American Civil War Exceptionalism

There are so many things wrong with this photograph that I don’t know where to start. It sums up perfectly how Americans continue to commemorate and think about their civil war.

This photograph was taken some time during the 2017 Gettysburg reenactment.

[image is from the Gettysburg Times]

22 comments

Can Historians Disentangle Reality From Myth on Twitter?

Jason Steinhauer thinks so. In a brief op-ed published at CNN Steinhauer calls on academic historians to take up arms behind their keyboards and “interject their expertise into contested exchanges about the past” on twitter. He sees historians such Heather Cox Richardson, Kevin Kruse, and Joanne Freeman as models of such engagement. [click to continue…]

9 comments

*Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign*: Preliminary Thoughts

For obvious reasons I’ve been looking forward to reading Philip Dillard’s new book, Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign: Confederate Nationalism and the Fight to Arm Slaves (Mercer University Press, 2017). I spend a little time in chapter 2 of Searching For Black Confederates tracing the broad contours of the debate throughout the Confederacy over whether to arm slaves as soldiers in 1864 and 1865. For that I rely heavily on the scholarship of Bruce Levine, Robert Durden, and a piece by Dillard that appeared some years ago in a volume of essays in honor or Emory Thomas.

Having just finished reading the book I wanted to share some preliminary thoughts. I will write up a formal review for Civil War History by the end of the summer. [click to continue…]

13 comments

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 06/29

Update: My first book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder was recently released in paperback. You can order it directly from the publisher with a 30% discount by using the code (FS30) at checkout. I am just about finished putting together the index for Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites, which will be released in September, if not before. You can also pre-order this book at 30% off directly from the publisher with the code (RLFANDF30).

Many of you will be happy to hear that Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth is almost finished. The manuscript will be submitted to the publisher by the end of September. Stay tuned for more information on this front.

And now here is what is on my reading table:

Philip D. Dillard, Jefferson Davis’s Final Campaign: Confederate Nationalism and the Fight to Arm Slaves (Mercer University Press, 2017).

Kevin M. Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (Princeton University Press, 2005).

Ann M. Little, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright  (Yale University Press, 2016).

Steven E. Sodergren, The Army of the Potomac in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns: Union Soldiers and Trench Warfare, 1864-1865 (Louisiana State University Press, 2017).

Bobbie Swearingen Smith ed., A Palmetto Boy: Civil War-Era Diaries and Letters of James Adams Tillman (University of South Carolina Press, 2010).

0 comments

What Monument Avenue Does

There was nothing inevitable about the end of slavery in the United States. Enslaved people fueled this country’s economy, generated great amounts of wealth for their owners, and helped to define American Exceptionalism for many, who envisioned a greater role on the world stage for this slave holding nation. [click to continue…]

21 comments

Jimmy Carter, the Lost Cause, and Sherman’s March

I am currently working on completing the index for my forthcoming collection of essays, Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites, which will be published in September. It’s a labor intensive process, but it has given me one final opportunity to read through the manuscript. [You can pre-order the book direct from the publisher at 30% off. Use the code RLFANDF30 at checkout.] [click to continue…]

12 comments

Richmond Creates “Monument Avenue Commission”

Update: Mayor Stoney’s full remarks can be found here.

This is an interesting development. Today the mayor of Richmond announced the creation of the Monument Avenue Commission, which will examine ways to add historical context to its Confederate monuments. A few weeks ago I suggested that Richmond will likely not follow other cities like New Orleans and this announcement today suggests that I may have been right. [click to continue…]

14 comments

Talking Confederate Monuments on Boston’s Rock Station

This week I recorded an episode of the podcast “Extra Sauce” [interview begins at 13:30] with Greg Hill and Mike Hsu from the Hil-Man Morning Show, which airs here every morning here in Boston. Thanks to the hosts for the opportunity to reach an entirely new audience. It was a very easygoing and friendly discussion. [click to continue…]

2 comments