I came across this image as part of a self-identified housewife’s personal tale of how she became enamored at the age of six with Ulysses S. Grant and his relationship with Julia. The image is simply wonderful as Julia has somehow been transformed into Scarlet O’Hara. She gives new meaning to the idea of "unconditional surrender." I think what follows is intended as part of a prologue for a book:
Life went on for me, I fell madly in love (of course!) got married and had two children in two years. I really didn’t have much time to think about General Grant. Then, one day, I saw an ad in the T.V. Guide for the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War. I had missed it years ago, and told my husband I wanted to make a special effort to watch it this time.
When they started talking about General Grant, I waited breathlessly for them to mention his wife. Sure enough, they said “He adored her,” in a knowing voice. They never said such things about anyone else in that brutal war, but General Grant’s special love for his wife was always brought up.
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Thanks to Brooks Simpson for posting his remarks from the Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians. [Check out Rick Shenkman’s report from the meeting.] Brooks briefly explores how we conceptualize the scope of Civil War military history and its connection to broader issues of strategy, politics, race along with questions of how wartime reconstruction shaped reunion. See the three-part series here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. It also represents a nice example of how academic historians can use blogging to reach a broader audience.
This should not be read as an exercise in self-indulgence, but as some thoughts in preparation for a talk that I must present to a room full of academic historians at the annual meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians this coming October in New Orleans.
There is an ongoing conversation concerning just about every aspect of the Civil War and it is taking place with little involvement on the part of academic historians. You can find these discussions on countless message boards, listservs, blogs and privately maintained websites. Topics range from the ever popular battlefields and commanders to complex questions of secession, emancipation, the law, and the role of women. The content of these debates and discussions reaches a far larger audience than any published book or journal article and yet academic historians for the most part continue to write for one another even if a few of their titles appear on the bookshelves of the local Barnes and Noble. I don’t mean to impugn all academic historians. It is worth noting that there are individuals in the field who have made it a point to reach out in various ways, whether it is speaking at a local Civil War Roundtable, leading a battlefield tour or speaking to groups of students. It is worth pointing out that those who specialize in the Civil War and related subjects are lucky to work in a field where there is such a deep interest on the part of the general public.
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I awoke this morning to learn that a 20-mile stretch of highway between Charlottesville and Waynesboro is closed owing to a string of shootings overnight. Apparently four vehicles were shot at resulting in at least two injuries. My school is on a 2-hour delay and we are currently in lock down mode. Let’s hope this is not a repeat of the D.C. shootings of five years ago.
Update: As of 9:30 we are closed for the day. I guess the administration doesn’t want to take any chances given that there have not been any arrests.