Civil War: Stories from our Heritage Honor Roll

The Civil War touched every person and influenced every institution more profoundly than any other event in American history. It is virtually impossible to measure the human costs of the Civil War, the hardships and suffering it caused. What we do know is that millions of people grieved for the loss of loved ones. In all, around 360,000 Union soldiers died as a direct result of the war. The Confederacy lost 260,000 dead. Many more soldiers were wounded; some wounds maimed their victims for life. The overall number of dead that resulted from the Civil War nearly equals the number of American soldiers killed in every other military action up to the present.

Not only were civilians deeply scarred by the war, but no aspect of society, economy, or political system was spared. After being mere spectators at the war's early battles, civilians in the war zone later would become unwilling participants and victims of the war's expanding scope and horror. The extreme demands of wartime industry and the loss of traditional family breadwinners to military service caused hardship, but also presented opportunities to women for employment, volunteerism, and activism that previously had been unavailable to them. While many of these gains would be temporary, the Civil War nonetheless represents an important step forward in American society's view of the role of women. 

After the war, the federal government pursued a program of political, social, and economic restructuring across the South-including an attempt to accord legal equality and political power to former slaves. Reconstruction became a struggle over the meaning of freedom, with former slaves, former slaveholders and Northerners adopting different definitions. Eventually, faced with increasing opposition by white Southerners and some Northerners, the government abandoned efforts for Black equality in favor of sectional reconciliation between whites.

[Information courtesy of the Library of Congress and the National Park Service.]

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

Language
State
Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
Group name

Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 54th Massachusetts (March 13, 1863 - August 4, 1865) Military, Civil War, Shaw, Glory, Fort Wagner, Carney, Hallowell, Medal of Honor

On January 26, 1863, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton authorized Massachusetts Governor John Albion. Andrew to create volunteer companies of artillery "for duty in the forts of Massachusetts and elsewhere, and such corps of infantry for the volunteer military service as he may find convenient.

Rev. James William Charles Pennington New York (c.1807 - October 22, 1870) African-American, Presbyterian, Writer, Minister, Abolitionist, Civil War

Born into slavery on the eastern shore of Maryland in 1807, James William Charles Pennington escaped from slavery in 1828 and settled for a time in New York and later became the first black student admitted to Yale, although he was not officially enrolled, and is reported to only have limited use of the library. Although ordained as a minister in the Congregational Church, he later served Presbyterian Churches in many states.

Sojourner Truth Michigan (c.1797 - November 26, 1883) African-American, Methodist, Abolitionist, Author, Women’s Rights Activist, Civil War, Detroit Housing Project

Sojourner Truth was born c. 1797 as “Isabella Baumfree” to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, slaves on a Dutch settlement owned by Colonel Johannes Hardenbaugh, in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York. One of 12 children, she spent her early years serving various masters and never learned to read and write. slave, Thomas, owned by the Dumonts.

Harriet "Minty" Tubman Maryland (c.1822 - June 14, 1914) African American, Underground Railroad, conductor, abolitionist, Union spy, civil war, slavery, suffrage, scout, nurse, civil rights

Born, c.1822, into slavery on a slave-breeding plantation on Maryland's Eastern Shore, she was named Araminta “Minty” Ross by her enslaved parents, Ben Ross, and Harriet (“Rit”) Green. Rit’s mother was owned by Mary Pattison Brodess, whose inherited Harriet when Mary’s mother, Atthow Pattison, died in 1797. Rit was a house cook on the plantation and her father . . .