The Battle on the Civil War Battlefields

Shortly after the publication of Common-place’s special issue on the Civil War sesquicentennial I was contacted by Timothy Good, who is currently the superintendent at the Ulysses S. Grant Historic Site. He wanted to respond to John Hennessy’s essay on the challenges of interpreting the Civil War on National Park Service battlefields. I suggested he write a response as a guest post for this blog, which is featured below for your consideration. Continue reading “The Battle on the Civil War Battlefields”

“My Great-Great Grandfather Didn’t Own Slaves” (So What)

I’ve said it before, but I don’t mind repeating that no one has taught me more about the challenges of interpreting the Civil War at America’s battlefields than John Hennessy. John’s contribution to Common-place explores some of the more recent sticking points that have arisen as a result of shifts in battlefield interpretation away from the original intention behind the creation of or national battlefield parks. National Park Service historians have fully embraced an expansive interpretation of the events that transpired on their landscapes that go beyond the experience of the soldiers without any reference to causes and consequences. Continue reading ““My Great-Great Grandfather Didn’t Own Slaves” (So What)”

Common-place Marks the Civil War 150 with Special Issue

I couldn’t be more excited to share Common-place’s latest issue on the Civil War sesquicentennial that I had the pleasure to edit with Megan Kate Nelson. We are confident that each of you will find something of interest in this issue. The essays cover a wide range of topics and will hopefully both enlighten and entertain. Special thanks to all the contributors to this issue. We had the pleasure to work with an incredibly talented group of historians and educators, who were both committed to producing their best work and patient with our suggestions and numerous emails. Thanks also to the wonderful editorial staff at Common-place, especially Paul Erickson and Trudy Powers. Continue reading “Common-place Marks the Civil War 150 with Special Issue”

Common-place Commemorates Civil War at 150

logo-cp-civilIn a few weeks the online journal, Common-place, will publish a special issue on the Civil War Sesquicentennial that Megan Kate Nelson and I edited. The issue features essays by Caroline Janney, Ari Kelman, Manisha Sinha, John Hennessy, among others. They cover a wide range of topics that will be of interest to academic and public historians, educators, and Civil War enthusiasts.

Megan and I are very excited about this project and are very much looking forward to its publication. For now we wanted to give you a little taste of the issue by sharing our Editors’ Note.

The Civil War at 150: Memory and Meaning

The making of Civil War memory began not only after the war ended, but also in camps, on battlefields, and in homes across the nation as early as the spring of 1861. Officers wrote battle reports and soldiers jotted down diary entries, describing their experiences and shaping the war’s many histories. They picked up cotton bolls and shards of trees, bullets and buttons, and sent these souvenirs home as records of their wartime experiences. After 1865, veterans and their families pondered these relics and thought about their wartime experiences, telling stories and sharing memories of those who had fallen in battle. Continue reading “Common-place Commemorates Civil War at 150”

Reality TV Show For Historians?

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 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.