Name Change for A.P. Hill Elementary School?

Ap_hillAmbrose Powell Hill has a secure enough legacy. The general is buried under his own monument which towers above the Hermitage-Labernum intersection in Richmond, placed there by major-turned-developer Lewis Ginter to promote a new residential neighborhood. Three markers denote where he died in Dinwiddie County–a Sons of Confederate Veterans granite memorial that claims he was shot by “stragglers,” a VDOT historical marker along U.S. Route 1, and a small granite monument marking the probable location of his shooting by Corporal John W. Mauk.

Fort A.P. Hill, established in 1941 in Virginia’s Caroline County, continues to serve as a joint and combined arms training facility. The Defense Department has stated that it has no immediate plans to alter the names of military bases honoring Confederate generals. But does the Third Corps commander’s name really belong on a Petersburg school, abandoned by white flight, with a 97% black enrollment?

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Posted in Memory, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“Securing a Likeness”: Union Soldiers Visit the Photographer’s Studio

Emerging Civil War is pleased to welcome back guest poster James Brookes

Many northern volunteers had a portrait taken upon their enlistment. Several post-war memoirs exist in which Union veterans recall a visit to the photographer as a significant moment in their transition from civilian to citizen-soldier. These accounts reveal not only the subjects’ unfamiliarity towards the difficult conditions of military service but also their incomprehension of soldierly demeanour and their naïve appreciation towards the seemingly-novel military uniforms they donned. The theatrical nature of photographic studio manifests itself in range of ways in these accounts. The photographic portrait of the subject cloaked in military regalia and bearing ferocious props acts as a confirmation of the man’s fulfilment of his obligation as a citizen-soldier. This stands in opposition to the fact that these men testify that they were in no way full-fledged soldiers at this point in their temporary military vocations.

Jesse Bowman Young recalls his service through a protagonist named Jack in his book What a Boy saw in the Army. Young enlisted in the 4th Illinois Cavalry in 1861 and a visit to the photographer formed a significant feature in his retelling of the experience. Having arrived in Chicago the soldier-boy furnishes his uniform before his full induction into the army. Though he feels “stiff and awkward in the suit,” this uneasiness mingles with “a sense of pride and elation.”[i] Catching a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror, Jack at first barely recognises himself, and yet is inspired to seek out a photograph. Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Photography | 1 Comment

Question of the Week 7/27-8/2

All of us began studying the American Civil War for a variety of different reasons. Your reason could be as monumental as being related to one of the key figures of the war or as simple as finding a bullet in your backyard as a child – or even as an adult!

Large or small, how did you come to find the Civil War so fascinating? What brought you to study the American Civil War?

Currier & Ives - The Battle of Petersburg

Posted in Emerging Civil War | 18 Comments

Name Change Alert!!

San-Juan-Bautista-Wedding-106I know it is politically incorrect nowadays for a woman to take the name of the man she marries (or whatever!), but I am formally–OK–informally!–announcing that Robert Groeling and I got married on July 4 of this year. I will be changing my name to Meg Groeling, even though Word for Mac puts a red line under it every time. Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Civilian, Emerging Civil War, Holidays, National Park Service, Preservation | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

ECW on the Road: St. Bonaventure University, the 154th New York, and a Discussion of the Future of the War

Weekender-header

154th_exhibition

A to-scale mural of the 154th NY’s memorial at the Gettysburg Battlefield is also on display as part of the day’s events.

Emerging Civil War historians visiting St. Bonaventure University next Saturday won’t simply be reflecting on a battle that ended 150 years ago—they’ll discuss why the ripple effects of the nation’s darkest period still wash over us today.

The Confederate flag controversy that boiled to the surface in South Carolina after the church killings June 17 in Charleston is just one example.

“The Civil War is still very much with us today,” said ECW co-founder Kristopher D. White.

White will join ECW historians Eric WittenbergDaniel Davis, and Derek Maxfield for a panel discussion on Saturday, Aug. 1, at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, NY. ECW’s Chris Mackowski, a professor at St. Bonaventure, will serve as moderator.

The program is free and open to the public—part of a larger series of events that day as part of the 30th annual reunion of the Descendants of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. ECW guest contributor James Brookes, flying in from England, will also present a program on portrait photography during the war.

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ECW Weekender: Barnes & Noble in Fredericksburg brings Civil War books to life

Weekender-header

History books come to life at Barnes & Noble in Fredericksburg, Virginia, this Saturday.

The bookstore, located in Central Park, Fredericksburg, is hosting a Civil War Living History Event on Saturday, July 25 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. ECW’s Chris Mackowski and novelist Eileen Kerns Goodman will be on hand to sign copies of their books as part of day-long series of educational programs.

“The event is free,” explains Cheryl Schneider, Community Business Development Manager for Barnes & Noble, “and it offers the opportunity for all ages to learn about how people lived during the time period.” Continue reading

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Being a Civil War Intern: Writing Tours

Of the many challenges one faces as a National Park Battlefield intern, preparing and delivering tours is certainly the most daunting. The process involves research, lots of writing, and finally the presentation. I would have thought that by now – having just completed my sixth tour outline – I would have the process down pat. Unfortunately I do not. Tour development is not an art one can master; each experience is completely unique (and a little nerve wracking). Still, the process is undeniably rewardable and serves as a learning experience for both tour guide and guest.

I didn’t think twice when I found out my internship at Stones River would include writing up to five tour outlines. Not only had I done this plenty of times before, but I also have considerable experience writing public history programs and interpretations during my two years as a graduate student. I was in for a surprise when I started researching for the first tour. I had forgotten just how much time and effort is involved…which brings me to the realization that, with nearly three quarters of the summer gone, I have only three tours finished.

Research, Research, Research

Research, Research, Research

The single most difficult aspect of tour writing is creating a “flow” that visitors will be able to follow and understand. While you may be an expert on a certain battle, it is the overall tour concept that makes a successful tour. In other words, knowing the facts of a battle is one thing; knowing how to convey that story to the public is another beast entirely. Interns are not experts. Heck, even our bosses can rarely be called experts on Civil War history. Yet visitors come in every day and expect everyone at the part to be an expert. My many internships have taught me that it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” While I certainly wouldn’t want to disappoint a visitor, a single person cannot have all the answers. Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War | 2 Comments

A Few Notes on Grant’s Last Battle

This first edition of Grant's memoirs is on display at Grant's Tomb in NYC.

This first edition of Grant’s memoirs is on display at Grant’s Tomb in NYC.

Part two of two comes from my “author’s note” in Grant’s Last Battle: The Story Behind The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

As kids, my brother and I had a poster of the presidents on the closet door in our bedroom. My brother picked Lincoln as his favorite. I picked Ulysses S. Grant. I liked how grand the name sounded, and I knew he smoked cigars, which also seemed grand. That was about the extent of my knowledge.

My first real introduction to Grant came as it did for Robert E. Lee: in the Wilderness of central Virginia. There, I learned about the “dust-covered man” who had vowed that there would be no turning back. I have since spent a great deal of time on that battlefield, as well as the ones at Spotsylvania and North Anna, sharing stories of Grant’s time in the east. I have also visited the sites of his major battles out west. I have come to admire him a great deal. Continue reading

Posted in Emerging Civil War Series, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Review: Lincoln’s Body

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Lincolns BodyBack in the 1990s when I was a starving graduate student, I had the good fortune to spend some time with Professor Merrill Peterson who was recently retired from the University of Virginia. I was working on a seminar paper on American historiography and had chosen Peterson’s work as the subject. I chose him because one of his books had played a significant role in my decision to become a professional historian – The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun (1987). As I explored Peterson’s published works, I became a bigger and bigger devotee. Among the many wonderful books he authored were two that examined how individuals were remembered in American culture: The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (1960) and Lincoln in American Memory (1994). Though the two were written more than thirty years apart, they quickly secured a hold on imagination and nearly derailed my project because I could not put them away. I was transfixed by Peterson’s study of how America used and abused the reputations of Jefferson and Lincoln. Over and over I read these words: Continue reading

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8:08 a.m.

Grant's Clock

The clock at Grant Cottage still reads 8:08—the time of Ulysses S. Grant’s death on the morning of July 23, 1885.

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