American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Memorial Day History - American Civil War

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Official birthplace of Memorial Day - Waterloo
Like almost everyone in village, pharmacist Henry Welles joined the jubilant crowds at welcome-home parades for Civil War soldiers in 1865. It got him thinking: a solemn day to memorialize those who didn't make it back alive. His idea took root on May 5, 1866. Villagers marched in mourning, some visiting 3 cemeteries to decorate veteran's grave with a floral cross. More than two dozen communities in U.S. claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. In April 1862, a group of Washington-area volunteers began annual decorations of the graves of soldiers. Yet the official distinction, signed into law by President Johnson in 1966, is held by Waterloo.

Girl raises $1,500 to put flowers on Civil War graves
13yo student's determination to honor veterans means that 3,400 graves of Civil War soldiers will bear a carnation on Memorial Day. Marina Hillis has raised $1,500 so she could purchase flowers for the graves of forgotten and unknown soldiers. Of the 14,000 graves at Camp Nelson, 3,400 are Union soldiers; of those, 1,200 are unidentified. "I just felt that people that were forgotten weren't really getting any visitors. I didn't realize there were so many out there, but I'm determined to do it."

The Origins Of Memorial Day -- Decoration Day
3 years after the American Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of former Union soldiers and sailors (the Grand Army of the Republic) established Decoration Day to decorate the graves with flowers. Major General John A. Logan declared it should be May 30. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremonies centered around the mourning draped veranda of the Arlington mansion. Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers.

Wartime fare gives Memorial Day a taste of history
What's on the menu for Memorial Day? How about artificial oysters, salt horse and hardtack? All were staples of a Civil War soldier's diet, according to William C. Davis in "The Civil War Cookbook." None was delicious, but the ingredients were available even when food was scarce. Food shortages during wars are common, both on the battlefront and at home. This Memorial Day, we could take a moment to appreciate our steaks. "Victory Cake" or "War Cake" recipes often are eggless, milkless and butterless, producing a cake that resembled what we call fruitcake.

Controversy surrounds Confederate Memorial Day, 7 years after designation
"The War for Southern Independence is a defined event in our history," Brian Cisco said, noting that 14,000 of the 70,000 South Carolinians who fought in the war died. "These men, black and white, were fighting for the liberty that was passed down from the founding fathers of America and were fighting in defense of their home." Since South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges signed the bill making the day a state holiday 7 years ago, it has continued to be a source of controversy. Brian Henson wondered why the Confederate flag is often called a symbol of slavery when the same argument is not made about the U.S. flag, which from 1776 until the Civil War had slaves.

The Gettysburg Address - 10-sentence speech by Lincoln   (Article no longer available from the original source)
President Abraham Lincoln delivered 10-sentence speech in November 1863 to dedicate a cemetery on the site of the battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Both armies lost more than 7,000 men in the three-day battle. The address has become a traditional highlight of Memorial Day programs, when America honors its war dead. "... Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war..."

Memorial Day services traced to late 1800s
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address given on the Civil War battlefield in 1863 is considered by many to be the first ever Memorial Day celebration. In 1868, General John A. Logan issued a general order establishing May 30 as an official Memorial Day to pay respect to all those who had died, in war or peace. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Confederate Memorial Day - Five things to know   (Article no longer available from the original source)
What it is: A day observed in Southern states to commemorate the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War, from 1861 to 1865. National Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day evolved from Decoration Day, a time set aside in the South and North to honor the Confederate and Union dead after the Civil War. When it is observed: May 10 in South Carolina and North Carolina; other Southern states observe the day on various dates from April to June. How many soldiers died in the Civil War: 364,500; 134,000 Confederates; 21,500 South Carolinians.

Confederate Memorial Day - How about an alternative?
As a small child I would sit on my grandfather`s knee, just as he did as a child on the knee of his grandfather, to listen to stories about the Civil War. His grandfather fought for the South from the beginning of the war to the end. He was captured by Union troops and traded back again. He saw Gen. Stonewall Jackson`s wounding. He was among the troops Gen. Robert E. Lee took over after Jackson died and was there when Lee bid farewell to his soldiers after the surrender. There were stories from the homefront, too, like the great-great-grandmother who begged Union soldiers taking everything of value from her place to leave the milk cow. So they did, after shooting it through the head.