At its core, Civil Discourse offers fresh and thought-provoking content via our blog, which delves into one of the richest and most significant eras in American history: the 19th-century.
Examining the era via a range of perspectives and lenses (political, cultural, social, gender, and military, among others), Civil Discourse invites you to read our thoughts and share your own.
While we at Civil Discourse strive to present a wide variety of topics and viewpoints, our content is ultimately a product of our own experiences. Learn more about Civil Discourse by checking out our mission statement and authors' bios.
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We periodically highlight content that has us thinking, arguing, reflecting, and learning.
Recently, our own Katie Thompson began her popular "Secrets of a Cemetery" series, which explores the unknown tales of those buried at Fredericksburg National Cemetery in Virginia. You can catch up on her series by starting here:
While the story strays far from the original, Keaton and his collaborators based the film The General on a memoir written by William Pittenger entitled The Great Locomotive Chase. At times overshadowed by larger military events, the action Pittenger was involved in was one of the most daring and compelling stories of behind-the-lines action in the war. On April 12, 1862 twenty Union men who had snuck into Confederate territory stole The General and raced for Chattanooga, Tennessee, hoping to destroy railway and communication lines along the way. The end result was both exciting and devastating for those involved.
Ole Miss has been in the news several times in the last couple of years, dealing with its Civil War and Civil Rights legacy. In 2010, the university made headlines when they changed their school mascot away from one that highlighted its Confederate heritage. In 2014, an Ole Miss fraternity was shut down after students placed a noose on the statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll in the all-white school. Most recently, the university joined the Confederate flag debate when the students and faculty chose to remove the state flag, which includes Confederate symbols, from the campus.
The National Park Service is turning 100! All year long the NPS has promoted the "Find Your Park" movement to encourage people to visit and connect with the wide variety of parks under the NPS. We are encouraging our readers to find their favorite parks by promoting the centennial events of some of the Civil War parks. Be sure to visit and check out some of these events and celebrate the NPS Centennial!
Recently at the Society of Civil War Historians conference I was asked if any Civil War soldiers committed “suicide” by purposely placing themselves in harm’s way. Besides the question of whether the deaths of Confederate generals Hill and Garnett were such suicides, I recently found this interesting anecdote in Gregory A. Coco’s The Civil War Infantryman.
Should we consider Indian Territory a border state?
Within one hundred miles of Ft. Monroe, the catalyst for military emancipation under the command of Benjamin Butler, military operations along the coast of Virginia bled into North Carolina’s Outer Banks and had lasting implications for its seemingly small population. Within this militarily and geographically dynamic area, Richard Etheridge would make a name for himself both as an advocate for Civil Rights and leader of the freedman’s population along the coast.
In terms of civic expressions of patriotism, few ceremonies are more quintessential than the Memorial Day Parade. Although the holiday honors those who fell in the service of the nation, veterans have always had a pivotal role in public expressions and observances. Veterans of the Civil War continued to participate in Memorial Day Parades well into the twentieth century, but as the years waned on, their role in these exercises began to change. By the 1930s, Civil War veterans were largely viewed by the public as curiosities or living memorials, their experience a lesson that Americans could draw upon for modern issues.
The National Park Service is turning 100! All year long the NPS has promoted the "Find Your Park" movement to encourage people to visit and connect with the wide variety of parks under the NPS. We are encouraging our readers to find their favorite parks by promoting the centennial events of some of the Civil War parks. Be sure to visit and check out some of these events and celebrate the NPS Centennial! For more on the Centennial and "Find Your Park" program visit findyourpark.com. Click here to see the Centennial events at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park!
The Society of Civil War Historians hosts their biennial conference in historic Chattanooga, Tennessee this week, and starting Thursday (June 2), Civil War historians from around the country will converge on Chattanooga to "talk shop," if you will. This includes Civil Discourse's Katie Thompson, Zac Cowsert, and Chuck Welsko, and we hope to bring you all with us as we poke around Chickamauga, take ourselves to the cutting edge of scholarship, present our own research, and generally have a damn good time in Tennessee.
With all the research that has been done on the Civil War, at times it seems as if the individual is lost in the seas of voices, stories, and statistics. Armies are huge entities, regiments move like blocks on a map, and the individual experience is lost. I found that when looking at a cemetery or even during Memorial Day events, the whole scope of death and devastation was apparent as one took in the rows of uniform graves, but there was no deeper connection to the lives and deaths of the men sleeping below our feet.