I am a big fan of Chandra Manning’s book, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War. It’s an incredibly thought-provoking book and especially helpful when it comes to understanding how Confederates conceptualized the importance of slavery throughout the war. However, I am less convinced by her analysis of how the bitter fighting in the spring and summer of 1864 effected the attitudes of Northern soldiers regarding slavery and civil rights.
While I agree with Manning that by the summer of 1863 many of the men in the ranks accepted the necessity of ending slavery for the sake of the war effort and the Union she goes on to argue that these men had also been inspired to “consider more thoughtfully their own obligations to overcome racial prejudice and promote at least some basic rights for black Americans…” (153). By 1864, according to Manning, military setbacks and other problems caused these men to “back away” from “a world of increasing racial equality and black rights.” Continue reading →
This morning I was reminded that today is the first day of the sesquicentennial of the War in 1864. As I alluded to this past spring, it is going to be very interesting to see how the final sixteen months of the war will be commemorated and remembered. There are practical issues of funding, but there is also the turn that the war itself took in 1864. Those of us on the education/public history side of things will have to think long and hard about how we engage the public about some of the more important and challenging issues of the war. Continue reading →
Note: This post is for my friend, Patrick Young, who constantly reminds me that for most everything I write about on this site there is an immigrants’ perspective. Thanks, Pat.
Yesterday morning I took a slightly different jogging route through my neighborhood and stumbled on a small neglected cemetery. The Toll Gate Cemetery is located just off Hyde Park Avenue, just a block from the Forrest Hills T Station in Jamaica Plain. It is nestled between the street and tracks and is very easy to miss. Since I can’t resist old cemeteries I decided to check it out hoping that I might stumble on a few Civil War soldiers. I did. Continue reading →
Update: More details are emerging about this meeting: “Passions ran high, at one point erupting in a spontaneous chorus of “Dixie” led by a black man, H.K. Edgerton, who called Union soldiers rapists and wielded his large Confederate flag like a conductor’s baton as the audience sang.” Oh, brother.
Speaking out against the addition of the monument, along with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was none other than H.K. Edgerton, who we haven’t heard much from of late.
“There is no place in the south land of America to memorialize Yankee soldiers,” Edgerton said. “This is an army that came here raping, robbing, stealing, killing and murdering our people. The kinds of things that happened here under the sanction of Abraham Lincoln were for these men to commit total warfare against innocent men, women and children who could not defend themselves.”
What the commission made of a black man carrying a Confederate flag is anyone’s guess. Probably a good thing H.K. didn’t show up in full uniform.