Category Archives: Civil War Culture

Southern Hospitality in the Hands of Transplanted Yankees

This little story from Maggie Rioux of Falmouth appeared this morning in The Boston Globe. It’s innocent enough.

Last May, my husband and I were on a bus tour of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the tour guide still seemed to be fighting the Civil War (at least for professional purposes). She kept referring to us as Yankees. After awhile, I’d had enough and piped up: “That’s a major insult. We’re not Yankees. We’re from the Boston area. We’re Red Sox people.” We didn’t hear another word about Yankees all morning.

I remember a similar experience a few years ago while on a tour in the historic section of Charleston, South Carolina. The guide continually referred to us as “Yankees” and even once as “invaders.” At the end of the tour I asked if he was native to the city/region. Turns out he was born in Pennsylvania and had been living in the city for around twenty years.

 

Kickstarting the Myth of the Black Confederate Soldier

I am going to assume that this is the first Kickstarter campaign related to the myth of the black Confederate soldier. The project is the work of an African American man who lives in New York state. You will find a number of different threads from the Lost Cause narrative, but the inspiration for the project itself stems “came from a statement made by Malcolm X about the field and house slave.”

The project reminds me a bit of Ann DeWitt’s children’s book, Entangled in Freedom.

I came across this project while perusing one of the Southern/Confederate heritage webpages and although there are some enthusiastic responses, as of today no one has opened up their wallets. We shall see.

 

“To Be a Southerner & Believe in the Union Does Not Make One a Traitor.”

Here is an interesting little scene from the television series North and South in which Robert E. Lee convenes with Jefferson Davis about a host of military problems early in the war. In discussing the North’s strategy to strangle the Confederacy’s trade with the rest of the world Davis calls General Winfield Scott a traitor. Lee will have none of it: “To be a Southerner and believe in the Union does not make one a traitor, sir.”

The portrayal of Lee here definitely goes beyond the popular view of the reserved and self-controlled gentleman. We get the standard line about believing slavery to be immoral, but we also see Lee urge an aggressive offensive strategy, which falls in line with recent scholarship. I may have to find the time to watch this series in its entirety.

[Uploaded to YouTube on February 2, 2014]

 

A War of Liberation and Empire

One of my favorite books of 2013 was Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek. Kelman’s analysis of the history and memory of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 serves to remind us that the western boundary of the Civil War took place far west of the Mississippi River. For me, the book’s importance comes down to how it challenges a relatively recent and popular memory that places liberation at the center of the narrative. But what happens when we frame the war years around the federal government’s policies on the frontier before during and after the war?  Continue reading