Category Archives: Civil War Historians

John Marszalek Reflects on 1864′s Person of the Year

This past February the Museum of the Confederacy hosted its annual “Person of the Year” for 1864. As you already know the audience selected William T. Sherman. The event was broadcast this weekend on C-SPAN. Here is John Marszalek reflecting on Sherman’s victory. Marszalek offers some interesting thoughts at the beginning in response to a question of whether he was surprised by the audience’s choice. I agree with his response in that it tells us as much about the profile of the audience as it does about the relevant history.

Again, congratulations to “Uncle Billy.”

New To the Civil War Memory Library, 03/21

Michael Adams

Also wrote “Our Masters the Rebels” (1978)

Michael C.C. Adams, Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014).

Shauna Devine, Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Michael Kreyling, A Late Encounter with the Civil War (University of Georgia Press, 2013).

Louis P. Masur, The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America (Bloomsbury Press, 2008).

K. Stephen Prince, Stories of the South: Race and the Reconstruction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Brian Steel Wills, Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).

Remembering the Battle of the Crater Reviewed in Civil War History

Civil War HistoryThanks to Benjamin Cloyd – author of an excellent study of the history and memory of Civil War prisons – for the very fair review of my book in the most recent issue of Civil War History (March 2014). I should have focused much more on the intersection of the centennial and the civil rights movement in Petersburg.

Cloyd identifies what I now clearly see as the weaker sections of my book. This is likely the last review to appear in an academic journal and overall I am pleased with how the book has been received by the scholarly community.  Continue reading

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

High Bridge (Farmville, Va)

High Bridge (over the Appomattox River)

Thanks to Patrick Schroeder of the National Park Service and David Coles of Longwood University for inviting me to take part in their Civil War seminar this weekend in Farmville, Virginia. I had a wonderful time. I stayed at the Spring Grove Bed and Breakfast near Appomattox, where I enjoyed the hospitality of Emily and Joe. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day yesterday. The temperatures were in the high 60s.

My fellow speakers did a great job and the audience remained engaged throughout the entire day. It was nice having a chance to catch up with Gordon Rhea, who I think is one of the nicest guys around. Invitations to speak almost always offer a chance to make new connections. This time I got to meet Brian Steel Wills, Stephen Engle, and Eric Wittenberg in person. It’s always nice to see Al Mackey and Mike Rodgers, who are long time blog readers. I also enjoyed meeting Boston native, John Buchanan, who managed to listen to my talk and keep track of the Bruins game. After the conference a bunch of us took a walk along the new footpath over High Bridge. Thanks Craig Swain who showed us some fairly complex Confederate earthworks on the east side of the bridge. The views are spectacular and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.

Good luck to my friends in Virginia today and tomorrow, who will hopefully be shoveling for the last time this winter. Looking forward to returning to Virginia this summer for the 150th anniversary of the Crater

Misplaced Massacre Wins Bancroft Prize

Ari KelmanThe judges for the 2014 Bancroft Prize could not have selected a better book this year. I’ve been raving about Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press) since its publication. Here is my blurb for a “best of” list that recently appeared in The Civil War Monitor magazine.

The central event in Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek takes place west of the war’s western theater. Most Americans don’t identify the 1864 slaughter of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians as a Civil War battle, but interestingly enough the incident is listed on a monument dedicated in 1909 to Coloradans who fought in the war. The descendants of the slain, however, always considered what happened at Sand Creek a massacre, not a battle. Kelman skillfully traces the competing memories of Sand Creek along with the heated public debates between Native American tribes, local landowners, the National Park Service, and Civil War buffs that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in 2007. He makes a compelling case that the fighting on the frontier and the fate of Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. military must not be forgotten at a time when Americans have embraced a narrative of the Civil War as a “new birth of freedom.” A Misplaced Massacre is a reminder that Civil War memory studies are far from tapped out.

Ari recently contributed an essay to the special issue of Common-place that I edited with Megan Kate Nelson. For whatever it’s worth I think this is an important book. Looking forward to meeting Ari in June at the Civil War Institute.