What Is the Future of Confederate History?

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White Flint Bill

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Dr. Ayers will be in Gettysburg next week, so maybe I'll ask him for a preview. :D
I just saw him give a talk in South Boston Thursday night. It was not on this subject but he did mention how the meaning of Confederate monuments had changed over time, with young white kids no longer being interested in them. He also mentioned that those who still have some respect for the Confederate symbols and heritage are having to wrestle with seeing Confederate flags mingled with Edited flags in the Charlottesville protests.

I hope this talk in Richmond will be recorded.
 
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White Flint Bill

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I don't know what "the future of Confederate history" is but I do know there are authors and publishers still putting out good books and articles about the military history of the Civil War which of course includes both Confederate and Union history. I am thrilled at that because that's probably the first thing that is gonna be lost. We are already seeing that right here in CWT imo. May already be lost in the educational system for all I know. Hard to discuss without getting into modern politics,so I am gonna leave my comments at that.
I think the work being done on military history per se will increasingly fall on those who are not professionally trained academic historians. There is very little interest in traditional military history in the academy. I don't see this as a problem, as there is plenty of first-rate research and writing being done on battles and tactics by "amateur" historians.
 

Pat Young

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Virginia, during the sesquicentennial, acquired over a hundred thousand pages of previously unknown and unpublished letters and diaries that people had in their attics and other parts of their homes. They all deal with Virginia soldiers, both Union and confederate, as well as soldiers who served in Virginia during the war. This document trove will remain a rich resource for years to come.
It is interesting to think there are “new” sources.
 

jgoodguy

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I don't know what "the future of Confederate history" is but I do know there are authors and publishers still putting out good books and articles about the military history of the Civil War which of course includes both Confederate and Union history. I am thrilled at that because that's probably the first thing that is gonna be lost. We are already seeing that right here in CWT imo. May already be lost in the educational system for all I know. Hard to discuss without getting into modern politics,so I am gonna leave my comments at that.
On the political side, IMHO, the future will be in looking at the South as the norm in the mid 19th century and the North as the odd man, a revolutionary outlier that became the norm.
 
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ForeverFree

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I don't know what "the future of Confederate history" is but I do know there are authors and publishers still putting out good books and articles about the military history of the Civil War which of course includes both Confederate and Union history. I am thrilled at that because that's probably the first thing that is gonna be lost. We are already seeing that right here in CWT imo. May already be lost in the educational system for all I know.
It's my opinion that the Viet Nam War created a dislike of war that has persisted though succeeding generations.

This has affected interest in all wars, not just the Civil War. When I was growing up in the 1960s, WWII comics were popular (Sgt Rock, Nick Fury). You rarely see these. There have been comics about war, but these are often grim. Soldiers are seen as courageous, but that does not often translate into being seen as heroic.

Meanwhile modern controversies over recent wars haven't helped in making the subject of war more "likable."

We'll see where this goes in the future.

- Alan
 

Andersonh1

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How have - and how should - the national soul-searching about the Confederacy and its legacies
Just my two cents here: there is no "national soul searching" going on. I think for the vast majority this is just history, and they do not feel strongly about it one way or the other. The groups that are offended by this history have taken the opportunity to tear it down where they can, and the groups that want to preserve it are doing their best to do that. So this conference is starting from a false premise, and I'm not sure how useful conclusions drawn from that premise will be.
 

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@Andersonh1 has a thread on newspaper reports concerning Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause--What the newspapers said: 1861-1865.

That thread brings to mind an important fact: there are no newspapers from enslaved people to say exactly what they thought about the Confederate Cause. Of course, most slave states made slave literacy illegal.

There is this crazy dynamic concerning period history, where there is Confederate history, African American History, and Emancipation History, but these are separate though intersecting things.

We know that enslaved African Americans were 39% of the Confederate population. The question of their status as Confederates has never been fully addressed or discussed, I think. It seems like the only Black Confederates out there were those who somehow attached to the Confederate military. Such people were less than 1% of the black population in the Confederacy; what does it mean that 99% of African Americans living in the Confederacy were not Confederates? Does it mean anything?

In August of 1862, a group of concerned citizens in Liberty County, GA, near Savannah, wrote this letter to Confederate Brigadier-General MERCER, Commanding Military District of Georgia, Savannah:

GENERAL: The undersigned, citizens of Liberty County, of the Fifteenth District, would respectfully present for your consideration a subject of grave moment, not to themselves only, but to their fellow- citizens of the Confederate States who occupy not only our territory immediately bordering on that of the old United States, but the whole line of our sea-coast from Virginia to Texas.

We allude to the escape of our slaves across the border lines landward, and out to the vessels of the enemy seaward, and to their being also enticed off by those who, having made their escape, return for that purpose, and not infrequently attended by the enemy. The injury inflicted upon the interests of the citizens of the Confederate States by this now constant drain is immense.

Independent of the forcible seizure of slaves by the enemy whenever it lies in his power, and to which we now make no allusion, as the indemnity for this loss will in due time occupy the attention of our Government from ascertained losses on certain parts of our coast, we may set down as a low estimate the number of slaves absconded and enticed off from our sea-board at 20,000, and their value at from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000, to which loss may be added the insecurity of the property along our borders and the demoralization of the negroes that remain, which increases with the continuance of the evil, and may finally result in perfect disorganization and rebellion.

The absconding negroes hold the position of traitors, since they go over to the enemy and afford him aid and comfort by revealing the condition of the districts and cities from which they come, and aiding him in erecting fortifications and raising provisions for his support, and now that the United States have allowed their introduction into their Army and Navy, aiding the enemy by enlisting under his banners, and increasing his resources in men for our annoyance and destruction...

It is, indeed, a monstrous evil that we suffer. Our negroes are property, the agricultural class of the Confederacy, upon whose order and continuance so much depends--may go off (inflicting a greet pecuniary loss, both private and public) to the enemy, convey any amount of valuable information, and aid him by building his fortifications, by raising supplies for his armies, by enlisting as soldiers, by acting as spies and as guides and pilots to his expeditions on lend and water, and bringing in the foe upon us to kill and devastate; and yet, if we catch them in the act of going to the enemy we are powerless for the infliction of any punishment adequate to their crime and adequate to fill them with salutary fear of its commission.

Surely some remedy should be applied, and that speedily, for the protection of the country aside from all other considerations. A few executions of leading transgressors among them by hanging or shooting would dissipate the ignorance which may be supposed to possess their minds, and which may be pleaded in arrest of judgment.
Question: is this Confederate history? It would seem so to me. But how many people outside the academy would think that a Confederate scholar would look to gain expertise on this subject matter? For a lot of people outside the academy, Confederate history is about Lee, Stonewall, the common soldier, et al, and all the battles they fought. Runaway slaves and the reaction to them from white Southerners would not come to mind.

If I was at the conference, I would ask about this paradox that
• Confederates are typically thought of as white southerners, even though 40% of residents in the Confederate States were African Americans;
• Confederate history intersects Black History and Emancipation History, when it seems to me, Confederate history should include Black History and Emancipation History.

- Alan
 
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James N.

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... We know that enslaved African Americans were 39% of the Confederate population. The question of their status as Confederates has never been fully addressed or discussed, I think. It seems like the only Black Confederates out there were those who somehow attached to the Confederate military. Such people were less than 1% of the black population in the Confederacy; what does it mean that 99% of African Americans living in the Confederacy were not Confederates? Does it mean anything?

- Alan
To comment on only a part of you post, I was greatly interested when I once read somewhere - probably in Vicksburg - 47 Days of Siege - that supposedly the very first to purchase a Confederate bond in town was a freeman, a barber as I remember. And I also believe one of the fatalities to Union shelling there was also black, whether slave or free I have no idea. Were these and many others who were directly involved Confederates? I'm sure it could be and likely has been argued that the purchaser of the bond did so for other than "patriotic" reasons, but does anyone now really know?
 

wausaubob

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On the political side, IMHO, the future will be in looking at the South as the norm in the mid 19th century and the North as the odd man, a revolutionary outlier that became the norm.
That is probably correct, but it is not exactly Confederate History. It would be more like Civil War history.
 
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To comment on only a part of you post, I was greatly interested when I once read somewhere - probably in Vicksburg - 47 Days of Siege - that supposedly the very first to purchase a Confederate bond in town was a freeman, a barber as I remember. And I also believe one of the fatalities to Union shelling there was also black, whether slave or free I have no idea. Were these and many others who were directly involved Confederates? I'm sure it could be and likely has been argued that the purchaser of the bond did so for other than "patriotic" reasons, but does anyone now really know?
RE: And I also believe one of the fatalities to Union shelling there was also black, whether slave or free I have no idea. Were these and many others who were directly involved Confederates?

That's a good and provocative question: does being killed by the Union make you a Confederate? Does an enslaved person who was not legally a Confederate in life become a Confederate in death? Is that person a Confederate casualty, or a casualty of a war between the Confederacy and the Union - a war which offered her no gain at the beginning, but a chance of freedom if the Union won by its midpoint? What was the interest of this Confederate resident in the Civil War? Those are questions Confederate history should address.

RE: I was greatly interested when I once read somewhere - probably in Vicksburg - 47 Days of Siege - that supposedly the very first to purchase a Confederate bond in town was a freeman, a barber as I remember.

I would add that in 1860, 96% of persons of African decent who lived in the future Confederate States were enslaved, versus less than 4% who were free. Did enslaved blacks see these free blacks as race traitors? What did the war mean to free people of African descent, versus the overwhelming number of those who were enslaved? More to the point, is that something that Confederate historians should be talking about? I would think, yes.

- Alan
 

James N.

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That is probably correct, but it is not exactly Confederate History. It would be more like Civil War history.
Aren't they synonymous? The history of one is certainly the history of the other - although I would expect more emphasis on economic and social matters in one, and a more balanced perspective (obviously including Union viewpoints, etc.) in the other.
 

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In addition to the concern about black southerners, there may be some remaining questions about why secession was not more strongly supported in the border states, especially the major cities. Was that because of free blacks, immigrants, or remaining Whig oriented loyalists? Some of the old history does point out that in virtually every state other than South Carolina, that became part of the Confederate alliance, there was some resistance. Prof. McCurry develops some of these questions, especially noting that near the end of the war the resistance was widespread.
 
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wausaubob

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Aren't they synonymous? The history of one is certainly the history of the other - although I would expect more emphasis on economic and social matters in one, and a more balanced perspective (obviously including Union viewpoints, etc.) in the other.
I think Profs. Gallagher and Ayers have something very specific in mind with respect to what replaces the Lost Cause view if Confederate History is re-written.
 

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Aren't they synonymous? The history of one is certainly the history of the other - although I would expect more emphasis on economic and social matters in one, and a more balanced perspective (obviously including Union viewpoints, etc.) in the other.
I am not a professional historian. But I think they would say that there are fields of history, which have has sub-fields. Confederate history is a sub-field of Civil War history. An academic in Confederate history would be someone whose research focuses on the Confederacy and not, for example, the Union.

As you suggest, there various types/fields of history that have different methods of inquiry, research, and interpretation. For example a person interested in political history would do well to know the techniques of political scientists, while a person interested in economic history would do well to know the techniques of economist, etc. Some historical topics are best addressed if they employ a multi-disciplinary approach.

Perhaps somebody who's knowledgeable on this could address the question.

- Alan
 

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I think Profs. Gallagher and Ayers have something very specific in mind with respect to what replaces the Lost Cause view if Confederate History is re-written.
I think they would say that they and other modern historians have crafted the modern version of Confederate history.

I do know that Prof. Gallagher edited a book of essays on the subject of the Lost Cause. I bought it, it's in the house somewhere... probably hidden behind another book.

- Alan
 
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wausaubob

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If one were to compare the Confederacy to Napoleon's overthrown of the French Revolution, and the rise of fascism after the First World War, I think the view of the Confederacy might be different. I think the view might come around to that of some Southerners that by 1890 were thinking, what if the Confederacy had won and pursued an aggressive imperial policy?
 

jgoodguy

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Aren't they synonymous? The history of one is certainly the history of the other - although I would expect more emphasis on economic and social matters in one, and a more balanced perspective (obviously including Union viewpoints, etc.) in the other.
Without Confederate history there is no Civil War history. IMHO. What motivated and created the CSA is important. The current USA was forged by the sword in war. A reason for the forging is important.
 
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