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Throughout the past four weeks we have been discussing the memorials of the Civil War and the impact they have had on the memory of the Civil War. I have been wondering throughout this if other nations commemorate their soldiers in a similar fashion to that of the Southerners and the rhetoric they use to remember a terrible event. In doing a Google search, I found there are some memorials and museums in Europe, particularly pertaining to World War II and the Holocaust, but there doesn’t seem to be the vast number of memorials as there are in the United States about the Civil War. In doing my Google search, I found a new article sharing the dedication of a memorial in London to World War II Bombers and the impact they had on the war.

There are several memorials in Britain to commemorate the soldiers who fought during World War II, but this is the first to commemorate the crews during the war because the air raids these crews carried out killed at least 300,000 German civilians and had completely destroyed many German cities. The Allies did not want to remember this shortly after discovering the horrors of the Holocaust.[1]

The memorial that was unveiled last week in London to commemorate “those of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing of 1939-1945.”

Before the memorial was unveiled and dedicated, invitations were extended to the German government to send representatives to the dedication ceremony in an attempt to “broaden the theme of reconciliation.” The Germans, still obviously upset about the destruction the raids caused, were not even happy with the wording on the memorial:  “This memorial also commemorated those of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing of 1939-1945.”[2]

An attempt to reconcile with the wronged nation, sound familiar? Seems like memorials all over the world have the same goals in mind: commemorate our fallen soldiers, make us look as good as possible in a terrible event and don’t offend whoever it was you were fighting. The Civil War memorial all across the South in battle fields, cemeteries and town squares do the same thing. Most of the memorials do not mention the cause of the war, nor do they mention the numbers of civilian lives lost, they simply mention the lives of the soldiers. Seems to me, our friends across the pond have at least come a bit further with their war memorials being more inclusive than many of the memorials across the United States.


[1] John F. Burns, “British Memorial Honors World War II Bomber Crews,” The New York Times, June 28, 2012, under “Europe,” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/world/europe/britain-honors-world-war-ii-bomber-crews.html?_r=1 (accessed July 4, 2012).

[2] Burns, “British Memorial.”

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Gettysburg today is remembered as the scene one of the most violent battles in American history.  It is one of the most visited historic sites in the country, with nearly three million people visiting a year, spending 381.1 million dollars, employing over five thousand workers. [1] Gettysburg was a town long before the battle, but it would appear that the battle is the only thing Gettysburg is known for.

If you Google “Gettysburg,” the first thing that comes up is a site dedicated to Gettysburg. Navigating around the site you find a list of businesses in the area, which makes Gettysburg seem like any other small town in the United States. It has art galleries, attorney’s offices, car dealers, a college, and other familiar town amenities.[2] Most of the website (even the header of the website has a photo of Civil War reactors lined up with cannons and tents in the background) is dedicated to the battle. But the town was founded long before the battle. Upon visiting the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s website, you would expect to find more about the town itself, rather than the battle. You would be wrong; however, as this site, like Gettysburg.com, has a list of businesses and services the town provides, its history page leaves something to be desired. A paragraph about the Civil War and the impact it had, and has had on the town.[3]  Finding the history of the town before the war is difficult. It seems that the town did not exist before the war found it. But the town was established in the late eighteenth century, and was named the country seat in 1800 when Adams County was created. The town had a thriving industrial backing, as well as the normal banks, taverns, housing, etc. [4]

The Civil War and the battle defiantly put Gettysburg on the map, but there is more to the history of the town, but it seems that even the historical communities are oblivious to this. It seems that when one even takes place in the town that literally rocks the town they focus solely on that event, almost forgetting the rest of the history. I’m sure the town of Gettysburg has a more rich history that the battle sites portray, but no one wants to remember that. It makes me wonder, if the reason that the town focuses so much energy into the battle sites and little into the rest of the history, is it all about the money that the tourists bring with them?


[1] “Tourism in Adams County, PA,” Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, accessed June 28, 2012, http://www.gettysburg.travel/media/facts.asp

[2] “Area Merchants—Other Services,” Gettysburg.com, accessed June 28, 2012, http://www.gettysburg.com/communit/cocindex.htm

[3] “Town History,” Gettysburg: The Most Famous Small Town In American, Accessed on June 28, 2012, http://www.mainstreetgettysburg.org/history.html

[4] “History of Gettysburg,” Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, accessed on June 28, 2012, http://www.gettysburg.travel/about/history.asp

In reading Dixie’s Daughters by Karen Cox I became interested in not only the United Daughters of the Confederacy but of other Lost Cause driven organizations and their use of media to promote the Lost Cause. The Lost Cause has had more history written about it than any other aspect of the Civil War. While thinking about this, I simply used Google to see if some of the organizations are still around today and what they stand for.

If you Google the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it takes you to a website that automatically plays a message from a Confederate soldier (or so he claims) and states that too many today people today are spreading lies of reasons why the soldiers of the south went to war, states that the Confederacy went to war to fight for its future generations, and asks to help promote the heritage that southerners feel by joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans. If you are a descendant of a southern who served in the military and can prove it (the website has convenient links to help you find the proof they need), you’re in. On the about section of the webpage, you find that if you are a member, you get a subscription to the magazine Confederate Veteran and are eligible to receive scholarships and grants for post-secondary education.[1] There is a research section of the website, which can take you to the SCV’s education papers, written and published by the SCV. One such document describes African-Americans service on both sides of the war, but pays particular attention to blacks that served in the Confederacy.[2] I have added a link to the document here, so you can judge for yourself if it is self-promoting propaganda or not.

The SCV has a Facebook page, and has nearly nine thousand followers and a Twitter, which has nearly 450 followers. On the other side of the coin, if you Google the SCV’s northern counterpart, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and it would appear that there are similarities between both the SCV and the SUVCW, they both grant scholarships. Though it would appear that this membership is not as great as that of the SCV (I was unable to locate numbers of members for both organizations) but if we are to judge off of Facebook and twitter, as we did earlier, the numbers are easy to compare. Fewer than two thousand people like their Facebook page, and they do not have a twitter page and no one is talking about the organization, unlike its southern counterpart. They also do not have as strict guidelines for becoming a member, and no perks like receiving a bi-monthly magazine.[3]

The differences of these two groups are amazing. They both set out to do the same thing, commemorate their fathers and grandfathers of the War, but it seems the SCV is still going strong, while the SUVCW has fallen off the wayside. What, if anything, does this say about the Lost Cause and its teachings about the Civil War even 150 years after the war ended?


[1] The Sons of Confederate Veterans, “What is the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” http://www.scv.org/whatis.php [accessed on June 21,2012].

[2] The Sons of Confederate Veterans Education Committee, “Black History Month:  Black Confederate Heritage,” Sons of Confederate Veterans. http://www.scv.org/documents/edpapers/blackhistory.pdf [accessed on June 21,2012].

[3] The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, “Membership Eligibility and Application,” http://suvcw.org/member.htm [accessed on June 21, 2012].

In watching Gone With the Wind I have always been amazed with the helplessness of Scarlett O’Hara and how she both fits the classic mold of the genteel, southern woman who needs someone to look after her. From the very beginning of the film, when Scarlett is doting on two beaus, she gets angry at the word that Ashley is going to marry someone other than herself, she storms off, to which her mammy calls out the window after her that she needs a shawl.

This and many other themes of how a woman should behave and other feminine stereotypes are shown throughout the film, as in other films depicting the era. Stereotypes like the idea that she needs a chaperon wherever she may go, as depicted when planning on going to Atlanta to ask Rhett Butler for money to pay the taxes on Tara, and Mammy asks her who is going to go with her. The idea that ladies do not work, as the hands are a mark of a true lady, when Scarlett goes Rhett and he sees her hands callused and rough. Or that all good southern women help the Confederate cause in any way they can, when Scarlett helps at a fundraiser even though she is in mourning and not supposed to be out in public at all, though this stereotype is broken when she says she will dance with Rhett after he places a bid on her to raise money for the cause.

Scarlett, on a visit to Atlanta, depicts another stereotype that comes out whenever there is any discussion of women’s involvement in the Civil War, nursing wounded soldiers in a hospital, as the stereotype would lead us to believe, to help the cause and their countrymen as best they can. This stereotype is far from true, as southern women, particularly the elites that Melanie and Scarlett depict, were hesitant to take up nursing jobs for many reasons. The first is that it was labor, someone that women should not be doing in the first place. Two southern elites whose diaries survived the war, Kate Cumming and Phoebe Yates Pember both describe that they had to fight snubbing from their equals for even working.*

Melanie Wilkes is Scarlett’s antagonist, and probably the better depiction of the genteel southern woman. She even helps goes so far as to help The Cause by giving her gold wedding band to help raise money for the cause. While serving as a nurse at the hospital in Atlanta, she stands helplessly next to a soldier’s bed with Scarlett while the solider reminisces about his home. Scarlett says she wants to go home, and Melanie expressed the hope that if Ashley is laid up in some other hospital that he would have someone next to his bedside. She even knows that the only reason that Scarlett stayed to help her rather than run when the Yankees are bombarding Atlanta with cannon fire is because she promised Ashley she would look out for her. Melanie fits the stereotype better if only to antagonize Scarlett.

The helplessness displayed by Scarlett only seems to come to an end when Rhett leaves her on the way to Tara, and she must literally take the reins and find the way home herself. This carries on even after she gets home, when she takes charge of running Tara, forcing her sisters to work the fields, and even shoots a Yankee scoundrel who is apparently planning on raping her, though this is not the end of the helplessness for good. After the war she does seem to have control of her life, but that control is once again taken from her in a shantytown on her way out to her lumber mill, when a couple of men harass her to the point of fainting, and only when the audience sees Big Sam running to help does it feel relieved. Her honor then needs to be saved by the southern gentlemen, who raid the town that night.

Stereotypes of women during the Civil War are used in several other Civil War films, like the depiction of Charlotte in The Undefeated, where the daughter of Confederate Colonel James Langdon needing to be protected by the young southern men from the man that she is in love with (the young man just happens to be Native American). It would seem that the only film that breaks the stereotype of the helpless woman in the south is Shenandoah, where the daughter of the main character puts on her brother’s clothes, grabs a horse and helps in the search of her youngest brother who has been captured by Union troops. When she answers her father’s claim “You’re a woman!” she replies “Yes I’m a woman, but I don’t see anyone here I can’t outrun, outride or outshoot.”

Breaking the stereotype of genteel womanhood seems to be a rarity in films depicting the Civil War, and it would appear there is no explanation for this.

* Jane E. Schultz, Women at the Front:  Hospital Workers in Civil War America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 40.