Yesterday on C-SPAN I watched Allen Weinstein who is the Archivist of the United States interview Lonnie Bunch who is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s planned National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was an excellent interview and I was thoroughly impressed with both the intellectual rigor and emotion that Bunch brings Read more

Thinking About Reconstruction

One of my favorite classroom exercises takes place during our examination of Reconstruction. I divide the class into groups of four and ask each group to imagine that they are serving on a congressional committee in charge of Reconstruction policy. They must work together and answer the following questions: (1) What responsibilities did the federal Read more

Don Troiani’s Crater

Don Troiani’s “Mahone’s Counterattack” (Historical Art Prints, 2003) stands in sharp contrast to the early painting by Elder. The attack of the 6th Virginia Infantry figures prominently in both paintings; however, Troiani places USCT in the center of the action. Along with their white counterparts, USCT display their manhood as they stand in defiance of Read more

John Elder’s Crater

This is probably the most famous painting of the Crater and it was completed in 1869 by John Elder. Elder was born in 1833 and studied under Daniel Huntington in New York. The painting was commissioned by William Mahone who is best remembered for leading the successful Confederate counterattack that resulted in the retaking of Read more

Why Memory?

I am sometimes asked to explain my fascination with the study of Civil War memory. It comes down to an interest in how and why we form national narratives. There is an interesting psychological element in this that seems to have much in common with how each of us forms our own self-narratives. We are Read more

“What A Drag It Is Getting Old”

Well, my fall semester Civil War class is slowly winding down. Students are working to complete their research projects and I continue to deal with various stages of senioritis (most of my students in this class are seniors). That said, I am pleased with their progress. The other day we had a wonderful discussion that Read more

Is Heritage History? – Part 2

Just a few follow-up thoughts to some of the comments from yesterday’s post. I am struck by the tendency on the part of some who equate southern history with white southern history. This is precisely where much of the tension lay in the debate over the renaming of various public spaces in the South. I Read more

Is Heritage History?

Let me start out by saying that I expect to be bulldozed in responses to this post. I recently attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the University of Richmond and the Museum of the Confederacy. The topic was “The Confederacy in the 21st Century” and the participants included a representative from the Sons of Confederate Read more

Valley of the Shadow

No doubt many of you are familiar with the Valley of the Shadow, which is an online database created by Edward L. Ayers and maintained by the University of Virginia’s, Center For Digital History. The site is essentially an online archive that compares two Shenandoah Valley counties in the years leading up to and through Read more

Civil War 101 — Day 2

Just one more comment regarding the silliness that is masquerading as serious Civil War debate over in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. One of the most common arguments (if one can call it a formal argument) is to assert that because my great grandfather fought in the Civil War and he was not a slave owner Read more