Category Archives: Civil War Sesquicentennial

The Emotional Pull of Cold Harbor

Those of us who have spent significant time walking Civil War battlefields know that they evoke different emotions. Much of that is the result of the broader narrative that we bring to these sites. I was reminded of this yesterday as I was writing the post on Cold Harbor and as a result of following the comments. The Cold Harbor battlefield invokes in me a feeling of dread and anxiousness that I rarely feel on other battlefields. Perhaps it’s the name or some feint memory of the voices of David McCullough and Shelby Foote from Ken Burns’s The Civil War that triggers it. Continue reading

Old Myths Die Hard at Cold Harbor

With all the coverage of the 150th anniversary of Cold Harbor I was surprised by the persistence of two myths that refuse to give way. The first is the story of Union soldiers pinning their names to their coats so their bodies could be identified and the second relates to the casualty figures that are commonly cited. Taken together they reinforce a compelling narrative of futile bloody assaults ordered by Ulysses S. Grant – the “great butcher” of the war. Continue reading

Can Ron Maxwell Kickstart His Movie Career?

Update: As of 06/03 the campaign has passed $9,300.

Ron Maxwell's Civil War ClassicsI had a feeling we were talking about a Kickstarter campaign. Five days into his campaign and Ron Maxwell has raised roughly $9,000 of the $250,000 that needs by July 7. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Maxwell’s movies. There are a couple of problems with this campaign.

First and foremost, there is no video. How about an interview with Maxwell and/or short preview of one of the stories that he plans to bring to the big screen. I actually like the idea of turning some of these more obscure stories into short movies, but why such a long list. Pick a few and describe in some detail what makes them special and how their filming might add to our understanding of the Civil War. I am surprised by how little information accompanies the individual stories. Continue reading

Civil War Soldier’s Skull For Sale

Update: Bidding canceled. Nice to hear that people called in and complained. Seemed like a no-brainer.

Yes, you heard that right. Tom Taylor with Estate Auction Company had this to say:

It’s really one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. This person may have given their life for their country. It’s something of honor and historical significance.

Yes, it is, but do you really believe that auctioning it off is the best way to pay tribute to that sacrifice? As of Sunday the highest bid is $275.

Destination Petersburg 150th

PNB/Crater 150I thought we would never get here, but in roughly two weeks the 150th anniversary of the Petersburg Campaign kicks off. The staff at the Petersburg National Battlefield has put together a helpful handbook [PDF] that includes all the information you need related to events between mid-June and the end of September. There is quite a lot taking place this summer and fall. From what I’ve heard the crowds have been impressive throughout the commemoration of the Overland Campaign, which is a great sign that public enthusiasm can be sustained.

As you might expect I am very excited about the 150th anniversary of the Crater. I will be in Petersburg beginning on July 29 through August 2. On August 1 there will be two panel discussions on aspects of the battle of the Crater and at 7pm I will be delivering an address on the battle and Civil War memory. The location for the panels and my talk has yet to be decided.

I am so looking forward to the commemoration and I am honored to be a part of it. Hope to see some of you on the Crater battlefield at the crack of dawn on July 30.