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Life Death Southern Appalachian Community
Essays on America's Civil War
The American Civil War was won and lost on its western battlefields, but accounts of triumphant Union generals such as Grant and Sherman leave half of the story untold. In the third volume of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, editors Lawrence Hewitt and Arthur Bergeron bring together ten more never-before-published essays filled with new, penetrating insights into the key question of why the Rebel high command in the West could not match the performance of Robert E. Lee in the East. Showcasing the work of such gifted historians as Wiley Sword, Timothy B. Smith, Rory T. Cornish, and M. Jane Johansson, this book is a compelling addition to an ongoing, collective portrait of generals who occasionally displayed brilliance but were more often handicapped by both geography and their own shortcomings. While the vast, varied terrain of the Western Theater slowed communications and troop transfers and led to the creation of too many military departments that hampered cooperation among commands, even more damaging were the personal qualities of many of the generals. All too frequently, incompetence, egotism, and insubordination were the rule rather than the exception. Some of these men were undone by alcoholism and womanizing, others by politics and nepotism. A few outlived their usefulness; others were killed before they could demonstrate their potential. Together, they destroyed what chance the Confederacy had of winning its independence. Whether adding fresh fuel to the debate over the respective roles of Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard at Shiloh or bringing to light such lesser known figures as Joseph Finegan and Hiram Bronson Granbury, this volume, like the ones preceding it, is an exemplary contribution to Civil War scholarship.
Mixed-Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture
A mid-level Confederate official and lawyer in secessionist North Carolina, David Schenck (1835–1902) penned extensive diaries that have long been a wellspring of information for historians. In the midst of the secession crisis, Schenck overcame long-established social barriers and reshaped antebellum notions of manhood, religion, and respectability into the image of a Confederate nationalist. He helped found the revolutionary States’ Rights Party and relentlessly pursued his vision of an idealized Southern society even after the collapse of the Confederacy. In the first biography of this complicated figure, Rodney Steward opens a window into the heart and soul of the Confederate South’s burgeoning professional middle class and reveals the complex set of desires, aspirations, and motivations that inspired men like Schenck to cast for themselves a Confederate identity that would endure the trials of war, the hardship of Reconstruction, and the birth of a New South.
After secession, Schenck remained on the home front as a receiver under the Act of Sequestration, enriching himself on the confiscated property of those he accused of disloyalty. After the war, his position as a leader in the Ku Klux Klan and his resistance to Radical Reconstruction policies won him a seat on the superior court bench, but scathing newspaper articles about his past upended a bid for chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, a compelling fall from grace that reveals much about the shifting currents in North Carolina society and politics in the years after Reconstruction. During the last twenty years of his life, spent in Greensboro, Schenck created the Guilford Battleground Company in an effort to redeem the honor of the Tar Heels who fought there and his own honor as well.
Schenck’s life story provides a powerful new lens to examine and challenge widely held interpretations of secessionists, Confederate identity, Civil War economics, and home-front policies. Far more than a standard biography, this compelling volume challenges the historiography of the Confederacy at many levels and offers a sophisticated analysis of the evolution of a Confederate identity over a half century.
Rodney Steward is an assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina, Salkehatchie. His works have appeared in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, and North Carolina Historical Review.
The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign
The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg have inspired scrutiny from virtually every angle. Standing out amid the voluminous scholarship, this book is not merely one more narrative history of the events that transpired before, during, and after those three momentous July days in southern Pennsylvania. Rather, it focuses on and analyzes nineteen critical decisions by Union and Confederate commanders that determined the particular ways in which those events unfolded.
Matt Spruill, a retired U.S. Army colonel who studied and taught at the U. S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, contends that, among the many decisions made during any military campaign, a limited number—strategic, operational, tactical, organizational—make the difference, with subsequent decisions and circumstances proceeding from those defining moments. At Gettysburg, he contends, had any of the nineteen decisions he identifies not been made and/or another decision made in its stead, all sorts of events from those decision points on would have been different and the campaign and battle as we know it today would appear differently. The battle might have lasted two days or four days instead of three. The orientation of opposing forces might have been different. The battle could well have occurred away from Gettysburg rather than around the town. Whether Lee would have emerged the victor and Meade the vanquished remains an open question, but whatever the outcome, it was the particular decision-making delineated here that shaped the campaign that went into the history books.
Along with his insightful analysis of the nineteen decisions, Spruill includes a valuable appendix that takes the battlefield visitor to the actual locations where the decisions were made or executed. This guide features excerpts from primary documents that further illuminate the ways in which the commanders saw situations on the ground and made their decisions accordingly.
Volume 1, Legislative Achievements
A unique resource for students and professors alike, this book reveals the important practical, educational, and emotional benefits provided by college programs that allow students to help others through service work in inner-city classrooms, clinics, and other challenging environments. Filled with vivid first-person reflections by students, Experiencing Service-Learning emphasizes learning by doing, getting into the field, sharing what one sees with colleagues, and interpreting what one learns. As the authors make clear, service-learning is not a spectator sport. It takes students “away from the routines and comfort zones of lecture, test, term paper, exam” and puts them into the world. Service-learning requires them to engage actively with cultures that may be unfamiliar to them and to be introspective about their successes and their mistakes. At the same time, it demands of their instructors “something other than Power-Point slides or an eloquently delivered lecture,” as no teacher can predict in advance the questions their students’ experiences will raise. In service-learning, students and teacher must act together as a team of motivators, problem solvers, and change agents. While most of its personal vignettes come from service-learners who have worked as mentors in elementary schools, the book also includes a chapter in which coauthor Michele Gourley describes at length her experiences at a faith-based health clinic in Honduras. In offering such stories—along with a succinct introduction to basic concepts, an assessment of how service-learners can effect transformational change, and project examples—this text will not only prepare students for the adventures of service-learning but also aid professors and administrators tasked with developing service-learning courses and programs.
Archaic Sacred Sites and Rituals
In this provocative work, Cheryl Claassen challenges long-standing notions about hunter-gatherer life in the southern Ohio Valley as it unfolded some 8,000 to 3,500 years ago. Focusing on freshwater shell mounds scattered along the Tennessee, Ohio, Green, and Harpeth rivers, Claassen draws on the latest archaeological research to offer penetrating new insights into the sacred world of Archaic peoples. Some of the most striking ideas are that there were no villages in the southern Ohio Valley during the Archaic period, that all of the trading and killing were for ritual purposes, and that body positioning in graves reflects cause of death primarily. Mid-twentieth-century assessments of the shell mounds saw them as the products of culturally simple societies that cared little about their dead and were concerned only with food. More recent interpretations, while attributing greater complexity to these peoples, have viewed the sites as mere villages and stressed such factors as population growth and climate change in analyzing the way these societies and their practices evolved. Claassen, however, makes a persuasive case that the sites were actually the settings for sacred rituals of burial and renewal and that their large shell accumulations are evidence of feasts associated with those ceremonies. She argues that the physical evidence—including the location of the sites, the largely undisturbed nature of the deposits, the high incidence of dog burials, the number of tools per body found at the sites, and the indications of human sacrifice and violent death—not only supports this view but reveals how ritual practices developed over time. The seemingly sudden demise of shellfish consumption, Claassen contends, was not due to overharvesting and environmental change; it ended, rather, because the sacred rituals changed. Feasting with Shellfish in the Southern Ohio Valley is a work bound to stir controversy and debate among scholars of the Archaic period. Just as surely it will encourage a new appreciation for the spiritual life of ancient peoples—how they thought about the cosmos and the mysterious forces that surrounded them.
Houses and Spaces of Resistance
The Fiction of Gloria Naylor is one of the very first critical studies of this acclaimed writer. Including an insightful interview with Naylor and focusing on her first four novels, the book situates various acts of insurgency throughout her work within a larger framework of African American opposition to hegemonic authority. But what truly distinguishes this volume is its engagement with African American vernacular forms and twentieth-century political movements. In her provocative analysis, Maxine Lavon Montgomery argues that Naylor constantly attempts to reconfigure the home and homespace to be more conducive to black self-actualization, thus providing a stark contrast to a dominant white patriarchy evident in a broader public sphere. Employing a postcolonial and feminist theoretical framework to analyze Naylor’s evolving body of work, Montgomery pays particular attention to black slave historiography, tales of conjure, trickster lore, and oral devices involving masking, word play, and code-switching—the vernacular strategies that have catapulted Naylor to the vanguard of contemporary African American letters. Montgomery argues for the existence of home as a place that is not exclusively architectural or geographic in nature. She posits that in Naylor’s writings home exists as an intermediate space embedded in cultural memory and encoded in the vernacular. Home closely resembles a highly symbolic, signifying system bound with vexed issues of racial sovereignty as well as literary authority. Through a re-inscription of the subversive, frequently clandestine acts of resistance on the part of the border subject—those outside the dominant culture—Naylor recasts space in such a way as to undermine reader expectation and destabilize established models of dominance, influence, and control. Thoroughly researched and sophisticated in its approach, The Fiction of Gloria Naylor will be essential reading for scholars and students of African American, American, and Africana Literary and Cultural studies.