Authors to talk on WILI Radio with Wayne Norman

Co-authors Vic Butch and Tommy Coletti will talk on WILI Radio on October 28th on the Wayne Norman Morning Show.  Tune in to hear about their latest book ‘A Journey to the Gallows.’  The story of Aaron Dwight Stevens, a native of Norwich Connecticut, who was John Brown’s lieutenant during the famous raid at Harper’s Ferry in 1859.



10 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About The Civil War

Everyone In America Knows About the Civil War.

However, most of the information that we get about the Civil War is the same information over and over again, just rephrased in different ways. Because of this, there is a great deal about the Civil War that is interesting, but that many people don’t actually know about it. Today, I am going to tell you ten facts that you probably don’t know about the Civil War.

  1. The Union Army was actually far more multicultural than most people believe. One third of the soldiers who actually fought were immigrants, and nearly one in ten where African American. There were soldiers who were Irish, German, French, Italian, Polish, English, and Scottish fighting in this war, and scholars believe that these foreigners may have actually been a deciding factor in the war.
  2. There were African American soldiers in the Union Army, but they were paid less than the white soldiers, so they actually refused their salaries for over a year, 18 months, in protest of this. Eventually in September 1864, Congress agreed to give black soldiers equal pay that would retroactively be given to them based on their enlistment date.
  3. Harriet Tubman, the famous former slave who helped many others get to freedom, let a raid to free slave while the Civil War was happening. More than 720 slaves were freed during this mission, more than 10 times the number Tubman had helped with the Underground Railroad.
  4. Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed after the war, but what they don’t know is that he was shot at and almost killed nearly two years previously. He was riding to his summer home when someone shot at him, hitting his hat and spooking his horse. He did not want anyone to know about it because he did not want to scare his wife.
  5. William Tecumseh Sherman, the famous Union general, was at one time demoted for apparent insanity. In 1861 he asked for an absurd amount of forces to defend his territory and then go on the offensive, which prompted the U.S. Secretary of War to remove him from command. Later, Ulysses S. Grant claimed to see intelligence in the request and reappointed him to command.
  6. Contrary to what people believe, Robert E. Lee was actually the bloodiest general of the war. If casualties are counted proportionally, Lee’s army suffered far more than Grant’s during the war, due to Lee’s tendency to attack and win key battles but sustain heavy casualties.
  7. Abraham Lincoln attempted to send free slaves abroad as much as possible both before and during the war. He believed that it would be better to send them away from North America, but prominent abolitionists explained that this idea was appalling and impractical for everyone, and Lincoln never mentioned it after signing the Emancipation Proclamation.
  8. During the war, the Union confiscated Lee’s estate and turned it into a cemetery with the idea that if he ever returned he would have to face the graves that he had created. He never reclaimed his property, but his eldest son George did, eventually selling it back to the government to be what is now Arlington National Cemetery.
  9. Generals actually had high casualty rates during the Civil War as they often led their troops into battle. They were 50 percent more likely to die in combat then privates, strange numbers for modern wars.
  10. While many people know that more men died in the Civil War than any other American conflict, most people do not know that about two-thirds of those that died perished from disease. Two percent of the population died, and while rifles were the deadliest weapons in the war, the camps became breeding grounds for diseases and epidemics were common, killing many soldiers all within close quarters.

Key Players in the Abolition of Slavery

Many people were involved in the abolishment of slavery.

Some were former slaves themselves while many were not. They were all joined together by their goal to rid the United States of slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was a woman born to a family that encouraged the education of all of their children and wanted them to participate in political events. She was a writer who loved to involve herself in public affairs all throughout her life. She is best known for her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which provides an in-depth and moving look at what slavery was actually like. Her goal was to show Northerners who had never actually experienced slavery up close what life was like for slaves, and then spur the Northerners to action. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became a bestseller in the United States, Britain, Europe, and Asia, but more importantly it inspired a wave of anti-slavery all throughout the North.

Harriet Tubman was also an influential woman in the abolition of slavery. A former slave herself, Harriet made numerous trips back and forth from the south in order to lead other slaves into freedom as well. She worked with what became known as the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that were meant to aid slaves fleeing from captivity. During the Civil War, Harriet worked as a cook and nurse for the Union Army before becoming an armed scout and spy. This made her the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, as she was a guide in the Combahee River Raid. Harriet not only gained her own freedom, but she worked for the rest of her life to make sure she freed or helped as many slaves as she possibly could.

John Brown was a more extreme member of the abolitionist movement. He lived as a young man in Ohio and around active opponents of slavery so these feelings became ingrained into his being. It is said he saw a slave treated most horribly in Ohio and from that point on he despised slavery. He began by helping several slaves to escape and then decided to begin fighting against those who were proslavery in a bigger way. Brown began fighting proslavery forces in “bloody Kansas,” even murdering some proslavery settlers. Many northern extremists saw him as a hero who had built up a small fight group of men who aimed to free the slaves. He led a raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry that was ultimately unsuccessful as a raid and led to the deaths of many of his men and his own capture. While the raid did not accomplish much at the time, analysts have later decided that it did much to bring about the Civil War. It sparked outrage and awareness in the Northerners and encouraged them to take up their own arms and fight for what they believed in.

            These three people are extraordinary examples of some of the key players in the abolitionist movement. They did so much for such an important movement, and all helped bring about the Civil War and the freedom of the slaves in their own individual ways.

Germantown, Philadelphia: The Birthplace of Antislavery

Slavery Used to Be Legal In America.

That much people know. But what a lot of people actually don’t know is that the first petition against slavery appeared in Germantown, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia) back in 1688. While many of the colonists came from areas where slavery was relatively common and so had little qualms about continuing it in America, the residents of Germantown came from an area where slavery was not prevalent. They were not used to it, and so were able to look at the institution and realize that it did not really fit with the religious beliefs that many of the colonists held.

Rather than accept slavery for what it was, a man named Francis Daniel Pastorius drafted the Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, which was signed by him and three other Quakers living in Germantown on behalf of the Germantown Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. While it was unfortunately forwarded to the monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings without any action being taken on it, it is incredible that such a petition existed so early on in the founding of America.

This petition was the first document that asked for equal rights for all human beings, regardless of their outward appearance. Even while many believed that slavery was acceptable, there were people from the very beginning who were working for equality. The Quaker Petition Against Slavery was the beginning of a movement that continued to grow throughout all of the colonies and into the abolitionist and suffrage movements later on. It was eventually set aside in 1688, but in 1844, 156 years later, the petition was rediscovered and once again used to champion equal rights. The abolitionist movement pointed to this early document to showcase the history of their cause and how important it was to the United States. The petition was the very beginning of the equal rights movement, something that changed the foundation of our nation.

I firmly believe that the two most important, earthshaking and humane ideas that we take for granted and consider simply “American,” originated within small religious extremist groups which we now think of as quaint or even strange. It was the search and the fight for individual and religious freedoms that, at least partially, drove the Puritans from Europe to the shores of America, and it was that same religious drive from the Quakers which started and continued the effort to rid the whole nation of the evils of slavery.

Undercover Soldiers of the Civil War

Today When We Think About Men And Women In The Civil War, We Have Very Separate Pictures of What They Were Doing.

Women were nurses who helped the men once they exited the battlefield or brave ladies who patiently awaited the return of their husbands. Sometimes we might see them as romantic spies, working for the war efforts in secret. In contrast, men are the ones who participated in all of the action. This however is not entirely accurate.

Although the Union and Confederate armies technically forbade the enlistment of women in their ranks, there were a great number of women who were not deterred. They assumed men’s names and disguised themselves. They lived and fought alongside the men of the war, giving their lives to the efforts just like the men. Because the women had to disguise themselves and hide their true identities, there is no accurate number of women who fought during the Civil War. However, estimates place as many as 250 women in the Confederate army.

It is surprising that people today have little to no knowledge of the fact that so many women actually served in the war. While their need to disguise themselves and take false names does make it challenging to point to too many specific cases, the existence of women serving in the military was well known at the time and continued throughout the nineteenth century. However, more recent writers focusing on the period have chosen either to diminish the role that women actually played or to ignore them completely. Perhaps this is because their numbers were so few and did not impact the outcomes of any of the battles. They might not seem like an integral part of the story. However, just the fact that the women were there makes them interesting! They were not supposed to be present as soldiers, and yet they went out of their way to disguise themselves and put themselves into harms way.

Some might question how women could have so easily passed for men, but at the time it was relatively simple. In order to enlist, no one asked for any proof of identity, though everyone was subject to a physical exam, which more often than not was a joke. For the majority of women it was only a matter of cutting their hair and changing their name that allowed them to enlist. Once in the camps the women would have learned to pick up on how the men acted and then imitated what they saw. For example, Loreta Velazquez wore a false mustache, developed a masculine gait, learned to smoke cigars, and padded her uniform coat all to make herself appear manlier. She is just one example of numerous women who did what they had to do in order to join the war effort. They knew exactly what they were getting in to when they decided to enlist, but they did it anyway. The women of the Civil War did their duty with as much courage as any man that fought beside them.

How I Fell In Love With the Civil War (Butsch)

When I Was Twelve Years Old My Parents Took Our Family Of Six On A Summer Vacation To Visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, And The Rest As They Say Is History.

I remember being extremely interested in everything that we saw and learned about on the trip. This history was so captivating to my young mind.

A few years later when I was in high school an outstanding history teacher reignited my passion and interest in U.S. history, specifically the Civil War. This teacher encouraged me to pursue my interest in the subject and helped me when I need it.

Around this time my beloved Aunt was doing research on the “Butsch” family history and came up with some findings that fascinated me. She discovered that my Great Grandfather, Peter Butsch, had been a sergeant who fought for the Union. He was in the 6th Indiana Light Artillery Regiment and unfortunately passed away, as so many did, due to disease following the Battle of Vicksburg. Now this subject that I had been so interested in, the Civil War, had a supremely personal connection to me. One of my family members had participated in it and ultimately passed away as a result. This fueled my interest on an even deeper level.

In college it seemed fairly logical that I should become a history major as I was already fairly knowledgeable about the subject and enjoyed learning even more. My goal had been to become a history teacher and coach at the high school level so that I too could translate my love for learning about past events to those growing up. However, I chose to follow a different path after college and began a wonderful 42-year career at Electric Boat in Submarine Construction. I have never given up my passion for history in all of those years.

Since graduating from college I have built a significant Civil War library in my home and have continued to learn all that I can about it. My desire to learn and teach about the Civil War has only continued to grow stronger, sparking my interest to write my own book on the subject so that I can share with others my fascination and knowledge. I think that it is important for everyone to learn about this period that had such a monumental impact on our country’s future.

Tax Season of Old

Did You Know That The First Personal Income Tax
Was Put In Place During The Civil War?


Although the IRS and national income tax would not become law until the next century, the Union implemented an income tax to levy funds to pay for the war itself.


The Civil War income tax was a “progressive” tax in the sense that the rich were taxed at a higher rate than the poor. However, it was much simpler than the tax structures we have today. Those who made less than $600 per year did not have to pay any tax, while those who made between $600 and $10,000 per year paid three percent of their income. Those making more than $10,000 per year paid five percent.


At these rates, the first income tax levied approximately $55 million in revenue to fund the war effort. There was little argument with the first income tax, as paying it was seen as a patriotic duty. The country was proud when millionaire merchant A.T. Stewart paid $400,000 on an income of $4 million, doubling his five percent required tax payment as a patriotic gesture.


Just like today, there were tax forms that had to be filled out in order to document income and pay taxes properly. Similar to our modern 1040 tax form, taxpayers were required to submit property and income calculations on a Form 24, entitled “Detailed Statement of Income, Gains, and Profits.”  The Civil War tax Form 24 also included spaces for listing deductions.  “Proper deductions” from income derived from business or trade included rent, insurance, freight and expressage, wages of employees, and other expenses.  Rental income from lands and buildings was reported separately.


While some people today argue that the progressive income tax is unfair, in the 1860s it was seen as sensible. Then, as now, many people were exempt from paying income tax because of extreme poverty, while others paid the majority of the taxes due to higher income levels.


Most people think income tax is a relatively new phenomenon, but history shows that it has been a part of American lives for many years. Think about that as you file your taxes this season!