Speaking in the Land of Lincoln

Louis Martin

Louis Martin (National Archives)

It’s not until September 26, but I am super stoked about receiving an invitation to speak at the 2014 Conference on Illinois History in Springfield. I’ve never been to Lincoln’s home town.

Even better, I was asked to speak about Private Louis Martin, who as you can see was seriously injured at the battle of the Crater. This image has been with me from the beginning of my research on the Crater and it is featured prominently in my book. Unfortunately, I did not spend any time exploring his story, in part, because so little of it is known. Recently, a marker was placed in a cemetery in Springfield, where he is buried.

Not surprisingly, I am going to approach the subject from the perspective of memory. I want to explore in some detail how this image shapes how we think about the black experience in the Civil War and Martin’s story specifically. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this talk.

Hope to see some of you there. More details forthcoming.

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About the author: Thank you for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and join the discussion in the comments section. Looking for more Civil War content? You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my forthcoming book, Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which is the first book-length analysis of the black Confederate myth ever published. Pre-order your copy today.

12 comments… add one
  • Bryce Hartranft May 1, 2014 @ 4:27

    Yes please do keep us updated on this. I live in Illinois and will look forward to hearing your talk.

    • Kevin Levin May 1, 2014 @ 4:36

      Will do. Would be nice to meet in person.

  • Julian May 1, 2014 @ 5:58

    did Louis Martin sell copies of that photograph, to eke out a pitifully small income in the days before welfare payments as did many white multiple amputees – and even the totally sound of limb Harriet Tubman

    • Kevin Levin May 1, 2014 @ 6:17

      I don’t believe so.

      • Julian May 1, 2014 @ 8:25

        so it was the other motivation for photographing extreme cases of amputation: medical research and documentation?

        • mike musick May 1, 2014 @ 16:02

          The photograph is pasted onto a “Certificate of Disability for Discharge” in the case of “Lewis [thus] Martin, Private, ‘Co. E,’ 29th Regt. U.S.C.T.”

          • Kevin Levin May 1, 2014 @ 16:34

            Thanks, Mike. I forgot to respond to this comment.

  • Michael Lynch May 1, 2014 @ 6:14

    Cool! I’m presenting at that conference, too; hopefully I’ll get to hear your talk.

    • Kevin Levin May 1, 2014 @ 6:17

      Great. It will be nice to finally meet in person. My talk is part of a luncheon that will take place on that Friday.

  • Mike Rogers May 1, 2014 @ 11:24

    Ironic that the when you’re coming to the Midwest, I’ll probably be visiting my wife’s sister and family on Cape Cod.

  • Yulanda Burgess May 2, 2014 @ 8:13

    Illinois Historic Preservation Agency throws an excellent history conference. You’ll enjoy it AND Springfield itself. I hope you encounter Robert Davis and Kathy Heyworth who were instrumental in bringing Lewis (note spelling) Martin’s story to light and overseeing a proper tribute. His story is symbolic of the hardships many USCT veterans faced. The dedication of his headstone and plague and uncovering how people took advantage of him are still fresh in our memories. Hopefully, a full and complete article or book can be written about his life in the near future. And…. ironic that you’re coming to the Midwest/Great Lakes Region, and I’ll be in Virginia that weekend.

    • Kevin Levin May 2, 2014 @ 8:37

      Definitely looking forward to it.

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