Sons of Confederate Veterans to Build a Museum to the Lost Cause

Update: Nice to see that this post inspired one letter to the editor in response to this story. Update #2: Smithsonian has now picked up the story.

Over the weekend the Sons of Confederate Veterans announced that it will build a 17,000 square-foot museum to honor Confederate soldiers and the Confederate cause in Elm Springs, Tennessee, which is also the home of its national headquarters. Their decision to call it a museum, however, needs serious qualification. [click to continue…]

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).


Step Away From the Monument, Mr. Morrissey

This is a wonderful example illustrating the difference between genuine concern about the public display of Confederate iconography and using it as a political football. Richmond mayoral candidate, Joe Morrissey, recently made news for announcing that if he wins he would push for the removal of the Jefferson Davis monument on Monument Avenue. [click to continue…]


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…]

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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.]


Public Historians and Confederate Monuments

Looking for a little help today. In about a month I will hopefully begin to receive individual chapters from the contributors to a book of essays that I am putting together on how the Civil War is being interpreted at museums and historic sites. This project is under contract with Rowan & Littlefield and will be included as part of their “Interpreting History Series”. [click to continue…]


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.