Another image that I am hoping to use in my forthcoming book about the Crater and historical memory is the August 1968 cover of Ebony. I went through the entire run of Ebony and Jet magazines during the course of my research in an effort to better understand how African Americans remembered black Union soldiers through the Civil War Centennial. I was not disappointed. The coverage was extensive and included a number of well written essays by academic historians, including John Hope Franklin and the popular historian, Lerone Bennett, who is best known for is book on Lincoln and emancipation. I found a few essays that referenced the Crater, but the battle clearly did not stand out for African Americans in the 1960s. That’s not surprising given that more extensive coverage would have forced writers to deal with the additional problem of how to handle the massacre of large numbers of black soldiers following the battle. Such a narrative would have run counter to the strong desire among authors to tell a heroic battlefield story.
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I’ve used footnote.com on just about every research project as well as in the classroom, where it has helped to expand the scope of primary sources that I can introduce to my students. Recently the company decided on a name change, which you can read about here. This is a product that I believe in and I am proud to have fold3 as a sponsor of Civil War Memory. Check it out.
Adam Arenson, The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2011).
Karen Cox, Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture, (University of North Carolina Press, 2011).
Anthony J. Gaughan, The Last Battle of the Civil War: United States Versus Lee, 1861-1883 (Louisiana State University Press, 2011).
Mark Neely, Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2011).
Cathy Stanton, The Lowell Experiment: Public History in a Postindustrial City (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006).
It’s an unusual form of Civil War remembrance, but the idea of a sculpture in the shape of a “Sherman’s necktie” opens up a number of avenues of interpretation. It raises issues related to the physical destruction and displacement of civilians that Sherman’s men wrought. The twisted rail also functions as a metaphor for change and the coming of emancipation in the heart of Georgia. Of course, any discussion of emancipation also needs to deal with some of the hardships that freed slaves faced as they followed the army to the coast. I think it’s an incredibly simple and yet creative piece. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any of the addresses that marked the sculpture’s unveiling.
What do you think?