As always thanks for purchasing books and other products through my Amazon Associate account. My commissions come in the form of book credits, which allows me to purchase two or three books for free.
Frances M. Clarke, War Stories: Suffering and Sacrifice in the Civil War North, (University of Chicago Press, 2011).
William J. Cooper, We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861, (Knopf, 2012).
Rebecca (Becky!) Ann Goetz, The Baptism of Early Virginia: How Christianity Created Race, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).
D. Scott Hartwig, To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).
Stephen Kantrowitz, More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889, (Penguin, 2012).
Louis P. Masur, Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union, (Harvard University Press, 2012).
This guest post is by Adam Arenson, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War, about the Civil War Era as a battle of three competing visions — that of the North, South, and West. More at http://adamarenson.com.
This is the third in a series.
Walking around the Antietam battlefield, envisioning the bloodiest day in U.S. history, one is hard-pressed for a moment of levity. There is Bloody Lane, the cornfield, and Burnside Bridge, a deceptively idyllic crossing of Antietam Creek. (If you don’t know why it looks familiar, glance at the cover of James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom). Site after site is linked to death and suffering, carnage beyond belief.
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According to Brian Schoeneman it does. That name might right a bell for regular readers of CWM. On occasion, Brian has commented not so much on the content of my posts, but on my handling of various discussion threads. Brian is a candidate for Virginia House of Delegates in Fairfax, Virginia. Recently he toured South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam with Scott Manning. As a campaign promise, Brian promised the following:
I asked Brian if he was surprised at the lack of Confederate monuments. “Actually, I am. It kinda annoys me. There are about a zillion Union monuments here. Granted, the North took more casualties at Antietam, but they had more guys to lose.” He recalled one of the informational markers he read, “The Army of Northern Virginia lost about a quarter of their strength and the Army of the Potomac lost about an eighth. It was much harder for the South to replace those casualties than it was for the North.” Brian clarified that, if elected, he planned to introduce legislation next year to place a Virginia state monument on the battlefield in commemoration of the sesquicentennial. I pointed out that such a move could backfire if not done properly and he interrupted me, “There’s nothing political about recognizing that folks in the army of the state that I’m from fought here and died here. They deserve to be remembered regardless of what side they fought on and it bothers me there is nothing here, because I know there are plenty at Gettysburg.”
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[Hat-Tip to Caleb McDaniel at Clippings]
Today’s editorial in the New York Times serves as a reminder of just how easily we can sink into conceptual confusion when trying to make sense of the ongoing wave of fear surrounding the building of an Islamic Cultural Center in the vicinity of “Ground Zero”:
As the site of America’s bloodiest terrorist attack, New York had a great chance to lead by example. Too bad other places are ahead of us. Muslims hold daily prayer services in a chapel in the Pentagon, a place also hallowed by 9/11 dead. The country often has had the wisdom to choose graciousness and reconciliation over triumphalism, as is plain from the many monuments to Confederate soldiers in northern states, including the battlefield at Gettysburg.
The analogy simply doesn’t work because Muslims (Islam) did not attack the United States on September 11, 2001. McDaniel is correct in pointing out that the very analogy “undercuts the editorial’s absolutely correct insistence that (despite what a dismaying number of New Yorkers and Americans believe) ‘Muslim’ does not mean ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist sympathizer.’” Finally, anyone familiar with the evolution of monument building on the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields would not fall into the trap of characterizing it as reflecting “graciousness and reconciliation over triumphalism.”
Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day in Sharpsburg, Maryland and Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The reason for my visit was a chance to spend time with the students in Prof. Mark Snell’s course on the Civil War and memory. I spent a beautiful morning alone on the Antietam battlefield with my handy copy of Ethan Rafuse’s new guidebook, which I think is excellent. Ethan knows the battlefield well and does an effective job of positioning the visitor in places that are ideal for understanding the ebb and flow of battle. I walked and read my way through much of the Morning Phase of the battle and had no problem losing myself in the sun and history.
By the time I had worked up a healthy appetite it was time for lunch with everyone’s favorite NPS Ranger, Mannie Gentile. I’ve only met Mannie once before and that was a very brief meeting. That said, Mannie is one of those guys whose personality shines through on his blog and that translates into feeling like you’ve known him for some time. I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and especially the conversation. It’s always nice to spend time with people who do what they love. It shines through. The NPS is lucky to have Mannie on board now as a full-time employee and I look forward to my next visit with him. After lunch we stopped by to see Ted Alexander. I haven’t seen Ted in a number of years, but he is the man who is responsible for introducing me to the war back in 1993. I am forever grateful for Ted’s encouragement of my early research interests and for opening up the archives whenever I was in town.
Continue reading “A Glorious Day in Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown”