Well, of course I don't mean that you haven't heard of it. If you need guidance accessing the treasure trove of materials archived at our nation's National Archives, or if you need to tap into another fresh and fascinating website for reasons of procrastination, there's always good reading—and invaluable research primers—at the online venue for Prologue, an outstanding history magazine produced under the aegis of the NARA. The statue on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the building, entitled "The Future," provides the inspiration for the magazine title: "What is Past is Prologue." That really really says it all.
The Fall 2009 issue features the previously unpublished photo above. The caption reads, "William P. Powell, Jr., was one of the first African American physicians to receive a contract as a surgeon with the Union Army. (Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, RG 15). Read the article, "Face to Face with History," here.
There's an old article from the summer of 1995, still invaluable and still online, by Mike Musick, Subject Area Expert for Civil War Materials at the Archives, about whom Robert K. Krick wrote in an acknowledgement to one of his Civil War studies, "It is literally impossible to do adequate research for a serious Civil War book without Mike's collaboration." The article is entitled, "Civil War Records: An Introduction and Invitation." Read that here.
More good Civil War-related stuff at the Prologue site:
"Researching Confederate Marines"
By Trevor K. Plante—obscure as can be, yet the subject of enough organized records to provide more than a couple revelations.
"Civil War Draft Records"
By Michael T. Meier—John D. Rockefeller paid $300 for a substitute. No surprise, but you can see the actual record if you like.
"The Shady Side of the Family Tree: Civil War Union Court—Martial Case Files"
By Trevor K. Plante—endlessly fascinating, and largely un-mined, until Dr. Thomas Lowry started digging and produced some interesting volumes.