The most recent issue of The Civil War Monitor contains a letter-to-the-editor about a recent essay of mine on Confederate camp servants [Spring 2013]. From Mr. John H. Whitfield:
While the article was enlightening on the issue of enslaved Africans who were wartime “body servants,” it presented a rather narrow view of the panoply of roles in which the enslaved were critical to the Rebel war effort. For instance, the impressment of slaves, authorized throughout the Confederacy in 1862, sent countless men to construct earthworks at various strategic locations.
The latest issue of the Magazine of History will be mailed to subscribers in the coming day and it’s a good one. This is the second in a series of Civil War themed issues that will be published throughout the Civil War 150th. This issue focuses specifically on the mobilization of war and includes essays by Joseph Glatthaar, Thavolia Glymph, Louis Masur, and Joan Cashin. Carol Sheriff served as the guest editor and did a great job of pulling everything together. I greatly appreciate the invitation to contribute an essay to this issue.
My essay, “Teaching Civil War Mobilization With Film,” offers teachers strategies for introducing this subject through such movies as Gone With the Wind, Shenandoah, and Glory. I also focus a bit on the importance of treating these films as cultural artifacts that must be interpreted as reflections of the time in which they were produced. All too often students passively observe films and arrive at the mistaken belief that what they are seeing is history.
“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.