This past week I requested that the famous image of Andrew and Silas Chandler grace the cover of my forthcoming book, Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2019. This should come as no surprise. Silas and Andrew have long been the face of this mythical narrative. The image has been misinterpreted by a cross section of the historical community, from National Park Service staff to Confederate heritage groups. Continue reading
Yesterday I learned that the Board of Governors at the University of North Carolina Press gave Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth its final approval. I knew the decision was scheduled to take place and that it would be a formality, but it was still a thrill to receive official notice. Continue reading
Update: Thanks to the commenter below who clarified that individuals are not “made” veterans. They are veterans owing to their service. In this case, service in the United States army.
It is absurd to think that Memorial Day is a day to honor Confederates who fell in battle along side the white and black Americans who gave their lives to defend and ultimately save this country between 1861 and 1865. Many today base this belief on a supposed step taken by Congress in 1958 that gave Confederate veterans equal status under law to that of U.S. veterans. They did not. Continue reading
Congratulations to Andrew Bledsoe and Andrew Lang on bringing their forthcoming collection of essays one step closer to publication. Yesterday the editors shared the cover art for Upon the Fields of Battle: Essays on the Military History of America’s Civil War, which will be published later this year by LSU Press. Continue reading
I am beginning to see the outlines of an argument. Our tendency to focus on the last six months of Col. Robert Gould Shaw’s military career in command of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry has left us with an incomplete and even distorted view of his place in Civil War memory. We tend to see his parents, specifically his mother, as pushing him to see the necessity of recruiting African Americans into the army thus transforming the very purpose of the Union war effort. Continue reading
I’ve spent the better part of the past few weeks reading as much as I can about Robert Gould Shaw and taking extensive notes. In addition to books about the Civil War I have been thinking about how to go about writing and structuring a biography, which I have never written before. Historian and biographer T.J. Stiles recently shared some thoughts with me about the genre. I am a big fan of his books, particularly his biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Continue reading
Glory is still one of my favorite movies, but like all Hollywood productions, there are places where it falls short in explaining the history or providing the proper historical context. Few Hollywood movies have had more of an influence on how we remember the Civil War and, specifically, the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, along with its young colonel, Robert Gould Shaw. Continue reading
We expend a great deal of energy re-casting Confederate soldiers as engaged in a constitutional struggle or defense of home that had nothing to do with the protection of slavery. The price we pay is to ignore what actual Confederates said during the war about the consequences of slavery’s demise and their efforts to re-build a society around white supremacy in the years after.
By the time this story was published monuments were being raised across the former Confederate states in celebration of the bravery and sacrifice of the men who with every victory brought their nation closer to establishing a slaveholding republic around white supremacy. That cause did not end with the furling of flags at Appomattox.
Those communities that have chosen to remove or relocate Confederate monuments now have the opportunity to take a closer look at this history and decide how to re-shape their public spaces and even add to those empty pedestals.