Update: In my rush to finish the sources section at the end of the guest post I left out one important article by Carole Emberton, which has been incredibly influential on how I think about the connection between black Union soldiers, violence, and Reconstruction. “Only Murder Makes Men: Reconsidering the Black Military Experience,” Journal of the Civil War Era, 2, NO . 3 (2012).
Today I have a guest post at The Civil War Monitor’s “Front Lines Blog.” I’ve been meaning for some time to write a short essay about how United States Colored Troops have come to be remembered during the sesquicentennial. This is something that I can easily see expanding for my project on the sesquicentennial.
It’s hard to believe that 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the Hollywood movie Glory. Twenty-five years later it is also difficult to remember that for many Americans this was their first introduction to the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the broader story of African Americans and the Civil War. More than midway through the Civil War sesquicentennial, a very different picture confronts us. The story of black soldiers is front and center in a narrative that places slavery and emancipation at the center of our understanding of what the war was about and what it accomplished. The contributions of United States Colored Troops can be seen on the big screen, in plays and musicals, news articles, museum exhibits, on National Park Service battlefields and in the textbooks we use in our schools.
All is not well at Jefferson Davis’s postwar home of Beauvoir. [The website is downright ugly.] The news article linked to here is poorly written so it is difficult to piece together the nature of the dispute, but there seems to be a rift between Bertram Hayes-Davis (the former president’s great-great-grandson) and the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, which owns the site. Continue reading
Thanks to Patrick Schroeder of the National Park Service and David Coles of Longwood University for inviting me to take part in their Civil War seminar this weekend in Farmville, Virginia. I had a wonderful time. I stayed at the Spring Grove Bed and Breakfast near Appomattox, where I enjoyed the hospitality of Emily and Joe. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day yesterday. The temperatures were in the high 60s.
My fellow speakers did a great job and the audience remained engaged throughout the entire day. It was nice having a chance to catch up with Gordon Rhea, who I think is one of the nicest guys around. Invitations to speak almost always offer a chance to make new connections. This time I got to meet Brian Steel Wills, Stephen Engle, and Eric Wittenberg in person. It’s always nice to see Al Mackey and Mike Rodgers, who are long time blog readers. I also enjoyed meeting Boston native, John Buchanan, who managed to listen to my talk and keep track of the Bruins game. After the conference a bunch of us took a walk along the new footpath over High Bridge. Thanks Craig Swain who showed us some fairly complex Confederate earthworks on the east side of the bridge. The views are spectacular and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.
Good luck to my friends in Virginia today and tomorrow, who will hopefully be shoveling for the last time this winter. Looking forward to returning to Virginia this summer for the 150th anniversary of the Crater
The central event in Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek takes place west of the war’s western theater. Most Americans don’t identify the 1864 slaughter of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians as a Civil War battle, but interestingly enough the incident is listed on a monument dedicated in 1909 to Coloradans who fought in the war. The descendants of the slain, however, always considered what happened at Sand Creek a massacre, not a battle. Kelman skillfully traces the competing memories of Sand Creek along with the heated public debates between Native American tribes, local landowners, the National Park Service, and Civil War buffs that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in 2007. He makes a compelling case that the fighting on the frontier and the fate of Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. military must not be forgotten at a time when Americans have embraced a narrative of the Civil War as a “new birth of freedom.” A Misplaced Massacre is a reminder that Civil War memory studies are far from tapped out.