News and Features

Now available!The Battle of Hurricane Bridge, March 28, 1863by Philip Hatfield, PhDThe Battle at Hurricane Bridge is an often overlooked Civil War action occurring at the small and otherwise quiet western Virginia village. For five hours behind the limited...

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New book on Belle Boyd

New book on Belle Boyd

A new book on Confederate spy Belle Boyd has recently been released. Belle Boyd: The Rebel Spy is the first serious non-fiction account of her life in 34 years. Belle Boyd was from Martinsburg, Virginia (West Virginia) and considered the most notorious and...

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Help Save 4 Battlefields in West Virginia and Virginia

The Civil War Trust now has the opportunity to save 243 acres at four battlefields in Virginia and West Virginia. We are saving a vital tract at the heart of the Cedar Creek battlefield in Virginia, as well as additional acres at another Virginia battlefield, New...

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French honored by Hagerstown Civil War Round Table

The Hagerstown Civil War Round Table presented Steven C. French with its 2016 Henry Kyd Douglas Award. French, a former middle-school teacher, is the author of “Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign” (2008), which was recognized with three prestigious awards;...

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West Virginia History: An Open Access Reader

West Virginia History: An Open Access Reader

West Virginia History: An Open Access Reader West Virginia University Libraries Kevin Barksdale (Marshall University) and Ken Fones-Wolf (West Virginia University) assembled this collection of essays, mostly from the journal they edit, West...

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Goble Cooper Chip-Amanda Cooper Ball This is the regiment our ancestor Harrison Thacker Jr. served in.

#OnThisDay in 1862, the controversial, ill-fated U.S. Colonel Dixon Stansbury Miles was placed in command of the Railroad Brigade, centered in Harpers Ferry. Less than six months later, Miles would order Harpers Ferry's surrender to Confederate Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson - effecting the largest U.S. troop surrender prior to World War II. Miles, who was mortally wounded during the battle, soon became the federal scapegoat for the catastrophe. Unable to defend himself, the late Colonel Miles was subjected to accusations of misconduct ranging from drunkenness to collusion with the enemy, general ineptitude to straight-up cowardice. Some storytellers would imply Miles hadn't been killed by an enemy shell, but by the fury of his own men who had no wish to surrender.

However, such accusations stand in sharp contrast to Colonel Miles’ 42-year military record, most of which had been exemplary. A West Point graduate, his experience on the battlefield stretched from the Seminole Wars in Florida to the Mexican War and, afterward, fighting on the frontier of New Mexico. He had achieved hero status during the Mexican War, earning a brevet promotion to Lieutenant Colonel during the Battle of Monterrey.

Nonetheless, the officer who arrived at Harpers Ferry in 1862 did come trailing a shadow. After a lifetime of honorable service, his reputation had been tarnished early in the Civil War. Miles had commanded a division at the first Battle of Bull Run which had been kept in reserve; however, following the Union loss, Miles was accused of being drunk during the battle. That accusation was substantiated after military inquiry, and Miles found himself subjected to an eight-month leave of absence and, finally, reassignment to the Railroad Brigade and Harpers Ferry.

Miles’ time at Harpers Ferry was marked with a number of challenges leading up to the September battle. The Railroad Brigade bore a tremendous responsibility in a nebulous, thin-stretched territory, charged with guarding than 400 miles of railroad from Baltimore through western Virginia. In addition to dealing with smaller harassment by Confederates all along this route, commanding the garrison at Harpers Ferry meant coping with the Ferry’s near-constant threat of flooding and supply disruption from natural causes. He witnessed the town become a major gathering point for African American refugees and runaway “contraband," and the struggle of the military and politicians to determine how to handle this request for safety and freedom. He also used his time to coordinate the training and drilling of the nearly 14,000 men in the garrison. At the time of the September battle, many of those in his command were fresh recruits, serving only a few weeks before crisis hit.

Image: Col. Dixon Stansbury Miles (Library of Congress).
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For those searching for home school material...During this unprecedented world event, the American Battlefield Trust Education Department knows that many of you are at home, and are coping with a disrupted day-to-day schedule. We also know that not too few of you are with your children or grandchildren, or perhaps are caretakers for other young people, and in addition to your duties as a parent, you have also assumed the role of their teacher.

As you may know, the Trust offers free educational materials year-round for K-12 educators that are deployed around the world. While we are advocates for place-based learning, we understand that not everyone can or will have the opportunity to use our materials on the battlefield, or in this case, the traditional classroom setting. That is why we have designed our materials to be used on the battlefield, in the classroom, or from the comfort of your living room.

We want to share a sample of the digital resources that might be helpful to you right now. We hope that they can help bring history to life at home, whether you are a parent, educator, lifelong student of history, or anywhere in between.

𝐋𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐚
Our downloadable Civil War Curriculum covering that conflict and the antebellum period is available in multiple grade levels. A new, inquiry-based curriculum will launch in the coming weeks and are preparing similar offerings for the Revolutionary War and Early Republic/War of 1812.

Find and download your preferred curriculum here -…

Our website boasts thousands of...
Articles -
Biographys -
Maps -
Quizzes -

𝐁𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐀𝐩𝐩™ 𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐕𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐓𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬
While GPS-enabled to help lead you around in person, our Battle App™ guides for iOS and Android devices can be accessed from anywhere in the world to bring you “onto the field” with leading historians.

Download your favorite apps here -

Our Virtual Tours utilize stunning 360-degree photography to place you at the heart of key battlefields and highlight key landmarks, from Antietam to Yorktown.

Start virtually exploring here-

The most versatile tool in the Trust's education arsenal is the suite of high-quality video series produced by the Trust and house on...

Our website -

and YouTube channel -

𝐀𝐧𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐌𝐚𝐩𝐬: Whether you want to cover the entire American Revolution or Civil War in a single sitting, or dive into campaign-level learning (like The Overland Campaign), these mini-documentaries are ideal viewing.

See our collection -…

𝐁𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐥𝐝 𝐔: Have a burning question about American history and need a succinct — but authoritative — answer? This rapidly growing series tackles commonly asked questions with lightning-strike responses suitable for all audiences.

Watch here -…

𝐈𝐧𝟒 𝐌𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐬: Short and compelling treatments of subjects ranging from famous battles and personalities to equipment, weapons, and tactics, these serve as introductions and whet the appetite for more learning.

Watch them all here -…

𝐕𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲: Experience Civil War combat, as never before, with an immersive storytelling approach that will transport put you back in time as you navigate how it may have looked, felt and sounded to be a soldier.

Experience it now -…

𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐥 𝐖𝐚𝐫: Want to make a local connection to national history? Soldiers came from across the nation, and many communities far from the front lines were sites for hospitals, prisons or cemeteries.

Find your state -…

These are just a few of our resources we offer that will hopefully help to inspire minds at home. In addition, throughout this world event, our education department continues to assist parents, teachers, and educators around the world as they engage in distance learning. Feel free to comment below if you have questions or are seeking assistance. #DistanceLearning
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