The Long Retreat of Confederate Heritage

Update: Feel free to send me suggestions on what is missing from this list and I will go ahead and add it.

I found this detailed timeline at a website called The Confederate Society of America. It is difficult to tell whether it is comprehensive, but it certainly will give you a sense of the scope of and pace at which Confederate iconography has been removed from public and private spaces around the country. This timeline was compiled by Dr. Arnold M. Huskins for an article titled, “The Eradication of a Region’s Cultural and Heritage.” Continue reading

Empty Pedestals Hold Plenty of Meaning

Historian Caroline Janney published a thoughtful piece this week in The Washington Post in which she warns of the pitfalls of removing Confederate monuments. She focuses specifically on the Heyward Shepherd Memorial at Harpers Ferry. Shepherd was a free black man, who was killed by Brown’s men during the raid and who was later embraced by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Continue reading

HBO’s *Game of Thrones* to Become a *Confederate* Victory

First, let me get this out of the way. I have never seen an episode of “Game of Thrones” and I can’t tell you much about what it is even about. OK.

Yesterday HBO announced that the show’s writers will soon begin production of a new series that explores the events leading up to the Civil War, but with an outcome that includes “Confederate” independence. A show about the Confederacy winning its independence…now why hasn’t anyone thought of that one before? Continue reading

Turning Confederate Monuments Into Ruins

The current issue of Civil War Times magazine includes some brief thoughts from a group of scholars, plus the current commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, about what they believe should be done with Confederate monuments. It is also available online.

The group includes mainly academic and public historians, which is fine, but as far as I am concerned, we give too much authority to this narrow group. There is very little in this survey that you haven’t already heard ad nauseam. At this point we sound like a broken record and I am even willing to include myself in this group. Continue reading

Did Confederate Camp Slaves Kill Their Own?

This is one of the most unusual accounts that I have ever come across about Confederate camp slaves. It is also one that I am struggling with how – if at all – to utilize. The account comes from Battle-Fields of the South: From Bull Run to Fredericksburg. This 2-volume work was published between 1863 and 1864 and written by an “English Combatant.” The writer supposedly served in a Mississippi regiment and saw action in Virginia. His account is supplemented with accounts from other soldiers. Continue reading

“There Were NO Racial Problems in the South”

This is part of my ongoing research on the origins and evolution of the myth of the black Confederate soldier. It can be incredibly draining having to read these posts day in an day out. And yes, I have no doubt that these people believe every word of what they share on these sites.

  • I don’t know if former camp slaves attended every Confederate reunion, but few whites were surprised to see them and they were almost always welcomed.
  • The vast majority of these men were former camp slaves. There may have been a few free blacks who hired themselves out to Confederates.
  • There are plenty of accounts of camp slaves who deserted, and, yes, there are also accounts of slaves who were present with the army until the very end.
  • They certainly did return the bodies of their masters home and a few did return to war alongside others.
  • Camp slaves did risk their lives in various ways.
  • They were awarded pensions after the war by former Confederate states.

There is a certain truth to all of this, but if you don’t analyze the evidence in the context of the master-slave relationship and the Confederate army’s shifting policies regarding free and enslaved blacks, than all you have is mush.

And then you have the comments.

If I ever write another book its subject will need to be as far removed from this one as possible. At times this project is just downright depressing.

History Communication in Action

Last week I responded to an op-ed written by Jason Steinhauer, who in recent years has been a passionate advocate for encouraging academic historians and others to embrace the role of History Communicator. Steinhauer recently assumed leadership at the Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University. As I understand it, Steinhauer wants departments to teach and for those already in the field to learn how to effectively engage the general public and share their knowledge through social media and other platforms. Continue reading

Who is Colonel Robert Gould Shaw?

The news coming out of the Massachusetts Historical Society here in Boston could not be more exciting. Yesterday the MHS announced that they are in possession of the sword that was carried into battle at Battery Wagner by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Shaw was killed leading his men at Wagner, outside of Charleston, South Carolina on July 18, 1863. His body was buried with his men on Morris Island. Continue reading