We're approaching a new year and Civil Discourse's second anniversary in 2017! As we did last year, we're finishing 2016 with a look back at the year's top ten posts. These popular pieces not only shed light on the Civil War but also allow us to understand the conflict from new perspectives. Without further ado, we begin our top ten countdown with posts six through ten! You can click on any post title to read more. In the coming days, we'll announce the top five posts of the year!
#10 - "'Still on Parade': Civil War Veterans and Civic Expression in Memorial Day Parades" by Becky Oakes
“'Each member of this little band of survivors of a war that is part of a vanished era has seen a whole lifespan of seventy years pass since his last battle was fought... Children unborn when they enlisted in Lincoln’s time have died of old age, while they march on.'
- 20 G.A.R. Men, Still ‘on Parade,’ Get Ovation in Memorial March,” New York Times, May 31, 1934.
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."
#9 - "'In Behalf of Humanity': Richard Etheridge, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, and Reconstruction" by Becca Capobianco
"Prior to the Civil War, the Outer Banks of North Carolina were sparsely inhabited, defined by the tumultuous weather that constantly loomed and brought the Atlantic Ocean often into the hearts of people’s homes. The lack of workable land severely limited agricultural opportunities in the area, and consequently slavery held little sway along the coastal regions. Yet the Outer Banks would play a disproportionately large role in the beginning years of the Civil War, despite its sparse population and the relatively (compared to places like Antietam, Shiloh, and Chancellorsville) small size of its military engagements. Within one hundred miles of Ft. Monroe, the catalyst for military emancipation under the command of Union general 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."
#8 - "'A Very Spicy Little Sheet': The Knapsack, A Soldier's Newspaper and the Politics of War" by Zac Cowsert
"A Union officer once remarked, “Does not a newspaper follow a Yankee march everywhere?” In the fall of 1863, the soldiers of the Fifth West Virginia Infantry found themselves stationed at Gauley Bridge in the southern part of their newly-minted home state. It proved to be a relatively peaceful posting and, apparently true to Yankee form, the men promptly set about establishing a regimental newspaper. Forming the rather grandly named Fifth Virginia Publishing Association, the Association soon began issuing copies of the four-page Knapsack every Thursday morning at five cents a copy. Although only published for a few months, the paper illuminates much about soldier life and the politics of war."
#7 - "Should Indian Territory Be Considered a Border State" by Zac Cowsert
"When historians speak of the border between North and South, they usually mean the Potomac and Ohio Rivers, and the well-known “border states” of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. But while the “border state framework” (as I’ve come to call it) often stops along the Missouri-Kansas line, the actual border (and borderlands) between North and South did not—it continued westward through Indian Territory, down into New Mexico/Arizona, and perhaps, as the panelist suggested, even further west to California or north into the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest.
These broad thoughts swiftly came full circle back to my own research, and I began to wonder…Should we consider Indian Territory a border state?
An important question, I think. If we begin to envision the borderland between the Union and Confederacy as something more than the regions along the Potomac and Ohio Rivers (with Missouri thrown in), we should be able to make the case that more border states (or border territories!) existed. And in acknowledging their existence, perhaps we can better connect the Civil War West to the Civil War East.
And what better place to begin than Indian Territory itself? Isn’t Indian Territory a border state?"
#6 - "'In Their Own Country': The Curious Case of the 8th Virginia, Antietam, and Home" by Justin Voithofer
"September 17th, 1862 would captivate the nation; indeed, the fighting along Antietam Creek in rural Maryland may have been the most important day of the American Civil War. Yet one regiment of the Union Army was instead focused on what was happening on a small river in western Virginia..."