Discussion What most started your lifelong interest in the American Civil War?

What most started your lifelong interest in the American Civil War?


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Anna Elizabeth Henry

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My dad always told me stories from his grandfather who had known Civil War veterans, plus the Ken Burns series coupled with Gone with the Wind got me very interested in the Civil War when I was young.

I still can remember my first trip to Gettysburg when I was barely 5 years old. I remember standing on the rocks at Devil's Den clutching my stuffed dog being very impressed by scenery and having my dad try to explain to someone so young the great importance of the battle. Plus I got to sit on a cannon & take a picture! Shh! Don't tell the park rangers! :sneaky:

As for the teaching of CW history in schools, as a retired teacher, I believe they need to add a third year of required US History to be taught in the high schools. Curriculums are being watered down now because there is too much history to teach and the Rev War and CW are getting cut from the curriculums. Proposal: One year of World History (which I feel can and should be taught in the Middle Schools) and three years of US History making four years of required history. Just my "soapbox" speechifyin'. Sorry.
I wished I had had three years of US History instead of two years of World/Global History - so ahem to your soapbox speech! In order to fit everything in they cut out way too much and often focus on things that most turn up on AP tests or other standardized tests. It's very frustrating to literally spend one day on the Great Depression to move right along to Pearl Harbor and then speed through WWII in one week. I didn't even have the benefit of learning much about Vietnam other than a war happened and we lost. Obviously through my own endeavors I know plenty about all those topics, but certainly not thanks to any history class in high school!
 

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LoisPauline

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The movie Glory. I was 8 when it came out and I watched it with my dad after we rented it on VHS.

I watched this movie so many times while it was rented we eventually bought our own copy, then I subsequently watched it enough to wear it out. This was the first movie I remember crying from, getting angry for someone being mistreated, and even getting thoroughly excited over triumph.

Glory shaped my love of history in general. That was the moment I became fascinated by anything with a past. I wanted to know the story, their emotions, their reasons for doing things the way they did. My young 8 year old mind focused on The Civil War. Every single project I did had something to do with The Civil War - my favorite was my amazing report on Harriet Tubman including a tri-fold display board that my teacher most definitely did not mention needing in the report parameters. If it was a group project and my group did NOT want to do the Civil War then I simply talked them into it. Fort Sumter was the hardest considering my whole group was girls who were not into the Civil War as I was.

As I grew older I was able to expand my focus on other eras but The Civil War always holds a special place in my heart for it being the catalyst of something that has created a large part of my character and personality.
 

Shilohgirl24

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I saw a discussion about whether the Civil War needs to be taught more in school for younger people to be interested in it so I decided to make this poll. I know a lot of these factors probably play a role for most people but choose the one that you think is the earliest/most fundamental reason for your interest.

Feel free to elaborate more in the comments.
Well said. I live in Sacramento but was born & raised in Alabama (but maternal relatives all from Ohio). This trendy revisionist history cr_p and is a version of ..those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I was asked some time ago to present a Civil War talk to a class of 7th graders & brought some basic pictures/maps & artifacts (minie balls, buckle & Kepi). Afterwards a few of the kids had questions about slavery & southerners. My response was that slavery is indefensible, as is 20/20 hindsight of this period as my interest is the individual soldiers (one’s duty to the reb or yank next to you and military strategy). So I asked how many of the kids were of German ancestry and several hands went up. Of course, my next question, for those who wanted to dispense “collective guilt” was..So are any of us to judge your fellow classmates based on the Nazi atrocities of WW2? I’d like to think we all had a moment of reflection rather than the uneducated response of ..all Yankees were righteous and all Rebels were immoral.
I agree that the civil war needs to be taught more in school. There is more to it than just a bunch of famous names and dates. There are all kinds of deeply intresting human stories that are tied into the civil war.
 

CCMDCSA

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I've always been interested in history especially the civil war and growing up were I did and still live today I was fortunate to be within a short drive of Gettysburg, Sharpsburg and Manassas battlefields places I've been many times
as I got older and started trying to figure out my own ancestry and the stories and soldiers that came with that I've been all in hook line and sinker ever since
 

Dead Parrott

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I read Bruce Catton's trilogy when pretty young. Got me hooked.

I'm also a long-time wargamer (both board games and military miniatures), and though the ACW wasn't my period of choice, I've gamed many a battle with friends and well-informed others.

Plus I consume books like an addiction ...

- K.
 

James N.

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I agree that the civil war needs to be taught more in school. There is more to it than just a bunch of famous names and dates. There are all kinds of deeply intresting human stories that are tied into the civil war.
Welcome to the forums from the host of the Stonewall Jackson Forum!
 
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Snowbound

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As a first grader in Fayette County WV, I never missed the TV show 'The Gray Ghost". I thought Mosby's men had the coolest uniforms. My grandmother informed me I should be pulling for the men in blue. Later I learned all my ancestors fought for the South. I developed a great love of history in which I majored. By 1970 I was living and breathing civil war as a cadet at the Citadel.
 

StevenACole

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My fifth great grandfather is listed on the north Carolina revolutionary war roster as a 17 year old black man; he proudly served. After the Rev War, slave rebellions led to the restrictions of the rights of colored citizens. Consequently, our family moved west into the Northwest Territories and many free negroes were itching to fight for freedom during the Civil War. Several of my ancestors fought and some did not make it back home. After the War, black families were harassed by those who felt threatened by equal rights; but I was never taught to be prejudiced against people whose complexion is different than mine. I have hope that we will come to understand more about the history of our great country where each person has the right to succeed or fail on their own merit. And so, I study all aspects of the Civil War AND Slavery.
 

StevenACole

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As a first grader in Fayette County WV, I never missed the TV show 'The Gray Ghost". I thought Mosby's men had the coolest uniforms. My grandmother informed me I should be pulling for the men in blue. Later I learned all my ancestors fought for the South. I developed a great love of history in which I majored. By 1970 I was living and breathing civil war as a cadet at the Citadel.
Thanks for sharing your story and I would like to hear more.
 

Snowbound

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Growing up in Charleston, I spent countless hours fishing the beaches of the barrier islands. Adjacent to the Morris Island light was a favorite spot. Whenever I watch Glory thoughts return to these days.
 

StevenACole

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Growing up in Charleston, I spent countless hours fishing the beaches of the barrier islands. Adjacent to the Morris Island light was a favorite spot. Whenever I watch Glory thoughts return to these days.
My cousin Arthella Lyles died on Folley Island during the Civil War and never came back home to Indiana. He was with the 55th Massachusetts.
 

gjpratt

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Looking back, there is a blur of events and experiences in the early to mid-1960s that all contributed. One I haven’t seen mentioned — the Disney movie Johnny Shiloh. But the most vivid memory I have is a visit to the Carter House in the center of the Union lines at Franklin in the mid-1960s. Seeing the scars and pockmarks from an actual CW Battle is seared in my memory. Plus my parents bought me a fired minie ball and .44 fired pistol bullet, my first relics. Whether cause or effect, I relate at a deep level to tangible relics and sites of battles or skirmishes.

Footnote. The recent restoration and preservation of the Franklin battlefield is magnificent. I have studied this battle as long as I can remember but gained more insight and understanding walking the now exposed and well-marked ground than imaginable. That was a year ago.
 

caralyn

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I saw a discussion about whether the Civil War needs to be taught more in school for younger people to be interested in it so I decided to make this poll. I know a lot of these factors probably play a role for most people but choose the one that you think is the earliest/most fundamental reason for your interest.

Feel free to elaborate more in the comments.
My father was interested in the Civil War and I love history. 20 years ago I sent my kids off to school and sat down with the newspaper and a cup of coffee to relax. In the Neighborhood section was the story of a woman who had gone back East to clean up and sell her grandmothers home. When she came across a trunk filled with Civil War memorabilia and letters she was not surprised, UNTIL, she saw the signature on the letters, "Your loving daughter, Jennie." That was my eureka moment that led me to write a story about these brave women warriors. thegrandillusion.net The story of the hundreds of women who dressed as soldiers and spies in the Civil War. She musters into the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Army and follows their path throughout the war. Including the battle of the Crater where she helps dig the tunnel.
 


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