It’s hard to believe that as of today I have been blogging for six years. Those six years include 2,400 posts, just under 1 million visits and roughly 25,000 comments. Thanks once again to all of you who make this site part of your daily routine. It goes without saying that this past year has seen its share of excitement and unexpected change, but I am looking forward with a great deal of enthusiasm to the coming year and the publication of my first book in June 2012. I still enjoy blogging, but more importantly, I believe the site continues to serve an important function in the blogosphere and beyond. What I do here continues to put me in touch with new people and opportunities to share my passion for history and teaching with the broader public. I love the fact that Civil War Memory continues to make people think, laugh, and yes, even lash out in anger. It suggests that I am doing something right.
It’s not easy having to face the constant taunting and hate-filled messages, which suggest that I am somehow “anti-Southern” or out to attack Southern history and culture. Even after moving to the beautiful city of Boston much of what I love to read about relates to the rich history of the American South. Right now I am in the middle of Adam Arenson’s new study of St. Louis, The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2011).
So, just in case you doubt my commitment I am displaying the following banner for the remainder of the day. I am confident that I am following the rules governing its display:
Permission is not granted to use these badges on blogs or websites that would bring dishonor to the South, or to Southerners and their history, heritage and culture, or to use them in any other dishonorable manner.
Of course, I know my regular readers have not lost faith that I’ve lost my way, but I guess this has created some amount of self-doubt.
Just a quick note for those of you who may have been just a bit confused when logging onto Civil War Memory today. You will notice that the blog is no longer the default landing page. I am beginning to think of Civil War Memory as more than just a blog. It’s still the core of the site, but you will notice that I created a page for my forthcoming book on the Crater and I hope at some point soon to create a page for some of my favorite classroom lesson plans. I want this site to be a resource for k-12 history teachers and others in the field. It should also more effectively reflect my own work as a teacher, public speaker, and historian.
I am still in the beginning stages of thinking through this shift in focus so be prepared for continuous changes to the site and perhaps a few breakdowns. Of course, I would love to hand this project over to a professional, but I simply do not have the funds for it, so I will rely on my own meager web skills.
Feel free to offer suggestions.
Dimitri Rotov has a fiery post up that evaluates Joseph Glatthaar’s recent scholarship – specifically his use of statistical analysis in his recent studies. It’s a worthwhile read, though Rotov chose to embeds his analysis in his vaguely-defined “Centennialist” school paradigm. He begins with this little gem:
“Joseph T. Glatthaar is an early middle-aged Centennialist being groomed by Gary Gallagher to walk in the shoes of himself, Sears, McPherson, and the old storytellers – Williams, Williams, Catton, etc.”
I’m sure Glatthaar would find such an evaluation of his career as laughable, but this sort of critique is standard in Rotov’s arsenal. In the end, it fails to shed any light at all on Glatthaar’s scholarship. We do get closer to a formal critique re: Glatthaar’s citing of casualty figures in General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse. Rotov begins by taking Glatthaar to task for his imprecise citation of casualty figures and his failure to utilize Thomas Livermore’s Numbers and Losses. Rotov didn’t bother to look up Glatthaar’s references for his Cedar
Creek Mountain, but it only takes a few seconds to learn that they were pulled out of one of the appendices in Robert K. Krick’s, Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain. It’s not clear to me what exactly is problematic with citing one of the authorities on this particular battle.
Today I received the latest issue of the journal, Civil War History, which includes a roundtable discussion about the First Battle of Bull Run. The panelists include John Hennessy, Ethan Rafuse, and fellow blogger, Harry Smeltzer. [I should point out that both Rafuse and Hennessy manage blogs, but they have published on the battle while it is his blog that singles Harry out as an authority.] Lesley Gordon’s vision for the journal is beginning to take shape and I couldn’t be more pleased that she is inviting folks from outside the community of academic historians to take part. The choice to include Harry, whose blog is about First Bull Run, suggests that blogging has the potential to open new doors for those who demonstrate competency in their preferred subject area. I don’t think it would be a stretch to suggest that what we have before us is an example of peer review.
Most Civil War bloggers do a good job of expressing their passion for the subject. Very few actually add to our understanding of the Civil War and this is just fine. The beauty of the format is that one can blog for any reason whatsoever, but it is always nice to see when the hard work leads to new opportunities.