Those of us who have spent significant time walking Civil War battlefields know that they evoke different emotions. Much of that is the result of the broader narrative that we bring to these sites. I was reminded of this yesterday as I was writing the post on Cold Harbor and as a result of following the comments. The Cold Harbor battlefield invokes in me a feeling of dread and anxiousness that I rarely feel on other battlefields. Perhaps it’s the name or some feint memory of the voices of David McCullough and Shelby Foote from Ken Burns’s The Civil War that triggers it. Continue reading
I want to take a minute to respond to Brooks Simpson, who has apparently misinterpreted a recent post of mine in which I ask whether the Civil War Sesquicentennial is over. Here is the offending passage that seems to suggest that I don’t believe that the years 1864-65 offers anything significant to commemorate.
We’ve commemorated the trifecta of our Civil War Sesquicentennial, which in my mind includes Emancipation, Gettysburg, and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Other than the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, what else is there to acknowledge?
What I was attempting to get at in the above passage is that for many Americans the summer of 1863 represents a high point in the Civil War. In the follow-up post I briefly mentioned why I believe it might be difficult to generate the same level of enthusiasm that we’ve seen over the past two years. I attempted to convey this point this out on Sunday and earlier today (and here) on Brooks’s blog. Continue reading
Just returned from a wonderful trip back to Montreal for the Jazz Festival. This was our third trip to the city for this festival and it is one of our favorites. I love the fact that you can drive roughly five hours from Boston to a city that offers a taste of Europe. We ate ourselves silly and caught a couple of excellent shows. Here are a few links to tide you over until I get back into the swing of things.
- Brooks Simpson suggests that I missed an opportunity to comment on the presence of a black Confederate at Gettysburg. I will take a Montreal cafe over an individual that I reported on once before any day of the week.
- David Thompson interviews Carrie Janney about her new book on Civil War memory. I finished it and will write a review for the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. It goes without saying that the book is a must read.
- Andy Hall explores Paula Deen’s memory of her own family’s involvement with slavery and the process uncovers some interesting sources.
- I absolutely love the decision by the National Park Service at Gettysburg to allow the general public to recreate Pickett’s Charge rather than stage it with folks pretending to be soldiers. The former truly honors the memory of those who served.
- Check out Ed Ayers’s Banner Lecture at the VHS on the Seven Days Campaign.
- On the blogging front, Keith Harris has a new site and Jimmy Price has refocused his. Check them out.
- The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision that allows the city of Lexington to bar Confederate flags from public poles. Hopefully, that will be the last we hear of this.
Upcoming Talks: On Thursday I head out to the Framingham History Center to work with area teachers on how they can introduce students to the study of Massachusetts Civil War veterans and Civil War memory. The center utilizes the city’s GAR Hall as a museum and lecture hall and includes a soldier statue by Martin Milmore out front. Given the subject of my presentation I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate setting and we will certainly make good use of it.
Those of you in the Boston area can catch me at the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation area on July 21. I am going to talk a bit about the Civil War Sesquicentennial and local sites related to Civil War memory. Should be fun.
Hope all of you are enjoying the summer.
You heard that right. It was just a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of basing a reality TV show around the eccentricities and annoying behavior of history buffs. Here is the description for the casting call:
Are you a curious person, and obsessed with history? Can you recite facts inside and out, and name-drop (and even date-drop) with the best of them? Do your friends at trivia night, dare we say it, label you as the history buff? Maybe you’re not a full-blown “buff” but if you like history and get psyched at the idea of even visiting a museum, or actually read those placards on your tour, then we want to meet you…virtually for now though.
It goes without saying that Civil War enthusiasts occupy a unique place along the history buff spectrum. For this show to have any chance of success they are going to need at least one and perhaps three participants from this quarter. This morning I tweeted the announcement and John Hennessy quickly responded with a suggestion, which I am in complete agreement with:
— John Hennessy (@JohnHennessy2) April 2, 2013
John nailed it. Brooks would be a formidable player. So, who would you like to see represent our little community on this show? Remember, this is all in good fun.
The end of my first full year of living in Boston and what a year it’s been. It should come as no surprise that the highlight of the past year was the publication of my first book in June. I’ve always loved the social aspect of doing history, whether its teaching in the classroom, working with history teachers or lecturing in public. I’ve met some wonderful people this year and I thank each and every one of you for purchasing a copy. Based on the few notices I’ve received from the publisher it looks like sales have been brisk. I am hoping that my royalty check at least allows me to take my wife out for a really nice dinner next month.
As for 2013 I am looking forward to working with the Massachusetts Historical Society on some programs for teachers as well as the Massachusetts 150 Commission. On the writing front I am hoping to complete the Confederate camp servants book and finish up with editing the letters of Captain John Christopher Winsmith. We shall see. For now I want to thank all of you for continuing to visit Civil War Memory. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been at this thing called blogging for over seven years now. Happy Holidays to you and your family.
…and now to the list.