Grateful American™ Radio Show


Author Adam Goodheart Teaches Us About "1861"

Adam Goodheart is the author of the “New York Times” bestseller, “1861,” and the forthcoming “1865, two books that capture the stories that give us tremendous insight into the real people who fought and lived during the Civil War.

A historian, essayist, and journalist, Goodheart’s articles have appeared in National Geographic, Outside, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine, among others. He is a regular columnist for the Times’ acclaimed Civil War series, “Disunion.” He lives in Washington, D.C., and on the Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he is director of Washington College’s C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

In today’s podcast, we learn:

  • What inspired Goodheart to write “1861?
  • What makes this war so important to understand— especially for kids
  • Some of the Civil War heroes who may have inspired you in some way
  • What role women like Jessie Freemont played in the war
  • How and when he developed his liking for American history
  • Why today’s kids don’t know much of history
  • What he thinks we can all do to help pass on our enthusiasm for the founders to kids in k-12
  • And, Goodheart leaves us three fascinating facts about the Civil War that our listeners can talk tonight about at the dinner table.

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Learn more about Adam Goodheart at


Did you know:

1. The Civil War was the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. During an average day during the war, approximately 600 people were killed. By the end of the war, over 618,000 people had died. This is more Americans than WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.

2. If the names of the Civil War dead were organized similar to the names on the Vietnam Memorial wall, the Civil War memorial would be over 10 times longer.

3. During the Civil War, 2% of the U.S. population died. This is equivalent to 6 million men today. While rifles were the deadliest weapons during the war, disease killed more men. Camps became breeding grounds for measles, chicken pox, and mumps. One million Union solders contracted malaria.

5. The term “carpetbagger” was used by Southerners to describe opportunistic Northerners who moved to the South during Reconstruction. These newcomers often carried bags made from used carpet, or carpetbags.

6. In the 20 years after the Civil War, the national divorce rate increased 150%.

7. Nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. About the same number of men died in the first 15 minutes at Grant’s assault at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864.
8. The average Civil War solder was 5’8” tall and weighed 143 pounds. He was 23 years old.

9. Most Civil War soldiers marched 15 to 20 miles a day.

10. In the United States, there are more than 20 federal historic sites, 50 museums, and 70 national cemeteries dedicated to the Civil War.

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