Black Confederates Attract Tourist Dollars

Thanks to a reader for passing along the Prince William County/Manassas, Virginia Tourism Guide for 2010-11.  I have no idea what went into the decision to feature a young black male in what appears to be a Confederate uniform.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing historically inaccurate about such a representation, though he is probably too young to be a body servant.  The more important issue has to do with the intended message behind this image.  I would love to know if anyone on the editorial team is aware of the recent textbook controversy involving claims of thousands of black Confederates serving under Stonewall Jackson’s command.

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Johnny Yuma’s Appomattox

On this day in April 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.  Those of you who continue to harbor hatred for Grant and the rest of the “yankee horde” would do well to listen closely to Johnny Yuma.  In this episode, Johnny explains to a young boy, who lost his father in the war, to put aside his hate and embrace forgiveness and reconciliation.

This episode beautifully captures the reconciliationist spirit of the Civil War Centennial.  “Well Mr. McCune, here is how I look at it.  In a way everybody who fought for either side was at Appomattox.”

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Defining Black Union Soldiers

One of the most frustrating aspects of the black Confederate debate is the tendency on the part of a select few to warp the definition of a soldier to a point where it becomes meaningless.  These individuals may have made room for their preferred picture of the Confederate army, but it fails to reflect anything resembling what white Southerners, both in the army and on the home front, would have acknowledged in the 1860s.  Given the difficulty involved in acknowledging a distinction between a soldier and noncombatant (personal servant/impressed slave or free black) in the Confederate army, perhaps it will help to take a quick look at the Union army.

Gary Gallagher’s new book, The Union War (Harvard University Press, 2011), opens with an interesting chapter on the Grand Review, which took place in Washington, D.C. in May 1865.  After dealing effectively with the claim that African American soldiers were intentionally prevented from taking part in the parade Gallagher analyzes newspaper coverage of the racial profile of Sherman’s army:

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Dear National Geographic,

No, I will not feature your content on my site for free.

Spend a few minutes on the National Geographic website and count the number of advertisements that they feature.  Does anyone believe for a minute that they would seriously consider featuring the content of one of these companies for free?  It’s absurd to even consider it and yet they apparently have no problem asking this of bloggers, many of whom maintain self-hosted sites.    Yes, that means we pay money out of our pocket to host these sites. This is business as usual for these spammers.

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A Civil War Proclamation For All Virginians

By now many of you have had the opportunity to digest Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s proclamation designating April as Civil War History in Virginia Month.  I wanted to take a few minutes to share a few thoughts.  First, perhaps I am guilty of criticizing the governor prematurely, but my remarks reflected an eagerness to see him follow up on what I thought was a very thoughtful speech at Norfolk State.  I don’t know much of anything about the team that advised the governor on the proclamation’s content, but it looks like Ervin Jordan played a role.  Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with this proclamation.

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Civil War History in Virginia Month

Jackson Park in Charlottesville, Va.

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WHEREAS, the month of April is most closely associated with Virginia’s pivotal role in the American Civil War; it was in April 1861 that Virginia seceded from the Union following a lengthy, contentious and protracted debate within the Commonwealth, and it was in April 1865 that the War was essentially concluded with the South’s surrender at Appomattox. In the four years that fell between those momentous months, Richmond served as the capital of the Confederacy, and it was on Virginia soil that the vast majority of the Civil War’s battles were fought, in places like Manassas, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, New Market, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, locations now forever linked with the indelible history of this perilous period; and

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Welcome to the University of North Carolina Press

When I made the decision to host advertisements on Civil War Memory I made a commitment to working with companies whose products enrich our understanding of the Civil War.  Well, you simply can’t beat the opportunity to work with the University of North Carolina Press.  It would be difficult to exaggerate the extent to which I have benefited from reading the books in UNC Press’s “Civil War Campaigns” and “Civil War America” series – both of which are edited by Gary Gallagher.  I know that this is true for many of you out there as well.

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Thoughtful Reflection in the Heart of the Confederacy

Over the past few months I’ve done a number of interviews about the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  At the end of my latest interview this past Friday the reporter noted that this was not the story that she anticipated writing.  What she meant was that she was not going to write up a story around the standard narrative of lingering disagreements and bitterness between North and South and black and white.  As I’ve suggested on numerous occasions, that narrative simply does not hold up given the political and demographic shifts that have taken place throughout much of the country over the past few decades.

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