A Virginia Teenager Assesses the War

One of the last independent studies that I advised in Charlottesville was a project centered on female diaries of the Civil War that one of my students used to write her own work of historical fiction. We spent some time looking through female diaries in Special Collections at UVA, including one written by Sallie Strickler of Madison County, Virginia. I am not surprised to find it referenced in Caroline Janney’s new book. I still remember the response of this particular student when we came across the passages below. The experience of holding the actual diary as well as the sense of loss and continued feelings of bitterness made for a memorable experience.

It grinds me sorely to think of our being compelled to give up our best-beloved institutions. I truly believe that African slavery is right. I love it & all the South loves it. It suits us & I do not see how we can do without it. It humiliates me, more than language can tell, to think of our being forced, ay forced, to give up what we love. So well! And that by Yankees. (quoted in Janney, pp. 84-85)

If memory serves me there simply isn’t enough wartime material to merit publication, which is disappointing given the quality of material on the war that is available.

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Four Score and Seven Years Ago

What do you think of this song and video? Is it an effective teaching tool for a certain age range or does it simply promote an overly simplistic narrative of American history that borders on propaganda?

The song “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” sings the opening of the Gettysburg Address and tells of Lincoln, the Civil War and equality in an uplifting American anthem that can be sung by all ages. Designed to be a teaching and performing tool for teachers and choral directors. Documentary versions, one with an instrumental track to be used for performance to video will be released…

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Edward Sebesta Thinks I am a White Nationalist

SebestaToday is quickly turning into another whacky day in the blogosphere. My WordPress dashboard showed a link from Edward Sebesta’s Anti-Neo-Confederate blog. When I clicked over I was shocked to find that I am referred to as a “white nationalist.” Imagine my surprise. Apparently, Ed is not happy with my recent post in response to Jamie Malanowski’s editorial on the changing of the names of military bases.

First, he can’t even spell my last name correctly, but how he arrives at white nationalist based on this post is anyone’s guess. I’ve been called plenty of things over the years, but this is the first time that I’ve been referred to as a white nationalist.

Sebesta is, indeed, a strange character. This leaves me to wonder whether the guy has a few screws loose.

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I Got Felt Up at a Civil War Reenactment

I really had no idea that this was the kind of thing I was missing at Civil War reenactments. This image was pulled from a new photography book on the fascinating world of reenacting titled, Whistling Dixie by Anderson Scott. You can find additional images at the Wired article.

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So, is this part of the courting practices of the antebellum South that is being depicted here? I don’t remember ever seeing anything close to this in Gone With the Wind or a Mort Kunstler print.

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Two Views of J.E.B. Stuart’s Arrival at Gettysburg

Here is Allen Guelzo’s brief commentary on Stuart’s arrival on July 2.

However late Stuart was in arriving, the Army of Northern Virginia was still glad to see him. As he rode along the York Pike in Gettysburg, “such joyful shouts as rent the air I never heard” and  “the cavalry for once was well received.” Lee, however, had grown increasingly “uneasy & irritated by Stuart’s conduct,” recalled George Campbell Brown and “had no objection to [Brown] hearing of it,” which was surprising for “a man of Lee’s habitual reserve.” In time, descriptions of an epic confrontation between Lee and Stuart surfaced, mostly for the purpose of showing that Robert E. Lee himself pointedly held Stuart responsible for the Gettysburg battle. But there is no contemporary description of such a meeting, despite its inflation in subsequent retellings to a level with the return of the Prodigal Son. Although it is safe to say that Stuart may have reported directly to Lee after his arrival in the late afternoon of July 2nd, the few descriptions we have of Stuart that evening place him “at the vidette-post nearest” the “Infantry” or Ewell’s corps, near Rock Creek. As for Henry McClellan, Stuart’s chief of staff, his only comment on Stuart’s arrival in Gettysburg (in his 1893 biography of Stuart) was to describe, laconically, how “for eight days and nights, the troops had been marching incessantly,” on “on the ninth night they rested within the shelter of the army, and with a grateful sense of relief which words cannot express. (pp. 362-63)

The floor is open.

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