The United States Army’s “Finest Hour”

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.

[Uploaded to YouTube on August 10, 2015].

Getting to Know the Army of Tennessee

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 “Getting to Know the Army of Tennessee”

Reading List for ‘The North’s Civil War’

I am getting close to finalizing the reading list for my research seminar at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, which I will teach this coming fall semester. The seminar will focus specifically on how Northerners understood Union and emancipation over the course of the war. We meet once a week and our time will be divided between discussion of readings and learning how to interpret the AAS’s rich collection of primary sources in preparation for a major research paper, which each student will complete. Check out the course description, though I will likely tweak it in the coming weeks.

As for assigned books, I have managed to narrow it down to six. Of course, they will be supplemented by articles and book chapters, which I will make available to students throughout the semester. I tried to find well written books that will keep my students’ attention, allow us to talk a little historiography and that will cover a good deal of topical ground. Finally, I tried to choose books that are right around 200 pages. Continue reading “Reading List for ‘The North’s Civil War’”

New to the Civil War Memory Library 07/23

Massachusetts and the Civil WarTa-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel and Grau, 2015).

Elizabeth A. De Wolfe, The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories (Kent State University Press, 2010).

Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle, A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity (Basic, 2015).

Hilda Kean and Paul Martin eds., The Public History Reader (Routledge, 2013).

Sanford Levinson, Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies (Duke University Press, 1998).

Matthew Mason, Katheryn P. Viens, and Conrad E. Wright eds., Massachusetts and the Civil War: The Commonwealth and National Disunion (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015).

Marla R. Miller, Betsy Ross and the Making of America (Henry Holt, 2010).

Eric Rauchway, Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America (Hill and Wang, 2003).