The Last Word

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On this final day of 2011 I thought I would hand things over to you.  What stands out in your Civil War memory from the past year and what are you looking forward to in the coming year?

See you in 2012.

28 comments… add one

  • James F. Epperson Dec 31, 2011

    We have to stretch the definition of “year” slightly, but on our way south to spend last Christmas with my mother-in-law, we stopped in Atlanta to see the Cyclorama. Was kind of cool to see the way my kids liked it.

    • Scott MacKenzie Dec 31, 2011

      I went to the Cyclorama last year too. It was quite interesting, if slightly old fashioned.

  • Scott MacKenzie Dec 31, 2011

    For me, it was attending the re-enactment of Jefferson Davis’ inauguration in Montgomery in mid-February. Several things stood out. First, their speeches shocked me with their antiquated understanding of the events in 1860-61. As expected, they avoided race and slavery entirely. Instead, they used the politics of grievance to a degree I thought only hardline left wing Canadians did. One speaker said how the Confederate Constitution was not based on that of the United States; rather it preserved it. Special mention goes to the speaker who quoted Harry Potter. Second, the near-total absence of African Americans. there. I noticed one black woman dressed in period costume at the rally. Some on the SHPG accused me of stalking her, one could not help but notice her presence. While she was perfectly within her rights to be there, it invited comment on the kind of memory the organized sought to present. Surely, African Americans had a different place at and remembrance of the real Davis inauguration.

  • Joe Reinhart Dec 31, 2011

    For me, receiving a contract from a major university press for publication of Yankee Dutchmen under Fire:Civil War Letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry was the highlight of 2011. The book will contain 60 translated and edited letters from Germans fighting in Col. Friedrich Hecker’s regiment. The letters cover Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, the Atlanta campaign, the March to the Sea and Carolinas campaign.

    The publication of several books about Kentucky and Kentuckians in the Civil War was also important to me, including books about creating a Confederate Kentucky, Lincoln and the border states, Joe Holt, and Ky.’s Confederate Soldiers Home.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 31, 2011

      Congratulations on the book deal, Joe.

    • Pat Young Jan 1, 2012

      Great to hear Joe. Look forward to seeing the book.

  • Jim Dick Dec 31, 2011

    Mine would be from all the research I’ve done this year on the attempted secession by several states in 1860-61. Using the actual documents from the era as well as those in the Revolutionary era it is pretty obvious to see that secession was never legal and what the real reasons were behind the attempted secession. 2012 has more research looming. I’m working on the political aspects of the Confederate government and its relationship to its states. Based on what I’ve seen from the documents so far it took military force to keep the Confederacy together. Had there not been a war going on I’m not sure the Confederacy would have lasted four years.

  • Vince Dec 31, 2011

    After reading your blog diligently for at least the past five years, it’s been a great experience starting my own blog to follow Lancaster County and the 79th Pennsylvania in a 150th anniversary-based serialized form. In Lancaster, the small set of Civil War stories that have been told and retold (mostly from the Centennial) have grown pretty stale, so I’ve been happy to see people get excited about new stories that are not only very interesting but also touch on race, gender, politics, religion, labor, business, memory, etc.

    In 2012/1862, the military operations get much more interesting and the suffering will result in more serious challenges–practical and philosophical–for the Lancaster community. Some of the more interesting episodes include: the 1862 Lutheran General Synod convention in Lancaster which addressed the war and slavery, the advent of the draft, dramatic highs and lows for the Army of the Ohio, the 1862 Congressional election (Thaddeus Stevens was the Republican candidate), and the Battle of Perryville and its aftermath for Lancaster.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 31, 2011

      Congratulations on starting and maintaining one of the best of the most recent crop of new Civil War blogs.

  • Richard Dec 31, 2011

    Actually the concept of “Civil War Memory” itself is one I just learned about this year through your blog and recommendation of the book “Creating a Confederate Kentucky” and how it showed the impact of memory and how/what we study is influential. It’s a perspective I had not considered before and I try to look for it more in any stories I hear or images I view.

    I look forward to continue to try to get a better grasp on it as I read and think more about it.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 31, 2011

      Actually the concept of “Civil War Memory” itself is one I just learned about this year through your blog and recommendation of the book

      That’s really nice to hear given that this was one of my original goals with the blog back in 2005.

  • CathyLLogan Dec 31, 2011

    I guess what sticks with me is how the Civil War has become bigger than just a war, if that’s possible. It seems to have turned into this filter or prism for how some people want to see our country or history. I know it takes a lot of work to post everyday, thanks for your efforts.

  • Dudley Bokoski Dec 31, 2011

    150 years ago half the country thought the other half was crazy and bent on destroying it. 150 years later….

  • Bob Swartz Dec 31, 2011

    I have a Northern perspective, my great-grandfather having served in the 3rd WI Inf. I’ve not been to much of the South. Last year I went to Nashville and Franklin. I thought the interpretation was fair and my only place of concern was at Franklin, where there is a Lost Cause-type monument on the hill where Hood watched the battle.

    This year I went to TN and GA and expected feeling uncomfortable and expecting to be immersed in Southern interpretation. I was shocked. While there were Confederate flags at cemeteries (understandable), just about everything I saw was very fair. At the Cyclorama our interpreter was a young black man. The History Center had excellent exhibits and was quite fair in interpretation. At Pickett’s Mill (a GA state park) we were greeted at the front desk by a man in a Union uniform! At Chickamauga it seems there are more Union monuments than Confederate.

    So, my complements to the people of GA and TN and this pleasant surprise was my most notable recollection of 2011.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 1, 2012

      Nice to hear that you had a positive experience. Much of what you experienced resonates with me as well. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Ray O'Hara Dec 31, 2011

    You should start work on a screen play for the Crater,
    With Gingrich’s book and your book along with the 150th it will be a hot topic.
    Even with Glory Blacks in the Civil War are an overlooked topic
    I can see someone wanting to make it into a movie,
    You could save us from a sanitized version based on Newt’s book
    and the politics of the story, the way Burnside, Grant and Meade all approached it would make a compelling drama.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 1, 2012

      Thanks, but no thanks. :-)

      • Ray O'Hara Jan 1, 2012

        Be prepared for the Gingrich ending with Lee telling Mahone to accord the USCT all the honors of war.
        The actual battle will be a Glory like Heroic assault and not the bloody and brutal fiasco followed by what can only be termed atrocity.
        In the end History will lose again.

        • Kevin Levin Jan 1, 2012

          Let’s try not to be too overly dramatic. :-)

          • Ray O'Hara Jan 1, 2012

            It’s not being overly dramatic.
            People actually believe what they see in movies.

            • Kevin Levin Jan 1, 2012

              Of course they do. That’s why I suggested that it was a bit overly dramatic.

  • Dylan Hyde Jan 1, 2012

    Fort Sumter 150th was certainly interesting. Though disappointed in finding some who chose to celebrate (“Where are the fireworks?”) rather than commemorate, we attended some thought provoking presentations (Tony Horwitz on John Brown) and once-in-a-lifetime reenactments (dawn firing on Sumter). I look forward to the Shiloh 150th – it will be interesting to see if the young peach trees are ready to bloom yet.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 1, 2012

      Hi Dylan,

      I was quite impressed by the range of activities that marked the 150th of Sumter. It could have easily turned into a celebration, but fortunately the NPS took the lead in turning it into an opportunity to educate the general public.

  • M. Fox Jan 2, 2012

    2011 was the year that I fell down the rabbit hole of Civil War history, where every fact is still questioned and every question still has the potential to start a fight. I look forward to more of the same, reading and engaging in passionate historical debate (here and elsewhere) about the war, its causes and its still evolving consequences.

  • John Buchanan Jan 3, 2012

    This past year for me was more about Seven Years War, Rev War and War of 1812 (lead quite a number of battlefield tours from my brothers to groups of Scouts to a group of Army officers).

    But I have started the planniong for a real busman’s holiday with my best buddy…we are doing an 8 day Vicksburg Campaign tour at the end of March into April. So I starting the research last month so I guess that counts!

    • Kevin Levin Jan 3, 2012

      Sounds like an awesome trip. I’ve never been to Vicksburg.

      • John Buchanan Jan 3, 2012

        I have been once on a 1 day blitz tour and then a 3 day tour with Will Greene from Pamplin park. My buddy has never been. But we are doing the whole enchilada…from LaGrange, TN, through Arkansas Post, Grierson’s Raid, the Yazoo Pass and Steele’s Bayou Expeditions, running the guns, Grants crossing and the battles from Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion’s Hill (with a tour by Sid Champion V!) Big Black River and the attack and siege of Vicksburg.

        Our biggest challenge is knowing which counties in Mississippi are dry to we stock up accordingly!

      • Ray O'Hara Jan 3, 2012

        Haven’t been to Vicksburg? that is very remiss on your part.
        I consider it the best preserved and presented NBP and it has the single best CW artifact, the USS Cairo . there are many other sites in the region too. Champion Hill, the Big Black River Bridge battlefields among others It is a must see.

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