A few months ago I was invited by the Library of Virginia to participate in a panel discussion on the legacy of the American Civil War and the release of the New York Times’s collection of Disunion essays in book form. I think they still thought I lived in Virginia and unfortunately I was unable to attend. They asked for a recommendation and I immediately thought of Robert Moore, who blogs at Cenantua. Given his research interests in Southern Unionism I thought his perspective would add an important perspective, which it did. So glad he was able to make it.
One reason why the final two years of the Civil War is so difficult to commemorate is that it offers little in the kinds of dramatic battles that still captivate the imaginations of so many. Many of us are seduced by the success of Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia and how close they brought the Confederacy to independence. Whether we acknowledge the inevitability of Confederate defeat or not and with the benefit of hindsight, the final two years of the war appear to be a gradual deterioration of all things Confederate.
The other factor is that it becomes much more difficult to ignore the challenges and messiness of Reconstruction, which is well under way during those final two years. While it can be argued that our popular memory of the war has undergone a positive shift in recent years, our understanding of Reconstruction remains in the dark ages. It will be very sad indeed if the Civil War 150th ends in 1865. Continue reading
Pat Young asked in response to a previous post on whether the battle of the Crater ought to be reenacted whether lynchings should be reenacted. Well, thanks to Bjorn Skaptason, it turns out at least one has been reenacted as an annual event for the past seven years. The event marks the 1946 lynching of two African American married couples near the Moore’s Ford Bridge over the Apalachee River in Georgia. One of the victims was seven months pregnant. [Additional photos can be found here.]
The video is difficult to watch, but it does address some issues related to questions that have already been raised about the challenges of reenacting any violent event with racial overtones such as the Crater.
Earlier this week I received my author copies of the latest issue of The Civil War Monitor, which contains my essay on Confederate camp servants. As I’ve said before, I am very excited about this particular piece. It encompasses some of what I am trying to address in the first chapter of my book on the same subject. Continue reading
There are a number of plans on the table that would change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in Memphis, Tennessee. Any plan that involves removing the Forrest monument would also have to include the removal of his remains which are buried below. That presents all kinds of challenges. As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of tearing monuments down, though I do believe there are always exceptions to the rule. In this case I think a name change is certainly justified, but rather than discard Forrest’s name I would like to see Ida B. Wells’s name added. Welcome to Forrest – Wells Park. It has a nice ring to it. The Memphis City Council meets today to consider a proposal to do just that. Stay tuned. In the meantime…
What is it about pastors and Confederate generals, especially someone like Forrest? Of all the historical figures to utilize as representative of living a good life, is Forrest really the best we can do? I certainly know enough to explain this, but I will never understand it.