Nov 27, 2017, 01:00 AM

Six hundred thousand men died or were wounded in the American Civil War. Just as many families were affected. Mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers all felt the hopelessness of not knowing if their sons and brothers would ever come home. Steven Foster captured this feeling of helplessness and rage in his song "Was My Brother In The Battle?, which is sung here, credits below, and thanks to Cinzi Lavin and Jennifer Love, arrangement and vocals respectively, for their rendition. Did the Civil War really matter? Sadly, many people today don't know who fought in the war, when it took place, or who won it. Many more don't know why they fought. It's popular now to look back and say what a waste it was and that it should never have been fought, but history can't be written off so simply like that. Those who write it off have to look at it in context- meaning you have to put yourself in that time and place, understand what tensions were building, and why. Only then do you realize that it was unavoidable. Both sides could not have found the answer any other way, and the memories of the men on both sides, North and South, who were caught up in the war need to be preserved, not torn down. In order for America to become one great united nation this great rending and fusion had to happen. This is a family story, not a war story, and one that should be shared, because it is history, and the outcome affects us all.

This is the story of my great-great Uncle, who fought for the Union during the American Civil War, and who gave his life to preserve one nation, undivided, at the Battle of Petersburg in 1864. He joined the New York 5th Infantry, a Zouave Regiment, and was involved in a number of engagements, including Cold Harbor, Charleston, Fort Sumter, and Petersburg. In every regiment, the union flag was their most prized battle standard, along with their regimental colors. They were proud of their flag, and proud of this country- so much so, that they risked their lives, and too often gave their lives, in defense of it, never letting the flag touch the ground.

Their sacrifice, when the North won, ended up giving us one nation, undivided, and powerful. It meant that all the states and all its people would have to pull together-they did, and America became the most powerful and wealthy country on Earth. Their sacrifice gave us an end to slavery, a united America, a path to voting and equal rights, veterans hospitals, and the opening of the west, to name just a few. It also gave us the most powerful nation on earth.

Here you'll find the story of William Carney, the first black man to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, which he did while fighting for the Massachusetts Volunteer 54th Infantry, who was wounded under heavy fire as he delivered the union flag to his comrades on the front line, saying “Boys, don’t worry, it never touched the ground”. It is a true story. He survived the war. He risked death for the flag and what it stood for. So did Horace Hagadorn., who paid the ultimate price. He died fighting at Petersburg. His two letters to his sister Rebecca are included here.

1001 Heroes is a proud part of the 1001 Stories Podcast network, which also includes 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales and our newest show, 1001 Stories For The Road, which recently changed to a classic books format, where I narrate stories like the Call of the Wild and Treasure island one chapter a week, launching a new episode every Sunday night at 8pm, and available wherever great podcasts are found, including Apple Podcasts. Our home site is www.1001storiespodcast.com. We really appreciate reviews for all three of our shows, and all three are suitable for and enjoyed by all ages.

A huge thanks to Cinzi Lavin for allowing us to use her music. "Was My Brother in the Battle?" Music and lyrics by Stephen Foster; lyrics adapted and piano/vocal arrangement by Cinzi Lavin. Jennifer Love vocals, Cinzi Lavin piano. For more informati...