Commemorating a Wilderness of War

This is one of those weekends when I truly miss living in Virginia. Right now I would be with my fellow Civil War enthusiasts walking the fields along the Orange Turnpike and thinking about the events that took place 150 years ago this weekend. This is the period of the war that I have always found to be the most interesting and challenging. By 1864 it seems as if the entire nation had become unhinged with no clear answers or road forward discernible. The Wilderness as metaphor works so well in thinking about the totality of the war and the challenge that each of us faces if we have any hope of coming to terms with the legacy of the war in 1864. Continue reading “Commemorating a Wilderness of War”

Just Give the North Carolinians Back Their Flag and Save the Reenactment

I’ve said it before, but I find most Civil War battle reenactments to be disrespectful to the memory of Civil War soldiers. The following reenactment, which will take place as part of the 150th anniversary of the Wilderness, takes the cake.

Carolinian Grief Mason, 21, will be beaten to death – again – in a field near Spotsylvania, Va., by Pennsylvanian Stephen Rought, 22, the Union soldier who was determined to get the regimental flag Mason carried at any cost on May 5, 1864.

Modern-day Charlottean Rex Hovey, a Civil War historian and re-enactor, is behind the event, which calls for about 20 local men and 50 or so re-enactors from around the state to play the part of the 13th NC Troops. The group will take on descendants of the original Pennsylvania soldiers who made up the 141st Pennsylvania Infantry.

Is there really no other way to honor these men?

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/01/4879523/unusual-civil-war-anniversary.html#.U2OrzcctdxU#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/01/4879523/unusual-civil-war-anniversary.html#.U2OrzcctdxU#storylink=cpy

It’s Heritage, Not History: Part (I Lost Count)

The interview is less than four minutes, but you will be amazed by how many factual and interpretive mistakes are made by Philip Way, who is the commander of a Sons of Confederate Veterans camp in Harrisonburg, Virginia. How many can you find? Continue reading “It’s Heritage, Not History: Part (I Lost Count)”

Speaking in the Land of Lincoln

Louis Martin
Louis Martin (National Archives)

It’s not until September 26, but I am super stoked about receiving an invitation to speak at the 2014 Conference on Illinois History in Springfield. I’ve never been to Lincoln’s home town.

Even better, I was asked to speak about Private Louis Martin, who as you can see was seriously injured at the battle of the Crater. This image has been with me from the beginning of my research on the Crater and it is featured prominently in my book. Unfortunately, I did not spend any time exploring his story, in part, because so little of it is known. Recently, a marker was placed in a cemetery in Springfield, where he is buried.

Not surprisingly, I am going to approach the subject from the perspective of memory. I want to explore in some detail how this image shapes how we think about the black experience in the Civil War and Martin’s story specifically. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this talk.

Hope to see some of you there. More details forthcoming.

Click here for future speaking dates.