It’s Hard To Think About Black Confederates…

when you are surrounded by so much history.  I’ve always been attracted to the history in my immediate surroundings.  It’s what connects me to my community and/or allows me to make sense of things.  Even when I travel overseas and for however brief a period of time, I find myself knee deep in local history.  Since moving to Boston three weeks ago I’ve been reading local history non-stop.  I just finished Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson and Richard Archer’s, As If an Enemy’s Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution.  I am now reading Stephen Puleo’s book about the second half of the nineteenth century, titled, A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900.  In short, I am overwhelmed by so much history.

The original plan was to take the next year to write a book-length study of black Confederates.  I have to admit, however, that my ability to concentrate on this subject has been seriously compromised.  The book needs to be written, but I am beginning to doubt that I am the person to do it.  I recently learned that James Hogue has been working on just such a study, but I have no idea where he is with it.  His book, Uncivil War: Five New Orleans Street Battles and the Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction, is an excellent study that challenges our tendency to draw a sharp line between the Civil War and Reconstruction.  I still don’t know where I am on this project, but that I am even questioning it should give you some sense of how the move has refocused me.

On Monday I am heading to the Concord Museum to check out a new exhibit on the Civil War.  Following that I will head on over to the public library to meet with someone in their special collections department.  I’ve become very interested in writing a community study and Concord may be just the ticket. Not much has been written about the community and the Civil War, though I learned that one study is close to completion.  I am specifically interested in looking at the immediate postwar years as well as commemorative events in the area.  Stay tuned.

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18 comments… add one
  • Jim Aug 1, 2011 @ 18:02

    I personally think that there were many more fighting with the Confederacy than previously thought.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 1, 2011 @ 18:04

      I am not sure how to interpret your comment.

  • Larry Cebula Jul 26, 2011 @ 21:47

    I hope you do the book, the world needs the kind of case-by-case debunking this myth that you are so qualified to provide.

    Hey, a few weeks ago I saw a special exhibit about Provincetown in the Civil War at the monument museum. It wasn’t that great but it was interesting and is a great excuse to take the ferry across to Cape Cod. You should check it out. It does have the coolest regimental flag in the whole war:

    • Kevin Levin Jul 27, 2011 @ 1:34

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Larry. I may have to check it out. I am impressed with the number of small Civil War exhibits that dot the New England landscape.

      • James F. Epperson Jul 27, 2011 @ 3:04

        I went to a family wedding in VT a couple of months ago. While driving from the airport to the weddin site, I went past a town center with a monument to the glorious Vermont heroes of 1861-1865. I’m more used to seeing those, albeit with a slightly different editorial message, down south.

      • Ray O'Hara Jul 27, 2011 @ 7:12

        If your in the Boston-Cambridge area go see
        Ft Washington on Putnam Street in Cambridge,
        It’s the last remaining earthwork from the 1775 Siege of Boston.
        It’s very easy to find. It is a small rectangle and looks just like a fort one would find around Richmond-Petersburg.. it was right on the river bank when built bu tit’s an 8th of a mile away.

        there is unfortunately no museum just a plaque but the DPW maintains it.
        and its open day or night

        • Kevin Levin Jul 27, 2011 @ 7:14

          Thanks Ray. I will check it out next time I am in the area.

  • Rob Jul 26, 2011 @ 10:56

    well if it helps. I came across two individuals portraying black confederates at the Manassas Reenactment.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 26, 2011 @ 11:04

      I noticed at least one in a video of the Manassas reenactment.

  • TF Smith Jul 26, 2011 @ 7:59

    Good point; if your work and Hogue’s were published around the same time, you could get one of those “two-fer” reviews explaining how you’d BOTH gotten it wrong in Southern Partisan or the like!

    • Andy Hall Jul 26, 2011 @ 8:34

      If Kevin’s book prompted a spittle-flecked screed in the Southern Partisan, it would be a smart marketing more to put a blurb from that on the jacket of the second edition.

      • Kevin Levin Jul 26, 2011 @ 8:42

        Even better I could place a blurb from the Southern Heritage Preservation folks. 🙂

  • Kevin Levin Jul 26, 2011 @ 6:29

    I appreciate the feedback.

  • Andy Hall Jul 26, 2011 @ 6:13

    I agree with the others; your work on “black Confederates” needs to continue, whether it ultimately ends up in a book or some other form. It’s a subject that needs more eyes on it, not fewer.

    Anyway, if Professor Hogue’s effort appears first, you’ll be in a great position to explain how he got it all wrong. 😉

  • James F. Epperson Jul 26, 2011 @ 2:49

    Focus, dude, focus!

  • TF Smith Jul 25, 2011 @ 15:59

    Totally understand, but sure hope you do the BCM; it would be very useful. Even a long journal article, as opposed to a monograph, would be a good piece of scholarship – or a version pitched at the secondary level.


    • Kevin Levin Jul 25, 2011 @ 16:38

      I definitely didn’t mean to suggest that I am completing giving up the subject. It is important on a number of different levels.

  • Margaret D. Blough Jul 23, 2011 @ 15:45

    It’s hard to concentrate on one historical period in an area steeped in another era. I grew up in French and Indian War country myself. We lived less that 10 miles from the section of Route 30 that follows the Forbes Trail. It wasn’t until I moved to south-central PA that I got interested in the Civil War.

    Try to focus, though. I think you’d write a great book on Black Confederates.

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