Like many of you I’ve read John Keegan’s Face of Battle (1976) and can appreciate the contribution it made to the historiography of military history and its influence on countless Civil War historians who have written about the experience of the common soldier. Other than that, however, I haven’t read much of Keegan’s scholarship. I’m just not that well read in military history outside of the Civil War. I have to admit that I was just a bit excited about Keegan’s new military synthesis of the Civil War until I came across James McPherson’s review. This is a pretty tough review as McPherson reviews go. The mistakes cited by McPherson are that much more damaging given that Keegan is seen by many as an expert on geostrategic analysis. Even the characterizations of Grant, Sherman, Lee, and Jackson seem to be quite weak. Why do I have a feeling that we will see this book remaindered within a year.
It looks like Gary Casteel’s statue of Jefferson Davis holding hands with his biological son and “adopted” son, Jim Limber, has found a new home at Beauvoir. You may remember that this statue was commissioned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in hopes that it would be placed next to the Lincoln statue at the Tredegar Iron Works. That deal fell through and left the organization scrambling for alternative sites. At one point they even asked the state of Mississippi to accept it.
Since the SCV meant to “educate” the public about Jefferson Davis and race relations during the Civil War with this statue, it is hard not to see this new home as reflecting nothing less than a complete and utter public relations failure. The reason the statue ended up here has nothing to do with political correctness or any other catch-phrase that is currently en vogue. It has to do with the fact that the statue has little to do with solid history and has everything to do with the current SCV propaganda machine which would have the general public see the Confederacy as part of some sort of civil rights movement. I’ve written quite a bit about this particular story over the past year if interested.
Update: Eric Jacabson reports that no service records can be found for the Tennessee men listed below. Can’t say that I am surprised.
Well, I guess if that simply means running stories from across the country without any concern as to whether the details of the stories are correct. Yes, Cathy Gordon Wood, president of Giles County Chapter #257, United Daughters of the Confederacy, plans on honoring eighteen so-called black Confederates, but does anyone associated with this publication have any interest in whether the details of the story have any merit? Just about every one of these stories that I’ve come across turns out to be bogus. I wrote about this particular black Confederate bonanza a few weeks ago.
On Nov. 8 service the UDC plans on holding a traditional military funeral for the following men? Ruffin Abernathy, 3rd Clark’s Tenn. Inf.; Maurice Adams Cleveland, Gen. John Adams’ staff; Tom Brown, Gen. John C. Brown’s staff; Fed Clack, Col. Calvin J. Clack’s staff; Daniel B. Coleman, Co. A, 6th Alabama Inf.; Jacob Coleman, Co. A, 11th Alabama Cav.; Mack Dabney, 3rd Clack’s; Whitlock Field, Col. Hume R. Field; Nathan Gordon, Co. E, 11th Tenn. Cav. and Co. A, 3rd Clack’s; Wash Harris, Cheatham’s Division; Southern Cross of Honor recipient Steve Jones, 1st Tenn., Wheeler’s Cav.; Richard Lester, Co. G, 3rd Clack’s; Robert Lester, Co. K, 8th Tenn. Inf.; And, Sam Maxwell and Neal Mitchell, units unknown; Giles Moore, 9th Alabama, Malone’s Cav.; Joseph Reynolds, unknown; and Matt Rivers, 11th Tenn. Inf.
I would love to know how many military service records we can find for these guys. Ms. Wood has apparently found pension records for some of these men, but as we all know such records fail to tell us much of anything as to their wartime status.
Iam in the process of finalizing my elective for the next trimester, which begins after we return from Thanksgiving break. It’s a course that I am calling Civil War Memory. Last year I taught it as a straightforward readings course and this year the plan was to use it as a platform for doing some digital history. Unfortunately, I am nowhere near to being ready to teach this kind of course. I simply don’t feel comfortable enough with some of the technology necessary to make this a successful course. Hopefully I can implement it next year. This leaves me with the question of how to structure this year’s course. As successful as last year’s version of the course was, I prefer to stay away from a readings course. So, I am planning on teaching a course that emphasizes Civil War memory and popular culture through film. This way, I can still utilize the books that have been ordered, especially Blight’s Race and Reunion, along with selections from recent books by Gary Gallagher and Brian Wills.
Episode Summary for The Red Badge of Gayness: “Cartman has visions of glory as he suits up for the Confederacy in the annual reenactment of a Civil War battle, and leads the drunken rebels to defeat the union.” [Originally aired on 11/24/99] If you have twenty minutes and are looking for a good laugh than sit back and enjoy. Click the link for the full episode.