Category Archives: Memory

“We Won That War and Never Let Them Forget It”

In 2011 I took part in a panel on the myth of the black Confederate soldier with Emmanuel Dabney, Ervin Jordan, and Jaime Martinez at the annual meeting of the ASALH in Richmond. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I did not attend the Carter G. Woodson luncheon featuring Daryl Michael Scott. The topic of his address – or should I say sermon – was the importance of remembering the service of black soldiers as “The Greatest Black Generation.” Continue reading

The Confederacy Freed the Slaves

Earlier today I posted Jon Stewart’s take down of FOX’s Andrew “The Hair” Napolitano who offered his own not-so-unique interpretation of Lincoln’s role in emancipation. Continuing with this line of absurd reasoning I give you The SHPG’s Valerie Protopapas, who I believe is a Northern gal. This is her take on the question of “Who freed the slaves?” Continue reading

A Time to Remember the Suffering of all Americans During the Civil War

Andersonville National Historic Site

Andersonville National Historic Site

We should not be surprised by the irrational response by a select few to the selection of William T. Sherman as 1864s’ Man of the Year by an audience at the Museum of the Confederacy this past weekend. I applaud the MOC for maintaining an open Facebook page to facilitate responses and the very limited positive give and take that can be found. The most extreme comments come from people who see themselves as victims of Sherman’s actions in Georgia in 1864. They are most definitely not victims.

It might be helpful to place the destruction wrought by Sherman alongside the suffering of United States soldiers at Andersonville Prison, which commenced with its sesquicentennial commemoration today. One of my readers reminded me that there was likely much more suffering within the walls of the prison than that caused by Sherman throughout Georgia in 1864. On the one hand it’s a perspective that I never considered while at the same time it means very little to me. Continue reading

Sentinels in Bronze and Granite

Martin Millmore Soldier Monument

Millmore’s Roxbury Soldier

One of the nice surprises in the special issue of Common-place that I edited with Megan Kate Nelson is an essay that we had nothing to do with. Sarah Beetham’s “Object Lesson” on Civil War monuments and cemeteries is a wonderful introduction to the subject that was submitted independently from those that we commissioned. It fits perfectly into the issue given our overall theme. She begins with a description of Martin Millmore’s Roxbury Solider Monument in Forrest Hills Cemetery, which is five minutes from my house. It’s a beautiful place and one that I regularly visit. Millmore himself is buried close to the entrance. I am going to use it this week in class.

In a quiet glade amid the trees and lawns of Boston’s Forest Hills Cemetery, a bronze soldier of the American Civil War stands on a low plinth clutching his rifle (fig. 1). His posture is reminiscent of parade rest, a pose often assumed by soldiers on ceremonial occasions, but he gazes downward and to his right with a wistful air (fig. 2). He wears the standard overcoat and forage cap issued to soldiers of the Union Army for winter service, and his finely modeled, unbearded face reflects the youth of the typical Civil War volunteer. The base of the statue declares that it was “Erected by the City of Roxbury in honor of Her Soldiers, who died for their Country in the Rebellion of 1861-1865.” Its grassy clearing is enclosed with a low stone fence inscribed with the names, units, and dates of death of the Civil War soldiers of the Boston suburb of Roxbury (fig. 3). Amid the rolling hills and screening vegetation of the cemetery, the stone fence demarcates a space for quiet reflection. Overall, the monument is part gravestone and part triumph, mourning the deaths of the young soldiers of Roxbury while honoring their valorous deeds in the successful Union war effort.

Read the rest of the essay.

Southern Hospitality in the Hands of Transplanted Yankees

This little story from Maggie Rioux of Falmouth appeared this morning in The Boston Globe. It’s innocent enough.

Last May, my husband and I were on a bus tour of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the tour guide still seemed to be fighting the Civil War (at least for professional purposes). She kept referring to us as Yankees. After awhile, I’d had enough and piped up: “That’s a major insult. We’re not Yankees. We’re from the Boston area. We’re Red Sox people.” We didn’t hear another word about Yankees all morning.

I remember a similar experience a few years ago while on a tour in the historic section of Charleston, South Carolina. The guide continually referred to us as “Yankees” and even once as “invaders.” At the end of the tour I asked if he was native to the city/region. Turns out he was born in Pennsylvania and had been living in the city for around twenty years.