Ethan Rafuse recently shared a writing assignment that he was given by “America’s Civil War” magazine to come up with a list of six Civil War generals that we “like to hate.”
Civil War buffs love to blame particular generals for lost battles and campaigns—McClellan, Bragg, McDowell, etc. Why do we like to hate them so much, and do they deserve it? Pick a couple from each side and examine what made them pariahs—and whether hindsight should rehabilitate their Images. Pick three from each side, 500 or so words on each, and a 500-word intro for about 3,500 words.
I guess the editor could have framed the question around major mistakes made in the field by Civil War generals, but the choice to inquire as to why some military figures engender such a visceral reaction in some is potentially interesting. Perhaps we should take one step back for a little perspective. Is there anything comparable in America’s other wars? Anyone out there hate Henry Knox, Winfield Scott, John J. Pershing, Omar Bradley, or William Westmoreland?
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Dixie Outfitters t-shirt
I still don’t quite understand how a city of Southerners can discriminate against themselves, but logic probably isn’t a top priority when you are marketing to the fringes of society. The other question is why did the designers choose to substitute the First National for the Confederate battle flag?
9-11 Memorial at World Trade Center
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the intersection of 9-11 and Civil War remembrance. It started with a post on the subject and that led to two newspaper interviews. An Associated Press article on 9-11 that I was recently interviewed for gave me the opportunity to explore the subject a bit further. It will be published at some point soon. A couple of days ago I decided to write it up as an editorial and the History News Network agreed to run it. You can read it here if interested. Thanks again to HNN for agreeing to publish it. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who were lost on 9-11.
Melvin Memorial by Daniel Chester French
It’s always nice to have a decent writing session given how rare they are for me. I am close to finishing up a magazine article that explores how veterans from Massachusetts framed the war in what I would like to think were fairly local places. For example, I am looking at private reminiscences, unit histories, some G.A.R. events, and monument dedications as opposed to more high profile events such as reunions between Confederate and Union veterans and other public events involving political leaders and other national figures. It seems to me that when you focus on the former there are far fewer expressions of reunion and reconciliation. In fact, you will find some powerful examples of individuals who explicitly see themselves as standing up against the broader trend of reconciliation that had taken hold by the beginning of the twentieth century. This is a narrative that has all but been lost in a collective memory that prefers stories of former enemies embracing one another at Appomattox and beyond. I haven’t decided where I am going to send it, but I hope you have a chance to read it at some point soon.
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Battery 5 at Petersburg National Battlefield
This guest post is by Adam Arenson, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War, about the Civil War Era as a battle of three competing visions — that of the North, South, and West. More at http://adamarenson.com. This is the fourth in a series.
On many Civil War battlefields, all that is left is the land. For battlefield enthusiasts, just looking at the terrain can evoke the battle, the movement of the units, the decisions of the commanders, and the experience of the soldiers, and perhaps even the war’s greater meaning.
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