Essay on John Bowie Magruder Uploaded

I wrote the first draft of this essay on the colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry during a summer seminar that I took with Gary Gallagher in 2001. It was my first attempt at writing something substantial after moving to Charlottesville in 2000. Up until then I had written a bunch of book reviews and a couple of short articles for The Washington Times. Magruder was an ideal subject. He left a body of incredibly rich letters, which are currently housed at UVA’s Special Collections. Continue reading “Essay on John Bowie Magruder Uploaded”

Civil War Institute, 2014

Back in Boston after 5 days at Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute. I am exhausted and recharged. All of my presentations went well and I heard some wonderful talks, a few of which you can find on C-SPAN 3. Here are just a couple brief observations about the conference, which focused on the war in 1864. Continue reading “Civil War Institute, 2014”

Gettysburg Bound

After three straight days of end-of-the-year faculty meetings I am very much looking forward to a long and quiet drive tomorrow morning to the annual Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. This is my third year taking part in the conference as a member of the faculty. It’s been an incredible experience and I want to once again thank Peter Carmichael and the rest of the staff for the honor of being asked to participate.  Continue reading “Gettysburg Bound”

There Are No Monuments To Deserters on Civil War Battlefields

Regardless of the assumptions and background knowledge that we bring, the presence of monuments on our Civil War battlefields may be one of the greatest obstacles to understanding the full range of soldier experiences. The monuments allow us to focus in on the most heroic stories and themes, which no doubt reinforces feelings of national pride and an understanding of what kind of behavior is expected. Such a focus, however, comes at the price of ignoring moments when soldiers fall short of what is expected of them in the heat of battle. Normally, we can safely ignore such moments, but it’s not so easy when one is thrust on us as is the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who reportedly abandoned his station in Afghanistan and spent five years as a Taliban Prisoner of War. Continue reading “There Are No Monuments To Deserters on Civil War Battlefields”

Recently Published Civil War Books in 2002

Al Mackey has been posting old CSPAN videos of various Civil War events some of which are quite interesting. I perused the CSPAN archives and came across this session from one of Gary Gallagher’s UVA conferences on the Fredericksburg Campaign from 2002. The session features Gary along with Bob Krick, George Rable, R.E.L. Krick, Bill Bergen and Peter Carmichael.

The panelists discuss books that had then had just recently been published, including David Blight’s Race and Reunion, which was about a year old at the time. There is a wonderful exchange between Bob Krick and Peter about Paul Anderson’s study of Turner Ashby, which is a wonderful book. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting to see how the field has evolved in the past ten years.