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How do you explain your interest in the Civil War?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by BelleBlackburn, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. BelleBlackburn

    BelleBlackburn Sergeant

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    I belong to a group of historical fiction writers. Most concentrate primarily on European history. I am one of the very few for Civil War times. When trying to explain how I landed there, I usually say it is because it is my history, happening on the ground I am standing on. I do have an interest in all the history of my place but my heart tends to be in the CW time. I know there is a better explanation. I have noticed that 150 years later there is still such emotion with this subject that does not happen with any other war. On this board or any other one, once the subject of the Civil War comes up tempers flare and keyboards catch fire. I am not sure why unless it is just the fact we were fighting ourselves, but the world wars or Korea or Vietnam do not seem to elicit this wellspring of emotion from those of us who never lived it. So why is that? And I do hope we are not about to divide again...
     

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  3. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    It's an interesting and very legitimate question. You said that, for you, it related to the ground you stand upon. It's very much like that for me, too. I grew up and still live in the town where the Civil War officially started in Missouri (it had been going on unofficially for quite a while along the Kansas border). Furthermore, the second battle in my town happened on the farm where I grew up! I always knew this in a sort of theoretical way, but not in any sort of exact, practical way. In the last year I have been blessed to see a map drawn by an Illinois soldier who was stationed at the Home Guard fort on the land where I grew up. His ability to draw things to scale made it very easy for me to superimpose his drawing over a Google satellite image of the same land! Can you imagine my feelings when I realized the old house where I grew up was on that soldier's map?!
     
  4. John Winn

    John Winn Captain

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    I think you have answered the question quite well. Veterans of all wars have deep emotions about their experience but I think it is unusual for people living 150 years later to have such feelings. For me there's my name, the fact that I was born in Georgia because John Winn moved there after the war to find work, and some other things that the war caused that had a direct effect on me and because it still affects our society today. My parents knew people who lived it. As Gary Gallagher says, our civil war is the single most important piece of our history as it defined what our country is and was the test of our existence and the grand experiment with representative democracy.

    I guess that other wars in other places have similar effects on those who live in those places, especially if there was some ethnic or religious conflict, but for us we've not had many wars on our soil and it's the only one that only involved our citizens (although for natives I suspect the Indian wars are still recent enough to be painful).
     
  5. ucvrelics.com

    ucvrelics.com Sergeant Major Forum Host

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    I got hooked when my Grandfather took my brother and I to Shiloh when I was 14 to show us where is his GGrandfather fought and died for the South. hen I saw all the rows of Union dead with there individual headstones and the the 3 trenches where the CS soldiers were dumped and buried, it did something to me that has been with me ever since. Later that day I found a minnie ball that had washed of the bank of the sunken road and Ive been a CW Amateur Archeologist ever sine.

    You are spot on as when I see the fighting to retake Mosul and remember the friends I lost when we took it the first time it reminds of the immortal words of General Patton to Montgomery. "I don't pay for the same real-estate twice"
     
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  6. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    The influence of a great scholar and teacher [who was the descendant of two confederate soldiers] at an outstanding Southern institute of higher learning.
     
  7. StephenColbert27

    StephenColbert27 First Sergeant

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    Both my Grandfathers were interested in it, and gifted me liberally with books. I also had an awesome teacher who let me read from his personal library. Between them I got to read Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War and Grant by Jean Edward Smith. Between them, I got addicted, and never looked back.
     
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  8. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    Great question! As someone who doesn't have relatives who fought in the War, my intense feelings about it reflect my intense feelings for our country and for the people, for defining who we are and what we believe. So much changed because of the Civil War and the seeds of ongoing change were planted (e.g., race relations, economics, our place as a world power). I see many people here as passionate about history, but equally passionate about learning the lessons of our history and how they impact our lives in the now.

    Did any of that make sense? I'm not sure it did to me, either.

    Adam
     
  9. jackt62

    jackt62 First Sergeant

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    I believe that the Union victory in the CW assured the future success of the American experiment, which made it possible for me and others to live the dream in our own day. That is what my interest in the CW means to me.
     
  10. amweiner

    amweiner Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    But I also remember standing on Cemetery Ridge for the first time in 1983 and feeling something inexplicable. I was hooked.
     
  11. bdietzler73

    bdietzler73 First Sergeant Forum Host

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    My dad had always tried to push me into learning about the Civil War when I was younger. With his influence and after taking a Civil War class in high school years ago I got hooked. After college classes about history and the Civil War, trips all across the country to battlefields, hundreds of books and magazine articles read and now a few written, I realize I have been with it for over 20 years. But I really have to thank my dad for getting me interested. He has been the basis for many positive things in my life and Civil War writing and learning has been a big one.
     
  12. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    First generation American, but walking around the battle grounds I feel somehow I had been there or knew someone who was there. Can not give a logical reason, only a connecting feeling. I enjoy both History and Firearms, so it is a given.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
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  13. TinCan

    TinCan Captain Forum Host

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    I love history, in all it's shapes and sizes, and to me the Civil War is a vast and never ending source for someone like me who can never get enough of it.
     
  14. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Goodness. @BelleBlackburn , if there's a divide, perhaps it's a little over how much one may call oneself a Civil War buff. Apples and oranges, on what got anyone here. I'm always smitten by the history buff who did not know they were one until meeting an ancestor at the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, on a family vacation, for instance, or the old guy you start talking to at a gas station who knows every blade of grass in the county back to Adam and Eve.

    Seems a lot of us, like Patrick and John Winn may have grown up with it. In our family, a crazy amount of connections led back to the war. Still cannot put my finger on it, seem to be living in a giant tapestry shot through with threads laid down in 1861. It's endless in scope. In two instances, you can trace fall-out in families into my generation. From a war 150 years ago. I'm still tracking down graves of family members lost to them, when these men were killed. Makes it all very close, is the thing.
     
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  15. Gladys Hodge Sherrer

    Gladys Hodge Sherrer Sergeant

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    I'd never been interested in anything military, and shunned conflict like the plague. While employed as a newspaper journalist, I met a distant cousin with a passion for family history and a great storyteller. He inspired me, eight years ago, to search out more facts surrounding the lives of our great-great grandparents who survived the Civil War. The story I uncovered and wrote, their loyalties, trials and determined spirits, has changed who I am today. My manuscript is being published this year. (See signature below for details.)
     
  16. LoriAnn

    LoriAnn Captain

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    I just like history. People in general fascinate me, so naturally the past has plenty of characters to catch one's interest.

    In fact, I had started reading and learning about the American Civil War long before I realized I had an ancestor who fought. I think it took me 2 to 3 years before I got the mind to investigate. That was a nice surprise!
     
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  17. pauleyrpt

    pauleyrpt Cadet

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    I had known almost 30 years ago that a relative had fought at Gettysburg. When my older brother broke the ice and went there a while back, I became more interested. When I finally saw a period photograph of my great grandfather on 'findagrave.com' and found out also where he's buried, that got the ball rolling. Being from Gettysburg as well, we were able to locate about 13 graves of his relatives when we visited in 2015. So it's now hook, line and sinker. My civil war library expands quick now and I look forward to exploring civilwartalk.com The philosophical premises that underlie the intensity of thought and action on both sides of this conflict speaks to ultimate complexity...OMG ...thanks so much!!
     
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  18. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    Gosh, I guess from that first visit to the Mansfield battlefield with my dad and the set of books my mom picked up at the grocery store. There was a latent interest until I took Dr. Ural's class at Sam Houston and nearly at the same time discovered my great grandfather's brother was a victim of the Great Hanging. That started me on a journey....
     
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  19. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots 1st Lieutenant

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    il_fullxfull.322900145.jpg

    I became fascinated with this book in elementary school in the 1950's. I was constantly checking it out of our school library. Soon discovered from my grandparents, they had relatives both Confederate and Union, some they could remember still living when they were children. I was hooked at a early age !
     
  20. Desert Kid

    Desert Kid Sergeant Major

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    Back in the 1990s my grandmother used to regale me of stories of our family being related to Robert E. Lee. Back then I never thought much of it.

    Not until about 2003-04, when I was in Middle School we started seriously discussing the subject, a portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest leered over my desk and that's kinda where the fascination started.

    8 years later I find out that the whole being related to General Lee thing was valid, we are distant cousins of his, a seperate line of Lees which were kin to him settled Texas before the war, and served in the Arizona Brigade and Granbury's Brigade respectively. My grandmother's great grandfather is named respectively after an Uncle who died during the war.
     
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  21. Michael W.

    Michael W. Sergeant

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    For me it started in high school U.S. history, than faded after graduation. After completing paramedic school and landing my first job in EMS, I had one week's vacation to use. I had to figure out what I would do with a week's paid vacation. I finally decided to go to Gettysburg, and that was it, I was forever hooked. After 25 years of visiting battlefields, museums, historic sites, reading countless books, re-enacting and then finally collecting artifacts, it still won't let go of me...
     
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