Update: Within thirty minutes of posting I was contacted by the editor of a major university press: “Let’s talk.” I take this as a positive sign. Stay tuned.
The other day I outlined the final chapter of my book on Confederate body servants and the myth of the black Confederate soldier. The chapter focuses specifically on the rise and spread of this narrative leading to and especially through the sesquicentennial years. It’s by far the most interesting chapter and will likely be a good deal of fun to write. As you might imagine the chapter borrows heavily from this blog, which over the years has offered the most sustained critique of this myth that you will find anywhere on the Internet. Continue reading
The good folks at Great Divide Pictures were kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of their forthcoming series, Civil War: The Untold Story, which tells the story of the war in the West. I’ve watched the first two episodes on Shiloh and skimmed the rest. Overall, it’s a solid production. The digital maps are well done and the reenacted battle scenes are entertaining. The narrative effectively weaves together a big picture of the cause of the war and its various stages with focused coverage of both the strategic and tactical decisions in the field. Stories about individual soldiers, civilians, and slaves drive home the human experience. So, overall the series is well worth watching. Continue reading
It’s easy to be seduced by the latest use of technology in our museums and other historic sites to get across the Civil War experience and the human cost. They are powerful tools and can be incredibly effective, but once in a while, we are reminded that the simplest approach works best. Such is the case at Andersonville National Historic Site, where they are keeping track on a daily basis the number of new prisoners admitted as well as the latest deaths and burials. It’s incredibly powerful.
I am not sure where this is situated in the visitor center, but I hope it is one of the first things that people see when they enter. It is often difficult for people to wrap their heads around large numbers, but this little display makes it easy to identify recent losses in the context of the life of the prison. If I was visiting I would immediately inquire into the names of the men who died on this day 150 years ago. How did they arrive at the prison? Where were they from? Those men would serve as my guides through the site.
I’ve never been to Andersonville, but I hope to visit one day. I applaud the NPS staff. This is a challenging commemoration, but from what I can tell they’ve got the right people on board.