Looks like Vanderbilt University has put together a first rate speakers series [see here, here, and here] on the Civil War. It is safe to say that the most important book to be published on the Army of Northern Virginia in recent years is Joseph Glatthaar’s, General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse. I read through the book when it was first published and have since gone through large sections of it again. While the book offers an incredibly rich narrative it is Glatthaar’s statistical sample that constitutes the real value of this study. Glatthaar’s statistical portrait of the ANV is slated to be published by the University of North Carolina Press: Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee. You get a taste of this aspect of the book in this presentation.
This morning I received the following email address from the Library of Congress. I have a great deal of control over the content of this site because it is self-hosted, but what happens after I am no longer around? Well, it looks like interested readers will have permanent access to the content of this site for a very long time and that makes me very happy. I love the idea of this site being saved as a point of entry on how the Civil War was remembered at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
The United States Library of Congress has selected your website for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War Sesquicentennial. The Library of Congress preserves the Nation’s cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. The Library’s traditional functions, acquiring, cataloging, preserving and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people to foster education and scholarship, extend to digital materials, including websites.
We request your permission to collect your website and add it to the Library’s research collections. In order to properly archive this URL, and potentially other URLs of interest on your site, we would appreciate your permission to archive both this URL and other portions of your site. With your permission, the Library of Congress or its agent will engage in the collection of content from your website at regular intervals over time and make this collection available to researchers both at Library facilities and, by special arrangement, to scholarly research institutions. In addition, the Library hopes that you share its vision of preserving Internet materials and permitting researchers from across the world to access them.
Our Web Archives are important because they contribute to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise be lost. With the growing role of the Web as an influential medium, records of historic events could be considered incomplete without materials that were “born digital” and never printed on paper. For more information about these Web Archive collections, please visit our website.
[I will provide more information as it becomes available.]
Few Civil War historians have been more prolific over as large a segment of the historical landscape than George Rable of the University of Alabama. I’ve read most of his books and I always find that my understanding of the period deepens as a result. Rable is one of those historians that makes you smarter after having read one of his books. My two favorites are The Confederate Republic: A Revolution Against Politics (Civil War America) and Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!, which in my mind is one of the most innovative Civil War campaign studies ever written. His most recent book is, God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era), which I am thoroughly enjoying.
If you are not familiar with Rable’s scholarship this is the perfect place to start.
It’s one of those quotes that sticks out like a sore thumb on many black Confederate websites: “When you eliminate the black Confederate soldier, you’ve eliminated the history of the South.” The only problem is that if you search for this quote Online you run into any number of problems not the least of which is authorship. Let’s take a quick tour.
- The quote was posted today at the Southern Heritage Preservation Facebook Page and attributed to Robert E. Lee in 1864. Carl Roden responded with a correction: “Actually it wasn’t Robert E. Lee who said that, it was historian, Erwin L. Jordan, Jr. who did good work on telling the story of Black Confederates and their service…its still a good quote none the less.”
- Over at the 37th Texas website the quote is attributed to Dr. Leonard Haynes, an African-American professor at Southern University.
- The Southern American of Color also attributes the quote to Professor Haynes.
- Finally, no surprise that Calvin E. Johnson also utilizes the quote over at Edgerton’s site and attributes it to Haynes.
An Online search for the quote will yield page after page of websites that apparently have cut and pasted the passage. Most of them attribute the quote to Professor Haynes. What you will not find, however, is a single reference to the source of the quote. There are no references to any publications on the subject or even a speech in which he may have made the claim. The claim of authorship seems to be based on nothing more than that has been cut and pasted countless times. If you are looking for an example of why an uneducated search on the Internet is so dangerous look no further.
So, who is Leonard Haynes? Start with this biography of the man [and here]. He earned a Ph.D in higher education and served in the Department of Education during both Bush administrations. Dr. Haynes sounds like an interesting guy, but I can find nothing that points to a single publication or presentation on the subject. Is there any evidence that he has ever written anything about the Civil War let alone the subject of black Confederates?
Hey kids, if you don’t know how to search and assess Online sources then stay away.
Yesterday I spent about an hour on the phone talking with a writer at Education Week about the teaching of Civil War history during the sesquicentennial. We talked about a wide range of issues, but at one point I was asked if I can discern any noticeable difference between the teaching of this history in the North v. South. I’ve been asked this question before and I always struggle to answer it. For one I’ve only taught history in the state of Virginia and most of the teachers that I’ve interacted with through various workshops also teach here. That said, Virginia is instructive given its location in the South and its close association with all things Civil War/Lost Cause.
A cursory glance at recent events in Virginia suggests that not only has it moved away from anything resembling Mildred Rutherford’s vision of the history classroom, it has taken a national lead in introducing students to a Civil War narrative that is very much in line with recent scholarship. That said, I have no doubt that there are still pockets of resistance, but I suspect that much of it is generational in nature. I’ve seen this in various workshops over the past few years. Younger teachers have little difficulty with some of the tough questions of Civil War history related to race and slavery, but teachers reared on a more traditional narrative tend to be suspicious. The important point, however, is that I don’t believe we can plot such resistance along regional lines given recent demographic shifts.
What do you think?
The heritage syndrome, if I may call it that, almost seems to be a predictable but certainly a non-conspiratorial response–an impulse to remember what is attractive or flattering and to ignore all the rest. Heritage is composed of those aspects of history that we cherish and affirm. As an alternative to history, heritage accentuates the positive but sifts away what is problematic. One consequence is that the very pervasiveness of heritage as a phenomenon produces a beguiling sense of serenity about the well-being of history–that is, a false consciousness that historical knowledge and understanding are alive and well in the United States.
Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory, p. 626
To understand something historically is to be aware of its complexity, to have sufficient detachment to see it from multiple perspectives, to accept the ambiguities, including moral ambiguities, of protagonists’ motives and behavior.
Peter Novick, That Noble Dream
I am beginning to think about what I am going to say next Saturday at North Carolina State University for their symposium on the Civil War and public history. My talk will focus not only on the challenges surrounding the discussion of slavery and race at our Civil War battlefields, but specifically the difficulty of attracting African Americans to these sites. I will look specifically about the steps taken by the National Park Service at the Petersburg National Battlefield.
I’ve learned a umber of things in the course of my research on the Crater and public history/historical memory. For any number of reasons we’ve underestimated the level of interest in the Civil War within the African American community. In Petersburg public interest could be found in the postwar years in local churches, in black militia units, and in local schools. A heightened awareness of the role of African Americans in the Civil War can be found in the 1950s and 60s in such popular magazines such as Ebony and Jet. Over the course of the past year we’ve seen ample evidence of African Americans embracing the Civil War. The level of interest is directly related to the wide range of events that can be found in museums, historical societies, educational institutions, and other private organizations. Despite what the mainstream media would have us believe, we are witnessing a profound transformation in our collective memory of the war compared with just a few short decades ago.
The National Park Service has led the way in broadening the general public’s understanding of the war and the meaning of our most important historic sites. Consider John Hennessy’s recent tour of Fredericksburg, titled, “Forgotten: Slavery and Slave Places in Fredericksburg”, which attracted roughly 70 members from the area’s historic black churches. John’s optimism is tempered somewhat by the comments he heard from a few people:
“Are you going to get in trouble for doing this? You know…your bosses. I didn’t think you guys were allowed to do things like this.” During the day, I received a number of comments along the same line, suggesting surprise that we, the NPS, would do a tour dealing with slavery.
I have little doubt that the public perception of the NPS among African Americans will continue to improve with continued programming that reaches beyond traditional narrative boundaries. The NPS in Petersburg has also taken steps to reach out to the local black community with, among other things, a series of walking tours of downtown Petersburg. Again, all of these things bode well for the future.
Back in January I announced that I was adding affiliate links for Amazon.com books into my posts. As a result, I get a small percentage of each sale in the form of a gift certificate. A few weeks ago I added a widget in the sidebar that extends this affiliate program to include titles from my personal library. Well, this little experiment has gone better than I anticipated. Since the beginning of January Civil War Memory has earned $55 dollars in commissions based on the sale of 49 ordered items. I am feeling very good about this program. Most importantly, I have complete control over the products that I advertise and it is clear that readers of this blog are clicking through, which implies a certain amount of trust on your part.
I’ve proceeded carefully down this road with the full understanding that it is my wide readership that makes Civil War Memory such a popular and dynamic site. The last thing that I want to do is alienate readers with misleading advertisements or even worse, inferior products. I have resisted utilizing Google Ad Sense and other automated programs precisely because they do not afford me a sufficient level of control over the placement of specific products. At the same time I simply can’t ignore the fact that this site could help to supplement my income over the next year. If anything, it could help offset the costs involved in maintaining this site and given my impending move to Boston every little bit helps.
What I can guarantee all of you is that the ads will compliment the content of this site and will allow me to continue to direct this blog’s audience to companies that support my broader mission of history education. Let me know what you think and please feel free to voice any concerns.