This Sunday the New York Times’s Disunion column will come to an end. I am going to miss it. The column brought together academic and popular historians and other writers and over the course of the sesquicentennial managed to cover a wide range of Civil War topics. The essays were not just a pleasure to read, but more importantly, they introduced readers to new subjects and interpretations that tend to fall beyond the scope of popular understanding of Civil War history.
In just the last week essays have appeared that force readers to think seriously about the place of the war within a broader global context and as an extension of the Indian Wars, which raged through the end of the century.
There is simply nothing else like it.
I was lucky enough to have three essays published in Disunion. The first explored the myth of the black Confederate soldier in the digital age and was followed by the story of John C. Winsmith and his servant, Abraham. The final essay focused on how I use battlefields to teach the Civil War. Exposure in the New York Times connected me to a whole new audience and for that I am grateful.
While a volume of essays covering the first half of the war was published in 2013, it is uncertain whether a companion book is in the works for the remainder of the war. Regardless of the plans for another volume there is the question of how these essays will be archived and preserved, which I trust is being carefully considered.
Finally, thanks so much to Clay Risen for his hard work in editing the column over the past few years. I hope others reach out to voice their appreciation as well. It’s been a great run.