Ted Savas is having a field day marketing his new book about John Bell Hood by author Stephen Hood. He has gone out of his way to emphasize how the book breaks new ground, specifically in reference to the popular claim that Hood was both an alcoholic and drug addict. In one of his latest posts he takes author Allen Guelzo to task for casually referencing this little piece of Hood lore in his new book about Gettysburg. I will let Savas take it from here.
General Hood did not sustain himself or even use alcohol or opiates as Sword and others continue to endlessly prevaricate about, and historians who should know better copy without curiosity or question. Stephen Hood’s John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General (2013) unhorses these (and other) untruths and buries them under a flurry of stomping hooves. He does this in two ways: with newly found original firsthand sources, and a simple if time-consuming comparison of the “sources” originally used by Sword and others to characterize Hood as a drunk, crippled, drugged, hack of a leader.
This new book conclusively demonstrates that, even WITHOUT these newly discovered documents, the sources used by Sword and others were all hearsay or misread or intentionally misused (readers can decide, and the plentiful reviews on Amazon and elsewhere demonstrate that they are shocked by the mountain of evidence). The record is one secondary slander built upon another, piled upon a third, each with its own new purple adjectives thrown in for good measure. If Stephen Hood had left this subject alone, there is no doubt some author would have soon described an inebriated General Hood selling crack and meth in an Atlanta ghetto during leave.
The Civil War is filled with little stories that are told and re-told often with little attention to whether there is sufficient evidence. I’ve fallen into that trap on numerous occasions and I suspect that many of you have done so as well. Most historians welcome being corrected. Here’s the problem. Savas seems to be on some kind of crusade with this particular title as if it alone offers the necessary corrective regarding Hood’s drug and alcohol use. Not so fast; in fact, Stephen Hood is fairly late to the game. [click to continue…]
I am working on finalizing a list of my top 10 favorite Civil War-related sites here in Boston for an upcoming issue of The Civil War Monitor. I’ve given a couple of talks in the area about how Bostonians commemorated and remembered the Civil War. It’s an interesting challenge given the extent to which the American Revolution dominates popular memory and heritage tourism. Boston’s commemorative landscape rivals any southern city and reflects the direct impact that the war and its outcome had on the region. Most of the sites listed below can easily be included in a family’s vacation itinerary.
- Robert Gould Shaw Memorial and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (the Boston Common)
- African Meeting House
- Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Lynn, MA
- Memorial Hall at Harvard University
- Mount Auburn Cemetery
- Tremont Temple
- Faneuil Hall
- Public Gardens (statues of Edward Everett Hale, Wendell Phillips, Thomas Cass, William Ellery Channing, and Charles Sumner and Emancipation/Lincoln statue)
- Fort Warren
- Governor Andrew House
The list is a work in progress so feel free to offer suggestions.
It’s a new web comedy series, but it’s not very funny.
Azie Dungey played a slave at Mount Vernon and is now sharing the colorful and not very thoughtful questions asked by visitors. I certainly appreciate the explanation and intent behind the project.
So, I wanted a way to present all of the most interesting, and somewhat infuriating encounters that I had, the feelings that they brought up, and the questions that they left unanswered. I do not think that Ask A Slave is a perfect way to do so, but I think that it is a fun, and a hopefully somewhat enriching start.
The problem is that Dungey’s own apparent frustrations are expressed through her slave character. There is no exploration as to why some of these questions are problematic. She merely pokes fun at the visitors’ questions. I suspect that there are any number of factors beyond mere intelligence that shapes the kinds of questions posed to reenactors at historic sites. I wonder what the staff at Mount Vernon thinks of this.
It’s still early in the production of the series, but as it stands Ask A Slave isn’t very entertaining and it doesn’t help us to understand the experiences of living history actors, especially those dealing with the tough questions of race.
On more than one occasion I’ve recommended John Coski’s wonderful book, The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem. There is nothing else like it. Coski offers a very readable and balanced view of the history of the flag. Toward the end, Coski offers his own interpretation of how to move forward with the debate over the public display of the Confederate flag. It involves compromises from all parties with a stake in this ongoing drama over history and heritage. [click to continue…]
Matthew Heimbach at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
Susan Hathaway and the Virginia Flaggers are Richmond’s self-described defenders of Confederate heritage. At the center of their advocacy is the belief that the Confederate flag has been hijacked by individuals and groups who have used it for purposes other than to honor their Confederate ancestors. This belief is at the center of their ongoing protest at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and recently in front of the Museum of the Confederacy – Appomattox, owing to the latter’s failure to fly a Confederate battle flag on the walkway leading to the entrance. They would have their fellow Richmonders believe that the meaning behind the planned placement of a large Confederate flag along I-95 in late September is solely about honoring the soldier. Not so fast.
The Virginia Flaggers believe they have established for themselves a high standard for the proper use of the Confederate flag. But when it comes time to defending choices about their own use of the Confederate flag they are silent. The photograph above shows Matthew Heimbach “flagging” the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. As yesterday’s post showed, Heimbach has marched front and center with the Virginia Flaggers on at least one occasion and, last night Flagger spokesman, Tripp Lewis, claimed him as a member. [click to continue…]