Searching For Black Confederates Under Advance Contract

I couldn’t be more excited to announce that Searching For Black Confederates is now under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press.

It would be an understatement to say that this project has had a long and rocky history. This topic of black Confederates has occupied a good deal of my attention going back to the very first post on it in 2008 and is easily the most written about subject on this blog. A book is certainly a logical step that will allow me to explore some of the most heated debates over the memory of the war that continue to resonate in our culture. It will also give me a chance to explore how we now produce, search, and assess history online.

As early as 2010 I started to think seriously about taking this subject on as a book topic. I even announced (more than once) that I had started and was working toward its completion.

Of course, making an announcement and actually working on it turned out to be two different things entirely. While the blog posts kept coming, I found it difficult to work on the larger project. My move to Boston in 2011 proved to be a distraction as I scoped out more local topics such as a biography of Governor John Andrew and a regimental study of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. As much as I tried to push the black Confederate book away, however, it kept creeping back into view. [click to continue…]

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 10/13

Kelly MezurekStephen D. Engle, Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Lorien Foote, The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Matthew Hulbert, The Ghosts of Guerrilla Memory: How Civil War Bushwhackers Became Gunslingers in the American West (University of Georgia Press, 2016).

Kelly Mezurek, For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops (Kent State University Press, 2016).

David Silkenat, Driven from Home: North Carolina’s Civil War Refugee Crisis (University of Georgia Press, 2016).

Ronald White, American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant (Random House, 2016).

Ted Widmer ed., The New York Times Disunion: A History of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Downs and Masur Choose Beaufort, South Carolina

Historians Greg Downs and Kate Masur believe that Beaufort, South Carolina should be declared a National monument by President Obama. The two have taken the lead over the past year in pushing to set aside a historic site for the sole purpose of interpreting the Reconstruction Era. Though Reconstruction is interpreted at any number of historic sites, the nation still does not have a place devoted specifically to this crucial and widely misunderstood period in American history. [click to continue…]

How to Interpret a “Black Confederate” Pensioner

Stay tuned. In the next few days I am going to be able to share some exciting news about who is publishing my black Confederates book.

In this short video historian Randolph “Mike” Campbell discusses the story of Guy and Dora Shaw of Harrison County, Texas. Guy Shaw applied for and was approved a Confederate veterans pension even though he was black. I haven’t spent much time with Texas Confederate pensions beyond a small set sent to me by Andy Hall, but this particular story raises a number of interesting questions about race relations at the turn of the twentieth century. Campbell’s own evaluation of the significance of Shaw’s pension begins at the 17:00 minute mark, which I pretty much agree with.

[Uploaded to YouTube on October 5, 2016.]

Going Rogue With Keith Harris

I am happy to announce that the first three episodes of Keith Harris’s new podcast, The Rogue Historian, is now live and yours truly is the guest for Episode 1. Keith, as all of you know, is a blogger, historian, and this year a full time high school history teacher. Check out his website for all of his activities. Keith is very active in finding creative ways to share his love of history with the general public.

We focused on the myth of the black Confederate soldier, which is the subject of my current book project. We talked about a wide range of issues related to the subject so definitely check it out when you have a chance.

Congratulations, Keith.

Is This the Confession of a Neo-Confederate?

Update: Thanks to William Black for taking the time to respond to this post.

I passed this essay along by William Black last week and have been thinking about it ever since. Black is currently a Ph.D candidate at Rice University in history and writes about his embrace and eventual abandonment of neo-Confederate ideas about role of slavery in causing the war, Reconstruction, and the meaning of the Confederate battle flag. According to Black, had he gone to school with Dylann Roof, “we would have agreed on a lot.”

This essay is well worth reading, but it is not a story of a one-time- or recovering neo-Confederate. [click to continue…]