The Littlefield History of the Civil War Era: Update

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Today I receive an advanced proof of Disunion!: The Coming of the Civil War, 1789-1859 (November 2008) by Elizabeth Varon, along with a pamphlet outlining future volumes in the Littlefield Series.  The series is edited by Gary Gallagher and T. Michael Parrish and is edited by the University of North Carolina Press.  The series will include sixteen volumes and will be published between now and 2015.  Future volumes include:

The Secession Crisis by Shearer D. Bowman
Politics in the Civil War by Mark Neely
The Home Front by William Blair
The War For the Common Soldier, by Peter Carmichael
The War in the East by Carol Reardon
The War at Sea by James McPherson
The Role of Religion in the Civil War by George Rable
The War in the Western Theater by Earl Hess
Diplomacy in the Civil War Era by Howard Jones
Memory by Caroline Janney
War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater by Thomas A Cutrer
Women in the War by Thavolia Glymph
Emancipation by Joseph P. Reidy
Reconstruction by Mark W. Summers
The Civil War in a World Comparative Context by T. Michael Parrish

That’s one hell of a line-up.

Congratulations to Barton Myers

I recently learned that my friend Barton Myers has been selected to receive a Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship for his research on guerrilla violence and the origins of political dissent in the Civil War South. Barton is working on his dissertation at the University of Georgia, the title of which is “Controlling Chaos: Unionists, Military Policy and Irregular Warfare in Confederate North Carolina” The foundation funds research on violence, aggression and dominance and annually awards ten fellowships in an international competition open to the social and natural sciences.  The competition for these fellowships is extremely tight, which makes his selection that much more impressive.  His M.A. thesis, ““Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865,” is already under contract with the LSU Press.  The manuscript examines the dynamics of race, southern Unionism,
and Union army counter-guerrilla policy in northeastern North Carolina.  Barton is clearly on his way to an impressive scholarly and teaching career.

John Coski on Jefferson Davis and Jim Limber

Richard Williams recently posted a short article by historian John Coski on the relationship between Jim Limber and the Davis family, which appeared in the winter issue of the Museum of the Confederacy’s newsletter.  While Coski does point to mutual bonds of affection between Jim Limber and the Davis family, he also suggests that there are many questions that cannot be answered.  This, of course, could change in the future.  While Coski does not address the debate surrounding the proposed statue of Limber and Davis, his analysis does bring the question of whether such a statue is justified based on the available evidence into sharp relief.  Is the Sons of Confederate Veterans justified in proposing a statue based on such limited evidence?  If so, why?  What precedent would this set in terms of the way we go about commemorating and remembering other moments in American history in our public spaces?  Finally, I hope Mr. Williams is not operating under the assumption that Coski’s essay ought to be interpreted as tacit support for this proposed statue.  If anything the essay highlights the wide gulf between what serious historians can legitimately conclude about this relationship and the message that a marble statue will no doubt communicate.  You will find Coski’s essay below.

Continue reading “John Coski on Jefferson Davis and Jim Limber”

Civil War Historians Meet at the Union League: A Very Brief Report

Picture 018 If you love Civil War history than Philadelphia's Union League was the place to be this past weekend for the first biennial meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians.  There were about 225 people registered for the conference. The Union League was an ideal place to hold the first meeting given its significance to the Northern war effort and its role in fostering patriotism and in raising regiments in the Philadelphia area.  The building is decorated with an incredible amount of artwork, including statues and paintings as well as a 20,000 volume library.  Just about every high-ranking Union general can be found as well as a massive 1841 portrait of George Washington by Thomas Sully.  My personal favorites were two naval paintings, one of the battle between the Monitor and Merrimac and the other between the Alabama and Kearsage done by Xanthus Smith. 

The sessions were wide-ranging and most ended with insightful commentary and questions from the audience.  The opening session by Mark Neely on nationalism was quite good as well as the roundtable on Michael Fellman's Inside War.  I particularly enjoyed Jeff McClurken's paper on the role of Baptist churches in Pittsylvania County and Danville after the war in rebuilding their local communities as well as Jim Broomall's paper on the demobilization of the Army of Northern Virginia.  It was nice to see that my conclusions on the same subject are not too far off.  The highlight of the conference was a panel on public history with John Coski, Dana Shoaf, John Hennessy, and Paul Reber.  I am not going to comment on the individual presentations since I plan to blog much of what was discussed in the near future.  Finally, the plenary session on the state of Civil War military history with Gary Gallagher, Joan Waugh, Joe Glatthaar, and Carol Reardon was quite interesting.  Each panelist took about 10-15 minutes to discuss his/her own approach to writing military history along with the question of what constitutes Civil War military history.  I will also comment on aspects of this session at some point. 

Picture 027 I couldn't have been more pleased with my session on teaching.  [You can read my presentation here.]  The session was scheduled for the final time slot on Tuesday afternoon so I was a bit concerned that there wouldn't be anyone in attendance apart from my wife and parents.  Thankfully, we had a pretty good turnout and the questions which followed allowed all of us on the panel to discuss a number of issues related to the teaching of history.  I am going to do what I can to push the SCWH to build on this first step.  This could include a few more session on teaching at the next meeting at the University of Richmond in 2010 or perhaps even a workshop for area teachers.  When I was asked last summer by Gary Gallagher to put this session together I immediately thought of including Jim Percoco.  His talk on Lincoln statues and how he utilizes them in class was quite impressive and gave me a great deal to think about as I put together my own course on Civil War Memory.  I also appreciate Ron Maggianno for his insightful comments and Andrew Slap for chairing the session.  The best part was having my parents in the audience.  They were visibly "proud of their little boy."

Finally, I got to meet some wonderful people and touch base with some old friends.  I even met a few of my readers, including one very prominent member of the Civil War community.  Before the opening session he introduced me to his wife and she looked at me and said, "my husband spends more time with you than with me."  Now, I don't want to be responsible for any failed marriages (LOL) but I can't think of a better endorsement.  Fellow blogger Harry Smeltzer was also in attendance; he's a pretty cool dude.  As with any conference, the best part was the after hours get-togethers that usually include a few cocktails.  

I have nothing but praise for the organizers of this conference, especially William Blair who spent all three days running from session to session and taking care of logistics.  For those of you who have a serious interest in Civil War history I encourage you to consider attending the 2010 meeting in Richmond.  In contrast with most academic conferences this is not a stuffy affair and you just might find yourself chatting with Ken Noe, eating breakfast with Michael Fellman or laughing over a cocktail with Peter Carmichael.  It was a real whoot.