Who Is Responsible For The BackWash?

How about some more irrational ranting from Dimitri?  This time he attributes a conversation that an Antietam NPS historian had with a visitor about the motivations of Civil War soldiers to McPherson and Sears.  Click here for the conversation and here is Dimitri’s take on all of this:

Now where on earth do you think they got that attitude from? Who put them in the judgement seat? Clue: they are visiting a battlefield. They are not here by accident.

Lo! They are students of pop history, wherein the author and reader are judges of men and geniuses of surpassing insight. Doubt me? Read on:

The question is framed in such a way as if to imply that the soldiers of the Civil War were somehow a species inferior to us. Not nearly as sophisticated as we are, and certainly less adept at reading the tour map as we are.

That’s coming from a park ranger, folks. And he’s getting the backwash from Sears, McPherson, et al.

Manny tries to convert the geniuses to compassion. Good luck. "But still, I’m often struck by the lack of empathy that many people today have toward the soldiers of the Civil War."

Who else but Dimitri could take the comments of some ignorant tourist and attribute it to "Sears, McPherson, et al."  By the way if you are looking for an excellent study of what motivated soldiers to join and stay in the ranks you may want to look at James McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. Who exactly is responsible for the "backwash"?

4 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Oct 9, 2006 @ 6:17

    Hi Richard, — Thanks for taking the time to write in. I’ve never been tempted to delete Dimitri’s blog because he is one of the few CW blogs that actually tries to say something interesting about the field. Of course I find it difficult to comprehend much of it but that is besides the point. He is obsessed with McClellan and his problem is that he makes wild generalizations based on this obsession of wanting to protect his favorite commander.

  • Richard Drabik Oct 8, 2006 @ 23:32

    I subscribe to a number of ACW blogs including Dimitri’s. At times I have been tempted to delete his from my list but I continue to read him just to keep a balanced view point on the use and interpretation of history. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don’t, such as in this case. But you have to admit that the guy can be very entertaining way up there on his moral high-ground. I guess its better up there. No acoustic shadows. Just a clear view of the battlefield like McClellan at Antietam. How could he fail to always be right?

  • chris Oct 6, 2006 @ 0:12

    I agree, Dimitri is connecting dots that are simply not there… at least for me. James McPherson’s “For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War” is a wonderful book. I also would suggest Reid Mitchell’s “The Vacant Chair,” and Gerald F. Linderman’s “Embattled Courage.”


  • Marc Ferguson Oct 5, 2006 @ 17:19

    Dimitri’s post doesn’t even make sense to me. He seems to be operating in some mental landscape invisible to this reader.

Now that you've read the post, share your thoughts.