Civil War Memory 101 (Week 5)

This discussion will take place on April 26 at 8pm on Twitter #CWM101

This week we will read chapter 5 in Caroline Janney’s book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation, which focuses on the early evolution of the Lost Cause narrative. This is one of the best treatments of the Lost Cause that we have and I am very much looking forward to our discussion.

Janney reminds us that the Lost Cause must be understood in the context of Confederate defeat, military occupation, emancipation, and Northern memory of the war. The Lost Cause was about more than coming to terms with the past, it helped forge a regional identity that aided defeated Confederates in moving forward and reestablishing white rule.

Reading Questions

  • In what ways did the Lost Cause aid in the building of a “separate sectional identity” among former Confederates after the war?
  • Why and how did Robert E. Lee become a Lost Cause icon?
  • What role did Jubal Early play in handing over control of Confederate memory/commemoration from white southern women to the veterans themselves?
  • What role did vindication play in the early evolution of the Lost Cause narrative?
  • How did the Lost Cause narrative become intertwined with Reconstruction era politics?
  • What role did James Longstreet play in solidifying a narrative of Robert E. Lee as never having lost a battle?
  • How did Northerners respond to the Lost Cause culture of the 1880s, which witnessed an increase in the number of veterans reunions and monument dedications throughout the South?

Further Reading

Primary Sources

  • Birth of a Nation (1915)
  • Photograph, Confederate reunion photograph of two former Confederates with former body servant
  • Painting, “The Last Meeting” by Everett B.D. Julio (1869)
  • Watercolor, The Role of Women in the Confederacy (1901)
  • Photograph, Residents of the Robert E. Lee, Camp No. 1, Richmond, VA

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 latest 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. Order your copy today.

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