One of the nice things about my job is that I get to work one-on-one with seniors who are interested in doing independent work in history. I am finishing up a project with one of my students on how the Civil War was commemorated here in Charlottesville between 1880 and 1920 and beginning the process of working with a student to formulate a project for next year. This student wants to explore how Civil War soldiers responded to the horrors of war witnessed in the aftermath of battle. We still need to nail a few things down, including the question of whether to look at this question over time or in response to one particular battle.
Luckily this student is excited to get started and even broached the idea of doing some reading over the summer. I’ve decided to assign Drew Faust’s recent book on death and the Civil War, which should provide a helpful context in which to understand the cultural parameters of death in the nineteenth century. Other studies that I am thinking about include Eric T. Dean’s Shook Over Hell, the section on Fredericksburg’s wounded by George Rable, and Joe Glatthaar’s chapter, “To Slaughter One Another Like Brutes” in General Lee’s Army.
My student is going to spent significant time collecting archival material at UVA, but I want him to do a good amount of reading in the relevant secondary sources. Obviously, there is plenty of material out there that can be utilized for such a project; however, I am looking for secondary sources (battle/campaign studies, unit histories, biographies) where the historian goes beyond the descriptive and provides some kind of analysis. If you have something in mind please share it with me even if it is a single book title, journal or magazine essay. Thanks.