Category Archives: Memory

Edward Sebesta Strikes Again

Earlier today Edward Sebesta posted some commentary on a recent controversy over the management of Jefferson Davis’s postwar home at Beauvoir. I also commented on this story back in March and was highly critical of the Mississippi SCV. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Sebesta, who takes issue with my belief that the home deserves to be “professionally interpreted.”

Levin believes himself to be a member of the elite interpreters of the Civil War and is upset that Beauvoir isn’t going to be interpreted by people like him. Note his terms “professionally interpreted” and “respectfully and tastefully.” He would be quite happy with Beauvoir continuing to be used as a Confederate shrine by “professional” interpreters as he is with the Museum of the Confederacy being a Confederate shrine.

This is not the first time that I’ve been accused of being an “elitist” but it is funny to hear it from Ed rather than the usual folks. I do believe that Beauvoir deserves to be preserved and interpreted so as to give visitors a sense of the location’s importance both to Davis and to the memory of the Confederacy. Continue reading

The History of Confederate Flags at Washington and Lee University

A couple of documents related to the history of the display of Confederate flags at W&L’s Lee Chapel were sent to me earlier today. They detail a history that is much more complicated than what most people are aware of in the wake of the petition by students to have the flags removed. The story involves numerous stakeholders, including W&L, the Museum of the Confederacy and United Daughters of the Confederacy. Continue reading

William Tecumseh Sherman Shines Again

William T. Sherman Monument

Sherman Monument in New York City

Of all the Civil War monuments in New York City my favorite is the William T. Sherman monument in Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue. My wife and I have walked by the monument on numerous occasions over the past few years, but its deteriorating gold leaf surface forces visitors to imagine what this Saint-Gaudens masterpiece looked like when it was dedicated in 1903.

You can imagine our surprise yesterday afternoon when we noticed that the monument has finally been restored and re-gilded. It looks magnificent.

Hopefully the pigeons have been told to stay away.

From the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the White Citizens’ Councils

Just finished reading Jill Ogline Titus’s thoughtful essay on the Civil War sesquicentennial and its renewed focus on the themes of slavery and emancipation in the most recent issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era. Jill surveys how various institutions have interpreted these controversial themes through their exhibits, symposia, and websites. Continue reading

What’s In a Number?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about numbers, specifically in assessing the number of Civil War dead. J. David Hacker’s essay “A Census-Based Count of the Civil War Dead” appeared in a 2011 issue of Civil War History. The essay received a great deal of attention and a shorter version appeared in the New York Times Disunion blog. Keith Harris offers some thoughts here. More recently, Nicholas Marshall published an essay in The Journal of the Civil War Era that can be seen, in part, as a response to Hacker. Whether Marshall’s essay garners as much traction has yet to be seen, but it did receive a thorough critique from fellow blogger Vince Slaugh at Lancaster at War. Continue reading