U.S. Civil War

Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad (Part 1)

Most people are familiar with her involvement with the Underground Railroad, but Harriet Tubman was also a spy for the Union during the Civil War, among many other things. Untangling the truth from the myth is the trickiest part of her story.

Robert Smalls: From Contraband to Congress

After his daring and impressive escape from slavery, Smalls was considered to be contraband, which was a term used for formerly enslaved people who joined the Union. But this was the beginning of an impressive career as a free man.

The Incredible Escape of Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1839. He escaped from enslavement during the U.S. Civil War, in a particularly dramatic fashion.

Louisa May Alcott

Once you examine Louisa May Alcott's life story, the inspirations for her writing become clear. But while she had some things in common with her most famous heroine, a lot sets her apart from Jo March. Read the show notes here.

Plessy v. Ferguson

The ruling in this infamous U.S. Supreme Court case stated that segregation was legal as long as the separate facilities were equal. But most people are more familiar with the name of the case than with the actual events that transpired around it.

Andrews' Raid, or: The Great Locomotive Chase Pt. 2

As the second part of the story picks up, James Andrews and 22 men have commandeered a northbound train in Big Shanty, Georgia. Its conductor, William Fuller, has begun chasing them on foot with two other men in a valiant effort to thwart their plot.

Andrews' Raid, or: The Great Locomotive Chase Pt. 1

The Great Locomotive Chase was a very daring - but very failed - plot to commandeer a train and destroy a crucial stretch of railroad during the Civil War. It's a wild and fun story that covers a lot of ground as it travels around the southeastern U.S. Read the show notes here.

The S.S. Sultana

Because the Sultana sank the day after John Wilkes Booth was captured and killed for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, it didn't make headline news. But it's considered the biggest maritime disaster in U.S. history.

The Red Ghost of Arizona and the U.S. Camel Corps

In 1883, a mysterious beast was spotted in Arizona and trampled a woman. First described a a demon, the creature turned out to be a camel. But what was it doing in the American Southwest in the first place? Read the show notes here.

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce was a soldier, a journalist, an editor, a satirist and a philosopher. He was a complicated man with an unwavering moral code and a life of experiences both fantastic and horrific, which informed his writing. Read the show note for this episode here.