asking how many Ohio men would participate. When someone inquired why, Lincoln remarked, "Because I know that if there are many Ohio soldiers to be engaged, it is probable we will win the battle, for they can be relied upon in such an emergency." 
Small-scale riots broke out in ethnic German and Irish districts, and in areas along the Ohio River with many Copperheads. Holmes County, Ohio was an isolated localistic areas dominated by Pennsylvania Dutch and some recent German immigrants. It was a Democratic stronghold and few men dared speak out in favor of conscription. Local politicians denounced Lincoln and Congress as despotic, seeing the draft law as a violation of their local autonomy. In June 1863, small scale disturbance broke out they ended when the Army send in armed units. 
John A. Gillis, a corporal from the 64th Ohio Infantry, gave his reasons for fighting for the Union in the war, stating in his diary that "We are now fighting to destroy the cause of these dangerous diseases, which is slavery and the slave power." 
Military actions in Ohio Edit
Unlike its neighbors West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, Ohio was spared from serious military encounters. In September 1862, Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. Henry Heth marched through northern Kentucky and threatened Cincinnati (see Defense of Cincinnati). They turned away after encountering strong Union fortifications south of the Ohio River. Not long afterwards, Brig. Gen. Albert G. Jenkins briefly passed through the extreme southern tip of Ohio during a raid.
It was not until the summer of 1863 that Confederates arrived in force, when John Hunt Morgan's cavalry division traversed southern and eastern Ohio during Morgan's Raid. His activities culminated in Morgan's capture in Columbiana County at the Battle of Salineville. The Battle of Buffington Island was the largest fought in Ohio during the Civil War. 
Numerous leading generals and army commanders hailed from Ohio. The General-in-Chief of the Union armies, Ulysses S. Grant, was born in Clermont County in 1822. Among the 19 major generals from Ohio were William T. Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan, Don Carlos Buell, Jacob D. Cox, George Crook, George Armstrong Custer, James A. Garfield, Irvin McDowell, James B. McPherson, William S. Rosecrans, and Alexander M. McCook (of the "Fighting McCook" family, which sent a number of generals into the service). The state would contribute 53 brigadier generals. 
A handful of Confederate generals were Ohio-born, including Bushrod Johnson of Belmont County and Robert H. Hatton of Steubenville.  Charles Clark of Cincinnati led a division in the Army of Mississippi during the Battle of Shiloh and then became the late war pro-Confederate Governor of Missouri. Noted Confederate guerrilla Capt. William Quantrill was also born and raised in Ohio.
In addition to Grant and Garfield, three other Ohio Civil War veterans would become President of the United States in the decades following the war: William McKinley of Canton, Rutherford B. Hayes of Fremont, and Benjamin Harrison of the greater Cincinnati area. 
The only battlefield of significance in Ohio is Buffington Island. Today it is threatened by development. This was the site of the largest fight of the July 1863 dash across Ohio by Confederate cavalry under John Hunt Morgan.  The incursion was immortalized as "Morgan's Raid". A lesser engagement was the Battle of Salineville, which resulted in the capture of General Morgan. He and a number of his officers were incarcerated in the Ohio Penitentiary before escaping.  Extreme south-central Ohio had previously been briefly invaded in early September 1862 by cavalry under Albert G. Jenkins. 
Two important cemeteries for the dead from the Confederate States Army can be found in the Buckeye State. One is at the prisoner-of-war camp on Johnson's Island, the most significant Civil War site in the state and intended mostly for officers. Estimates are that 10,000–15,000 Confederate officers and soldiers were incarcerated during the camp's three years of operations, with 2,500–3,000 at any one time. About 300 Confederates died and were buried there. A museum about Johnson's Island is located in Marblehead on the mainland. The Civil War buildings were dismantled shortly after the war. Archeological work by Heidelberg University has revealed the boundaries of the camp and new materials. At one time part of the island was used for a pleasure resort.  Another cemetery is located at Camp Chase, where more than 2,000 Southerners were interred. Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio, is the final resting place of Civil War soldiers, including several generals and colonels, including several of the "Fighting McCooks". 
Monuments in Cincinnati and Mansfield commemorate the hundreds of Ohio soldiers who had been liberated from Southern prison camps, such as Cahaba and Andersonville, but perished in the Sultana steamboat tragedy.  In the aftermath of war, women's groups were instrumental in raising money and organizing activities to create the memorials.
Many Ohio counties have Civil War monuments, statues, cannons, and similar memorials of their contributions to the Civil War effort. These are frequently located near the county courthouses. The Ohio State Capitol has a display of Civil War guns on its grounds. In downtown Cleveland's Public Square is the impressive Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. Other large monuments are in Dayton, Hamilton, and Columbus. A large equestrian statue of General Sheridan is in the center of Somerset. New Rumley has a memorial to George Armstrong Custer. A number of Ohio Historical Markers throughout the state commemorate places and people associated with the Civil War. 
Some of the homes of noted Civil War officers and political leaders have been restored and are open to the public as museums. Among these are the Daniel McCook House in Carrollton, Ohio. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and Library in Fremont contains a number of Civil War relics and artifacts associated with General Hayes. Similarly, "Lawnfield", the home of James A. Garfield in Mentor, has a collection of Civil War items associated with the assassinated President. 
The Ohio Historical Society maintains many of the archives of the war, including artifacts and many battle flags of individual regiments and artillery batteries.  More relics can be found in the Western Reserve Historical Society's museum in Cleveland.
Camp Chase Prison was a Union Army prison in Columbus. There was a plan among prisoners to revolt and escape in 1863. The prisoners expected support from Copperheads and Vallandigham, but never did revolt. 
‘John Brown’s Body’ – Stephen Vincent Benet and Civil War Memory
'John Brown's Body' won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929.
An accomplished writer since his collegiate days at Yale, Benet won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1926, the first ever awarded for poetry. He composed John Brown’s Body, his best-known work, over two years while living in Paris because his funds would last longer there and, he said, “living abroad intensified my Americanism.” Benet was an unabashed liberal. He understood the Civil War as the pivotal event in the evolution of the United States into a democratic, progressive, and pluralistic society. He made sense of the war’s horrific loss of life much as Abraham Lincoln did: as a necessary, divinely ordained, shedding of blood before the nation could be redeemed from the sin of slavery.
The 1920s were a critical period in the creation of Civil War memory, and many Americans did not share Benet’s progressive views. For aging white veterans, blue and gray, it was their last hurrah a chance to cement their vision of battlefield sacrifice into the public’s mind and give meaning to the deaths of thousands of their comrades. Reconciliation between old foes and honor to all old soldiers was the order of the day.
For African Americans, the war’s living legacy, it was a much different time. They found themselves emancipated but far from free. For them, the Roaring Twenties was an era of virulent racism, social segregation, political disenfranchisement, and sudden violence. Jim Crow Laws, Black Codes, a resurgent Ku Klux Klan, and the public lynching of blacks all across America seemed to mock Lincoln’s vision of a more perfect Union.
Benet chose to mix historical personages with fictional characters from all walks of society to create his vision of a balanced, optimistic, and reconciliationist national saga about the war and the effect it had on the people who lived through it. Like Walt Whitman—whom he took as his model—Benet, too, heard America singing and attempted to capture its disparate melodies in verse.
Although John Brown himself is hanged barely a third of the way through the book, he is the poem’s guiding spirit, hovering over the entire work like an apocalyptic flame right out of the Old Testament who loosed a flood of fateful events that would change every aspect of American life.
Benet depicts Brown as being outside of history, a Hegelian world historical figure who can “change the actual scheme of things” and, by the power of his personality, bring about a new historical dispensation:
Sometimes there comes a crack in Time itself.
Sometimes the earth is torn by something blind.
Sometimes an image that has stood so long
It seems implanted as the polar star
Is moved against an unfathomed force
That suddenly will not have it any more.
Even though Brown failed in many of his business endeavors and “had no gift for life,” Benet understood that he had changed history because “he knew how to die.” As evidence, the poet reproduces the vibrant language Brown used in his final speech to the court, including:
Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my
life for the furtherance of the ends of justice and mingle
my blood further with the blood of my children
and with the blood of millions in this slave country
whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and
unjust enactments, I say, let it be done.
Brown’s powerful words were soon memorized and whispered in countless slave quarters throughout the South. They were reproduced in newspapers throughout the North and evangelical clergymen read them from hundreds of pulpits. To millions of enslaved black people and many whites, John Brown’s body, hung on a gallows at Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), on Oct. 16, 1859, symbolically had become the crucified Christ. But to southern slave owners, his spectral figure was repeatedly likened to the Arch Fiend himself.
Benet, himself, had a love-hate relationship with Brown. “You did not fight for the Union nor wish it well,” he wrote. “You fought for the single dream of a man unchained.” For an avowed progressive nationalist like Benet, the war could not be justified merely because it freed the slaves. A new, more perfect, nation had to arise from the carnage of the conflict a political consequence that Brown never envisioned.
The other Christ figure in the saga is, of course, Lincoln. After the fiasco at First Manassas (First Bull Run) in July 1861, Benet describes him as “awkwardly enduring … neither overwhelmed nor touched to folly.” Lincoln must now begin the laborious job of “kneading the stuff of the Union together again.” His work is likened to a divine mission. “And yet Lincoln had a star, if you would have it so,” Benet writes, obviously alluding to the polar star that led the Three Wise Men to Jesus’ manger, “and he was haunted by a prairie-star,” possibly referring to Lincoln’s Midwest heritage or to John Brown’s Kansas abolitionist activities.
Critics have debated the book’s literary merits ever since it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929. Some consider Benet’s portrayal of historical personages like Lincoln, Lee, Grant, Beauregard, Judah Benjamin, Jefferson Davis, and others to be flat and uninspiring. His portrait of Robert E. Lee, however, captures the essence of the South’s “marble man” in a few poignant lines:
A figure lost to flesh and blood and bones,
Frozen into a legend out of life,
A blank-verse statue …
For here was someone who lived all his life
In the most fierce and open light of the sun …
And kept his heart a secret to the end
Benet is also adept at taking historical situations and vividly rendering them into emotional literary images. He portrays Edmund Ruffin, the rabid abolitionist who fired the first cannon at Fort Sumter, walking in his Richmond garden with a Confederate flag around his shoulders, shooting himself in the heart upon learning of Lee’s surrender. Benet describes General Grant when he sees Confederate bonfires celebrating the birth of George Pickett’s son. He orders his soldiers to do the same and sends a silver service for the baby. Just days later, Grant attacks Pickett and the Confederate army at Petersburg.
Other critics consider his fictional characters, representing Northern and Southern archetypes, to be more fully developed. Jack Ellyat, the hardy New England abolitionist is balanced against Clay Wingate, the haunted plantation owner. Jake Diefer, the Pennsylvania yeoman and Luke Breckinridge, the illiterate backwoods hunter Sally Dupre, the Southern belle and Melora Vilas, a subsistence farmer’s daughter Cudjo, the loyal house servant and Spade, the slave who escapes to freedom all characterize traits of the common people Benet so admires, people who suffered, fought, and died to bring about a new birth of American freedom. Benet treats them all with honor and respects the choices they made.
Stephen Vincent Benet
John Brown’s Body does on a grand scale what Stephen Crane’s novel Red Badge of Courage does on an individual level. Both writers use fictional characters to put immediacy, feeling, and emotion into history. They adhere to Aristotle’s maxim that poetry can reveal universal truths while history is confined to particular truths. By following this methodology, both writers give immediacy and a personal focus to the events they recreate.
That’s not to say a poet can’t be a good historian, too. Benet remembered stories told to him by his father and grandfather, both graduates of West Point and career military officers. He devoured the Official Record, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, and read countless collections of letters, diaries, and memoirs. His set-piece descriptions of battles like First Manassas, Shiloh, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg are lyrically rendered and historically accurate.
No less a historian than Bruce Catton, the author of an award-winning trilogy that recounted the war from the perspective of the Army of the Potomac, admired the book both for its poetry and its history. He found it “pulsing with emotion and glowing with the light that comes when a poet’s insight touches a moment of inexplicable tragedy.” Catton understood that “it is the poet we have to turn to when we confront the profound impact of tragedy on the human spirit.”
Douglas Southall Freeman was researching his four-volume biography of Robert E. Lee when Benet’s masterpiece appeared. He was curious to see how closely Benet’s appraisals and conclusions corresponded to his own. Freeman concluded that Benet “was as accurate in his history as he was skillful in his art.”
Very popular when it was published, John Brown’s Body is rarely read today. Nevertheless, it remains a vibrant tapestry of America’s diversity and its unity by re-imagining the war as Lincoln understood it—a new birth of freedom, a nation redeemed, and a people re-unified.
For more about John Brown, see “John Brown’s Blood Oath,” an excerpt from Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, the forthcoming book by Tony Horwitz (Confederates in the Attic), published online by MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. Also see “John Brown’s Midnight March,” published online by America’s Civil War, August 2009, and “The Madness of John Brown,” Civil War Times, October 2009.
About the author
Gordon Berg’s articles have appeared in America’s Civil War and Civil War Times magazines. Among his articles published on HistoryNet is ‘I Am Well and Hearty’—Walt Whitman’s Brother in the Civil War.
Significant Dates in History
Since 1881, American Red Cross members and volunteers have been an essential part of our nation’s response to war, natural disaster and other human suffering. We’ve witnessed great tragedy, but we’ve also seen triumph as people work together to help rebuild lives and communities. Through the timeline below, you can explore some of those key events in Red Cross history.
Clara Barton leads the American Red Cross through its founding and first two decades of service, including the first domestic disaster response, U.S. Senate ratifying the Geneva Convention, and our first international relief efforts.
December 25, 1821: Clara Barton is born in New Oxford, Mass.
- May 8, 1828: Henry Dunant, founder of Red Cross Movement, is born in Geneva, Switzerland.
- June 24, 1859: Battle of Solferino in Northern Italy prompts Henry Dunant to call for an international relief organization to bring aid to the war-injured.
- April 20, 1861: Clara Barton, dubbed the "Angel of the Battlefield," begins aid to servicemen in Civil War.
- February 9, 1863: International Committee of the Red Cross is founded in Geneva, Switzerland.
- April 20, 1865: After the war, Clara Barton was authorized by President Lincoln to open The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army to identify the fate of missing soldiers for grieving parents, family and friends. In 1867, when Barton closed the office, 63,183 letters had been answered and 22,000 missing men identified.
- August 8, 1864: First Geneva Convention issued protecting the war wounded and identifying the red cross on a white field as a neutral protective emblem.
May 21, 1881: Clara Barton and associates establish the American Red Cross.
September 4, 1881: Red Cross undertakes its first disaster relief effort aiding victims of Michigan forest fires.
- March 16, 1882: After years of relentless efforts by Clara Barton, the U.S. Senate ratifies the Geneva Convention of 1864.
- May 31, 1889: Red Cross responds to Johnstown, Pa., flood that kills over 2,000.
- August 27, 1893: Clara Barton aids 30,000-mostly African-American-homeless victims of a hurricane on the Sea Islands of South Carolina.
February 15, 1896: Clara Barton and associates arrive in Constantinople to begin five-month campaign bringing relief to Armenian victims of Turkish oppression.
June 20, 1898: Clara Barton sails to Havana, Cuba, with supplies for victims of Spanish-American War. First American Red Cross war-related assistance to U.S. military.
The Red Cross expands beyond military support and disaster relief, working to enhance community resilience and help people prepare for emergencies, including our first Federal Charter, Two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, our first civilian blood collection program, and the launch of training in first aid, water safety and other skills.
- September 8, 1900: Clara Barton's last relief operation is on behalf of victims of the devastating hurricane and tidal wave that hit Galveston, Texas.
- December 10, 1901 Mabel T. Boardman elected to Red Cross governing board, beginning a lifelong career of organizational leadership, particularly among volunteers.
- January 5, 1905: The Red Cross received our first congressional charter in 1900 and a second in 1905, the year after Barton resigned from the organization. The most recent version of thecharter–which was adopted in May, 2007 restates the traditional purposes of the organization which include giving relief to and serving as a medium of communication between members of the American armed forces and their families and providing national and international disaster relief and mitigation.
April 18, 1906: Earthquake and fire ravage San Francisco President Theodore Roosevelt calls on the Red Cross to lead a major relief effort.
- October 9, 1909: Major Charles Lynch appointed director of new Red Cross First Aid Department.
- January 20, 1910: First meeting held of the National Committee on Red Cross Nursing Service, chaired by the esteemed director Jane Delano.
- November 5, 1910: Pullman Company donates first railroad car to Red Cross for use around the country as a classroom for first aid instruction.
- December 15, 1910: Thomas A. Edison Company releases "The Red Cross Seal," the first in a series of public health films about the ravages of tuberculosis and Red Cross efforts to prevent its spread.
- March 25, 1911: Red Cross helps families of mostly young women who are victims of tragic Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City.
- February 6, 1912: Red Cross approves creation of a Rural Nursing Program.
April 12, 1912: Clara Barton dies at age 90 in her home in Glen Echo, Md., eight years after her resignation from the Red Cross.
April 14, 1912: Red Cross comes to aid of those who survived the sinking of the Titanic.
- March 19, 1913: President Woodrow Wilson named first honorary president of American Red Cross, establishing a precedent for all chief executives who have followed.
February 1, 1914: Commodore Wilbert E. Longfellow, known as the "Amiable Whale," begins Red Cross Water Safety program.
- September 12, 1914 Red Cross "Mercy Ship" sails to Europe with medical staff and supplies following outbreak of World War I.
- July 24, 1915: S.S. Eastland, with 2,000 summer holiday-makers aboard, capsizes in the Chicago River, causing over 800 deaths. Red Cross relief is immediate.
- June 27, 1916: Home Service for the military begins its work with help to U.S. troops along Mexican border of the during a series of raids on civilian towns.
May 10, 1917: President Woodrow Wilson appoints a War Council to guide operations of the Red Cross during World War I.
- May 12, 1917: Red Cross dedicates its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., as a memorial to "the heroic women of the Civil War," both North and South.
- May 25, 1917: Red Cross starts service to blinded war veterans in Baltimore, Md.
June 2, 1917: Red Cross Commission to Europe sets sail to alleviate wartime suffering.
- June 17, 1917: Red Cross holds first War Fund drive, surpassing a goal of raising $100 million in one week.
- August 30, 1917: Red Cross starts its Canteen Service to provide refreshments to the military.
September 15, 1917: President Woodrow Wilson calls on youth to join the newly formed Junior Red Cross.
- April 22, 1918: Red Cross introduces medical social work in servicemen's hospitals.
- June 5, 1918: Red Cross begins Nurses' Aide program to make up for nurse shortages during wartime.
- July 2, 1918: Frances Reed Elliott is enrolled as the first African-American in the Red Cross Nursing Service.
- January 27, 1919: Red Cross reports 204 of its nurses have died combating worldwide Spanish influenza pandemic. Red Cross recruited a total of 15,000 women, including regularly enrolled nurses to respond to the deadly outbreak.
- May 5, 1919: League of Red Cross Societies (now the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) is formed in Paris, France.
- May 17, 1919: Red Cross National Children's Fund is set up to aid youth in postwar Europe.
- September 1, 1923: Red Cross aids thousands of earthquake and fire victims in Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan.
April 21, 1927: After weeks of heavy rainfall, a major levee breaks along the Mississippi River beginning a flood that would cover 27,000 square miles. Red Cross spends months aiding the victims.
- March 7, 1932: Red Cross begins distribution of government surplus wheat and cotton products to victims of drought in the Dust Bowl, which covered more than five states including Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
- May 15, 1940: Early blood processing program for relief of English war victims, called Plasma for Britain, begins under direction of Dr. Charles R. Drew
February 4, 1941: Red Cross begins National Blood Donor Service to collect blood for the U.S. military with Dr. Charles R. Drew, formerly of the Plasma for Britain program, as medical director.
- June 1, 1941: Red Cross services to military unified as "Services to Armed Forces" (SAF).
- November 3, 1941: Irving Berlin's "Angels of Mercy" becomes official Red Cross wartime song.
December 7, 1941: Moments after attack on Pearl Harbor, Red Cross volunteers go into action.
- July 15, 1942: Red Cross convenes meeting with black leaders to encourage minority participation in organization.
- October 26, 1942: World War II Clubmobiles begin service in England.
- November 9, 1942: Red Cross establishes a membership plan for units in U.S. colleges.
- November 11, 1942: American Red Cross opens famous Rainbow Corner Club in London for servicemen.
- November 28, 1942: Red Cross responds to fire at Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, Mass., that claims 494 lives.
- May 1, 1943: Jesse Thomas is the first African-American to join the American Red Cross executive staff.
- March 20, 1945: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's last radio talk to nation is in support of the Red Cross War Fund.
- August 18, 1945: Red Cross ends its World War II blood program for the military after collecting more than 13 million pints.
- August 29, 1945: First Red Cross field director arrives in Japan after World War II to help rebuild Japanese Red Cross.
- June 8, 1947: In an effort to include more representation from the local chapters, the Board of Governors replaces Central Committee as Red Cross governing body.
January 12, 1948: Red Cross begins its National Blood Program for civilians by opening its first collection center in Rochester, NY. By the end of 1949, we will open 31 American Red Cross Regional Blood Centers.
- October 1, 1949: George C. Marshall, World War II hero and creator of the "Marshall Plan" to help Europe recover from war, becomes Red Cross president.
August 5, 1953: Red Cross aids Operation Big Switch exchange of POWs at end of Korea War hostilities.
- October 1, 1953: Janet Wilson becomes first National Director of new Office of Volunteers that brings workers together from different services under "one Red Cross."
- April 4, 1955: The Red Cross liberalizes fundraising policy to allow chapters to participate in federated campaigns, such as the Community Chest, a forerunner of the United Way.
- July 14, 1955: United States ratifies the Geneva Conventions of 1949 that still apply today.
December 5, 1962: Red Cross begins collecting medicines and food for Cuba in exchange for release of Bay of Pigs POWs.
- March 27, 1964: Red Cross aids victims of massive earthquake that hits Anchorage, Alaska.
- October 8, 1965: Red Cross Movement adopts its Seven Fundamental Principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.
- October 30, 1967: Board of Governors receives report that National Headquarters will host a national Rare Blood Donor Registry for blood types occurring less than once in 200 people.
August 17, 1969: Red Cross aids those affected by Hurricane Camille.
- February 14, 1972: Red Cross calls for national blood policy, which the federal government sets up in 1974, supporting standardized practices and an end to paid donations.
- June 14, 1972: Red Cross responds as Hurricane Agnes slams eastern United States.
- April 29, 1975: Red Cross begins four-month Operation New Life for Vietnam refugees brought to the United States.
- February 25, 1977: President Jimmy Carter makes his 51st blood donation in bloodmobile at the White House.
- January 13, 1983: United States blood banking groups issue their first warning about Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
- October 21, 1983: Board of Governors approves expansion of Red Cross bone marrow program that leads to stem cell collection and distribution.
- March 1, 1985: Immediately after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses the first test to detect the antibody to HIV on March 3rd, Red Cross Blood Services regions begin testing all newly donated blood.
- February 23, 1987: Red Cross opens its Holland Laboratory dedicated to biomedical research.
- September 10, 1989: Red Cross begins relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Hugo.
October 17, 1989: Red Cross aids 14,000 families affected by the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California.
August 7, 1990: Five days after the launch of Operation Desert Shield/Storm, American Red Cross workers arrive in the Persian Gulf region. Over the next year, 158 Red Cross staffers will live and work with the troops. Seven will receive the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
September 24, 1990: Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing & Information Center opens in Baltimore, Md.
- February 4, 1991: Elizabeth Dole becomes first woman president of the Red Cross since Clara Barton.
August 3, 1992: First National Testing Laboratory, applying standardized tests to ensure the safety of Red Cross blood products, opens in Dedham, MA. This includes testing of donor blood for HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2).
August 1, 1993: Record crest of Mississippi River occurs at St. Louis in worst Midwest flooding to date. More than 14,500 people take refuge at 148 Red Cross shelters in 10 states.
- April 19, 1995: Red Cross aids victims of the Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City.
- October 9, 1996: Spurred by the disaster that befell TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996, Congress passes Aviation Disaster Act that leads to creation of Red Cross Aviation Incident Response (AIR) teams to assist victim families.
- May 6, 1998: Red Cross creates post of Chief Diversity Officer to lead effort to ensure an inclusive work environment and responsiveness to the needs of culturally diverse communities.
November 16, 1998: Red Cross opens an Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES) Center with hi-tech emergency communications service for military.
- March 1, 1999: Red Cross initiates Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT), which provides early detection of HIV and Hepatitis C in blood.
Approaching its 140th year of service, the Red Cross continues to bring hope to people in their time of need, including domestic disaster responses including the September 11 terrorist attack, ongoing support for America’s military families, and our international campaign to combat measles.
September 11, 2001: Red Cross responds to terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and outside the town of Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania.
- October 3, 2001: Red Cross establishes the Liberty Fund for September 11th terrorism victims and their families. Controversy over the original intent of the fund later leads to the establishment of the Donor Direct fund raising policy, which stands for D(onor) I(ntent) RE(cognition), C(onfirmation) and T(rust).
December 25, 2001: Red Cross staff members begin serving U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Additional staff will operate from bases in Balad, Baghdad, Tikrit and Kuwait throughout the war in Iraq.
February 7, 2002: Red Cross joins other groups to launch Measles Initiative, five-year plan to eradicate the disease in sub-Saharan Africa by immunizing children.
- August 13, 2004: Hurricane Charley slams into Florida's Gulf Coast. It is followed by a succession of hurricanes-Frances, Ivan and Jeanne-that call for a combined response that is the largest in Red Cross history up to that point.
- December 26, 2004: Magnitude 9.0 earthquake off west coast of Indonesia triggers massive tsunami that brings death and destruction to 12 countries. American Red Cross joins international relief effort.
August 25 - 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina becomes one of the most destructive storms in the history of the Gulf Coast, killing nearly 2,000 and leaving millions homeless. Red Cross mobilizes its largest, single disaster relief effort to date. Two subsequent hurricanes of significant strength hit, Rita and Wilma, compounding the devastation and impacting relief operations.
May 1, 2006: The American Red Cross commemorates 125 years of service both national and international.
- June 21, 2006: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies officially admit the Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Palestine Red Crescent Society to the Red Cross Movement as a result of American Red Cross advocacy to find a solution to their decades-long exclusion.
- January 1, 2010: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti, leaving 1.5 million people homeless and prompting one of the largest single-country responses in the history of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network. The public generously donates in support of the relief efforts, including donating via text messages on mobile phone, leading to a groundbreaking $32 million raised via SMS.
May 31, 2012: The Red Cross launches our first smartphone app. Designed to help people learn and practice First Aid in emergency situations, the app will be downloaded more than one million times in the next 18 months.
- July 28, 2012: The Red Cross launches a Hurricane smartphone app to help people prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from hurricanes the app will be downloaded more than one million times in the next 3 years.
October 29, 2012: Superstorm Sandy makes landfall in New Jersey. 17,000 Red Cross workers participated in the massive emergency response effort across multiple states.
- February 19, 2013: The Red Cross launches a Tornado smartphone app to help people prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from tornados the app will be downloaded more than one million times in the next 2 years.
- November 8, 2013: Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Philippines, claims more than 6,000 lives. With American Red Cross support, more than 3,200 families receive new homes while 6,600 others receive cash, materials, and technical support to rebuild existing houses to better withstand future disasters.
- January 16, 2014: The Red Cross launches a Pet First Aid smartphone app to enable pet owners to provide basic emergency care.
May 20, 2014: To mark its 100 years of swimming safety education, the Red Cross launched the Centennial Initiative, a national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent in 50 cities over three to five years.
September 29, 2014: The Red Cross launches a smartphone app for blood donors the app will reach one million downloads in April 2017.
October 7, 2014: The Red Cross launches its Home Fire Campaign, a national campaign to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over five years.
- March 18, 2015: The Red Cross has raised $7.6 million to help people in West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
- April 16, 2015: The Red Cross launches Emergency smartphone app covering many common natural disasters and emergencies.
- April 25, 2015: A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes Nepal, taking nearly 9,000 lives. The American Red Cross helps fund critical emergency relief efforts and raises $39.9 million to help Nepalese families and individuals rebuild their homes, communities and livelihoods.
September 13, 2016: The Red Cross launches Hero Care, a smartphone app for military members, veterans and military families.
- October 17, 2016: The Red Cross announces that the Home Fire Campaign has saved at least 111 lives and installed more than 500,000 smoke alarms during its first two years.
- August 25, 2017: The Red Cross undertakes massive relief efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey
- September 19, 2017: For several weeks, thousands of Red Cross disaster workers help people impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which devastates parts of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Red Cross also prepares to respond to Hurricane Maria as it approaches Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- October 27, 2017: After devastating wildfires begin in northern California, the Red Cross assists communities to recover, making sure people receive the help they need while providing a shoulder to lean on as they cope with the aftermath of these deadly fires.
- November 16, 2018: The Red Cross helps bring relief and comfort to thousands of people dealing with the devastation left behind by raging wildfires in both the northern and southern parts of California.
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Slavery, Famine And The Politics Of Pie: What Civil War Recipes Reveal
An African-American Army cook at work in City Point, Va., sometime between 1860 and 1865. Food played a critical role in determining the outcome of the Civil War.
On this June day in 1865, the last Confederate general surrendered to the Unionists, and the bloodiest war in the nation's history officially came to an end. It was a war in which food played a powerful role in determining the outcome.
Cookbooks published during the Civil War era provide vivid, contrasting portraits of how the conflict affected diets and social lives in the North and the South. A house divided against itself, indeed: There was very little in common between the kitchens of the Yankee North and the Confederate South.
Civil War Soldiers Needed Bravery To Face The Foe, And The Food
Over the four-year course of the war, the cotton-and-tobacco-growing South was steadily starved into submission by the Union's naval blockade of the Atlantic Coast and the Mississippi River, which cut off vital supplies of grain, pork and, most lethally, salt. Meanwhile, ports in the North remained open to trade with Europe. While parts of the South came close to famine, the North continued to dine well and even exported surplus food. All this was reflected in the food literature of the time.
"Although direct references to the war were rare in Northern cookbooks," food historian Helen Zoe Veit told me, "a close reading can help us glean hints of the turbulence churning outside the kitchen window."
"There was only one actual cookbook published in the South during the war — but recipes were printed in other forms, especially in periodicals," says Veit, the editor of the American Food in History series, including the just published Food and the Civil War Era: The South.
A rare but explicit reference to slavery in a Northern cookbook appeared in Mrs. S.G. Knight's Tit-Bits Or, How to Prepare a Nice Dish at a Moderate Expense. It contained a recipe called "Tessie's Wheaten Biscuit. (From a Contraband)" — contraband being the term used by the Army for slaves who had escaped across Union lines.
A circa 1863 stereograph shows Union Army Capt. J.W. Forsyth sitting on a crate of hardtack, a stiff, flavorless, crackerlike bread served to soldiers, at Aquia Creek, Va. The crate says "50 lbs. net. Army Bread from the Union Mechanic Baking Company, 45 Leonard St." Library of Congress hide caption
A circa 1863 stereograph shows Union Army Capt. J.W. Forsyth sitting on a crate of hardtack, a stiff, flavorless, crackerlike bread served to soldiers, at Aquia Creek, Va. The crate says "50 lbs. net. Army Bread from the Union Mechanic Baking Company, 45 Leonard St."
Written in broken English to mimic the speech of a slave, the short recipe used a touch of black comedy, unsavory to our modern ears, to evoke the cruelty of plantation life: It directed readers to "beat the dough 'till it begins to go pop, pop, pop, — it'll crack mos' like a whip, — then you know it's done."
Veit notes that while the other women in the book were referred to respectfully as Mrs. or Miss — such as Mrs. Faben's Economy Cakes or Miss Pindar's Dyspepsia Bread — contraband Tessie was denied that dignity.
Mrs. Knight's 1864 book also contained recipes for Yankee Pudding — no doubt a proud way of owning a term used pejoratively by Southerners for the enemy. And there was a rich and heavily spiced Thanksgiving Pudding, which was very up-to-the-minute, indeed: Only the previous year, President Abraham Lincoln had declared Thanksgiving a national holiday — to remind the people of the "blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies" despite "the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged."
"Mary Cornelius' best-selling 1863 cookbook, The Young Housekeeper's Friend, opened with a homily on the humane treatment of servants. Reminding her Boston readers that their waiting-maid was 'made of flesh and blood, and was therefore capable of having an aching head and weary limbs,' Cornelius exhorted them to teach their illiterate servants to read."
While other cookbooks did not refer directly to slavery, its shadow was unmistakably present. For instance, Mary Cornelius' best-selling 1863 cookbook, The Young Housekeeper's Friend, opened with a homily on the humane treatment of servants. Reminding her Boston readers that their waiting-maid was "made of flesh and blood, and was therefore capable of having an aching head and weary limbs," Cornelius exhorted them to teach their illiterate servants to read. This sounds innocuous now but was deeply political then. Readers of the time, says Veit, would have been keenly aware that this advice "readily contrasted with the slave codes in Southern states that made it illegal to teach slaves to read."
As the war came to an end, America got its first cookbook dedicated solely to leftovers, or rechauffes, since even leftovers taste better in French. What to Do with the Cold Mutton: A book of Rechauffes, Together with Many Other Approved Recipes for the Kitchen of a Gentleman of Moderate Income, was published in the U.S. in 1865 and was well-received. Writes Veit, "Hundreds of thousands of Northern families had lost husbands, sons, or fathers, and in many cases that meant they had lost the basis of their economic subsistence. As many Americans knew all too well, turning the scraps left from one dinner into a palatable meal the next day could mean the difference between living within one's budgets and sliding into debt."
But though the North was undeniably affected by the war, its plight was nowhere as desperate as the South. While Northern cookbooks continued to call for exotic foreign ingredients like spices, cayenne, pineapple and chocolate for dishes like Calcutta Curry, Mulligatawny Soup and various souffles and ragouts, their Southern counterparts were teaching people how to cure bacon without salt.
The only Southern cookbook of the war years was The Confederate Receipt Book. Published in 1863, it had a revealing subtitle: "A Compilation of over one hundred receipts adapted to the times." And those were the worst of times, most miserably manifested in a recipe for Apple Pie without Apples: "To one small bowl of crackers that have been soaked until no hard parts remain, add one teaspoonful of tartaric acid, sweeten to your taste, add some butter, and a very little nutmeg."
Perhaps the most serious result of the food blockade was the lack of salt, which the South imported from Wales. Fish, meat, butter and other foodstuffs could not be preserved without salt and perished rapidly in the heat. The Army ran out of provisions, and on the home front, too, hunger grew. So severe was the salt famine, writes Andrew F. Smith in Starving the South, How the North Won the Civil War, that "Southern newspapers, journals, and books published dozens of recipes made with little salt." Eating tinned corned beef, which didn't need table salt, was encouraged. And those living near the coast began to cook their rice, grits and hominy in seawater.
Displaying admirable sang-froid, the Confederate Receipt Book assured its readers that they didn't need salt to preserve meat — after all, the Indians had managed without. All one had to do was erect open-topped, 5-foot-tall wigwams in the bright sunshine, build a fire within, and smoke thinly sliced meat over it for 24 hours to smoke-cure it.
Coffee, too, was scarce, so an ersatz brew made from roasted acorns mixed with bacon fat was prescribed for "a splendid cup of coffee."
What remained plentiful in the South were protein-rich peanuts and black-eyed peas, both of which, ironically enough, were brought from West Africa by the very slaves over whom the war was being fought.
Since slave women did most of the cooking in the antebellum mansions, it's scarcely surprising that one of the first cookbooks to be published by a black woman in America was by an ex-slave. Abby Fisher had moved from Mobile, Ala., to San Francisco in the 1870s and began to cook for society people there.
In 1881, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking was published. Since neither the 49-year-old Mrs. Fisher nor her husband could read or write, nine friends collaborated to compile the book. With 160 Southern recipes for dishes like oyster gumbo, Hoppin' John and Jumberlie, it ranks as a classic in the American cookbook canon.
Nina Martyris is a freelance journalist based in Knoxville, Tenn.