Category Archives: Civil War Historians

“The Mythology of Hard War”

This is the final week of my survey course on the American Civil War.  One of the subjects we’ve been looking at is the introduction of what Mark Grimsley describes as “Hard War” policy by the United States in 1864.  The class was assigned a section of Grimsley’s book, Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), which allowed us to take a much closer look at Sherman’s “March to the Sea”.  Rather than see the campaign as a foreshadowing of warfare in the twentieth century, Grimsley provides a framework that situates it within the history of warfare stretching back to the Middle Ages.  [It's always nice to be able to read and discuss the best in Civil War scholarship with my high school students.]  He also speculates that this may account for why Grant, Sherman and the rest of the Union army did not regard the campaign as inaugurating a new kind of warfare.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but nevertheless, Grimsley’s analysis does provide students of the war with a framework with which to analyze as opposed to our popular memory of Sherman and the campaign that is bogged down in strong emotions that tell us very little about the scale of violence and overall strategy.  Continue reading

Gabor Boritt Looks at His Own Past

As many of you know Gabor Boritt recently retired from his position as director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. Boritt is the author of numerous edited collections, an excellent study of Lincoln’s economic outlook as well as a recent study of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The position is now open and I know a number of scholars who are interested.  It goes without saying that it is going to be a highly competitive search and I wish them all the best of luck.

A few years ago Gabor Boritt’s son, Jake, produced a documentary about his father’s own history titled, “Budapest to Gettysburg”.  It includes commentary by Jack Kemp, Peter Jennings, Ken Burns, and Sandra Day O’Connor.  I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety and what is included below is just a preview.

It’s A Book Giveaway!

gallagher_causesAs part of the month-long celebration of Civil War Memory’s 4th Birthday I’ve decided to give a little back in the form of a book giveaway.  It’s easy to enter.  Just leave a comment after the post and in a few words share why you read Civil War Memory.  Even my critics are invited to enter and share their thoughts (as long as the comments are not offensive) and I promise to be fair in choosing a winner.  I will write the names out on slips of paper and have my wife draw a winner.  It’s as simple as that.  As you can see, the book is Gary Gallagher’s, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).  I will leave the comments open until next Friday (11/20) and will select a winner over the weekend.  Good luck.

Update: A few of you have mentioned that you already own this book. Well, if that is the case then it looks like I will have to offer an alternative title. It’s a secret

Do You Suffer From PCM Disease?

600px-no_political_correctnessHead on over to Civil Warriors for Brooks Simpson’s response to a series of posts at TOCWOC which purports to analyze the “politically correct mythology” [PCM] that pervades academic Civil War history.  You can start with James Durney’s “analysis” and then follow up with Brett Schulte’s two-part response [here and here].  I am going to let Simpson speak for me on this one:  Continue reading

An African American-less Civil War Sesquicentennial?

stonewallhinklemanOne of the sessions that I attended at last week’s SHA was a roundtable on Civil War Memory and the Sesquicentennial.  It was an excellent panel consisting of Gaines Foster, Suzanna Lee, John Neff, and Robert Cook.  The presentations were short which left plenty of time for conversation.  The question of how to attract African Americans to sesquicentennial celebrations received a great deal of attention from a number of the panelists, especially Prof. Cook, whose study of the Civil War Centennial highlights the extent to which this particular group was ignored.  Prof. Cook suggested that what is needed this time around is a much more inclusive commemoration that does justice to the “Emancipationist Legacy” of the conflict.  Well, who would disagree with that?  Here in Virginia we’ve already held one major conference on the eve of the Civil War.  Panelists touched on questions of race and slavery throughout the various sessions and future conferences will focus even more on the end of slavery in Virginia and its aftermath.  There will be no shortage of talk about slavery, race, the home front and every other subject under the sun.

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