It’s an unusual form of Civil War remembrance, but the idea of a sculpture in the shape of a “Sherman’s necktie” opens up a number of avenues of interpretation. It raises issues related to the physical destruction and displacement of civilians that Sherman’s men wrought. The twisted rail also functions as a metaphor for change and the coming of emancipation in the heart of Georgia. Of course, any discussion of emancipation also needs to deal with some of the hardships that freed slaves faced as they followed the army to the coast. I think it’s an incredibly simple and yet creative piece. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any of the addresses that marked the sculpture’s unveiling.
Here is an interesting story from my neck of the woods. The Worcester Grand Army of the Republic Board of Trustees voted recently to return three captured Confederate flags to the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, N.C. The flags were captured at the Battle of New Bern, in North Carolina on March 14, 1862, by two Union divisions manned with residents of Central Massachusetts. This latest story follows a much longer trend of reconciliation gestures between the descendants of Civil War veterans. [I will be speaking at the North Worcester County Civil War Roundtable on October 11.]
This past Friday I spent a pleasant afternoon at the Framingham History Center located in the Edgell Memorial Library, which was built after the war to honor Union veterans. The center’s director, Annie Murphy, was kind enough to give me a personal tour of their new Civil War exhibit. It’s not the most elaborate exhibit around, but they do a nice job of highlighting was is clearly an extensive collection of artifacts and documents. It includes General George H. Gordon’s coat, a buts of the general sculpted by Daniel Chester French and a battle worn flag of the 13th Massachusetts. If you are in the area you should make it a point to check it out.
Just a quick note for those of you who may have been just a bit confused when logging onto Civil War Memory today. You will notice that the blog is no longer the default landing page. I am beginning to think of Civil War Memory as more than just a blog. It’s still the core of the site, but you will notice that I created a page for my forthcoming book on the Crater and I hope at some point soon to create a page for some of my favorite classroom lesson plans. I want this site to be a resource for k-12 history teachers and others in the field. It should also more effectively reflect my own work as a teacher, public speaker, and historian.
I am still in the beginning stages of thinking through this shift in focus so be prepared for continuous changes to the site and perhaps a few breakdowns. Of course, I would love to hand this project over to a professional, but I simply do not have the funds for it, so I will rely on my own meager web skills.
One of my readers was kind enough to leave a link to this video on a previous post, which captured the explosion of the Hawthorn mine at Beaumont Hamel, Somme, France, 7.20 a.m. lst July 1916. The mine was exploded by 252 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers using about 40,000 lbs of ammonal. The resulting crater was 80ft deep and measured 150 yds by 100 yds. In contrast, the men of the 48th Pennsylvania loaded 8,000 lbs (320 kegs, 25 pounds in each bag) into the mine. The explosion left a crater measuring 126 feet long at the surface, 69 feet long at the bottom, 87 feet wide at the top, and 38 feet wide at the bottom. Henry Pleasants estimated that it was 25 feet deep.
While I have had an opportunity to begin work on a few new projects, much of my time has been spent getting my Crater ms. ready for publication. The folks at the University Press of Kentucky have been incredibly helpful in providing the necessary support and encouragement to this first-time author. I finished collecting the images and securing the required permissions to publish. A number of the images have never been published, though they are easily accessible on various websites. I am hoping that the production staff will be able to use copies of images printed from microfilm that depict the 1937 Crater reenactment at Petersburg. They are very cool. In addition, I am including what may be the only image of the William Griffith house, which functioned as a small museum and helped to ensure the preservation of the battlefield until it was acquired by the federal government in the 1930s. [Thanks to NPS historian, Jimmy Blankenship, for providing copies of this particular image.]
The next stage will involve the heavy lifting of reading through the page proofs and creating the index. Things are moving along and we are still on schedule for a spring 2012 release. At the top is another fascinating image of the Crater that was shared with me and which can be found at the U.S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle. It’s a postwar photograph of what I believe are Confederate works adjacent to the Crater. Notice the two skulls and bones. I found accounts of the discovery of human remains as late as the 1930s.