The Best of 2011 (Meg Thompson)

The next author to share her favorite Civil War-related memory of 2011 is Meg Thompson.

For most of the year, I have been working on First Fallen: The Life and Times of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth. When I began, I got the usual questions: “Who is this guy and why should I care?” Those questions have guided my research and writing, as I want to answer both. One giant Huzzah has been that the National Portrait Gallery agreed with me! The NPG’s exhibit on Colonel Ellsworth has made many people aware of him who might not have known about him otherwise. I feel that the exhibit has given some validation to my own work, as has the emphasis on Ellsworth in Adam Goodheart’s brilliant and beautifully written 1861: The Civil War Awakening. Without an understanding of the years before the War, and a sensitivity toward the Victorian-era patriotism that began the conflict, it is impossible to understand just how great a rent was made in the American fabric by 1865.

The bar was set for me by both the exhibit and the book. It is high bar to reach.

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