Civil War Memory 101 (Week 6)

This discussion will take place on twitter on Sunday, May 3 at 8pm on Twitter using the hashtag #CWM101.

We are now more than halfway through Caroline Janney’s book, Remembering the Civil War: Reconciliation and the Limits of Reunion. This week we will discuss chapter 6. This chapter addresses the thesis at the center of the book and highlights the importance of distinguishing between reunion and reconciliation. Even as veterans embraced one another in the spirit of reconciliation at reunions and monument dedications, it did not extinguish lingering feelings of bitterness. Indeed, it may have deepened the resentment between one-time enemies.

Reading Questions

  • What motivated veterans to want to meet one another on the old battlefields beginning in the 1880s?
  • How did reconciliationist rhetoric among Union veterans bolster the Lost Cause narrative?
  • How was memory of the battlefield dead transformed by reconciliationist rhetoric during the 1880s?
  • How and why did Ulysses S. Grant’s death become a symbol of reconciliation?
  • How important were business interests in encouraging reconciliationist sentiment throughout the country during the 1880s?
  • Why did the dedication of monuments to Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia raise such strong feelings of bitterness among northern veterans?
  • In what ways did the dedication of the Chickamauga battlefield reflect the continuing challenges of balancing reunion and reconciliation among veterans and Americans generally by the 1890s?

Further Reading

Primary Sources

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

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