Tag Archives: Andersonville

What’s In a Number?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about numbers, specifically in assessing the number of Civil War dead. J. David Hacker’s essay “A Census-Based Count of the Civil War Dead” appeared in a 2011 issue of Civil War History. The essay received a great deal of attention and a shorter version appeared in the New York Times Disunion blog. Keith Harris offers some thoughts here. More recently, Nicholas Marshall published an essay in The Journal of the Civil War Era that can be seen, in part, as a response to Hacker. Whether Marshall’s essay garners as much traction has yet to be seen, but it did receive a thorough critique from fellow blogger Vince Slaugh at Lancaster at War. Continue reading

Counting at Andersonville

Andersonville National Historic Site

Andersonville National Historic Site

It’s easy to be seduced by the latest use of technology in our museums and other historic sites to get across the Civil War experience and the human cost. They are powerful tools and can be incredibly effective, but once in a while, we are reminded that the simplest approach works best. Such is the case at Andersonville National Historic Site, where they are keeping track on a daily basis the number of new prisoners admitted as well as the latest deaths and burials. It’s incredibly powerful.

I am not sure where this is situated in the visitor center, but I hope it is one of the first things that people see when they enter. It is often difficult for people to wrap their heads around large numbers, but this little display makes it easy to identify recent losses in the context of the life of the prison. If I was visiting I would immediately inquire into the names of the men who died on this day 150 years ago. How did they arrive at the prison? Where were they from? Those men would serve as my guides through the site.

I’ve never been to Andersonville, but I hope to visit one day. I applaud the NPS staff. This is a challenging commemoration, but from what I can tell they’ve got the right people on board.

A Time to Remember the Suffering of all Americans During the Civil War

Andersonville National Historic Site

Andersonville National Historic Site

We should not be surprised by the irrational response by a select few to the selection of William T. Sherman as 1864s’ Man of the Year by an audience at the Museum of the Confederacy this past weekend. I applaud the MOC for maintaining an open Facebook page to facilitate responses and the very limited positive give and take that can be found. The most extreme comments come from people who see themselves as victims of Sherman’s actions in Georgia in 1864. They are most definitely not victims.

It might be helpful to place the destruction wrought by Sherman alongside the suffering of United States soldiers at Andersonville Prison, which commenced with its sesquicentennial commemoration today. One of my readers reminded me that there was likely much more suffering within the walls of the prison than that caused by Sherman throughout Georgia in 1864. On the one hand it’s a perspective that I never considered while at the same time it means very little to me. Continue reading

Outrage Spreads Over Civil War Gift Shop

No, this is not an Onion headline.  I guess it should come as no surprise that the Gettysburg bobblehead controversy has gone viral.  The story has appeared in hundreds of newspapers across the country and beyond.  It’s nice to know that interested parties are on the job ensuring that only appropriate items are sold at a Gettysburg GIFT SHOP – a site where tens of thousands of Americans were killed and wounded.  Someone please let me know when the Iraq Sunni – Shia gift shop opens in Baghdad.

Well, at least kids will still be able to re-create the suffering of Andersonville Prison.

Please tell me this is not sold at Andersonville.  Is a JWB bobblehead really any worse than your own set of Civil War trading cards?