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Essays in Honor of T. Harry Williams
A legendary professor at Louisiana State University, T. Harry Williams not only produced such acclaimed works as Lincoln and the Radicals, Lincoln and His Generals, and a biography of Huey Long that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, but he also mentored generations of students who became distinguished historians in their own right. In this collection, ten of those former students, along with one author greatly inspired by Williams’s example, offer incisive essays that honor both Williams and his career-long dedication to sound, imaginative scholarship and broad historical inquiry.
The opening and closing essays, fittingly enough, deal with Williams himself: a biographical sketch by Frank J. Wetta and a piece by Roger Spiller that place Williams in larger historical perspective among writers on Civil War generalship. The bulk of the book focuses on Robert E. Lee and a number of the commanders who served under him, starting with Charles Roland’s seminal article “The Generalship of Robert E. Lee,” the only one in the collection that has been previously published. Among the essays that follow Roland’s are contributions by Brian Holden Reid on the ebb and flow of Lee’s reputation, George C. Rable on Stonewall Jackson’s deep religious commitment, A. Wilson Greene on P. G. T. Beauregard’s role in the Petersburg Campaign, and William L. Richter on James Longstreet as postwar pariah.
Together these gifted historians raise a host of penetrating and original questions about how we are to understand America’s defining conflict in our own time—just as T. Harry Williams did in his. And by encompassing such varied subjects as military history, religion, and historiography, Lee and His Generals demonstrates once more what a fertile field Civil War scholarship remains.
Lawrence Lee Hewitt is professor of history emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University. Most recently, he and Arthur W. Bergeron, now deceased, coedited three volumes of essays under the collective title Confederate Generals in the Western Theater.
Thomas E. Schott served for many years as a historian for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command. He is the author of Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography, which won both the Society of American Historians Award and the Jefferson Davis Award.
The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry
Offering a fascinating look at an ordinary soldierʼs struggle to survive not only the horrors of combat but also the unrelenting hardship of camp life, Lee and Jacksonʼs Bloody Twelfth brings together for the first time the extant correspondence of Confederate lieutenant Irby Goodwin Scott, who served in the hard-fighting Twelfth Georgia Infantry. The collection begins with Scottʼs first letter home from Richmond, Virginia, in June 1861, and ends with his last letter to his father in February 1865. Scott miraculously completed the journey from naïve recruit to hardened veteran while seeing action in many of the Eastern Theater’s most important campaigns: the Shenandoah Valley, the Peninsula, Second Manassas, and Gettysburg. His writings brim with vivid descriptions of the menʼs activities in camp, on the march, and in battle. Particularly revelatory are the details the letters provide about the relationship between Scott and his two African American body servants, whom he wrote about with great affection. And in addition to maps, photographs, and a roster of Scott’s unit, the book also features an insightful introduction by editor Johnnie Perry Pearson, who highlights the key themes found throughout the correspondence. By illuminating in depth how one young Confederate stood up to the physical and emotional duress of war, the book stands as a poignant tribute to the ways in which all ordinary Civil War soldiers, whether fighting for the South or the North, sacrificed, suffered, and endured.
Industrial Heritage versus Environmental Policy
In The Legacy of American Copper Smelting, Bode J. Morin examines America’s three premier copper sites: Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, Tennessee’s Copper Basin, and Butte- Anaconda, Montana. Morin focuses on what the copper industry meant to the townspeople working in and around these three major sites while also exploring the smelters’ environmental effects. Each site dealt with pollution management differently, and each site had to balance an EPA-mandated cleanup effort alongside the preservation of a once-proud industry. Morin’s work sheds new light on the EPA’s efforts to utilize Superfund dollars and/or protocols to erase the environmental consequences of copper-smelting while locals and preservationists tried to keep memories of the copper industry alive in what were dying or declining post-industrial towns. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the American history of copper or heritage preservation studies, as well as historians of modern America, industrial technology, and the environment.
One of nineteenth-century America’s most controversial military figures, Gideon Johnson Pillow gained notoriety early in the Civil War for turning an apparent Confederate victory at Fort Donelson into an ignominious defeat. Dismissed by contemporaries and historians alike as a political general with dangerous aspirations, his famous failures have overshadowed the tremendous energy, rare talent, and great organizational skills that also marked his career. In this exhaustive biography, Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr. and Roy P. Stonesifer Jr. look beyond conventional historical interpretations to provide a full and nuanced portrait of this provocative and maligned man. While noting his arrogance, ambition, and very public mistakes, Hughes and Stonesifer give Pillow his due as a gifted attorney, first-rate farmer, innovator, and man of considerable political influence. One of Tennessee’s wealthiest planters, Pillow promoted scientific methods to improve the soil, preached crop diversification to reduce the South’s dependence on cotton, and endorsed railroad construction as a means to develop the southern economy. He helped secure the 1844 Democratic nomination for his friend and fellow Tennessean James K. Polk and was rewarded after Polk’s victory with an appointment as brigadier general. While his role in the Mexican War earned him a reputation for recklessness and self-promotion, his organization of what would become the Army of Tennessee put him at the forefront of the Confederate war effort. After the disaster at Donelson, he spent the rest of the war directing Confederate conscription in the West and leading Rebel cavalry forces—a role of continuing service which, the authors show, has been insufficiently acknowledged. Updated with a new foreword by noted Civil War scholar Timothy D. Johnson, The Life and Wars of Gideon J. Pillow portrays a colorful, enigmatic general who moved just outside the world of greatness he longed to enter.
Where Lakes End and Rivers Begin
After the death of his paddling companion, a German shepherd–Labrador retriever mix named Jasper, Kim Trevathan began a series of solitary upstream kayaking quests in search of what he calls “liminal zones,” transitional areas where dammed reservoirs give way to the current of the rivers that feed them. For four years he scoured the rivers and lakes of America, where environmentally damaging, and now decaying, man-made structures have transformed the waterways. In this thoughtful work, he details his upriver adventures, describing the ecological and aesthetic differences between a dammed river and a free-flowing river and exploring the implications of what liminal zones represent—a reassertion of pure, unadulterated nature over engineered bodies of water. Trevathan began by exploring the rivers and creeks of his childhood: the Blood River and Clarks River in western Kentucky. He soon ventured out to the Wolf River, the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, and other waterways in Tennessee. In 2008, he looped around the country with trips to Indiana’s Tippecanoe River, Montana’s Clearwater River, Oregon’s Deschutes and Rogue Rivers, and Colorado’s Dolores River, as well as adventures on such southeastern rivers as the Edisto, the Tellico, and the Nantahala. To Trevathan, paddling upstream became a sort of religion, with a vaporous deity that kept him searching. Each excursion yielded something unexpected, from a near-drowning in the Rogue River to a mysterious fog bank that arose across the Nantahala at midday. Throughout Liminal Zones, Trevathan considers what makes certain places special, why some are set aside and protected, why others are not, and how free-flowing streams remain valuable to our culture, our history, and our physical and spiritual health. This contemplative chronicle of his journeys by water reveals discoveries as varied and complex as the rivers themselves.
The Limits of Literary Historicism is a collection of essays arguing that historicism, which has come to dominate the professional study of literature in recent decades, has become ossified. By drawing attention to the limits of historicism—its blind spots, overreach, and reluctance to acknowledge its commitments—this provocative new book seeks a clearer understanding of what historicism can and cannot teach us about literary narrative.
Editors Allen Dunn and Thomas F. Haddox have gathered contributions from leading scholars that challenge the dominance of contemporary historicism. These pieces critique historicism as it is generally practiced, propose alternative historicist models that transcend mere formula, and suggest alternatives to historicism altogether. The volume begins with the editors’ extended introduction, “The Enigma of Critical Distance; or, Why Historicists Need Convictions,” and then is divided into three sections: “The Limits of Historicism,” “Engagements with History,” and “Alternatives to History.”
Defying convention, The Limits of Literary Historicism shakes up established modes to move beyond the claustrophobic analyses of contemporary historicism and to ask larger questions that envision more fulfilling and more responsible possibilities in the practice of literary scholarship.
Located near Cumberland Gap in the rugged hills of East Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) was founded in 1897 to help disadvantaged Appalachian youth and reward the descendents of Union loyalists in the region. Its founder was former Union General Oliver Otis Howard, a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, who made it his mission to sustain an institution of higher learning in the mountain South that would honor the memory of the Civil War president. In Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia, LMU Professor Earl J. Hess presents a highly readable and compelling history of the school. Yet the book is much more than a chronology of past events. The author uses the institution’s history to look at wider issues in Appalachian scholarship, including race and the modernization of educational methods in Appalachia. LMU offered a work-learn program to help students pay their way, imparting the value of self-help, and it was hit by a massive student strike that nearly wrecked the institution in 1930. LMU has played an important role in shaping what higher learning could be for young people in its region of southern Appalachia. The volume examines the involvement of O. O. Howard and his unflagging efforts to establish and fund the school; the influence of early twentieth-century industrial capitalism— Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were benefactors—on Appalachia and LMU in particular; and the turn-of-the-century cult of Lincoln that made the university a major repository of Lincolniana. Meticulously researched and richly illustrated, Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia is a fresh look at the creation, contributions, and enduring legacies of LMU. Students, alumni, and friends of the university, as well as scholars of Appalachian culture and East Tennessee history, will find this book both enlightening and entertaining.
Frontier Tennessee during the Cherokee Wars