Civil War Memory in My Backyard

I pass by this monument every day on my way to Jamaica Pond for my morning run.  It was dedicated on September 14, 1871 and commemorates the 46 men of West Roxbury, “who lost their lives in the service of their country during the Rebellion.”  It has quickly become my favorite Civil War soldier monument.  I love the simplicity of it, including its smooth surfaces and clean lines.  The soldier embodies the virtues of the citizen soldier that northern towns embraced by war’s end.  He seems tired, but resolute as well as contemplative and just a bit sad.  In short, he did his duty when his nation called.

There are four names around its arches, including that of Lincoln, Farragut, Andrew, and Thomas.  The Jamaica Plain Historical Society suggests that the Thomas in question is none other than George H. Thomas of Virginia (the Rock of Chickamauga), who supposedly donated the land for the monument.  Perhaps someone can explain to me the connection given that he died in San Francisco and is buried in New York.  Now that would be an interesting Virginia – Massachusetts connection.

[Click here for more information about the monument from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.]

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Silas Chandler Essay To Be Published in CWT’s 50th Anniversary Issue

This morning I learned that my co-authored essay on Silas Chandler with Myra Chandler Sampson will be published in the February 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine.  This just so happens to be the magazine’s 50th anniversary issue and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be part of the celebration.

This little project has been in the works for quite some time, but it is one of the most important to me.  The essay grew out of a series of blog posts over the past year that I hoped would begin to correct the historical record as it relates to the subject of black Confederates.  Better yet, it led me to Myra Chandler Sampson, who happens to be Silas’s great granddaughter.  Myra discovered me through the blog in the course of her own tireless quest to correct the historical record of her ancestor.  She placed enough trust in me to send along a wonderful collection of archival sources, which greatly enriched my own understanding of Silas’s life as well as the rest of the family’s history through the 20th century.

Between the upcoming History Detectives episode on Silas and our own article it looks like we are one step closer to Myra’s goal of honoring her ancestor in a way that more closely reflects the available historical record.

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Is This an Appropriate Role for the National Park Service?

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women of the National Park Service, who help to preserve and interpret our nation’s historic sites.  They include some of the most passionate and talented historians.  For those focused on Civil War related sites their jobs come with increased attention and scrutiny by the media as well as various interest groups who have a stake in maintaining or protecting a specific narrative of the war.

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Hello From Boston

I apologize for the lack of posts over the past week, but as most of you know my wife and I just completed a move to Boston.  We absolutely love our new home as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  I am enjoying a very cozy reading room surrounded by my Civil War library.  Our house is a short walk from a village area that includes a nice variety of restaurants and small shops.

Unfortunately, we are without Internet access until the middle of next week.  Let’s just say that our local Department of Motor Vehicles is more efficient than Comcast.  Although we’ve been tied up with house chores, we did manage to take a short walk through Forest Hills Cemetery, which is absolutely beautiful.  Along the way we found a number of noteworthy grave sites, including that of William Lloyd Garrison.

Posts may be sporadic for the next two weeks.  I have to make some final changes to my Crater manuscript and put together two teacher workshops for a Civil War Preservation Trust conference.  See you soon.

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Goodbye Virginia, Hello Boston

Yesterday I took one final trip up Rt. 20 to Fredericksburg.  Apart from a few select pieces I was able to sell the remainder of my Don Troiani collection to a Marine officer, who is going to auction them off to help raise money for the Wounded Warrior project.  [More on this at a later date.]  It’s one of my favorite drives and it gave me the opportunity to reflect on just how much I am going to miss this place.

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