The Future of Civil War History Is Not On the Battlefield

think-digital brainTomorrow I hope to finish up an essay that I was asked to write for one of the Civil War journals over a year ago about the the influence of digital technologies on how we write and research history and how that has fueled the myth of the black Confederate soldier.  At the end of the essay I take a moment to suggest ways that academic and public historians as well as history educators generally might address this myth, not by jumping head first into the very places where these emotional debates are taking place, but by re-considering what it means to educate the public at a time when everyone can be his/her own historian on the Web. [click to continue…]

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Should This Confederate Flag Be Allowed in School?

Confederate flagOnce again, the courts have supported the right of school districts to ban students from wearing clothing that includes the Confederate flag.  The most recent case involved a school district in South Carolina in which a student repeatedly clashed with school administrators over a number of t-shirts that likely were purchased at a local Dixie Outfitters, including “Southern Chicks,” “Dixie Angels,” “Southern Girls,” and “Daddy’s Little Redneck.”

Hardwick also sought to wear a shirt labeled “Black Confederates,” honoring a Louisiana Civil War regiment made up of free African-Americans. She also tried to wear shirts she characterized as protests of censorship of the others, with slogans such as “Jesus and the Confederate Battle Flag: Banned from Our Schools but Forever in Our Hearts,” and “Offended by School Censorship of Southern Heritage.”

This is nothing more than a case of bad parenting.

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Stonewall Jackson’s Black Friend

Update: Richard Williams has decided to respond to this post on his blog. What I find interesting is that he has nothing to say about the content of the post. Instead he takes issue with one of my comments about my characterization of his understanding of the influence of Nat Turner’s Rebellion on race/slavery and religion in Virginia.  Williams declares that many academics are “cynical” about attempts on the part of slaveholders to teach the gospel yet he provides not a single reference.  It is unclear as to why this should matter to begin with. Their attitude is irrelevant.  What matters is the interpretation.  A quick perusal of the bibliography points to an over reliance on relatively few secondary sources, which is why I take issue with his analysis of religion in a slaveholding society.  There simply isn’t much to work with.  I will leave it to you to judge.

Jim Lewis and Jackson in "Gods and Generals".

Jim Lewis and Jackson in “Gods and Generals”.

My recent essay on Confederate camp servants in The Civil War Monitor opens with a reference to an account in Edward Porter Alexander’s Fighting for the Confederacy.  In it he discusses the purchase of a camp servant named Charley and a horse.  Interestingly, Alexander refers to both as an “appendage”.  That reference, I believe, tells us a great deal about race relations in the South as well as the value of enslaved blacks to the Confederate war effort and individual officers who utilized personal servants.  [click to continue…]

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New To the Civil War Memory Library, 03/26

Reardon VosslerHoward Bahr, THE BLACK FLOWER: A Novel of the Civil War, (Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1997).

Ronald S. Coddington, African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

Michele Gillespie, Katharine and R. J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune in the Making of the New South,  (University of Georgia Press, 2013).

Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Andrew L. Slap and Michael T. Smith, This Distracted and Anarchical People: New Answers for Old Questions about the Civil War-Era North, (Fordham University Press, 2013).

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Restore the Honor, Remove the Flaggers

Yesterday my wife and I stopped briefly at the Pelham Chapel in Richmond, which is the site of the ongoing protest by a group that styles itself, the Virginia Flaggers.  As many of you know their protest is focused on the recent removal of Confederate flags from outside the chapel itself.  I was hoping to see some Flaggers in action, but in the end I am glad that they decided to take the day off.  For the first time in my many visits the chapel was actually open.  We weren’t able to spend too much time, but it is an impressive little building.  [click to continue…]

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