Book of the Week


Civil War Canon:
Sites of Confederate Memory in South Carolina

by Thomas J. Brown

"There is no place quite like South Carolina for Civil War and Confederate memory. Thomas J. Brown brings a sophisticated, critical eye and a witty pen to this enduring controversy, showing a host of ways over 150 years that the Confederacy has endured and changed as it collided with modernity on the artistic and civic landscapes of the first state to secede. This book is a brilliant new turn in our quest to know why that war and its results have never gone away."
--David W. Blight, Yale University, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

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William Marvel: Sacrificing General Sherman

When Sherman cornered Joe Johnston in North Carolina, the two negotiated a complicated surrender agreement that essentially established terms for peace and reunion. It seems odd that neither recognized how far they had exceeded their authority, but both probably considered their proposal justifiable because their political leaders would have the opportunity to accept or reject it. Even Lincoln would surely have disapproved it, because it involved subjects over which he claimed sole authority, such as the restoration of political rights, amnesty, and the fate of state governments. He would, however, never have responded with the wrath shown by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. […]

William Marvel: Now He Belongs to the Ages?

One of the more touching moments in the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination came when a surgeon announced that the president was dead, whereupon the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, broke the silence. “Now he belongs to the ages,” Stanton ostensibly observed, with a poetic spontaneity for which he was not known. Numerous people recount some form of the quote, but none of them recorded their memory of the phrase until a generation later, after it appeared in the multi-volume Lincoln biography by his former secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay. Nicolay was not in Washington that night; Hay is often depicted at the bedside, although the room was not big enough to accommodate all who have subsequently been placed around it at the moment of the president’s death. […]

Graham T. Dozier: The Battle of Cedar Creek: The Best of Days, the Worst of Days

Two days later, when Tom took the time to send Susan a letter, he was still stunned. “In the morning [the Confederates] were lions, in the evening lambs. Such facts are incredible to one who has not witnessed them but they are unfortunately too true.” In the same letter, dated October 21, Carter offered a simple opinion as to why the battle had been lost. “The Yankee discipline,” he asserted, “is immeasurably superior to ours.” In a rare moment of frustration, he lashed out at the behavior of his army’s leaders. […]

Graham T. Dozier: A Civil War Tourist in 1861

Much like a modern visitor to a Civil War battlefield, Tom Carter desired not only to know what happened there but also to try and understand the battle’s importance. […]

Rod Andrew Jr.: When South Carolina Had Two Governors

Hampton sought to overthrow the corrupt Republican regime in Columbia and promised to protect black civil rights; Chamberlain had tried to bring reform and publicly dismissed Hampton’s promises to black voters. […]