It wasn’t too long ago that the statue of Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad placed in Richmond at the Tredegar Museum caused such a rucous. The argument from the Sons of Confederate Veterans suggested that the placement of the statue should be seen as a slap in the face to Southerners. This raises the question of which Southerners were/are being referred to. This is a wonderful example of why a close study of the memory of the Civil War is so important. The argument by heritage groups rests on the flawed assumption that the only Southerners that matter in this debate are white Southerners. Unfortunately, this overlooks the fact that there were white Southerners who welcomed Union troops in April 1865, not to mention the thousands of black Virginians who believed that Lincoln’s visit was symbolic of their freedom. As the political make-up of local and state legislatures continues to change there is bound to be conflict over the way public spaces are to be used in commemorating the Civil War. The Lincoln statue is an example of this. I would like to recommend a title which examines the final days of Richmond and Lincoln’s visit to the city. The book is titled, Richmond Burning by Nelson Lankford. Lankford is the editor of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography which is published by the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. It is as well-written account that forces the reader to rethink the fall of Richmond. Click here for my review of this book which appeared a few years ago on H-Net.
The Fall of Richmond
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"In this stunning and well-researched book, Kevin Levin catches the new waves of the study of memory, black soldiers, and the darker underside of the Civil War as well as anyone has... Levin is both superb scholar and public historian, showing us a piece of the real war that does now get into the books, as well as into site interpretation."
David Blight, Author of Race and Reunion