Last Saturday Megan Kate Nelson, my wife and I went to see Suzan Lori Parks’s three-act play, “Father Comes Home From the Wars.” I don’t want to give too much away about the plot beyond the fact that the central character is a slave, who at the beginning of the first act struggles with whether he is going to go off to war with his master/Confederate colonel. Oh, and the slave, whose name is Hero, is also donning a Confederate uniform.
Following the show we enjoyed a talkback with members of the cast. Unfortunately, we missed another post-production discussion the following day with Parks, along with Henry Louis Gates and Eric Foner. The discussion kicked off with some thoughts about the current debate about black Confederates.
On one level the focus of the discussion was unfortunate. At no time is Hero’s struggle about whether he can support or serve the Confederacy and the decision has nothing to do with him serving as a soldier. Rather, it serves as the foundation for his relationship with his master, which evolves significantly during the show. It’s confusing, in part, because Hero wears a uniform, but we know of a number of slaves, including, most famously, Silas Chandler, who were outfitted in military dress. The opening act offers an opportunity to explore the complexity of the master-slave relationship and not that of the relationship between slaves and the Confederacy. Continue reading →
I hesitate giving this posting from the League of the South, announcing their intention to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, any more attention that it has already attracted, but it is useful in making a couple of points.
The League of the South looks to the present and future. However, from time to time we do look back at our past.
This 14th of April will mark the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln. The League will, in some form or fashion, celebrate this event. We remember Booth’s diary entry: “Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment.” A century and a half after the fact, The League of the South thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity.
Stay tuned . . .
First, it betrays a rather naive understanding of how Americans (North and South) responded to the actions of John Wilkes Booth. Continue reading →
We are raising funds to purchase the only known existing U.S. Christian Commission banner which was with General Sherman’s Georgia campaign. Most notably, it was with him at his famous “March to the Sea” in the late summer and early fall of 1864. It also was displayed at both City Point and later Richmond during the spring of 1865. The funds raised will also be used to mount and frame the banner to preserve it for display as part of the Chaplain Museum’s “Climax of the War: The US Christian Commission and the Appomattox Campaign in the Spring of 1865” exhibit which is set to open in early March of 2015 as part of the US Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War.
It’s a worthy project if ever there was one, but does it have any chance of succeeding? Continue reading →
I’ve expressed more than once my disappointment at not being able to spend more time in Petersburg, Virginia this past year to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war. Apart from my participation in the 150th anniversary of the Crater I’ve had to look on from afar. But about two weeks ago I was suddenly overcome with an urge to commemorate the men on both sides who lived in and braved the earthworks around Petersburg from June 1864 to April 1865.
At first I wasn’t sure what I was constructing, but a few days ago I had one of those Richard Dreyfuss/mashed potato moments of clarity. From that point on my work proceeded with great energy and focus. What you see here is the northwest side of what I am calling Battery 5. Its walls stand 10 ft. in height and 3 ft. thick. This morning I began placing palisades around the wall.
I assure you that other than our neighbors no impressed workers were used in the construction of this section of the line. There are rumors of tunneling activities by the enemy.
Welcome to Civil War Memory’s 10th anniversary re-design. Now I know that the real anniversary won’t take place until November, but I decided to cheat a little and declare all of 2015 as marking this personal milestone. Over the years this site has completely transformed my professional life. It has generated an incredible amount of content, both on the blog and beyond. What better way to mark this anniversary than with a new design that highlights this content and attracts the kind of interest that will hopefully lead to new opportunities.
While Civil War Memory began strictly as a blog it quickly transformed into a larger portal, featuring all kinds of content from a relatively new book to a wide range of online and print publications to my availability as a speaker. In short, it became a place where I could share my passion for the study of history with the public.
In thinking about the re-design, I wanted a site that was attractive and easy to navigate. I am a huge fan of minimalist websites that feature only the essentials and offer readers as few options to exit the site as possible. The design had to be attractive, but not overshadow the content. I hope this design at least approaches this crucial balance. Continue reading →