Smith, Mark M. The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
A “Sensory History?” What is a “Sensory” history? The title certainly catches your attention and leaves you wondering. In his introduction, Smith explains that a sensory historian goes beyond a simple description of sensory phenomenon to “historicize the senses (5).” No reenactor or author, no matter how elegant the “poetry of the description (5),” can provide the historical context necessary but a historian of the senses. Moreover, one does not need new evidence to produce sensory history. Using well-known evidence, but sorting it for the sensory element, a new history can be written about even the most studied events.
Major General William T. Sherman
The subject of the post is a question that has been puzzling me for quite awhile. Indeed, one could consider this a Question of the Week, but on steroids. Was William T. Sherman, a man who remains in the pantheon of the great Union commanders, just an average combat officer? For certain, Sherman never really did anything spectacular. In fact, his combat record prior to becoming head of the Military Division of the Mississippi is unspectacular to say the least. Unfortunately, a summary examination leaves us with more questions than answers.
Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Leadership--Federal, Western Theater
Tagged Atlanta Campaign, Carolinas Campaign, Chattanooga, Chickasaw Bayou, March to the Sea, Shiloh, Vicksburg, William T. Sherman
Part two of two
“Remember the ladies,” Abigail Adams wrote in a letter to her husband during his service in the Continental Congress. And those words are how we now most often remember her: “Remember the ladies.”
And John did. He pined for her. His long public career—in the Continental Congress, as a minister in Europe, as vice president, as president—kept them apart for long stretches. They spent ten of their fifty-four years of marriage separated by war, by sea, by duty.
So they wrote—some 1200 letters in all. “My dearest friend,” he addressed her, and he meant it.
The lively correspondence between John and Abigail illuminates not only a great American love story but also a great political partnership. Among the company of great Founders, Abigail was the one forced to stay at home—by social convention and family duty—but she refused to be forgotten. Continue reading
Sergeant Francis M. McMillen, 110th Ohio Infantry
In a small leather bound journal, Francis McMillen daily jotted down notes while hunkered down in the Petersburg trenches during the last year of the war. He mixed frequent updates on the weather with sarcastic commentary on the boring routine of everyday soldier life as he spent the winter months filing reports and worked on his quarters. When reading his musings, one can tell that McMillen was not the ideal, professional soldier during this time, but I can’t help but appreciate his honest opinion of his own service in the army.
McMillen’s diary entries begin on January 1, 1865, a month in which he appears to be detailed in assisting the quartermaster. The dull routine upset the sergeant.
Today, we are pleased to welcome back guest author Sarah Kay Bierle
Kate Corbin Pendleton’s photo is framed on my work desk. Her solemn expression and sad eyes have haunted me as I’ve read articles of delight, debate, and dissention as the Civil War Sesquicentennial comes to a close. The dead, the wounded, and the veterans have been remembered, and yet some of the living have been forgotten. There is an echo – a faint whisper – that has been missed in most of the memorializing of the war. Young Mrs. Pendleton wrote in 1865: “…I wonder people’s hearts don’t break… My poor empty arms…Oh! Pa, unless you lose your only one you don’t know how sharp the pang is and no words of mine can tell the agony of my struggle…”[i]
Do you have a favorite Civil War ethnic group? Germans? Irish? Norwegians?
Chris Kolakowski speaks at the 2015 Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge.
Tomorrow evening (9/26) at 6 P.M. my talk at the Second Annual ECW Symposium will air on CSPAN3. For details, see this link: http://www.c-span.org/video/?327565-1/fall-richmond-Appomattox
For a little sneak preview of some of what I’ll be discussing, see this post from December 2013 and April 2015: http://emergingcivilwar.com/2015/04/09/civil-war-echoes-bataan/
Enjoy, and hope to see you at the 2016 ECW Symsposium!
Sailors standing next to a pivot gun on the U.S.S. Pocahontas. The Pocahontas was present at the Battle of Port Royal, and maintained the blockade of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. LOC.
While doing some research for an upcoming post, I came across several photographs by Henry P. Moore, a New Hampshire artist who traveled to South Carolina in 1862.
Like many of his colleagues, Moore capitalized on the outbreak of the war, setting up make-shift studios for soldiers to send likenesses back home, as well as photographing specific scenes and moments in time. Although not as famous as Matthew Brady or Alexander Gardner, whose names conjure images of battlefields littered with fallen soldiers, or of dignified looking generals, Henry Moore’s photographs capture two under-represented social classes in Civil War history: soldiers and slaves.
Posted in Navies, Photography, Slavery
Tagged 3rd New Hampshire Regiment, contraband, Henry P. Moore, navy, Photography, Sailors, Sea Islands, slavery, South Carolina, USS Vermont, USS Wabash
James A. Jackson
Shout, shout his deed of glory.
Tell it in song and story;
Tell it where soldiers brave
Rush fearless to their grave:
Tell it–a magic spell
In that great deed shall dwell.
Many think that raising the Confederate flag in Virginia just to remind folks that it is there is something new. Continue reading
Posted in Memory, Civilian, Civil War Events, Politics, Personalities, Monuments, Newspapers, lincoln
Tagged Elmer Ellsworth, Memory, Abe Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, secession, Virginia, New York Military Museum, Confederate Flag, Alexandria, Stars and Bars, Confederate Battle Flag, James A. Jackson, Marshall House Flag, Virginia Flaggers, Virginia secession, Mary Lincoln, Confederate flags, Jihn Padgett, Andrew Dickson White, Occoquan, Marshall House