Crater 150 Talk on C-SPAN3 Tonight

Just in case you have absolutely nothing else to do tonight C-SPAN3 will air (10:15pm) the talk I recently delivered in Petersburg as part of the 150th anniversary of the battle of the Crater. In fact, C-SPAN is going to re-run the commemorative ceremony that took place on July 30 as well as Emmanuel Dabney’s CWI talk on the Crater beforehand. Yes, it’s an entire evening devoted to the Crater in history and memory. Continue reading “Crater 150 Talk on C-SPAN3 Tonight”

Embracing the Safety of Reconciliation in Petersburg

Here is the link to the commemoration ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of the battle of the Crater. The event was organized by the National Park Service and held on the Crater battlefield this past July 30. A nice size crowd attended the event and I was quite impressed by the number of African Americans who were in the audience. Yes, that fact bears mentioning if you’ve spent enough time at these events. Overall, the speakers did a good job and there were a few highlights for me, but overall the speakers struck a reconciliationist tone that avoided the tough questions that the anniversary of this particular battle raises.  Continue reading “Embracing the Safety of Reconciliation in Petersburg”

“From the Colored Citizens of Virginia”

Mahone RingAs you might imagine, William Mahone was front and center last week in Petersburg for the 150th anniversary of the battle of the Crater. His memory looms large over the history of the battle as well as how the battle was remembered after the war. I talked quite a bit about Mahone’s postwar political career as leader of the Readjuster Party as well as his attempts to use the memory of the battle to further his interests. As you will see on August 20 (when C-SPAN will broadcast the talk) the Q&A following the talk was dominated by the audience’s interest in Mahone and I was more than happy to oblige.

Earlier that morning during a panel discussion on the battle a gentleman, who styles himself a local historian, handed out a little pamphlet that featured a cane with a silver tip that was given to Mahone as a gift by a group of black Virginians. This short leaflet includes some choice quotes and commentary that this individual believes reflects a close relationship between Mahone and the black community. The danger, of course, is that this ring can be used to draw any number of conclusions without attention to proper historical context. And context is everything in this case. Continue reading ““From the Colored Citizens of Virginia””

This Is How Grayson Jennings Defends His Heritage

Why am I not surprised that Virginia Flagger, Grayson Jennings, has taken to social media to vent about my appearance in Petersburg this past week for the 150th anniversary of the battle of the Crater. As I mentioned in my last post, he had every opportunity to engage me following my talk on Friday evening, which was recorded by C-SPAN and slated to air the week of August 18. The potential was there for a very public challenge to the specifics of what I had to say and to my presence generally. Instead, we were treated to SILENCE. Continue reading “This Is How Grayson Jennings Defends His Heritage”

Thank You Petersburg

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia (August 1, 2014)

As much as I Iove living in Boston I’ve missed the opportunity to take part in sesquicentennial events here in Virginia over the past few years. Spending the week here in Petersburg for the 150th anniversary of the Crater has been especially gratifying. It was so nice having the opportunity to spend time with friends and interact with fellow Civil War enthusiasts on the battlefield and other programs. Continue reading “Thank You Petersburg”