“Confederate Slaves” at Bull Run

Kate Masur has an excellent post up at the NYTs Disunion blog on slaves, who were present with the Confederate army at Bull Run.

On the morning of Sunday, July 21, 1861, John Parker and three other men opened fire on Union forces. In the chaos of the Civil War’s first major battle, the group, which was operating a cannon, “couldn’t see the Yankees at all and only fired at random.”

Like so many men on both sides who experienced war for the first time that day, Parker was terrified. “The balls from the Yankee guns fell thick all around,” he later told a reporter. “In one battery a shell burst and killed 20, the rest ran. Thank the Lord! none were killed in our battery. I felt bad all the time, and thought every minute my time would come; I felt so excited that I hardly knew what I was about, and felt worse than dead.”

Read the rest of the NYTs essay here.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the comments section to turn into another forum for the standard emotional attacks and personal pleas that have nothing to do with actual history.

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“Thank God the North Won”


There is an interesting moment in this talk by Peter Carmichael where he fields a question by a woman, who is apparently concerned that he is being overly critical of the South and the Confederacy.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult to hear the question.  I know a little something about being accused of holding the Confederacy and all things Southern in contempt.  It’s a strange accusation that I will never truly understand.

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It’s Hard To Think About Black Confederates…

when you are surrounded by so much history.  I’ve always been attracted to the history in my immediate surroundings.  It’s what connects me to my community and/or allows me to make sense of things.  Even when I travel overseas and for however brief a period of time, I find myself knee deep in local history.  Since moving to Boston three weeks ago I’ve been reading local history non-stop.  I just finished Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson and Richard Archer’s, As If an Enemy’s Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution.  I am now reading Stephen Puleo’s book about the second half of the nineteenth century, titled, A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900.  In short, I am overwhelmed by so much history.

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Manassas: The Missing Robinson House

This guest post is by Adam Arenson, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War, about the Civil War Era as a battle of three competing visions — that of the North, South, and West. More at http://adamarenson.com.   It is the start of a series of musings from a historian of the culture and politics of Civil War America, drawn from his notes and photographs upon bringing this perspective “back to the battlefield.”

On a Sunday in July, a few weeks before the vaunted sesquicentennial re-enactment, I enjoyed a balmy day at the Manassas battlefield. Like many of the sites I visited, the National Park Service looked ready: the new signs were beautifully designed, the ranger talks were entertaining and informative, and the trail directions were clear. The Manassas Battlefield is an excellent place to see the different scale of battles between 1861 and 1862—the difference between a skirmish between untested men across a few small hills and a major engagement across miles of terrain, with armies hardened by the experience of war.

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Do They Just Make This Stuff Up?

One of my favorite sites is a Facebook page made up of folks who style themselves as defenders of Southern Heritage.  There isn’t much serious history being discussed.  Once in a while someone will ask for a quote’s source or the reference to a particular book, but more often than not members simply reassure one another of their own worth in the continuing struggle against folks, who they believe are out to destroy all things “Southern”.  Here is a wonderful example that begins with a posting by Ann DeWitt, aka “Royal Diadem”.

Here are some of the more interesting responses:

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