Help With the Historiography of the War in Virginia, 1861

Among the writing projects that I need to complete over the course of the next 12 months is a 7,500 word historiographical survey of military affairs in Virginia in 1861.  The essay will be included in A Companion to the U.S. Civil War edited by Aaron Sheehan-Dean and published by Wiley-Blackwell.  The completed book, which will be published in two volumes and encompass roughly sixty chapters, will provide scholars with a comprehensive survey of the historical literature on the Civil War.  The goal of the Companion series is to summarize the historiography of a given field, the essays for the U.S. Civil War volume will focus on how historians have developed and modified their interpretations of the topic over time.

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A Fictional Depiction That Includes True Facts

Why settle for one fictional account of a black Confederate soldier when you can have two?  The latest offering comes from Robert Broome, Jr. who recently self-published his book, My Confederate Cousin.  Here is the jacket description:

My cousin, Basil Dawson, was a black Confederate soldier born in Poolesville, Maryland. As a soldier in the Confederate States Army, Basil killed Federal soldiers alongside his white father and half brother, who also fought for the CSA. Following the war, Basil returned home to relatives who were unhappy with him because he had fought for the South. Even today, the family remains divided because Basil served with the Confederacy.

Perhaps the author will be kind enough to send me a review copy. 🙂

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Why Is There So Little Interest In the Civil War in the South?

There are two Civil War Sesquicentennial memes that get bandied about without any reflection at all.  The first suggests that white Southerners are still fighting the Civil War or that they are holding onto a traditional narrative that is being threatened by various external forces.   Even a cursory glance at recent commemorative events in South Carolina suggests that the story is much more complex.  The second also plays up supposed strict regional differences that assumes a closer, more emotional need to remember the Civil War in the South than the North.

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Just Another Day in the Life of the Black Confederate Soldier

[Hat-tip to Mark Dunkelman]

… R-Truth interrupts Vince and Austin. Truth comes out dressed like a Confederate soldier and is singing a tune about Little Jimmy. Truth says he’s supposed to apologize for what he did last week. Vince shows us a clip of Truth berating fans last week. Truth says he’s a good little Truth and apologizes to Big Jimmy, Little Jimmy and the soda he threw. Truth repeats that he’s sorry. Austin says he should be sorry for dressing up like a jackass. Truth says he’s dressed like this because he knows where he’s at – Richmond, Virginia. Truth calls it the capitol of the Confederacy and rambles on, calling the people inbred rednecks. A “you suck” chant breaks out. Truth says the Confederacy “succeeded” from the United States, so tonight, he is “succeeding” from WWE. Truth says they can keep the title match. After tonight, WWE won’t make anymore money off him. Vince asks Truth if R is his real first name and asks how to spell it. They go on when The Miz’s music hits and out he comes. Miz asks “really?” as he walks to the ring.

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A Few Thoughts About Bruce Catton

I am about half-way through Bruce Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox and I am enjoying it immensely.  While I’ve read a few essays and sections of various books this is the first Catton book that I will read in its entirety.  It is easy to see why he is so popular and I have a much better sense of how he excited the imagination of an entire generation.  Catton was an incredibly talented writer and his sense of narrative is infectious.  On a number of occasions I found myself completely immersed in Catton’s world.  At the same time I can’t help but reflect on the book as a product of its time.

Given its publication in 1953, Stillness functioned as a wonderful example of a national history of the Civil War.  The narrative would have appealed to a wide range of Americans, who had experienced the horrors of WWII and the emergence of the United States as the most powerful nation and self-proclaimed leader of the free world.  Increasing tensions during the early Cold War period and a conscious self reflection that emphasized freedom and democracy constitute an important cultural and political backdrop necessary to understand this book’s influence.

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