Lecture on the Crater Tomorrow Night in Walpole

Walpole Lecture on CraterFor those of you in the Boston area I will be speaking tomorrow evening at 6:30pm at the Walpole Public Library on the battle of the Crater. I am going to talk specifically about the experiences of white Union soldiers and how they responded to having to fight alongside a division of black soldiers. The talk is based on an essay that I recently completed for an edited volume on the Petersburg Campaign that is still in progress and that I hope to be able to share more about in the near future.

I do hope that some of you can make it. I will have books available at a discounted price, which I will be happy to sign. Some of you will remember that I recently blogged about Walpole High’s little Confederate heritage fetish. Perhaps it will come up.

Looking ahead, some of you will be interested in this summer’s Sacred Trust Talks, sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation in July. I will be speaking on July 5 at 3:30pm followed by a book signing in the Visitor Center lobby. I doubt very many people will be coming to see me, but I am following James I. Robertson so hopefully a few people will stick around.

A Black Confederate For the Intellectually Challenged

This is the first black Confederate headstone dedication that I’ve come across in quite some time. There is nothing particularly unusual about this story except for the fact that there is no attempt to hide the fact that the individual in question is clearly not a soldier.

It couldn’t be any clearer. Continue reading

Why the Civil War Matters (according to Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Update: Check out this insightful interview of Coates by Bill Moyers.

Somehow I am going to find a way next year to use Ta-Nehisi Coates’s brilliant essay on reparations in both my U.S. History survey and Civil War courses. My classes covers a good chunk of the history discussed in the essay. It’s not that I expect or even want my students to agree with Coates’s conclusions; in fact, part of the goal of any lesson would be for students to critically analyze the connections made between claim and evidence. Even more important than the argument itself, I want my students to experience what I believe to be one of the best examples of what it means to struggle with the past and why history ultimately matters. Continue reading

So That’s What They Are Talking About

In a few weeks I will be heading to Gettysburg College for the annual Civil War Institute. Some of the most memorable experiences are spent on the battlefield walking with guides that have thought deeply about how to interpret historic landscapes. There is a short list of historians and guides who have mastered the ability to leave visitors with a meaningful and even transformative experience. Continue reading