Tag Archives: James I. Robertson

“We Are A Remembering People”

The following video was produced by the National Park Service and offers some scenes from yesterday’s opening ceremony marking the sesquicentennial of the Overland Campaign. It features excerpts from addresses by Northeast Regional Director Mike Caldwell, Park Superintendent Lucy Lawliss, FRSP Chief Historian John Hennessy, RNBP Ranger Alshley Whitehead Luskey, and Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr.  Well done. Continue reading

Civil War Memory Roundup

Bagpiper at Wilderness 150 Commemoration

Bagpiper at Wilderness 150 Commemoration

Following in the footsteps of a few of my fellow bloggers with a short post on items from the past week that for one reason or another didn’t warrant a full post.

General News

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A Black Confederate Flashback

Yesterday I spent some time working on the section of my black Confederate book that deals with the 2010 Virginia textbook controversy involving author Joy Masoff. I am sure most of you remember.

While doing a search for additional information about the scope of the news coverage following the publication of the initial Washington Post article I came across this local news interview with Civil War historian James I. Robertson. It’s a real gem and one that I’ve never seen. Robertson’s initial response is priceless: “I don’t even want to know his name.”

But For Jackson

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville and we are already being subjected to a steady stream of interpretive flights of fancy surrounding the significance of Stonewall Jackson’s death.

Although it was not evident at the time, some historians believe Jackson’s death began the ruin of the Confederacy. The Southern disaster at Gettysburg two months later only confirmed the start of the eclipse.  “The road to Appomattox [where the war ended] began on [that] Saturday night” at Chancellorsville, James I. Robertson Jr., Jackson’s best biographer, has said. “With his death, the southern confederacy began to die as well.”

“It was just a tragedy for the South,” Robertson said in an interview, “the greatest personal loss that the South suffered in that war . . . a horrible blow.”  Civil War scholar Robert K. Krick said: “It’s hard to imagine the war going the way it did with Jackson present.”

I guess it should come as no surprise that Robertson and Krick are leading the way.  Upcoming editorials will likely wax poetic about Jackson’s flank attack on May 2 and his final hours at Guinea Station and ignore or run rough shod over the fighting that took place the following day, which was significantly more important.  We do love our stories.

Stonewall Jackson’s Black Friend

Update: Richard Williams has decided to respond to this post on his blog. What I find interesting is that he has nothing to say about the content of the post. Instead he takes issue with one of my comments about my characterization of his understanding of the influence of Nat Turner’s Rebellion on race/slavery and religion in Virginia.  Williams declares that many academics are “cynical” about attempts on the part of slaveholders to teach the gospel yet he provides not a single reference.  It is unclear as to why this should matter to begin with. Their attitude is irrelevant.  What matters is the interpretation.  A quick perusal of the bibliography points to an over reliance on relatively few secondary sources, which is why I take issue with his analysis of religion in a slaveholding society.  There simply isn’t much to work with.  I will leave it to you to judge.

Jim Lewis and Jackson in "Gods and Generals".

Jim Lewis and Jackson in “Gods and Generals”.

My recent essay on Confederate camp servants in The Civil War Monitor opens with a reference to an account in Edward Porter Alexander’s Fighting for the Confederacy.  In it he discusses the purchase of a camp servant named Charley and a horse.  Interestingly, Alexander refers to both as an “appendage”.  That reference, I believe, tells us a great deal about race relations in the South as well as the value of enslaved blacks to the Confederate war effort and individual officers who utilized personal servants.  Continue reading