This is the final week of my survey course on the American Civil War. One of the subjects we’ve been looking at is the introduction of what Mark Grimsley describes as “Hard War” policy by the United States in 1864. The class was assigned a section of Grimsley’s book, Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), which allowed us to take a much closer look at Sherman’s “March to the Sea”. Rather than see the campaign as a foreshadowing of warfare in the twentieth century, Grimsley provides a framework that situates it within the history of warfare stretching back to the Middle Ages. [It's always nice to be able to read and discuss the best in Civil War scholarship with my high school students.] He also speculates that this may account for why Grant, Sherman and the rest of the Union army did not regard the campaign as inaugurating a new kind of warfare. I’m not sure I agree with that, but nevertheless, Grimsley’s analysis does provide students of the war with a framework with which to analyze as opposed to our popular memory of Sherman and the campaign that is bogged down in strong emotions that tell us very little about the scale of violence and overall strategy. Continue reading
As many of you know Gabor Boritt recently retired from his position as director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. Boritt is the author of numerous edited collections, an excellent study of Lincoln’s economic outlook as well as a recent study of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The position is now open and I know a number of scholars who are interested. It goes without saying that it is going to be a highly competitive search and I wish them all the best of luck.
A few years ago Gabor Boritt’s son, Jake, produced a documentary about his father’s own history titled, “Budapest to Gettysburg”. It includes commentary by Jack Kemp, Peter Jennings, Ken Burns, and Sandra Day O’Connor. I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety and what is included below is just a preview.
I don’t really have much to say about the recent decision at the University of Mississippi to ban the playing of “From Dixie With Love” during their football games. What I do find curious is the SCV’s take on this. Their blog coverage of this story includes the headline, “Anti-South Cultural Cleansing Continues at Ole Miss”. Can someone explain to me how this is an example of anti-Southern sentiment given that the school is located in the heart of the “Old South”? As far as I can tell this is about southerners making decisions about their own institution. And exactly how is this a matter of “cultural cleansing” when the story indicates that the song has only been played for the past two decades? Strange indeed.
Just a quick not to let you know that I deleted the last installment of my “Best of” series. I blame myself for this. The post included a reference to a specific piece of writing from a Fredericksburg-area blogger that I’ve had problems with in the past. Keep in mind that I did not include the author’s name nor did I include a link in the original post. Unfortunately, I missed the reference when I decided to use it in the series and it led to this blogger issuing a highly insulting response on his own blog. Again, I blame myself for this. This individual not only attacked me, but also chose to insult all high school history teachers. Within hours the post was taken down, but I did manage to save a copy of it. In the event that I learn of any comments that are personal in nature on this particular blog in the future, I will not hesitate to publish this deleted post.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
As part of the month-long celebration of Civil War Memory’s 4th Birthday I’ve decided to give a little back in the form of a book giveaway. It’s easy to enter. Just leave a comment after the post and in a few words share why you read Civil War Memory. Even my critics are invited to enter and share their thoughts (as long as the comments are not offensive) and I promise to be fair in choosing a winner. I will write the names out on slips of paper and have my wife draw a winner. It’s as simple as that. As you can see, the book is Gary Gallagher’s, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten (University of North Carolina Press, 2008). I will leave the comments open until next Friday (11/20) and will select a winner over the weekend. Good luck.
Update: A few of you have mentioned that you already own this book. Well, if that is the case then it looks like I will have to offer an alternative title. It’s a secret