The Dark Side of the Civil War Needs To Lighten Up

Spotsylvania DeadI welcome the fact that the recent and ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have made it easier for Americans to explore some of the more unpleasant aspects of the American Civil War. Studies focusing on battlefield medicine are a welcome development as is the increase in studies of the experiences and challenges that veterans faced long after the war. It is with this in mind that I eagerly started to read Michael C.C. Adams’s new book, Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War. Unfortunately, I am having trouble getting through it. Continue reading

H.K. Edgerton Addresses His White “Babies” In Tennessee

This address by H.K. Edgerton took place this past weekend in Elizabethton, Tennessee during a memorial service for “black Confederate” Robert Stover. The event was organized by theĀ  Lt. Robert J. Tipton, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp. H.K. is still going strong and will no doubt always have an audience among his white”babies.”

[Uploaded to YouTube on June 8, 2014]

There Are No Monuments To Deserters on Civil War Battlefields

Regardless of the assumptions and background knowledge that we bring, the presence of monuments on our Civil War battlefields may be one of the greatest obstacles to understanding the full range of soldier experiences. The monuments allow us to focus in on the most heroic stories and themes, which no doubt reinforces feelings of national pride and an understanding of what kind of behavior is expected. Such a focus, however, comes at the price of ignoring moments when soldiers fall short of what is expected of them in the heat of battle. Normally, we can safely ignore such moments, but it’s not so easy when one is thrust on us as is the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who reportedly abandoned his station in Afghanistan and spent five years as a Taliban Prisoner of War. Continue reading