Random Notes

"Why the Civil War Still Matters"

Many of you have no doubt already read my old post "Why the Civil War Still Matters" which was picked up by the History News Network.  I’ve been meaning to highlight the exchange that took place with historian Richard F. Miller that followed the posting on HNN.  Richard took issue with some of my points and the assumptions that lay behind my research on the memory of the Crater and how the battlefield should be interpreted by the National Park Service.  I think the exchange reflects the kind of interaction that is possible on-line between individuals that are open to debating the tough issues.  Richard’s tough questions forced me to go back and think through a number of issues.  Anyway, if you are interested in reading the exchange click here.

John Bowie Magruder

On a different note, I am currently putting together a talk on Col. John Bowie Magruder which will be presented on May 31 at the Albemarle County Historical Society here in Charlottesville.  Magruder was born and raised in the Charlottesville area and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1860.  He rose to the rank of colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry and was mortally wounded at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.  I published an article in the Magazine of Albemarle County History back in 2002 and even won an award for it.  At the time Peter Carmichael had published a few articles on his young Virginians and I even had access to a few manuscript chapters.  But the recent publication of his book-length study has given me reason to go back and think through Magruder’s place within this highly selective group.  Unfortunately, Magruder did not make the cut for Carmichael’s study, but his M.A. thesis was referenced in the bibliography.  I am going to write up a new version of the article this month for publication in the magazine America’s Civil War so keep an eye out.

John Christopher Winsmith

Also keep an eye out in an upcoming issue of America’s Civil War (I think it should be the August issue) for a sample from the letters collection of Captain John C. Winsmith of the 1st South Carolina Infantry.  This is a 7-page letter that was written on May 15, 1864 at the height of the fighting around Spotsylvania Court House.  I think it will give you a sense of why I am so excited about the future publication of this collection.

1 comment… add one

  • Chris May 6, 2006

    Kevin an obvious example would be Fort Blakely where race was a huge part of that fight. I have never visited it so I do not know how much it is talked about by the NPS. I would assume it is addressed as the largest gathering of Negro soldiers ever assembled during the Civil War was a brigade of 5,500 Negro soldiers that took part. General Hawkins commanded their division. I think a significant number of these Negro soldiers were former slaves. General Andrews in his official report noted that the Negro soldiers were “burning with an impulse to do honor to their race.” ect. You’re probably very aware of this fight so I won’t to into any more details.

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