My good friend, Megan Kate Nelson, has fired the first solid shot in response to essays on the state of Civil War military history published in The Journal of the Civil War Era and Civil War History. The former was authored by Gary Gallagher and Katy Meier and the latter was written by Earl Hess. I encourage you to head on over to Megan’s blog to read her post as well as the thoughtful responses. I’ve had a chance to read both essays, but other than a brief post have not offered anything more comprehensive. While I do believe that both essays offer quite a bit to consider, the authors unfortunately frame their arguments in ways that make it easy for readers to dismiss as reflective of little more than a turf war. I am not interested in wading into the value of Traditional vs. new Military History or what Hess calls War Studies. My shelves are lined with books about military leaders, battles/campaigns, politics, cultural and social studies and memory. They cover the short and long war and everything in between. It’s all interesting and important to me. Continue reading “In Defense of Hess, Gallagher, and Meier”
Michael C.C. Adams, Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014).
Shauna Devine, Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
Michael Kreyling, A Late Encounter with the Civil War (University of Georgia Press, 2013).
Louis P. Masur, The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America (Bloomsbury Press, 2008).
K. Stephen Prince, Stories of the South: Race and the Reconstruction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
Brian Steel Wills, Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).
I don’t know when this interview with Gary Gallagher took place, but this little comment caught my attention in response to the question of where further research is most needed.
I’m not sure there is a big hole in the literature that’s just crying out to be filled. What’s interesting is that a book occasionally will come out, and you’ll think, “Wow!” I think that applies to my student Adrian Brettle’s topic, Confederate expansionist ambitions. Why hasn’t somebody written about that? We know a good bit about antebellum southern expansionist sentiment, but the wartime continuation of that sentiment has gone largely unexplored.
The desire to unite all the slaveholding states into one nation has been discussed in connection with Confederate military strategy, but I would love to read something that connects to the antebellum period. After all, the sectional rift was essentially over the expansion of the nation into the western territories and we know that many in the Deep South looked south for additional territory to expand.
Confederates had every reason to believe that they would be victorious in the war so it would not be surprising to learn that politicians and other leaders discussed expansionist opportunities that would arise as a result.
Update: Check out Drew Faust’s review of David Brion Davis’s new book.
This C-SPAN Booknotes interview with historian Drew Faust goes back to the publication of her 1996 book, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. In 1996 I was working at Borders Books & Music in Rockville, Maryland. The store included an incredible American History section, which fueled my interest in the war. This was the second book that I read after McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. It’s a wonderful book even though its central thesis has been challenged and a great place to start if you are interested in Southern women during the Civil War. Continue reading “Drew Faust Talks About Mothers of Invention”
When it came to choosing someone to write the Afterword for Common-place’s issue on the Civil War sesquicentennial, Megan Kate Nelson and I both agreed that it had to be Stephen Berry. Stephen is a first-rate scholar and a wonderful writer. He was a great sport given that we weren’t able to send the essays to him until the tail end of the editing process, but somehow he managed to say something meaningful about the major themes covered. Continue reading “The State of Civil War Historiography & Where It Might Be Heading”