Is Civil War News Reporting the News?

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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.

Civil War Memory Through Film

video_littlest-rebelIam 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.

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South Park Reenacts the Civil War

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.

A Civil War Military Historian Who Joined the Military

hsieh_westYesterday I received an advanced copy of Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh’s, West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace (University of North Carolina Press).  It’s one of those books that I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time and what little I read last night I can say confidently that it will not disappoint.  Not too long ago I commented on an essay he published concerning R.E. Lee’s decision to resign from the United States Army.  Prof. Hsieh studied history here in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia and now teaches at the Naval Academy.  I’ve met him a few times at conferences and events at UVA, but I don’t think he would know me if we passed on the street.  His book is the latest release in a long line of students who have studied Civil War related topics under the direction of Gary Gallagher and Ed Ayers.  In fact, it’s a virtual who’s who list, which includes William Blair, Peter Carmichael, Carrie Janney, Aaron Sheehan Dean, Anne Sarah Rubin, Amy Murrell Taylor, and William G. Thomas.  All of them have published books and/or articles in Gallagher’s Civil War America Series and Military Campaigns of the Civil War Series at the University of North Carolina Press.  You may be tempted to argue for a case of academic nepotism if it wasn’t for the fact that collectively this scholarship represents some of the very best recent work in the field.

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Arlington House, Public History, and Tourism

258001 robert_lee_memorialI am working to finish up an essay on Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House for a collection of essays on Southern Tourism edited by Karen Cox.  The tentative title is, “The Robert E. Lee Memorial: A Conflict of Interpretation”.  My research on this subject has taken a couple of turns since I agreed to be a contributor to the project.  It started out with a focus on slavery, but I am now looking more broadly at how various parties debated over how to interpret the home as part of Arlington National Cemetery.   Much of my focus is on the 1920s and 1930s and the long-term consequences of what took place during that time.  What follows is a very rough introduction to the essay that hopefully provides a taste of where I am going with this.  Comments are welcome, especially those that are critical.

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