High Bridge (over the Appomattox River)
Thanks to Patrick Schroeder of the National Park Service and David Coles of Longwood University for inviting me to take part in their Civil War seminar this weekend in Farmville, Virginia. I had a wonderful time. I stayed at the Spring Grove Bed and Breakfast near Appomattox, where I enjoyed the hospitality of Emily and Joe. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day yesterday. The temperatures were in the high 60s.
My fellow speakers did a great job and the audience remained engaged throughout the entire day. It was nice having a chance to catch up with Gordon Rhea, who I think is one of the nicest guys around. Invitations to speak almost always offer a chance to make new connections. This time I got to meet Brian Steel Wills, Stephen Engle, and Eric Wittenberg in person. It’s always nice to see Al Mackey and Mike Rodgers, who are long time blog readers. I also enjoyed meeting Boston native, John Buchanan, who managed to listen to my talk and keep track of the Bruins game. After the conference a bunch of us took a walk along the new footpath over High Bridge. Thanks Craig Swain who showed us some fairly complex Confederate earthworks on the east side of the bridge. The views are spectacular and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.
Good luck to my friends in Virginia today and tomorrow, who will hopefully be shoveling for the last time this winter. Looking forward to returning to Virginia this summer for the 150th anniversary of the Crater
Last month I shared an unusual Kickstarter campaign seeking funds for a children’s book about black Confederates. The campaign has until the end of this month to raise $3,000 dollars. Unfortunately, as of today only one pledge has been made for $15. This is pathetic. [click to continue…]
The judges for the 2014 Bancroft Prize could not have selected a better book this year. I’ve been raving about Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press) since its publication. Here is my blurb for a “best of” list that recently appeared in The Civil War Monitor magazine.
The central event in Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek takes place west of the war’s western theater. Most Americans don’t identify the 1864 slaughter of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians as a Civil War battle, but interestingly enough the incident is listed on a monument dedicated in 1909 to Coloradans who fought in the war. The descendants of the slain, however, always considered what happened at Sand Creek a massacre, not a battle. Kelman skillfully traces the competing memories of Sand Creek along with the heated public debates between Native American tribes, local landowners, the National Park Service, and Civil War buffs that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in 2007. He makes a compelling case that the fighting on the frontier and the fate of Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. military must not be forgotten at a time when Americans have embraced a narrative of the Civil War as a “new birth of freedom.” A Misplaced Massacre is a reminder that Civil War memory studies are far from tapped out.
Ari recently contributed an essay to the special issue of Common-place that I edited with Megan Kate Nelson. For whatever it’s worth I think this is an important book. Looking forward to meeting Ari in June at the Civil War Institute.
This weekend the University of Virginia’s Miller Center will begin airing their “Our American Forum” interview with Gary Gallagher on public TV stations across the country. The Center has uploaded a few preview clips, but I thought this clip in which Gary describes the black Confederate movement as “demented” was worth sharing. I’ve always appreciated Gary’s ability to cut to the chase in his own colorful way. I certainly agree with his assessment.
I’ve already said that I think both Andrew Napolitano and Jon Stewart ought to leave the history to the historians. It will be interesting to see whether Napolitano continues to voice claims about the war that are decidedly false. The two that stand out include a mistaken belief that slavery was on the verge of collapsing by 1860 and that Lincoln ordered federal marshals to return fugitive slaves to the Confederacy during the war. His broader view that tariffs are somehow important to understanding secession is just downright ridiculous.
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