Gary Gallagher Says Farewell to the Civil War America Series

Update: I’ve been informed that a number of forthcoming titles are being shepherded through the publication process by Gallagher. My post title probably implies a bit more finality than is warranted. I should note that a forthcoming title in the Military Campaigns of the Civil War series that is co-edited by Gallagher and Caroline Janney will include an essay of mine on the Crater. That volume will be released in the Fall.

This past week I received a number of advanced copies from the University of North Carolina Press. It’s the first batch of books, where I’ve noticed that Gary Gallagher’s name no longer appears as a series editor. As many of you know Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Peter Carmichael, and Caroline Janney are taking over editing responsibilities for the press’s Civil War America series.

I think it’s worth acknowledging just how important this series has been to our understanding of the Civil War era. The series began unofficially in 1987 with the release of Harry Pfanz’s Gettysburg: The Second Day. The series was launched officially in 1993 with Tom Cutrer’s biography of Ben McCulloch. The total number of books in the series under Gallagher’s editorship is 113. I’ve been reading books in this series since the mid-1990s and since roughly 2005 the press has been kind enough to send me review copies of all Civil War-related titles. Looking around my private library I can find Civil War America titles in every section from slavery to antebellum politics to battlefield studies, and Northern and Southern home fronts. I’ve read practically all of them. Continue reading “Gary Gallagher Says Farewell to the Civil War America Series”

“Let Them Go To the Devil”: Desertion Among USCTs

Continuing with the theme of desertion [and here] from the past week here is a fascinating passage from Heny McNeal Turner, who served as an army chaplain for the United States Colored Troops. The following excerpt was written at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia on September  18, 1864 and appeared in The Christian Recorder a week later. Continue reading ““Let Them Go To the Devil”: Desertion Among USCTs”

Sheehan-Dean Reflects on Civil War Historiography

The latest issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography arrived this past week and it includes a very thoughtful essay by Aaron Sheehan-Dean, titled, “The Long Civil War: A Historiography of the Consequences of the Civil War.”  In September Aaron will take up a new teaching position as the Eberly Professor of Civil War History at West Virginia University.  The essay is related to his current research project, which contextualizes and compares the practices of violence in the American Civil War with other civil and national conflicts in the mid-nineteenth century.  Consider the following:

Civil War scholars need to write broader histories in both temporal and spatial terms.  For too long, Civil War historians have been justly criticized for writing within a deep but narrow and disconnected part of the larger community of scholars studying the United States.  The challenge of articulating the long-term effects of the conflict goes to the heart of what Civil War history should accomplish.  Writing histories that account for the war’s full impact offers a way to reconnect scholars of the war with those in other fields.  It will diminish the possibility of historians ignoring the war because their work concerns seemingly unrelated elements.  Beyond the disciplinary advances that such an approach might facilitate, historians have a professional obligation to address the topic more clearly.  When our nation weighs entering military conflicts, policymakers consider the costs and benefits of previous wars.  Vietnam and World War II have dominated recent discussions of American war making, for good reason, but the Civil War provides an important model as well.  It offers a window onto the most pressing questions we face: invasion, occupation, reconstruction, changing war plans, and tensions between military and political goals.