It should come as no surprise that the Sons of Confederate Veterans attributes yesterday’s unanimous decision by the Texas DMV as another attack on Confederate symbols and “Southern Heritage” more generally. It may surprise you to learn, however, that the leadership of the SCV at the turn of the twentieth century likely would have viewed yesterday’s decision as a victory.
The final volume of the Virginia at War series from the University Press of Kentucky is now available, which includes my essay on the demobilization of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. My essay follows Lee’s men along the roads and paths out of Appomattox and explores, among other things, their encounters with Federal troops, ex-slaves, as well as their response to Lincoln’s assassination. I have said before that we draw much too sharp a line between the Civil War and Reconstruction. It doesn’t take much of an effort to appreciate that some of the fundamental questions surrounding the war had yet to be decided. My narrow time frame also reinforced the importance of contingency when looking at the past. Many of the men were in the dark about what to expect when they arrived home or how they would go about picking up the pieces of a world that had changed so dramatically in four short years. I was struck by the extent to which their accounts, especially those who lived in the paths of the two armies, emphasized the altered landscapes. Lee’s men also learned of Lincoln’s assassination while on the road. Some of the reports indicated that in addition to Lincoln, the vice-president, secretary of state, and even Grant were also dead. For some of these men, there was no government.
Other authors in this volume include Jaime A. Martinez, Ervin Jordan, John M. Mclure, and Chris Calkins. I am thrilled to have an essay in a book edited by James I. Robertson and William C. Davis.
There is an interesting verse in Brad Paisley’s single, “Camoflauge” which references the Confederate flag controversy:
Well the stars and bars offends some folks and I guess I see why nowadays theres still a way to show your southern pride the only thing is patriotic as the old red white and blue is green and gray and black and brown and tan all over too
Let’s ignore for now the fact that Paisley apparently has the wrong flag in mind. We know what he means. I don’t want to make too much of this, but it seems to me the lyric tells us something about diversity in the South as well as the extent to which Country Music has become mainstream. It’s a clear statement on the part of Paisley announcing that he does not want to be stereotyped. It’s unfortunate that at this point much of the nation still needs to be reminded that most white southerners do not identify with the Confederate flag. What do you think?
Jackson and Stuart Celebrating Six Years of Civil War Memory
It’s hard to believe that as of today I have been blogging for six years. Those six years include 2,400 posts, just under 1 million visits and roughly 25,000 comments. Thanks once again to all of you who make this site part of your daily routine. It goes without saying that this past year has seen its share of excitement and unexpected change, but I am looking forward with a great deal of enthusiasm to the coming year and the publication of my first book in June 2012. I still enjoy blogging, but more importantly, I believe the site continues to serve an important function in the blogosphere and beyond. What I do here continues to put me in touch with new people and opportunities to share my passion for history and teaching with the broader public. I love the fact that Civil War Memory continues to make people think, laugh, and yes, even lash out in anger. It suggests that I am doing something right.
The 150th anniversary of one of the most fascinating Civil War battles is fast approaching. Learn about what happened on that bloody day and how the battle has been remembered. Get your signed and discounted copy direct from the author.
"Levin is both superb scholar and public historian, showing us a piece of the real war that does now get into the books, as well as into site interpretation.” –David W. Blight, Yale University