This Saturday a ceremony will take place at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in McConchie, Maryland to unveil a grave marker to Corporal George Brown, who served in Co. I, 19th USCT.  Apparently an SCV chapter has helped with the organization of this ceremony: ‘‘We like any veterans with unmarked graves to be taken care of,” said
Jim Dunbar, commander of Sons of Confederate Soldiers Pvt. Wallace
Bowling Camp 1400, in 2006.  The article includes some comments by Ben Hawley who reenacts with Co. B, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment in Washington, D.C.  I interviewed Mr. Hawley as part of my research on the Crater and memory.  Check out the story here.

On Friday I shared some thoughts  in connection with a paper that I will be presenting on Civil War blogging at the upcoming meeting of the SCWH in New Orleans.  Brooks Simpson’s latest post has given me a bit more to chew on in connection with this paper.  His post is a brief response to Michael Aubrecht who recently offered some revealing commentary concerning Brooks’s decision to share his OAH comments as a 3-part post.    While Aubrecht hopes not to be misunderstood, Brooks rightfully pins this as a first-rate example of the anti-intellectualism that pervades sections of the Civil War community.  I quote at length as this blogger has a tendency to take posts down after being challenged:

Many of these conferences and seminars can sometimes come off as being a bit elitist and arrogant. Sometimes people who participate in these events echo that sentiment in their comments. (Ironically, most of the best rangers, guides, speakers, authors, filmmakers, re-enactors, and all around buffs that I know are anything but ‘academics’ and have zero pedigrees to boot.)

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This is an interesting story out of Roswell, Georgia.  Those of you well-versed in the history of William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign already know this story, but it is the commemorative aspect of it that I find interesting.  Following the capture of the Roswell Manufacturing Company mills Sherman ordered its employees to be arrested for treason:

I repeat my orders that you arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter what the clamor, and let them foot it, under guard, to Marietta, whence I will send them by [railroad] cars, to the North. . . . Let them [the women] take along their children and clothing, providing they have a means of hauling or you can spare them.

The men, women, and children who were arrested eventually ended up in Louisville, Kentucky and a few even crossed into Indiana.  While both northern and southern newspapers covered the event and even criticized Sherman’s handling of it the story was eventually forgotten only to be resurrected in 1988 by the Roswell Mills Camp No. 1547, Sons of the Confederate Veterans. This year’s commemoration will take place on April 26 and will feature Mary Deborah Petite, author of “The Women Will Howl,” which is a novel set in the mills.  Click here for the New Georgia Encyclopedia’s entry for this incident.

It would be interesting to know a bit more about what exactly is being commemorated.  As an aspect of Sherman’s “total war” policy it seems fairly mild.  I could find no evidence of undue harm being imposed on the employees, beyond the fear and uncertainty that would have accompanied their displacement.  This does, of course, fit into the tendency of highlighting the Union army as the principal threat to the peacefulness and sanctity of the southern home.  No one will deny that Union armies contributed a great deal to the disorder that was experienced on the home front from the destruction of private property to the freeing of slaves.  However, we’ve learned a great deal over the last decade about the extent to which acts of violence were committed between white southerners.  Joe Glatthaar spends some time exploring in his latest book the ways in which the presence and movement of the Army of Northern Virginia disrupted the lives of those in its vicinity and how it often led to serious incidents of violence, destruction, and displacement.  Historians that have addressed violence between white southerners include W. Todd Groce, Noel Fisher, Robert T. McKenzie, and Robert R. Mackey.  As usual commemorative ceremonies work best when there is a sharp distinction between right and wrong; it feeds the emotions and may even work to satisfy some type of presentist concern that is at work within the act of commemoration.

While the commemorative event at Roswell addresses a historical moment during the war I wonder to what extent it feeds into an overly simplified picture of North v. South or Union v. Confederate.  The emphasis on commemorating the effects of war on southern civilians is also unusual given the western world’s tendency over the course of the twentieth century to blur the distinction between what constitutes a legitimate military and civilian target.   Within that context isn’t it reasonable to ask whether it is worth acknowledging at all?

Unconditionalsurrender_edi_2 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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