Gettysburg on History—Love It, Hate It, Here it Comes Again.

The following guest post is from Garry Adelman.  Garry is the author, co-author or editor of more than 30 Civil War books and articles including his latest work, Manassas Battlefields Then & Now. He has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for 16 years. He is vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography and works full time as Director of History and Education for the Civil War Trust.

With the History Channel’s Gettysburg show scheduled to re-air on Wednesday August 31, I thought Civil War Memory the perfect place to post an insider’s perspective about the creation, production and reactions to the docudrama. Thanks to my friend Kevin for allowing me to be a guest blogger.

I first became involved in the project at its outset in June 2010. History asked the Civil War Trust for help with its proposed Gettysburg docudrama, but: they did not want to try to include the entire battle; they did not want to focus on the usual characters and; they wanted to make it highly personal. I was tapped for the job. I said I would help in any way I could and added that my personal goal was to help them make “something that didn’t suck.”

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Civil War Weather

"The Mud March" by Mort Kunstler

I trust that all of you along the east coast have made the best of this nasty weather and are safe. I am particularly concerned about my small contingent of “fans” in the Virginia Beach – Suffolk area, though I trust that they are also doing just fine. Here in Boston it is raining and a little windy, but so far nothing too serious at all – just a very wet Sunday morning.

With all the talk about the weather over the past few days it occurred to me that perhaps we have much to learn about its influence on campaigns as well as the physical and psychological well-being of the men in the ranks.  Yes, we have plenty of descriptions of various kinds of weather, but it seems to me that the analytical side of our understanding may fall short.  Perhaps I am just ignorant of the literature.

A few studies stand out.  Robert Krick recently published, Civil War Weather in Virginia, which offers a handy chronology of weather information in the Washington D.C. – Richmond corridor.  George Rable, Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! includes a fine chapter on how the weather influenced the failed Mud March following the battle of Fredericksburg.  More recently, Kathryn S. Meier published, “No Place for the Sick: Nature’s War on Civil War Soldier Mental and Physical Health in the 1862 Peninsula and Shenandoah Valley Campaign” in The Journal of the Civil War Era (June 2011).  What else do you recommend?  I am not just thinking about weather, but broader environmental issues as well.

Finally, I recently learned that Ken Noe’s next book will focus on weather related issues.  Perhaps he can give us a sense of what he is up to.

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The Second Annual Tom Watson Brown Book Prize

I am usually pretty good about staying on top of new Civil War titles.  Many of the university presses send me advanced copies for the blog, which helps to save money and keep me on top of the historiography.  Somehow, this title fell through the cracks.  Not only did it escape my attention, but I just learned that Mark W. Geiger’s book, Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865 (Yale University Press, 2010) has been selected by the Society of Civil War Historians as this year’s Tom Watson Brown book prize winner. The award comes with a check for $50,000.

Above you will find a short video of Professor Geiger discussing his new book.  Geiger will accept his award and give a talk at the SCWH dinner, which takes place as part of the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association.  It’s always a good time.

Congratulations.

 

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Is Robert K. Krick a Southern Historian?

Over the past three days I’ve come across two references that place Robert K. Krick, squarely in the camp of Southern historians.  The reference is meant not simply to denote field of interest but a “pro-South” or “pro-Confederate” bias.  As many of you know Krick worked for 31 years as the chief historian at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.  These claims are made with apparently no attempt at verification; it’s as if his body of scholarship speaks for itself in terms of his place of birth.  Of course, Krick is not native to the South; rather he was born and raised in California.  Before proceeding let’s be clear that Krick’s work on the Army of Northern Virginia is essential reading for any Civil War enthusiast.  In short, few people know more about Lee’s army than Krick.

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Reaffirming My ProSouthern Sympathies

It’s not easy having to face the constant taunting and hate-filled messages, which suggest that I am somehow “anti-Southern” or out to attack Southern history and culture. :-) Even after moving to the beautiful city of Boston much of what I love to read about relates to the rich history of the American South.  Right now I am in the middle of Adam Arenson’s new study of St. Louis, The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2011).

So, just in case you doubt my commitment I am displaying the following banner for the remainder of the day.  I am confident that I am following the rules governing its display:

Permission is not granted to use these badges on blogs or websites that would bring dishonor to the South, or to Southerners and their history, heritage and culture, or to use them in any other dishonorable manner.

Of course, I know my regular readers have not lost faith that I’ve lost my way, but I guess this has created some amount of self-doubt.

Deo-Vindice!

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