This is one of those days when I desperately wish I was in the classroom teaching my course on the American Civil War. Yesterday the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond released Visualizing Emancipation, which allows you to track individual emancipation events on a timeline. As it stands you can track different types of emancipation events along, filter results by different kinds of records and even add your own events to the database.
The project will surely yield insights that are not discernible through traditional sources, but what emerges at first glance is the importance of both railroads and waterways as avenues of emancipation as well as the Union army. Congratulations to Scott Nesbit and the rest of the team at DSL for producing such an incredible resource.
It’s been some time since we had fun with Civil War artists. This is Mort Kunstler’s newest print, titled “Lee’s Great Decision.” I’ve been looking at this for the past 15 minutes and I finally figured out what is bothering me. Given the angle at which Kunstler painted this scene, the wall mirror should be reflecting the furniture It just doesn’t work. The perspective is all out of whack. The other thing I don’t quite get is the placement of Lee’s sword on the chair. I find it difficult to imagine that he would walk into such a room and place it there as if were a coat.
The General Lee, like the Masters, was a dream. “I almost passed out when I saw it,” Watson said. The car is “jump ready” with roll bars, Watson said, and “it’s not like it’s easy to get into.” He did not plan to do any jumps in the car, even before he was the Masters champ. “But I want to drive it,” Watson said in January. “I’m not going to sit like an old man and stare at it in the garage. I’m going to drive it, honk the horn at people and all that good stuff.”
I think Gary Gallagher makes a pretty good case for why black soldiers were not present at the Grand Review in Washington D.C. in May 1865. He argues that their absence had little to do with scheming politicians and military brass, who hoped to keep it an all-white affair. The parade was made up primarily of units that were in the process of being demobilized. Since black units were raised later in the war they remained stationed in various parts of the South.
In contrast, black troops under Edward O.C. Ord’s command were at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Anyone who has read William Marvel’s books on the march out of the Petersburg trenches and surrender knows that these units were kept in camp behind their white comrades once the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered. Before the surrender ceremony on April 12 these men were ordered away from Appomattox. Marvel suggests that this was done “for the sake of serenity.” That seems like a reasonable explanation.
One wonders how their presence might have shaped an account of a salute that may or may not have taken place.
Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions on how to go about indexing a book. Yesterday I finished with a first pass over the manuscript. While I certainly have a clearer appreciation of those of you who suggested I hire a professional indexer, I can’t tell you how happy I am that I decided to do it myself. The decision was made easier by the fact that right now I simply can’t afford such a service.
Yes, it is back-breaking work, but I now see it as an essential part of the process. The indexing of key terms is pretty straightforward, but it’s the indexing of concepts that requires careful thought. One reader encouraged me to construct the index as a road map of the book or to ask what I want the reader to be able to easily find. While I could certainly offer suggestions to an independent indexer as to what headings and sub-headings to use, it goes without saying that no one has a better handle on the overall structure and argument of a book than its author. This same reader also encouraged me to make it possible to find information under different headings and even shared that he first looks at the index to get a sense of the book’s focus. To be honest, I’ve never thought of an index in such a way. Again, thanks for all the suggestions.
In the end, I am not sure that what I came up with is superior to what a professional could produce. Still, I am glad that I took a shot at it. The plan is to sit on it for a few days, review what I’ve done and send it to the publisher on Wednesday. Hopefully, the next time I hear from them will be in the form of a box of books.