The Battlefield and Beyond
Essays on the American Civil War
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
The inspiration for this collection of essays on the American Civil War came about from historian Jon L. Wakelyn’s years of influence not only on my career, but also that of countless students and colleagues engaged in the field of southern and Civil War history. Mere mention of the Civil War conjures thoughts of guns and...
I. RACE AND WARFARE IN THE SOUTH
The Silence of a Slaveholder: The Civil War Letters of James B. Griffin
When I first learned about a set of some eighty Civil War letters by James B. Griffin, an Edgefield slaveholder and second in command of the celebrated Hampton Legion, I realized the importance of this treasure trove for learning about the unstudied middle officer ranks of the Confederacy and white...
Robert E. Lee and the Arming of Black Men
By 1865, it was apparent to many southerners that the collapse of the Confederate States was imminent. To stave off the inevitable, the southern nation turned to a desperate measure to resuscitate the dying republic. The last hope of saving the government was to tap black men as a military resource. The...
Guerrilla Warfare, Democracy, and the Fate of the Confederacy
One of the most enduring explanations for why the Confederacy lost the Civil War asserts that the Rebels were too democratic. First proposed by David H. Donald as a variation on a theme by Frank L. Owsley, this theory has survived, with some modification by recent scholars, as a viable part of most multicausal explanations of Confederate defeat. To date, the argument has rested...
II. LEADERSHIP IN THE CONFEDERACY
Jefferson Davis and Stephen D. Lee
Jefferson Davis and Stephen Dill Lee were a generation apart in age. Davis was a native Mississippian, and Lee was from South Carolina. But the Civil War brought them together, and events resulted in Lee’s move to Mississippi, where he met and married a pretty lass, and he made that state his home turf...
Evaluating Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy
Evaluating the losers in history can be a complicated process. For example, consider the situation of a man named Edward John Smith. One day he probably received congratulations and was told that he was going to make history, for it was...
Edmund Kirby Smith’s Early Leadership in the Trans-Mississippi
The leadership of Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department began in the midst of a Union advance from New Orleans northward through southwestern Louisiana, a large presence of Union troops along the Mississippi River in northeastern Louisiana, an anticipated...
III. DESPOTISM AND CONFEDERATE DEFEAT
“Irresistible Outbreaks against Tories and Traitors”: The Suppression of New England Antiwar Sentiment in 1861
In a time of war the parameters of the freedom of press, speech, and association always face scrutiny. Some see criticism of war, its tactics, and its justification as tantamount to treason and a fatal weakening of national resolve at a time when it needs to be united and resolute. Others see such criticism as central to just and authentic...
Senator Williamson S. Oldham and Confederate Defeat
It was pitch dark the night Confederate Senator Williamson Simpson Oldham crossed into Mississippi on his trip home to Texas at the end of the Civil War, and he was tired. At first, Oldham wandered around almost aimlessly, unable to find the suggested house for his stay, and caution was at a premium, for Union soldiers could be lurking anywhere, and as a Confederate Senator he was a...
IV. RECONSTRUCTION AND THE NEW SOUTH
Transforming Original Intent: The U.S. Constitution in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era
Those who in recent decades have argued that the original intent of the Constitution’s framers should still be the guiding force in every instance where the judiciary is called upon to resolve a constitutional dispute would do well to devote attention to the work of Civil War historians, Jon L. Wakelyn among others...
Goldberger and Gershwin: Two New York Jews Encounter the American South in the Early Twentieth Century
Between 1870 and the early 1920s, over 2.25 million Jews emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe to the United States. Most of them entered the United States through the port of New York, and the vast majority spent at least some time in New York City, the place that historian Moses Rischin dubbed...
V. MEMORY AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
The Psychology of Hatred and the Ideology of Honor: Current Parallels in Booth’s Lincoln Conspiracies
For Americans at this hour, it is disturbing to think how easy, predictable, and tragic are the assassinations of individuals who become targets of ideological hatred, past and present. Most notably we have the case of Abraham Lincoln’s murder in 1865. The story has been narrated and explored many times, but...
Field of Mighty Memory: Gettysburg and the Americanization of the Civil War
On November 18, 1863, a train carrying President Lincoln and his entourage entered the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On the following day, the dignitaries were scheduled to assemble atop a gentle ridge just outside the town center to dedicate a cemetery to those who had fallen there the previous July...
Of Health and History: The Museum of the Confederacy
Surely I visited the Confederate Museum on some school field trip while I was growing up in Richmond. Two scrapbooks from my days at Ginter Park Elementary School contain photographs of the Confederate White House, but I cannot recall going to the place until I was conducting research for my...
Jon L. Wakelyn’s Contribution
Jon Wakelyn’s impact on the field of history extends beyond his scholarly research, writing, and editing. Like a stone dropped in a pond, his contributions have radiated outward to influence a much larger circle of students and colleagues whom he touched in various ways over the course of years. After receiving his Ph.D.......