I Feel His Pain…

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though I am not quite sure whether it’s Al’s or Robert E. Lee’s.  Click here when you are finished crying.

Update: Just a few of the sources that Al Stone uses to interpret R.E. Lee.

Gods and Generals by Jeff Sharra

Killer Angels
by Michael Sharra

The Last Full Measure
by Jeff Sharra

The South was Right
by James & Walter Kennedy

A view of the Constitution of the United States of America
by William Rawle

When in the Course of Human Events
by Charles Adams

Republic of Republics
by Bernard J. Sage

Anyone surprised?

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Florida’s Confederate Plates Bill Dead in the Water

[Hat-Tip to John Maas]

It looks like Representative Don Brown’s bill to offer Confederate plates to Florida’s residents is going nowhere.  Here is what Brown had to say:

It is not about racism, it’s not about slavery, it is about an acknowledgement that many of these people’s families have documented that they had friends and family or family who lost their lives fighting for a cause they believed in.

Fair enough, but why not honor your Confederate heritage  in a way that does not involve defacing a sacred symbol?

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What Should Be Done With the Electric Map at Gettysburg?

So, I’ve been reading about the plans of the National Park Service at Gettysburg to shut the lights out permanently on the electronic battlefield map that has been used since 1973 to introduce visitors to the broad contours of the battle.  Since I only visited Gettysburg for the first time in the mid-1990s I am not holding onto any sentimental feelings that go back to family vacations.  I do understand and appreciate those people that are holding onto such memories and I especially appreciate the desire on the part of the exhibit designer’s family to see it preserved.  I agree that it is an effective teaching tool, but that can easily be accomplished, and can no doubt be done more effectively, with today’s technology.  What I don’t understand is why people are so surprised by this decision.  Did anyone really believe that room would be made for this exhibit in a brand new visitor center?  More to the point, given the limited budget that the NPS works with and the ways in which available funds could be applied it would seem to me to be irresponsible to save it.  Does anyone have a figure on how much it will cost to store it properly beyond plans to cut it up into small pieces and store it in a barn?

The website created to pressure the NPS doesn’t offer any suggestions whatsoever and instead takes a personal shot at Superintendent, John Latschar.  Actually, he’s right on the money, “It’s 100% antiquated.”  He went on to say in a recent interview that, “From an architectural standpoint, it takes up an immense amount of space and we have consistent problems with school kids falling asleep.”  Let’s get real, this is not a “national icon” but an exhibit whose time has come and gone.  I do think, however, that there is a great deal of significance that can be attached to the exhibit in terms of the history of how the battle has been interpreted and remembered by the NPS.

Click here for an overview of the new visitor center.

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A Case of Poor Timing

I noticed yesterday that Louisiana State University Press is bringing out an edition of John Washington’s slave narrative edited by Crandall Shifflett.  The problem, of course, is that six months ago David Blight published Washington’s narrative along with a second set in Alabama.  Blight struck out across the country to promote the book and it is safe to assume that those who have an interest in the story have purchased the book.  [Click here for a related post on David Blight and John Washington.]  In yesterday’s post I briefly referenced James McPherson’s review of Drew Faust’s new book on death and the Civil War. In addition to Faust, McPherson reviewed Mark A. Schantz’s Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death (Cornell University Press, 2008).  Tell me if I am mistaken, but it seems to me that McPherson preferred Schantz’s study over Faust.  Unfortunately, given Faust’s notoriety and the support of Knopf’s publicity department it is unlikely that Schantz will make a splash.  Perhaps that is why Amazon is offering the book at a major discount.  Timing is everything.

Anyone out there in the finishing stages of a book manuscript on the battle of the Crater and historical memory?  Let’s talk.

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Steven Hahn Reviews Faust and Neely

I highly recommend Steven Hahn’s New Republic review of Drew Faust’s This Republic of Suffering and Mark Neely’s The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction.  Although you can’t read it online I also recommend checking out James McPherson’s review of Faust and Mark S. Schantz’s Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death (Cornell University Press, 2008) in the New York Review of Books.   McPherson suggests that Faust’s interpretation goes too far in equating the meaning of the war with death rather than emancipation.  Eric Foner also made this point in his review which appeared in The Nation.

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