Earlier today the Museum of the Confederacy held their symposium to determine 1863’s Person of the Year. Most of the choices were once again predictable, though a few are just downright odd to me. Robert Krick’s selection of Stonewall Jackson is neither surprising or interesting in any way. I want to hear more about why Jennifer Weber believes Clement Vallindigham is so important. Ed Ayers decided to change things up by giving a nod to the United States Colored Troops. That makes perfect sense to me. Here is the final tally.
Final vote tally. Grant-48. Jackson-37. Vallandigham-19. Russell-8. US Colored Troops-7. Thanks for following! #POTY1863
Joe Glatthaar should have had it much easier by selecting Ulysses S. Grant, who is the logical choice. Jackson coming in a close second is just downright bizarre. And how the USCTs placed last even with a charismatic advocate like Ed Ayers is inexplicable to me. Oh well.
I am sure everyone had a fun time, which is ultimately what this is all about.
A number of my friends on Facebook are sharing a pic of the new release by Don Troiani. This new watercolor of a private in the 4th United States Colored Troop is, if I am not mistaken, Troiani’s first stand alone black soldier since his 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry print, which was done a number of years ago. I absolutely love it and I am very close to clicking the “Pay Now” button at my PayPal account. Than again, my birthday is coming up soon and my wife is always looking for that perfect gift that shows her undying love for me.
Before moving to Boston I owned a fairly large collection of framed Troiani prints. Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn’t have room in my new library/office and I couldn’t bear keeping them in the basement so I sold them. I still have a giclee edition of “Mahone’s Charge” which is featured on the cover of my book as well as two regimental prints.
It is hard not to see this new release as a direct result of the popularity of Spielberg’s Lincoln and the broader emphasis on the history of black Union soldiers during the Sesquicentennial. We shall see if it sells.
Update: I didn’t see this one coming, but it is nice to see the SCV and NAACP working together in opposition to the Klan’s planned rally in Memphis next month. Millar shows that he should have been included in the city’s panel to re-name Forrest Park. Pastor Norman is quite impressive in his own right. Last week Millar described Forrest as a “benevolent slave trader” and in his interview suggests that Forrest disbanded the Klan, which really didn’t have much to do with white supremacy to begin with. It’s a tough sell and ultimately a losing proposition. Regardless of how you interpret Forrest’s personal history the excerpt below clearly shows that the dedication of the monument had everything to do with Memphis’s racial climate in 1905.
A number of you have emailed me requesting additional information on the historical context of the unveiling of the Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial in Memphis in 1905. I mentioned the other day that the best source I’ve found is Court Carney’s Journal of Southern History essay, “The Contested Image of Nathan Bedford Forrest” (August 2001).
According to Carney the Forrest memorial in Memphis can be traced to a number of factors, most importantly, the economic downturn that the city faced in the period immediately following the war and especially the yellow fever epidemic of 1878. The epidemic hit the white community especially hard and by the end of the century African Americans had risen to constitute half of the city’s population. The elite white population that was lost during the epidemic was replaced, according to Carney, by an influx of rural whites, who were much “less racially tolerant than their urban contemporaries.”