Nature’s Civil War: Lecture by Katherine Shively Meier

My friend, Katy Meier, recently delivered a Banner Lecture at the Virginia Historical Society on her new book, Nature’s Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia. The book recently won The Wiley-Silver Book prize, which is given yearly by The Center for Civil War Research at the University of Mississippi. I highly recommend the book.

[Uploaded to Vimeo on August 15, 2014]

A Fitting Conclusion to the Silas Chandler Story

Andrew and Silas Chandler
Andrew and Silas Chandler

[Hat-tip to Andy Hall]

As many of you know, over the past few years I’ve maintained a sharp interest in the story of Silas Chandler. The famous image of Silas seated next to his owner, Andrew Chandler, remains one of the most iconic images of our Civil War. Around it revolved a divisive and often confused debate about race relations in the Confederacy and the existence of black Confederate soldiers. The original tintype remained in the hands of Andrew Chandler Battaile Jr., a descendant of Andrew’s. While there is no doubt that Mr. Battaile cared deeply about preserving the original artifact there can also be no doubt that he did not fully understand the story represented in the image. Yesterday he donated the tintype to the Library of Congress. Continue reading

John A. Andrew’s Abolitionism Through Whiggish Eyes

I am making my way through and thoroughly enjoying Henry Greenleaf Pearson’s, The Life of John A. Andrew, which was published in 1904. It’s nice not having to compete with multiple biographies of the Massachusetts governor and in this case Pearson’s biography is a different kind of beast altogether. It’s been a while since I read one published at the beginning of the twentieth century. Like many biographies published at this time this one has a strong Whiggish bent to it. Continue reading

New To the Civil War Memory Library, 08/13/14

Jonathan WhitePaul Escott, Lincoln’s Dilemma: Blair, Sumner, and the Republican Struggle over Racism and Equality in the Civil War Era, (University Press of Virginia, 2014).

Evan Jones and Wiley Sword eds., Gateway to the Confederacy: New Perspectives on the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns, 1862-1863, (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).

Michael Korda, Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, (Harper, 2014). I have not read through the entire book nor do I plan on doing so for the reasons outlined in Allen Guelzo’s review.

Thomas O’Connor, Civil War Boston: Home Front and Battlefield, (Northeastern University Press, 2014).

Jonathan W. White, Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln, (Louisiana State University Press, 2014). This is a must read. White challenges long-standing views about the support within the ranks for Lincoln and the Republican Party in 1864. His analysis of the extent to which the Lincoln administration and Union high command suppressed dissent in the ranks is also very interesting.

I also want to highlight a new book co-authored by Michael Musick called “I Am Busy Drawing Pictures”: The Civil War Art and Letters of Private John Jacob Omenhauser, CSA, which you can pick up from the Friends of the Maryland State Archives. Omenhauser spent time at Point Lookout Prison. While his letters are insightful, the real prize are the incredibly rich images that detail life in prison – some of the most interesting focus on race relations and the humiliation of being guarded by black Union soldiers.

What’s So “Odd” About It?

Update: Williams offers an update that confirms that his problem is more with Robin Williams’s view of the Confederate than anything having to do with me. I have never compared Confederate soldiers with Nazis, but that isn’t even what Robin Williams is suggesting anyway. Any reasonable person will see the post for what it is: a simple acknowledgment of Robin Williams’s brilliant sense of humor.

I’ve never had a problem with readers and fellow bloggers criticizing what I post here. Certainly, much of what I write is open to critical response, but for the life of me I have no idea what Richard Williams finds problematic about this post. Like many of you I was saddened to hear about the death of Robin Williams. Continue reading