Karen Abbott

Tales of the Blockade Runners

by KarenAbbott January 23, 2013
Tales of the Blockade Runners

by Karen Abbott In April 1861, as soon as President Lincoln declared a blockade of 3,500 miles of coastline in an attempt to cut off the Confederacy’s overseas trade, savvy Southerners found ways to evade it. England, which remained neutral, allowed agents to buy at will, and a blockade-running business flourished abroad. Low, sleek ships […]

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12 Days of Books: Lovely Little Lies

by KarenAbbott December 7, 2012
12 Days of Books: Lovely Little Lies

by Karen Abbott (Wonders & Marvels contributor) “History is a set of lies agreed upon,” Napoleon Bonaparte famously said, and that adage stayed with me throughout the three years I spent researching Sin in the Second City, which tells the true story of two sisters who ran the world’s most famous brothel in early 1900s […]

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Gadgets and Gimmicks of the Civil War

by KarenAbbott November 23, 2012
Gadgets and Gimmicks of the Civil War

During the first few weeks of April 1861, even before the smoke of Fort Sumter had faded, the greatest assemblage of hucksters in the nation’s young history began hawking an eclectic variety of wares. The mid-19th century, with its rapid proliferation of daily newspapers and the penny press, marked the first time people recognized the […]

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Uncommon Soldiers: Women in the Civil War

by KarenAbbott October 23, 2012
Uncommon Soldiers: Women in the Civil War

By Karen Abbott (W&M Contributor) In the fall of 1862, at an Union army encampment along the Rappahannock River, a corporal in a New Jersey regiment, serving picket duty, began moaning and doubling over in pain. At first his comrades dismissed his complaints, but when he sank to his knees, unable to support himself, they carried […]

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The Strange Journey of Napoleon’s Penis

by KarenAbbott September 23, 2012
The Strange Journey of Napoleon's Penis

By Karen Abbott (W&M Contributor) In 1821, the year of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death from stomach cancer, his penis embarked on a journey that rivaled its owner’s bloodthirsty trek across Europe. It began on an autopsy table on the British island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, which had been the emperor’s home since the […]

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Death by Crinoline

by KarenAbbott August 23, 2012
Death by Crinoline

By Karen Abbott, W&M Contributor In addition to smallpox, cholera, and consumption, Victorian era denizens had to consider the perils of crinoline, the rigid, cage-like structure worn under ladies’ skirts that, at the apex of its popularity, reached a diameter of six feet. The New York Times first reported the phenomenon of crinoline-related casualties in […]

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Civil War Mourning Customs

by Holly Tucker July 23, 2012
Civil War Mourning Customs

By Karen Abbott (W&M contributor) Nearly 700,000 men died in the Civil War, more from disease than from battlefield wounds (“bowels are of more consequence than brains” was a common jest”) and these fatalities ultimately belonged to those left behind; it was the survivors who had to contend with the business of burying and grieving. […]

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