For the past few days I’ve been reading about the expansion of slavery into the southwestern states during the 1830s and 40s. Silas Chandler was two years old when his master, Roy Chandler, moved from Virginia to Mississippi in 1839. This was right in the middle of a severe economic downturn owing to runaway speculation as well as dangerous banking policies (or lack thereof) on the state and federal levels. It all came temporarily crashing down and the Chandler family found itself right in the middle of it. Right now all I have are a lot of questions about the family’s history in Virginia, why they moved to Mississippi, and the challenges of getting settled at such an uncertain moment.
Yesterday I posted a video of a West Point history professor briefly discussing the central role that slavery played in the coming of the Civil War. While I suggested that there is nothing surprising in this video, Professor Ty Seidule does address a number of widely misunderstood topics related to the central issue such as why non-slaveholding whites supported the Confederacy.
The video appeared following a column by Steven Metz, director of research at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, in which he calls for the U.S. military to ‘Disavow the glorification of Confederate symbolism.’ Professor Seidule is interviewed in this article, which likely explains the statement I highlighted in yesterday’s post about the U.S. army’s role in defeating the Confederacy. Continue reading →
This is a decidedly unremarkable educational video on the American Civil War until the 5:05 mark. At that point, Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, makes the following point:
As a soldier, I am proud that the United States army, my army, defeated the Confederates. In its finest hour, soldiers wearing this uniform-almost two hundred thousand of them former slaves themselves-destroyed chattel slavery, freed 4 million men, women and children from human bondage, and saved the United States of America.
I have trouble imagining any member of the U.S. army today disagreeing with this statement. But I also can’t imagine anyone today outside of the military disagreeing with it as well.
My knowledge of the Confederate army is confined mainly to the Army of Northern Virginia. As I sketch out my cultural biography of Silas Chandler, however, I am running into my limited understanding of the Army of Tennessee. Silas’s master, Andrew Chandler, served in Co. F of the 44th Mississippi Infantry up to the battle of Chickamauga in 1863. He then served Andrew’s brother in the 9th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment, which accompanied Jefferson Davis after he abandoned Richmond in April 1865. That’s another story.
Silas and Andrew were together for some of the major battles such as Shiloh in which the latter was taken prisoner and Chickamauga, where Andrew was wounded. According to stories Silas supposedly convinced a doctor in Atlanta not to amputate his owner’s leg and used coins stitched in his jacket to pay for passage for the two to return home to Mississippi. Continue reading →