Monday, October 29, 2018

Selby on Meade: War Scholar Podcast

My friend John Selby, a professor at Roanoke College, recently spoke with Cris Alverez at the War Scholar podcast about his new book Meade: The Price of Command from Kent State University Press. John's take on Meade goes against the conventional grain and provides a more positive view of the Pennsylvanian than we are used to hearing. An interesting discussion - definitely worth a listen.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

More Books: Denmark Vesey's Garden, Reed's Combined Operations, and Chesson on Richmond

Between breaks in work on my North Carolina book, I've tried to read a few titles that do not prominently feature George Pickett, Benjamin Butler, or Robert Hoke. Here are some I've found particularly interesting:

Denmark Vesey’s GardenDenmark Vesey's Garden:  Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy
by Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts 

This book is getting a lot of well-deserved buzz. In a straightforward, accessible style, Kytle and Roberts trace how citizens of Charleston remembered slavery and commemorated the war. It begins with the 2015 murders at Mother Emanuel Church and then goes back to trace through the days of John Calhoun, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights era - and then returns to the present. Among many other things, the book describes competing commemorations following the war, debates about monument construction and retention, and the interpretation of the past offered up by tour guides and museums. With Denmark Vesey's Garden, Kytle and Roberts join David Blight, Caroline Janney, Carol Reardon, Kevin Levin, and others in providing an important contribution to the study of Civil War memory.

Combined Operations in the Civil War
by Rowena Reed

This title, first published in 1978 by Naval Institute Press, should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in coastal military operations during the Civil War. Reed, a Dartmouth history professor who died early in her career, left us with a detailed, well-researched study of combined operations during the war. Over the years, the book has received criticism for overplaying George McClellan's strategic plans and, in particular, exaggerating his vision for operations against the the Confederate coastline. Whether you agree with Reed's take on Little Mac or not, the book is well worth your while. Not only does it thoughtfully discuss the broader strategic and operational issues associated with Union coastal efforts, it also delves into the important details of campaigns in North Carolina, on the Peninsula in Virginia, along the Mississippi, in and around Charleston Harbor, and at Fort Fisher. It has wonderful maps too. 

Richmond After the War, 1865-1890
by Michael B. Chesson

I stumbled on this title while looking for studies about Richmond during Reconstruction. Published by the Library of Virginia (the Virginia State Library) in 1982, it covers the economic, political, and social developments in the former Confederate capital during the latter half of the 19th century. Among other things, Chesson describes the turbulence of Reconstruction in the city, the struggles of black citizens against the rise of Jim Crow, the brief emergence of the Readjusters in Virginia, and the dedication of the Robert E. Lee monument in 1890. In reflecting on this period, Chesson argues that the growing attachment of Richmond's ruling majority to the culture of the Lost Cause in the 1880's and 1890's blunted the city's ability to modernize and prosper in the decades following the Confederacy's demise.