The Year Was 1865

Map of Lee's Surrender, 09 April 1865 from Historical Map CollectionThe year was 1865 and it began with Abraham Lincoln in office and the long and brutal Civil War in the U.S. coming to an end. By the time it was ended, according to the Civil War Center at Louisiana State University, combined there were over 970,000 casualties (184,594 combat deaths, 373,458 deaths from disease and other causes, and 412,175 wounded).

On April 14, the newspapers were still talking about Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, and peace, but the following day’s newspapers would tell a different story. On April 14, actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre and he died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning. “The New York Times” edition for April 15 chronicles the events of that evening and is available free online at

In the worst marine disaster in U.S. history, on April 27, one of the boilers on the riverboat Sultana burst and 1,547 of the estimated 2,485 passengers and crew died, many of them soldiers recently released from the Confederate prison at Andersonville.

On the medical front, British surgeon Joseph Lister began the use of antiseptics in surgery. Unfortunately it was a practice that took time to catch on and many doctors scoffed at it. It wasn’t until the 1880s that there was an increase in the use of antiseptics.

12 thoughts on “The Year Was 1865

  1. This was a great article. Very intereting. Could surely use more. Nice job! Thanks!

  2. I never really liked history in school,but now I am delighted with the way it comes alive in the context of genealogical pusuits.Thanks.

  3. This is very interesting and I’d like to see more of these gems. I also appreciate another article, sent today by on “Churches Have Anniversaries Too,” which was also taken from this same site.

  4. It is so good when the timing of events are given together Mos tof us learn isolated events and never see any connection from one to another. I never knew that the war ended and Lincoln were killed in the same year until now. Thank you so much for this information.

  5. 40+ years ago i purchase a copy of new york herald of 4/15/65 that told of lincoln’s assination. to preserve it, i had it framed and covered up the back page story of grant & lee at appomatix court house. my ggrandfather was discharged at the site days afterwards. istory gives one a real perspective on genealogy.

  6. This information is great! I too never cared for history in school. Since I have gotten involved in genealogical research I can’seem to get enough of it. Thank You!

  7. I just found one of my missing ancesters had died of disease in this war and it was very interesting to find out more about the numbers. Thanks!

  8. Thanks for posting these great articles. They provide such a valuable context.

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