Chandra M. Manning on Soldiers and Slavery: Part 1

This semester is a bit more relaxed in my Civil War class. I have four students who are all dealing with various forms of second-semester senioritis. Still, we are making progress and having some very interesting discussions. Today we started reading a recent North and South article by Chandra M. Manning titled, “Our Liberties and Institutions: What Union and Confederate Soldiers’ Thought The Civil War Was About.” (Vol. 7, No. 6) Manning’s research fits neatly into recent studies by James McPherson, Earl J. Hess, and George Rable which emphasizes the ideological convictions of Civil War soldiers. The article’s appearance in 2004 sparked a great deal of criticism, which I will touch on later. For now, it is enough to say that studies of ideology and politics within the ranks are troubling for many people outside academic circles.

Manning’s argument is best understood as a form of reductionism:

“…the Civil War was nothing less than a clash between competing ideas about how Americans should interpret and enact their founding ideals. The problem, as soldiers on both sides saw it, was that the opposing section posed a threat to the practice of self-government, the principles of libert and equality,the virtue necessary to sustain a republic, and the proper balance between God, government, society, the family and the individual. At the heart of the threat, each side believed, was the other’s stance on slavery.”

Manning’s argument can be characterized as reductionist owing to its tendency to interpret a range of what appear to be specific reasons for joining the ranks as an extension of one basic motivation. While both sides claimed to be fighting for freedom and their understanding of the Revolution, Confederate notions could not be divorced from “individual interests, or from slavery.” Manning provides ample evidence of how various arguments can be understood within the context of slavery. “Slavery played many roles,” according to Manning, “that nonslaveholders considered vital to themselves and their families.” (No doubt, the author is anticipating the standard response that since my great grandfather did not own slaves he did not fight to defend slavery.)

Even the argument that Confederates were defending hearth and home must be understood ultimately as a defense of slavery. Few southerners believed that the war would drag on to a point where “yankee” invaders actually penetrated into the Confederacy. Accordingly, letters including “pledges to defend home and loved ones dramatized a concept more than explained the war.” Manning concludes that Confederates were committed to defending their property as an expression of his “understanding of liberty.” Nonslaveholders did not have to own slaves to understand the necessity of its survival. Their individual freedom was guaranteed only with continued enslavement of southern blacks. The institution of slavery guaranteed ideas of liberty since it guaranteed white egalitarianism and prevented the amalgamation of the races. “Nonslaveholding Confederate soldiers fought to safeguard slavery,” according to Manning,”because they believed that survival–of themselves, their families, and social order–depended on its continued existence, and because they believed that otherwise, race posed a dangerously insoluble problem.” The survival of their families also included the hope of one day becoming a slaveowner.

Confederate soldiers also viewed slavery through the lens of religion and what they assumed was God’s divine order. Northern abolitionism reflected “heresy” and a threat to hearth and home, and according to Manning “amounted to a social earthquake that rattled every single social relation.” Arguments surrounding honor are also interpreted through the lens of slavery–as a “demonstation of authority over subordinates, including women, childeren, and African-Americans whether or not a man owned slaves.” Throughout the article Manning utilizes letters, diaries, and newspapers to support her conclusions. Her sources cover a wide spectrum of the social/economic/political spectrum. Manning’s Confederates are hyper-sensitive to slavery and are animated by a commitment to preserve the political and racial status quo.

It is easy to see why so many readers were upset with her portrayal of why Southerners went to war in 1861. What is interesting is that the letters to the editor expressed frustration over her interpretation of Confederate and not Union soldiers discussed in the article. Somehow the political convictions of Union soldiers are not as troubling as Confederate soldiers. Manning’s conclusions do not represent a step in a new direction, but it does go furthest in examining the ways in which slavery touched southern whites and their reasons for going off to war. Ultimately, the frustration over Manning’s article is more a reflection of our tendency to remember these men as fighting for values beyond the political and racial realm. In a sense, our frustration is our problem not theirs. More on Manning tomorrow.

Who Were The Readjusters?

Sprinkled throughout many of my posts are references to William Mahone and the Readjuster Movement. Much of my research on postwar commemorations and memory of the Crater has centered on Mahone’s postwar political career; I recently published an article on this in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography which will also be included as a chapter in my soon-to-be completed manuscript. Here is a brief overview of the Readjusters.

The most important debate within the Commonwealth after the Civil War was over the question of what to do about the state’s debt. At the center of this heated debate was former Confederate general and “Hero of the Crater” William Mahone who had entered politics after the war as a way to maintain his control of the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (later the Norfolk and Western Railroad), and his salary of $25,000. The Panic of 1873 and subsequent economic depression forced the railroad into receivership and Mahone plunged further into state politics. By 1870, the state’s debt had amounted to $45,000,000, much of it having been incurred before the war when Virginia was committed to internal improvements and at a time when its boundaries included the new state of West Virginia. Governor Walker’s Funding Act of 1870 called for Virginia to pay off two-thirds of the debt, while the remaining one-third would be assumed, hopefully, by West Virginia. The funding question, which would catapult Mahone into the center of Virginia state politics, involved whether the state debt should be paid off entirely or somehow “readjusted” downward. The Funders (those who supported paying off the debt) argued that the state had a moral obligation to uphold the original terms of the bonds; for them it was a matter of honor. Those opposed argued from a number of different angles. Many Virginians opposed funding on the grounds that the economic burdens imposed on them by a destructive war exempted them from shouldering such a heavy financial burden. Others argued that the counties of western Virginia (now constituting the state of West Virginia) should shoulder their share of the debt. The African-American community argued that since they had no involvement in contracting the debt during the antebellum years, they were not responsible. Many who took this view were not advocates of outright repudiation, but of some kind downward adjustment.

The question of what to do about the debt was necessarily divisive since it directly impacted on the state’s revenue and previous legislation that authorized financial support for the fledgling public school system and other social services. Much of the early support for readjustment came from western and Shenandoah Valley communities who were enthusiastic about the benefits of public schools and resentful of the more conservative counties in eastern Virginia. White and black urban workers and agricultural workers also supported readjustment.

In 1877, Mahone organized a faction supporting readjustment within the Conservative Party, which included former Democrats and Whigs. Unable to win support within the Conservative Party, Mahone decided to split entirely from the party and by 1879 the Readjusters and Funders became distinct organizations with the Funders in control of the Conservative Party apparatus. At the same time the state shut down half of the schools keeping 100,000 students from attending class; and many of the schools that remained open charged admission. The Readjusters capitalized on this in the 1879 state elections by winning 56 out of 100 seats in the House of Delegates and 24 of 50 Senators. With a majority of Readjusters in the General Assembly, Mahone was elected to replace U.S. Senator Robert E. Withers whose term ended in 1880.

With Mahone in the U.S. Senate and Readjusters in control of the General Assembly and the governorship under William C. Cameron, legislation was easily passed. Virginia’s state debt was readjusted downward to $21,000,000 with enough funds left to fulfill campaign promises that benefited poor white and especially African-American communities. In 1882 the General Assembly passed legislation supporting the Literary Fund with an appropriation of $379,000, plus an additional payment to public schools; schools with black teachers were also given support. One Hundred Thousand dollars was appropriated in support of the Normal and Collegiate Institute for Negroes in Petersburg and the Central Hospital for mentally ill African Americans was established in Petersburg. The whipping post was also abolished, which had been used primarily against African Americans. The banning of the whipping post brought about a reaction from the Funder-supported Petersburg Index-Appeal: “The darkey is to be permitted to rob chicken roosts with impunity, with the full knowledge that if convicted of such a digression from the path of rectitude that he cannot be sent to the State prison.” Poor whites and blacks also benefited from the abolition of the one-dollar poll tax. Such legislation was seen by more conservative whites as a threat to established social hierarchies.

Perhaps the greatest threat to these established hierarchies was the distribution of political patronage within the Readjuster Party. At the height of Readjuster control African Americans made up 27 percent of Virginia’s employees in the Treasury Department, 11 percent in the Pensions Bureau, 54 percent in the Secretary’s Office, 38 percent in the Post Office, and 28 percent in the Interior Department, including two black women. With Mahone’s help, African Americans also found jobs as clerks and copyists in Washington. The visibility of African Americans in state government constituted a radical change in the distribution of political power and was seen as a threat to white political rule in Virginia. Readjusters also changed the make-up of the public schools. Their reforms increased the number of black teachers and students, and the establishment of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute opened up new avenues of upward mobility. The number of black teachers soared from 415 in 1879 to 1,588 in 1884, and black enrollment went from 36,000 to 91,000 during those same years.

The first serious setback for Mahone and the Readjusters occurred in the state elections of 1883. Three days prior to voting, a racial riot broke out in Danville, Virginia which left one white and four black men dead. Democrats seized on the riot as evidence of the fruits of Readjuster legislation and capitalized on it by winning two-thirds of the seats in both branches of the General Assembly: Mahone’s control of state government was broken. The situation deteriorated further in 1884 when Mahone decided to campaign for James G. Blaine in the presidential election under the banner of the Republican Party. Grover Cleveland won the state of Virginia by 6,000 votes, and Democrats in the state continued to replace Republican and Readjuster postmasters and other officeholders. Finally, with Fitzhugh Lee’s ascendancy to the governorship in 1886 and Democrat control of the state legislature, Mahone’s service in the U.S. Senate was terminated.

There are a couple reasons why the Readjuster movement has been largely forgotten. First, surveys of American history tend to jump directly from the traditional end of Reconstruction in 1877 to the rise of Jim Crow at the turn of the century. More importantly, it was important for white Virginians to distance themselves from the interracial advances that defined those four years as they began the process of public segregation. White political solidarity required forgetting the possibilities of interracial cooperation. Even as late as the 1940’s the worst charge that could be leveled against an anti-Democratic candidate in Virginia was suggesting a connection with the policies of Mahone and the Readjusters.

Further Reading:
Jane Dailey, Before Jim Crow: The Politics of Race in Postemancipation Virginia
Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet
Carl N. Degler, The Other South
Nelson M. Blake, William Mahone of Virginia (out of print but available in most college libraries)

Is Interest in the Civil War Petering Out?

Dimitri reports lackluster sales for popular Civil War titles in 2005. What do these numbers mean? Hard to tell, but my guess is that we are in need of another kick-start to revive the industry. The generation that lived through the Civil War centennial celebrations is no longer buying books at the same rate and the interest that Ken Burns’s PBS documentary sparked is all but played out. Perhaps the Civil War sequicentennial and/or Lincoln’s bicentennial will attract new readers. I remain skeptical. It is too early to predict how these lackluster sales will impact the publishing industry-something I know nothing about.

Interest in the Civil War is declining. A perfect place to see this is in the attendance at your local Civil War roundtable. (See my post, “RIP: Civil War Roundtables” for more detail.) Of course those interested in “Civil War entertainment” continue to run amuck and declining book sales constitute no threat whatsoever.

Bridging the Divide: Academic v. Popular History

Over at A Lincoln Log, Brian Dirck comments on the awarding of the Lincoln Prize to Doris Kearns Goodwin. Dirck seems ambivalent about the committee’s choice by noting that while he has trouble with Goodwin’s interpretation, the book has sold well and presents an entertaining and highly readable narrative for the general public. The rub between interpretation and narrative led Dirck to a question at the end of the post: So how exactly does one bridge the gap between professional, technical history and readable, entertaining history? Or should we even try?

One way to answer this question is to simply say that the two goals are mutually exclusive. Professional historians utilize the latest analytical distinctions and categories in the on-going process of scholarly revision. Popular writers focus on writing an entertaining story for the general public and tend to concentrate on character development in an attempt to convey some kind of meaning. I tend not to see these choices as mutually exclusive, especially in the area of Civil War history. There is much more interaction between professional historians and lay readers compared with other areas of history. It is not unusual to see the likes of James McPherson or Gary Gallagher leading a tour of a battlefield or presenting a paper to a roundtable. On the other side there is nothing unusual to see essays and books published by non-academics in professional journals and university presses. We are lucky that this field of study is defined by a great deal of interaction between academic and non-academic historians. A number of historians in addition to the two just mentioned come to mind, including William Freehling, Gordon Rhea, William Marvel, Ed Ayers, Robert Krick, and the list goes on.

This fluid relationship, however, does create tension. Professional historians tend not to be interested in what I’ve dubbed the “entertainment factor” of the Civil War. You won’t see too many academics at an SCV rally or reenactment. I find that most Civil War “buffs” are not interested in the more academically-oriented debates (and there is not anything necessarily wrong with this). They tend to be interested in the military side of the equation. That, however, is a problem for academics like Mark Grimsley and other professional military historians (check out the guest post on Grimsley’s site titled, “Why Military History Still Sucks“) who interpret the Civil War through the lens of the “New Military History” which views the battlefield within a much broader social/economic and political perspective. The general rule for those who focus solely on the battlefield tends to be the more detail the better rather than applying and testing the latest analytical models.

And then there are those from the various “Heritage” groups who claim to be defending “their history” from “Northern Liberal” aggressors who have invaded the academy. The debates surrounding Lincoln, secession and black Confederates are predictable down to the suggestions that you read Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln or Charles Adams’s When in the Course of Human Events.

Most people who call themselves Civil War “buffs” or “enthusiasts” have little patience with academic debate because they either have a narrow interest in military affairs or have already decided for themselves the answers to fundamental questions. The other problem is that any serious consideration of the more complex questions and debates through a survey of the relevant literature demands a great deal of time, which most people simply do not have. My guess is that most people want a good story that allows them to empathize or sympathize with the past. It is disappointing that more professional historians have not taken on the challenge of writing serious history for popular audiences. There is nothing contradictory about writing scholarly books in a way that attracts a wide readership. My fellow Civil War bloggers and our readers have demonstrated that there is quite a demand out there for serious history.

Military Executions in the Confederacy

I’ve been collecting information and sketching ideas on the topic of civilian morale in Virginia in 1864. I want to approach this question from as many perspectives as possible. There is no simple answer. I recently went back to review earlier research on Confederate military executions, which I believe provides some information relevant to understanding morale on the home front. While any conclusions are speculative, I found that both soldiers and civilians continued to support the practice of military executions throughout the war as a way to maintain the integrity of the army and as a form of nationalism. Here is a sample of execution accounts in Southern newspapers and a brief account of how the subject was used in a theatre production in Atlanta in 1862.

Though it is almost impossible to gauge the reaction of civilians to the army’s practice of executing transgressors, clearly many did know of the practice since numerous newspapers included accounts of executions, some of them being quite graphic. Confederate Captain J. R. Rhodes’ execution in September 1863 was covered by both the Richmond Examiner and the Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel from Georgia. The primary goal of the inclusion of such accounts in newspapers was to deter civilians from tempting soldiers from the ranks with the threat of death. “What a sad warning to the living! Will any profit by it?” The Chronicle answered its own question by noting simply that, “Some may; others will not.” The Examiner took a different approach to sharing the dangers of desertion with its readers by including a more graphic account of Rhodes’ execution:

Attention! The command startles every one. The doomed man sinks down upon his coffin and fixes his eyes upon the twelve bright tubes that are leveled at his breast, but drops his head the next moment. Fire! – a dash, a report – and as the white smoke is slowly lifted by the breeze a mangled, lifeless form is seen lying beside the coffin, and the long lines of soldiers shrink back from the sight.”

The Richmond Daily Dispatch offered its readers a detailed account of a mass execution that took place on September 5, 1863. The condemned were ten men from the Third North Carolina Infantry of Brigadier General George H. Steuart’s brigade accused of desertion and murder. The account took readers from the placement of the stakes in the ground, the arrival of the condemned and their final moments. Though the witnesses were veterans of the “blood and carnage of twenty battlefields . . . they beheld with uncontrollable emotion the solemn preparation for the execution of the condemned, and seemed to be penetrated with the solemnity of the religious services which were being carried on.” The final moments of the accused were particularly poignant. As the firing party was being deployed, “the prisoners broke out into loud and frequent appeals to the Almighty to have mercy on their souls and pardon their sins.” The account ends with the “corpses of ten men hung in the horrible relaxation of death to the stakes where they were pinioned.” The Lynchburg Virginian also offered to its readers a detailed account of the March 1864 execution of privates G.W. Burnside, G. Whitt, and Jacob Winnery – all served in the 36th Virginia Regiment. Perhaps out of consideration for the families of the three condemned men, the writer made it a point to note their conduct during those final moments. According the observer, “Throughout the whole affair the three bore themselves very bravely; few men have ever met death with more calmness and resignation.”

Accounts that provided such detail sent a clear message to a number of parties, including men in the ranks, loved ones back home, and those enlisted men who had already deserted. Some newspapers chose to forego lengthy accounts and instead simply provided readers with lists of those sentenced to be executed. On May 5, 1864, the Augusta Daily Constitutionalist provided its readers with a list of twenty names from men serving in units from all over the Confederacy who were scheduled to be executed “within the next ten days.” For those already executed, the newspaper included basic information as it did in the case of Private Henry Jerome who served in the 17th South Carolina Regiment and was found to be “twice guilty [of] deserting his colors.” The newspaper described him as a “man of mature years, short in stature, quiet demeanor” and its readers were left knowing that Jerome was survived by a wife and three children. In addition to first-hand accounts of executions, most newspapers included notices from individual units for those absent without leave; monetary rewards were often given for a successful capture or information leading to the return of a soldier. The Richmond Daily Dispatch for August 22, 1862 listed notices from the First Maryland Regiment, W. Gordon McCabe’s battery, 34th North Carolina Regiment, Thomas Artillery, and the 48th and 58th Virginia Regiments.

Editorials also provide insight into popular perceptions of the necessity and justification for executions. The Richmond Daily Dispatch contained one such editorial in the wake of an execution that took place in August 1862. The newspaper urged its readers to see desertion as a “crime” and executions as the only remedy, “unless we have determined to abandon the cause altogether.” The editorial goes on to criticize the “clemency” of the Executive and its “disastrous effect” on unit cohesion. What is most telling about this particular analysis of the necessity of executions is that the paper asks its readers to identify with the broader cause of Confederate independence and the virtues of sacrifice. Many surely sympathized with individual stories of soldiers deserting for the sake of family; however, the author reminded its readers that, “All have been called to the service of the country at enormous sacrifice.” According to the logic of the editor, “What would be an excuse for one man would be an excuse for all.” The lengthy discourse closed with an appeal to President Jefferson Davis to issue a proclamation offering a pardon to those who would voluntarily return, but not to interfere with the death penalty once that time had passed.

A military execution was also the subject of a play, which ran in the city of Atlanta in 1862. The playwright, known only as “The Lady of Atlanta”, used an execution to appeal to her fellow citizens not to take economic advantage of families with loved ones in the army. The three-act play, The Soldier’s Wife, tells the story of the Lee family. Act one opens with Mr. Lee about to leave for the army with the encouragement of his wife, who urges him to do his duty to his country. She assures him that the family will manage while he is away. Following his departure, Mrs. Lee finds it difficult to secure work due to illness and lack of available jobs. The local official in charge of financial relief, Mr. Thompson, gives her no assistance and instead pockets the money for himself. Meanwhile, on guard duty at the front, Mr. Lee expresses concern about his family. He has not received a letter from his wife for months, and fears that she is either dead or too impoverished to afford the price of postage. He resolves to desert and return home. Before he arrives home, however, his family is evicted for non-payment of rent and end up wandering through the snow covered woods where they all die of exposure. Soon after Mr. Lee discovers them and expresses his grief. He is then arrested for desertion.

The final act begins with Mr. Lee in prison waiting to be hanged for desertion. Before he is, however, he learns that the community has heard of his plight and vows never again will a family be neglected. Even Mr. Thompson has a change of heart and swears never to betray members of his own community in times of trouble. The play ends with an epilogue, in the form of a poem that begs the audience to remember and be generous to the families of those who are off fighting for their country. Mr. Lee waits for the moment of his execution while all his thoughts are of his lost family. He prays that God will forgive him as the officer arrives with two of Lee’s friends, Mr. Reid and the Lee’s good neighbor, Pat.

The overall message of this play is remarkable not simply for its explicit meaning, but for what it does not address. Not once does a character question whether Mr. Lee should be executed for deserting the army out of concern for his family. Instead, Mr. Lee emerges as a tragic figure whose death was unnecessary but for the selfish behavior of others. The Soldier’s Wife presents its viewers with a moral outlook that places the individual within a broader context of responsibility for families who struggled due to the absence of loved ones in the military. Desertions and executions could be prevented through the aid of others, but the punishment remained a necessity and morally justified none the less.

Doris Kearns Goodwin wins 2006

Doris Kearns Goodwin wins 2006 Lincoln Prize. Even with all the controversy the award is well deserved. In 1996 historian David H. Donald won the award for his biography, Lincoln. The award was fitting given the quality of the study and Donald’s previous scholarship on Lincoln, but the book was more a summation of the state of Lincoln historiography than an original contribution. This is not meant in any way to minimize Donald’s contribution; I say it to draw a comparison with Team of Rivals which does offer a slightly different slant on the Lincoln presidency. You may not agree with it, but it is well written and at times very thought provoking.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell In The Civil War

At some point I need to get to a movie theatre and catch up on new releases. One of the movies that I am looking forward to seeing is Brokeback Mountain. I love movies that challenge stereotypes, especially as they relate to race and gender. A few days ago I noticed my copy of Thomas Lowry’s, The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War on the bookshelf. Here is a brief survey of some of the evidence for homosexuality within the ranks.

Towards the end of the war, two seaman John C. Smith and Louis Grant were charged with “improper and indecent intercourse with [each] other.” A witnessed testified that he viewed an act that was “indecent, immoral and a violation of nature.” (Poor guy) At about the same time two additional seaman were charged with committing “an unnatural crime.” A Virginia artillerist wrote home to his sister in 1865 and noted that, “The boys…rode one of our company on a rail last night for leaving the company and going to sleep with Captain Lowry’s black man.” Confederate general James J. Archer was known as “Sally” according to Mary Chesnut. Archer was imprisoned after his capture at Gettysburg, but while imprisoned engaged in behavior that attracted the attention of Capt. Robert Bingham of the 44th North Carolina: “We had a jolly party in our room tonight. Captain Taylor got some whiskey in a box under other things and so not noticed and we had General Archer down and they all got drunk together and got to hugging each other and saying that they had slept together many a time. Taylor called Archer and hugged him—cursed at every word, much to old [Chaplain] Allen’s discomfort.”

In the weeks leading up to the beginning of Grant’s Overland Campaign Massachusetts soldiers put on a ball. Since there were few women willing to take part drummer boys dressed as ladies for the occasion. In a letter home one of the attendees noted that “some of the real women went, but the boy girls were so much better looking they left…no one could have told wich [sic] of the party had fell on a hatchet.” From the perspective of another soldier: “We had some little Drummer boys dressed up and I’ll bet you could not tell them from girls if you did not know them…some of them looked almost good enough to lay with and I guess some of them did get laid with.” Of course it is difficult to know whether any of these passages can be interpreted in a straightforward sexual manner. That said, my guess is that given our phobia about sexuality few people are interested anyway—better to picture “Johnny” rather than “Sally” Reb.

Note: Lowry was recently interviewed on Civil War Talk Radio

Why The Civil War Matters: Additional Thoughts

What emotional place does our Civil War occupy within our broader national narrative? One way to get at this is to step back and reflect on our reactions to hearing about civil wars in other parts of the world. I would argue that for most people the news of foreign civil wars conjures up images of confusion, sadness, corruption, uncertainty, and violence. Individuals and causes are rarely viewed as heroic or the product of benevolent design. No, foreign civil wars are reflective of the failure of governments and of the individuals who occupy high positions of power. We may see these nations and societies as the victims of a corrupt past void of democratic tendencies. For many it no doubt confirms American exceptionalism. Whatever the case, civil wars are events that happen elsewhere and to others. I may have captured something here that you can relate to or I may be completely off track.

I point this out to draw a sharp contrast with the way many Americans interpret our own Civil War. If you peel away the celebratory layer that has been applied to this moment in our past, you will see that it has a great deal in common with the way we view civil wars elsewhere. Perhaps my choice of “entertainment” missed the mark in trying to describe how we relate to the war. I could have expressed the idea by saying that most Americans choose to celebrate the war in heroic terms. It is the celebration of the war which troubles me because it seems to me that our gut reaction to foreign civil wars is a much more appropriate stance. Where is the confusion, uncertainty, violence, and sadness in our Civil War? I’ve said this before, but it worth repeating: I sometimes have the feeling that many are thankful for the Civil War. Even the guerilla warfare in the border areas, which perhaps comes closest to the chaos and raw violence of foreign civil wars, has been turned into our own little celebratory show—thank you Jesse James, William Quantrill, and John S. Mosby. I see the Civil War as a humbling event that serves as a reminder of the fragility of governments and the depths of violence that we all too often reach. In that sense I can more easily empathize and/or sympathize with stories surrounding civil wars elsewhere. Once we get beyond our tendency to “play” with our Civil War characters one notices that we have more in common with the rest of the world than we like to think.