Things have quieted down to the point where I can finally get back to some serious work. To ensure that I get out of the house I renewed my membership at the Boston Athenaeum, which is really a wonderful place to work. In fact, I will likely head down there today in a couple of hours. Over the next few months I will explore opportunities beyond the high school classroom. They include teaching a research seminar at the American Antiquarian Society, helping an organization here in town train local history instructors to teach Reconstruction and looking into volunteering at local historic sites.
On the writing front the big project remains completing my book manuscript on Confederate camp servants and the myth of the black Confederate soldier. The rise of the narrative in the wake of the debates surrounding the Confederate flag have all but confirmed to me that the project is still very relevant to our current conversation about Civil War memory.
I am also working on two smaller projects. The first is a much revised and expanded essay on Confederate military executions. I published a short article in Civil War Times a few years ago, but have decided to return to it to deepen the analysis. This will appear as a chapter in a forthcoming volume of essays published by the Louisiana State University Press. In addition, I am close to finishing a magazine essay on the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments that focuses on the period from April to August 1865 in South Carolina.
In September the University of North Carolina Press will publish Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign edited by Gary Gallagher and Caroline Janney. The volume includes an essay I wrote on how white Union soldiers responded to fighting alongside United States Colored Troops. This material did not make it into my book on the battle. Having read all the essays I can’t recommend it enough.
In early 2016 the journal, Civil War History, will publish two essays both of which appear in special forums. The first is an essay I wrote on teaching Civil War history while the second is a co-authored piece with Emmanuel Dabney and Beth Parnicza on the challenges of interpreting race, slavery and black Union soldiers at National Park Service battlefields.
My next speaking date is on September 26 at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I will talk about the myth of the black Confederate soldier. By all accounts Wayne Motts, the museum’s director, is doing a phenomenal job. Please feel free to contact me to set up a speaking date. Now that I am not teaching full time I have the opportunity to travel more extensively.