Brian Jordan referenced Julian Scott’s “Going Home” (1887) in a previous post so I decided to look it up since I am only vaguely familiar with the artist. Scott served in the 3rd Vermont Infantry at the tender age of 15 and was awarded the Medal of Honor in February 1865 for rescuing wounded Union soldiers at Lee’s Mill, Virginia.
It’s a powerful painting and perfect to kick off 2015 and the final year of the sesquicentennial. Click here for other Civil War paintings by Scott. Having read Brian’s book I can see why he has taken a fancy to it.
Most Civil War enthusiasts, including yours truly, know much too little about the international context of our civil war. It is with this in mind that I dove right into Don Doyle’s new book, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War. It’s an absolutely fascinating story that includes a cast of characters that is largely unknown to me.
There are any number of reasons why you should read this book, but for now I want to point out one aspect of the story that relates to how we remember. All of us have a personal investment in the events that constitute the Civil War, including its outcome. That connection can be informed by a host of factors including ancestral ties, personal politics, and race.
I’ve said before that I believe the right side won the war. An imperfect nation that I call home was able to enforce its constitution, preserve a republican form of government and in the process end the enslavement of 4 million people.
Doyle’s book reinforces just what was at stake in our war for observers in places like England, France, Spain and Italy. For European reformers, who had experienced recent setbacks, the outcome here might determine any future hopes of political reforms in their own nations. A smaller number looked forward to the end of slavery.
It’s hard not to admit that it is somewhat comforting to have such people on your side of history.
On the other hand, those sympathetic with the Confederacy hoped that it would strengthen their attachment to monarchy and aristocracy. An independent Confederate nation would go far to proving that democracy and republican government was an unrealistic and even dangerous system of government. For the governments of France and Spain it rekindled plans to reconquer parts of the western hemisphere.
It’s interesting how history creates strange bedfellows.
Update: No surprise that Richard Williams is upset about the removal of the statue. He goes through his standard schtick by blaming the politically correct crowd, but then refers to me as part of the anti-Confederate crowd. No mention at all that it was the United Daughters of the Confederacy that approved the removal of the statue to the cemetery. Seems to me that in this case it’s the UDC that ought to be saddled with this label. Old Virginia is a strange place indeed.
Back in 2011 the Confederate solider monument in Reidsville, North Carolina was hit by a car. A debate ensued about whether it should be repaired and whether it should be relocated. The United Daughters of the Confederacy chose to move it to a local cemetery. City officials have recently decided on a piece of public art to replace the monument. It’s called “The Bud.” You can read about the concept in the article. Continue reading “Confederate Monument Replaced By a Bud”
Update: Robert Moore has a post up that takes issue with aspects of this little review. It’s worth reading, though I am not sure what exactly Robert takes issue with re: my reference to “Old Judge.” I don’t doubt that there are aspects of his portrayal that reflect available sources. [There are passages in the quoted postwar source by Wise that beg for interpretation.] What I take issue with is the way in which the slave’s portrayal fits into the broader goal of getting these boys right on the issue of race and slavery.
The film, “Field of Lost Shoes”, is currently available on YouTube (at least for now). I watched it a couple of days ago and even though I’ve read some negative reviews I had hopes that there would be some redeeming qualities. Well, I was wrong. The movie tells the story of a small group of VMI cadets that includes Moses Ezekiel, John Wise (son of Henry Wise), and Garland Jefferson (yes, that Jefferson). Continue reading “VMI Cadets Lose More Than Their Shoes”
I pledged a fraternity in college and did a number of stupid things that to this day surprise me as to the level of irresponsibility achieved. Such occurrences are inevitable when you put a bunch of young men together in a house away from home. But this story out of the University of Pennsylvania ought not to be brushed off as simply one of those moments of youthful exuberance and irresponsibility. Continue reading “Phi Delta Theta’s Confederate Heritage”