Lost Cause

I’ve written a number of posts on this blog as well as in my new book about Dr. Henry Louis Gates’s confusion about the black Confederate myth. In this webinar sponsored by PBS Education he managed to confuse it even further. Dr. Gates is still referencing his colleague John Stauffer’s piece in The Root, which Read more

This past Tuesday a House Committee in Nashville, Tennessee debated a resolution to remove a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol. In addition to serving in the Confederate army, Forrest sold slaves in Memphis before the war and held a leadership position in the Klan for a time during the Read more

February is Black History Month. Started by Carter G. Woodson in the early twentieth century as Black History Week the month is popularly viewed as an opportunity to highlight the rich history of African Americans. This is certainly true, but for organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans it is an opportunity to spread the Read more

The loyal slave/black Confederate narrative is an insidious myth. As I argue in Searching for Black Confederates, it reduces African Americans to caricatures and has long treated them as a means to an end in the development and reinforcement of a Lost Cause narrative that for a long time helped to maintain legal segregation and Read more

Update: In 2010 the Georgia Historical Society dedicated a marker commemorating the 44th USCT and their treatment at the hands of Confederate soldiers near Dalton, Georgia. As Confederate officials in Richmond and citizens throughout the country debated whether to recruit slaves into the army as soldiers, black Union soldiers were being massacred on battlefields throughout Read more

Yesterday work crews removed the letters on the Jefferson Davis Memorial Arch located at Fort Monroe in Virginia. The arch was dedicated in 1956 shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. I still find it bizarre that a memorial to Davis was placed on the very ground where he was Read more

Here is a little taste of my forthcoming book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which was published last week at Smithsonian. I re-worked a few pages that focus on the role of camp slaves during the Gettysburg campaign. All too often we try to draw a distinction between the importance Read more

I haven’t written about Earl Ijames on this blog in quite some time. The curator at the North Carolina Museum of History is notorious for his presentations and even film about what he calls “Colored Confederates” – another misnomer that distorts the legal status and role of the vast majority of black men who labored Read more

The Confederacy’s reliance on slave labor throughout the Civil War is easily explained. The difference in population between North and South necessitated the mobilization of as many black bodies as possible. Enslaved people were needed on the home front to harvest crops for the army. They labored in mines, constructed rail lines and earthworks, and Read more

While a cadet at West Point, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson kept a notebook that included a list of inspirational maxims. One of those included was the headline above. It’s often quoted during discussions about Jackson, buy why? More specifically, why do we bother at all to prop up Jackson as some kind of moral standard Read more