By opening up the study of violence in the Civil War to non-traditional warfare and making comparisons to international events, The Calculus of Violence argues that the American Civil War was violent or restrained at different times and places during the war, that violence occurred along a spectrum over the course of the conflict but did not move in any linear progression. Sheehan-Dean also demonstrates that the Civil War, considered devastating to the United States at the time, did not compare to other uprisings and conflicts around the world that were far deadlier.Read More
Katie Thompson reviews John Reeves’ new work The Lost Indictment of Robert E Lee, a reevaluation of Lee, President Johnson, and Reconstruction through the lens of the legal case brought against the former Confederate General in the aftermath of the Civil War.Read More
In this panel presented at the 2018 Southern Historical Association meeting in Birmingham, AL the panelists focused on the experiences of northern civilians who traveled south into the Confederacy during the Civil War. The panelists were Paul E. Teed (Saginaw Valley State University) and Frank J. Cirillo (New-York Historical Society) with Caroline E. Janney (University of Virginia) presiding. Comments were provided by Michael T. Bernath (University of Miami) ad Paul A. Cimbala (Fordham University).Read More
Historians had long analyzed the context of Confederate defeat during Reconstruction and the creation of the Lost Cause in the years after Reconstruction ended. This panel at the 2018 Southern Historical Association demonstrated that there are more avenues for historians to unpack the meanings of Confederate defeat and the building of the Lost Cause. The panelists were Amy L. Fluker (University of Mississippi), Ann L. Tucker (University of North Georgia), and Sarah K. Bowman (Columbus State University).Read More
As moderator Megan Kate Nelson (Writer) suggested, there are many ways to utilize animal studies to further the study of the Civil War Era, including as means of transportation, food, and on the battlefields of the war. In fact, any historians that starts to look at the logistics of the conflict automatically needs to be interested in animals. This session was set up as a roundtable with Joan E. Cashin (Ohio State University), Kenneth Noe (Auburn University), and Paula Tarankow (Indiana University) as panelists.Read More
Using Gettysburg as a focus, these five historians engaged in the complicated question of what to do with Confederate memory and the role historians must play in the conversations happening all over the country. The answer to the question of Confederate monuments and commemoration is not clear. The fact that there have been several plenary sessions at conferences over the past few years, all of which asked a lot of questions and posed a lot of suggestions but could not offer clear solutions, reflects how complex the conversation can be.Read More
Recent scholarship starts to reimagine the boundaries of Civil War scholarship in continental or international terms and reexamines the role of the West in both the antebellum and wartime periods. The opportunities of this new scholarship were evident in two panels presented at the Organization of American Historians conference in April 2018.Read More
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.Read More
As we enter into the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction many historians are questioning how to re-interpret the period and present it to the public. From a lay perspective history is often seen as stagnant, made up of names, dates, and facts to be learned and recited. But in reality, the understanding of history shifts and changes as new evidence is uncovered or a new interpretation is adopted. In historian lingo this is called historiography, essentially the history of how history has been understood and presented in the past. In terms of Reconstruction, there has been a wide swing of scholarship in the last century.Read More
What are the boundaries of Reconstruction and how can historians redefine them? This was the subject of a roundtable session at the Southern featuring Stephen Hahn, Stacy L. Smith, Elliott West, and Heather C. Richardson as panelists. Historians usually define the period of Reconstruction as 1865-1877 where Americans rebuilt the country and racial relations after the Civil War and most equate the end of Reconstruction with the destruction of black civil rights in the south. These historians challenged the audience to rethink the meanings of Reconstruction.Read More
In our first-ever Roundtable this summer, we asked Civil Discourse's scholars what event most influenced the outcome of the Civil War. Our answers were wide-ranging, but they would have been familiar to many of our readers: the Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle of Antietam, the fall of Atlanta, and more. Today, we shift our attention to areas overlooked or left behind by scholars, asking our panel:
What Civil War topics deserve greater attention from historians and scholars?Read More
Tucked away in a brief footnote within later editions of Douglas Southall Freeman's monumental four volume R.E. Lee, the famous Civil War historian penned a short account of an intriguing and "unhappy" episode in Robert E. Lee's younger life. The young Lee spent the summer of 1835 surveying the boundary between Ohio and Michigan Territory. Buried in a Freeman footnote, we learn the following:
An unhappy incident of Lee's experience on this survey was the accidental death of a Canadian lighthouse keeper "in a scuffle" over the use of his tower for running one of the survey lines. The only reference to this, so far as is known, is in Lee to G.W. Cullum, July 31, 1835...A search of Canadian records yields no details.
Did Robert E. Lee kill a man?