The history of the Lost Cause is something I find to be very intriguing.  Never had I heard of this, nor did I ever take much of interest in Civil War Memory.  That being said, this class opened my eyes to thinking about the many ways all historical events are remembered. For example, how do Japanese citizens view their role in World War II? Or better yet, how does Russia teach their youth to think about the Cold war?

As for the Civil War, I must admit that I have kind of developed a bit of compassion for those in the South.  Let me make it clear that in no way shape or form am I condoning their efforts to protect the institution of slavery.  But I am however, fascinated with the fact that the underdog was able to put up so much of a fight and how even during the worst of times, they were still able to keep their spirits up.  The Killer Angels novel sold it for me when General Pickett is celebrating and “whooping” after learning that it would be up to his division to take the ridge on the final day of battle. [1]

Another example as to why I’ve taken an interest in the efforts of the Confederacy is one I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion.  General Lee is without a doubt one of the most fascinating figures of the Civil War.  The way he prayed and relied on God to guide the course of the war suggests more than just character but also a devout Christian true to his cause.  The scene in the novel where General Lee confronts Jeb Stuart about his failed attempt to carry out orders is also something that grasped my attention.  Especially when he said “you were my eyes. Your mission was to screen this army form the enemy cavalry and to report any movement by the enemy’s main body. That mission was not fulfilled” and “luckily we escaped disaster.”[2]   I guess the reason it was so interesting to me is because of the way I pictured this event in my head.  He just seemed so calm despite the fact that his General failed to obey orders in specific hour of need.  Also, now that I have developed this interest towards General Lee, I am sure that I will continue to study this individual on a more personal level.

[1] Michael Shaara, Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War (New York: The Modern Library, 2004), 285.

[2] Shaara, 253.

   I’m not sure that this is an acceptable blog but it’s something that has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks.  During class introductions I stated that I am steeply indoctrinated into the Lost Cause vision of the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Later I was deeply offended by Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic because he seemed to find nutcases and fanatics in the South and seemed to portray them as representative of most southerners.  But I have to admit he forced me to consider the impact of the Lost Cause upon my own attitudes and opinions and how they have effected my life.  In working on defining/identifying the Lost Cause for our final, I have struggled to define this in myself.  What do I consider to be the Lost Cause?  How did I become indoctrinated?  How has it impacted me?

The Lost Cause, as we have learned, has meant different things to different times and places and even to individuals.  I have never held to the Lost Cause belief that slavery was a positive situation for southern society.  The idea that slavery was moral and appropriate seems outrageous and ignorant (yes, I used that word).  Slavery is an embarrassment to me and my ancestors.  (I do know that in the 1790s my forefather included his slaves in his will.)  Nothing can justify slavery.  It is something that one must acknowledge,accept, and deal with as an ancestor of a slave holder.  Nor do I adhere to the racism that accompanies the Lost Cause.  Unfortunately, I was raised in an environment or racism, something I have worked hard to overcome.  I still must guard my thoughts and attitudes at times because those early learning experiences become deeply rooted in our pysche.  My parents and many adults (and a few peers) exhibited racist attitudes and expressions as I grew up and through High School.  However through education and experience, that racism does not live on through me and my sons faced little exposure to those attitudes.

The aspects that I carry with me of the Lost Cause consist of the admiration for the courage and determination of the Confederate soldiers and the military leadership of the South.  My middle name is Lee which is very common among southerners. (This was left out of how we remember)  However I never viewed Lee or Jackson as some kind of superhero or idol.  My admiration for Lee resulted from his successes on the battlefield.  I agree with Gallagher that the military superiority of Lee was not a myth.*  He really was a remarkable military commander that achieved some pretty impressive victories over superior numbers.  That admiration toward Confederate courage and intelligence provides a sense of pride in my southern identification.

A second influence of Lost Cause indoctrination has resulted in my prejudice toward “Yankees.”  I still catch myself being critical of people from ‘the North.”  I’m not even sure what I exactly mean by “the North.”  The concept of the aggressive, intrusive, “nosey” Yankee comes from the Lost Cause influence that presents the North as a society of hypocrites that wanted to remove the “splinter from the eye of the South, but could not see the plank in their own eye.”  This comes from southern responses to the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the enforcement of desegregation (something I strongly support).

I’m not sure how I was indoctrinated.  I think it was more informal rather than being miss-taught  at school.  I heard of the heroics of Lee, Jackson, and Stuart through my parents.  The brief mention of them peaked my curiosity and I became an avid reader of Civil War material.  I did have a Civil War  professor from Mississippi that definitely taught the Lost Cause filled with great admiration of the Confederate cause.  But that really reinforced what I had already accepted.

I guess by accepting some of the Lost Cause I still adhere to it as a historian and teacher.  Through this class I have recognized my bias and the need to be careful how that impacts my memory of the past and how I present that view.  But I am not convinced that admiring the valor and the superior military leadership of the South somehow is demeaning.  I still identify myself as a southerner and that heritage is something of which I am proud.  I resent being looked down upon by some because I speak with a twang or am not quite sophisticated as others.  I enjoy a simpler, less complicated life.  I would rather attend a BBQ than a ballet production. (Sorry, Dr. Epps).

The only other thing that I can think of that may be a result of the Lost Cause doctrine is my conservative political views.  But those came as I got older and being opposed to a larger more powerful federal government doesn’t seem to be a uniquely southern view.

* Gary Gallagher, “Sharing Public Memory of the Civil War,” in The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture, ed. Alice Fahs and Joan Waugh (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 58.

When I was researching for my paper, I found something that I hadn’t thought much about before.  In Harrisonville, Missouri, which is a short drive from where I grew up, they have several interesting ways of commemorating the Civil War.  Harrisonville is the county seat of Cass County, which sits on the Kansas state line.  The county was the scene of really brutal violence before and during the war.  According to the website for the Battle of Lone Jack battlefield (about 20 miles from Harrisonville), the war really started in the region in 1854, when “Dishonorable men, clothing themselves with the contentions of patriotic citizens, crossed the State line from both sides and committed crimes of every kind from larceny to murder.”[1]

General Order Number 11, which I wrote about two weeks ago, turned the area around Harrisonville into a veritable wasteland.  Families had the option of leaving their homes outright, or swearing allegiance to the Union and moving to within one mile of a garrison town.  In Cass County, this meant that there are virtually no antebellum structures still standing.  The county, along with Jackson County, Bates County, and part of Vernon County, became known as the “Burnt District,” because all that remained were blackened chimneys.[2]  The monument today is a chimney, made from stone taken from the homestead of Henry Younger.  Younger was the father of bushwhacker Cole Younger, who, after the Civil War, joined Jesse James’ gang.  In Harrisonville, he is somewhat legendary.[3]

In the square in Harrisonville, murals surrounding the County Courthouse depict scenes from the Civil War era.  One mural is of “Jennison’s Jayhawks” looting the town in 1861.  Another is of the future outlaw, Cole Younger, and his family fleeing a farm put to torch by Union soldiers.  A third mural depicts “significant events, places and people of the Civil War in Cass County,” including burning buildings and what appear to be guerrillas.[4]

It is interesting to see these examples of memory shaping in the area where I’m from.  Growing up, I knew vaguely of the sentiments that these memorializations represent, but I had no idea these examples existed.

[1] “General Order #11,” Lone Jack Historical Society, accessed July 5, 2012, at

[2] “The Burnt District Monument: Inscription (left side plaque),”, September 1, 2009, accessed July 5, 2012, at

[3] “The Burnt District Monument,” Cass County Historical Society, 2012, accessed July 5, 2012, at

[4] “Civil War Murals on Harrisonville Square,” Cass County Historical Society, February 14, 2011, accessed July 5, 2012, at

The American Civil War experienced greater casualties than any other American war thus far. Totals are estimated to be around 560,000 deaths with twice the number of deaths caused by disease than battle wounds, several thousands more were left with injuries that would impact their daily routines for the rest of their lives.[1]

As mentioned above the majority of fatalities were not accrued on the battle field, but in the camps where unsanitary conditions created breeding grounds for disease. The most common disease during the war was chronic diarrhea due to vitamin deficiencies.[2] In order to understand the significant toll of disease on the Union army here are some statistics to create a clear and distinct picture. A total of 6,000,000 illnesses were treated in the North alone however only 425,000 of those occurred on the battlefield. In addition, diarrhea/dysentery affected 711 per 1000 men and various camp fevers affected 584 per 1000 men. Some further enlightenment, in one Union regiment of the 937 soldiers only 79 were healthy enough to fight after disease had spread through the camp in only a few short weeks.[3] Clearly, disease was a seriously detrimental issue of the Civil War, no man was left unaffected by these ailments and as the statistics show it’s hard to believe that any were truly healthy.

Unsanitary conditions and lack of understanding about the importance of cleanliness also contributed to mortality rates. Author Richard H. Shryrock, of the article, “A Medical Perspective on the Civil War,” quoted Philadelphia surgeon W. W. Ken, “ ‘We operated in blood-stained and often pus-stained coats. . .with undisinfected (sic) hands. . .We used undisinfected (sic) instruments. . .and marine sponges which had been used in prior pus cases and only washed in tap water.’ ”[4] The main cause of death after an injury was hemorrhaging and infection. A chemical named Lister was used during the war but surgeons only used this once they realized the wound was infected. This method was reactive rather than proactive; if surgeons had sterilized wounds from the onset the casualties would have been greatly reduced.[5] Surgeons lack of knowledge regarding medicine practices certainly attributed to the number of deaths however as compared to previous wars the medicine practice had improved during the Civil War.[6]

At the time of the war and even today there is a negative stigma attached to Civil War surgeons. The inadequate supplies, tools, sanitary conditions, and medicine however was the leading cause of death during the war. True many surgeons had little schooling but many did the best they could under the circumstances. There was little in the way of numbing medicine (often whiskey or morphine, both in short demand) so many men felt very distinctly the pain or surgery.[7] The Civil War was a hard time to be a soldier, medicine and surgery notwithstanding

When I first started researching medicine of the Civil War I was hoping to find more information on amputations but the statistics are unclear. Many amputations were unsuccessful due to hemorrhaging and infection. If a soldier was shot in the abdomen region his chances of survival were slim. Often it was better to be shot in the leg or arm where hopefully the broken bone would be amputated, leaving a soldier with a missing limb but alive nonetheless. The minie balls were especially harmful to soldiers, the size and weight nearly always left the soldier with irreparable injuries.[8] The number of pictures of amputated limbs of the Civil War would make many believe that the majority of deaths were a result of battle injuries. Today modern medicine has found several treatments for disease virtually eliminating it as a source of death in combat, instead wounds and injuries are the leading cause of American military deaths today, a complete reversal of 150 years ago.

* An interesting side note from Swiss physician Edwin Klebs in the 1880s: “ ‘. . .the greatest and most admirable success has been attained by the North Americans in military medical work. This history of the war of the secession has to show a display of medical and scientific activities that leave anything that ever since has been achieved in Europe way in the background. . .’ ”[9]

[1] Harold Ellis, Review of Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs, by Alfred Jay Bollet, British Medical Journal 325, no 7356 (2002), 170 (accessed July 4, 2012).

[2] Ellis, 170.

[3]  Michael A. Flannery, “Civil War Medicines: Approaches for Teaching,” OAH Magazine of History, 19 no. 5 (2005), 42 (accessed July 4, 2012).

[4] Richard H. Shryock, “A Medical Perspective on the Civil War,” American Quarterly, 14 no. 2 (1962), 162 (accessed July 4, 2012).

[5] Shryock, 163.

[6] Shryock, 164.

[7] Bollet, 170.

[8] Shryock, 162-163.

[9] Shryock, 169.

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,” (accessed July 4, 2012).

[2] Burns, “British Memorial.”

Like most memories, the memories of the American Civil War in the West appear to be fading with time. However, the memories of the American Civil War in the West are in far fewer numbers than the memories of American Civil War in the East. Therefore, I have taken this opportunity to try to preserve and share a local memory of the American Civil War in the West.

 While recently visiting the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo, Co, I came across a research document that accompanies the howitzer cannon at the El Pueblo History Museum. In the research document, historian Dustin Clasby writes about the El Pueblo History Museum’s howitzer cannon in the following information:

Mountain Howitzer Cannon – El Pueblo History Museum

“The 12-pound mountain howitzer that sits in the international hall of the El Pueblo History Museum has a long and varied history. The cannon was forged in 1847 in Boston, MA, by Cyrus Alger Iron Company. Cyrus Alger was a big name in the manufacturing of arms for the United States military. He is best known for making shot and artillery during the War of 1812, but his cannons were also used in the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the American Civil War (1861-65). Alger was the first to create a rifled barrel cannon in the United States.”[1]

“The particular artillery piece that sits in the museum is designated as a mountain howitzer because of its small size and weight, making it mobile enough to traverse rough terrain in the American West. The cannon is made of brass and weighs 220 pounds. It is capable of shooting a twelve-pound shot over 1000 yards with a half pound of black powder.” [2]

 “This howitzer was inspected for military use by James Wolfe Ripley. The ‘43’ on the front of the barrel is the inspection number and Ripley’s initials ‘J.W.R.’ are imprinted on the cannon. Ripley later became chief of ordnance of the Army and was instrumental in the modernization of the American artillery.” [3]

 “In 1861, the cannon was surrendered to the Confederate Army of Texas. It was then commissioned for use in the Army of New Mexico led by Henry Hopkins Sibley. The cannon may or may not have been used in the major engagements of the campaign. When the Confederates retreated back to Texas, supplies were destroyed at the Battle of Glorieta Pass. The retreating soldiers buried their remaining artillery and used the carriages to transport their wounded and supplies. The artillery was buried in Albuquerque, NM in 1862.”[4]

 “In 1892, Trevanion Teel, the artillery commander for the Confederates in the Army of New Mexico, led an expedition to recover eight buried cannons. In 1898, four of the cannons were donated to the state of Colorado. The Pueblo howitzer was kept in Denver, except for a short display at Fort Garland, until 1993 when it was officially given to the El Pueblo History Museum.”[5]

 As you can see from the photograph of the mountain howitzer cannon and the information provided within Clasby’s research documentation, the El Pueblo History Museum has in its possession a unique and interesting artifact from the great American Civil War. Upon closer inspection of the artifact’s history, revealed is a history that can be traced across the United States. Teachers can use the howitzer cannon as a tool to help carry on the memory of the great American Civil War and how the war affected the West.

 The El Pueblo History Museum also has a “History Mystery” educational activity, which is a fun way to learn about the museum’s howitzer cannon. The educational activity can be used with a variety of ages. For more information on the educational activity or to schedule a school field trip/large group, please contact the museum. Contact information for the museum can be found at the following web link:

Click for El Pueblo History Museum – History Colorado Website


In closure, I hope that by sharing this information, I have helped preserve the memory of the American Civil War in the West. I believe, when a person learns about something that they can relate to first, it then opens them up to the mental urge of wanting to learn about broader topics because they now see how the broader topics relate to them personally.



[1] Dustin Clasby, “The Howitzer Cannon at El Pueblo History Museum” (Research Documentation, El Pueblo History Museum, 2007)

[2] Clasby, 2007

[3] Clasby, 2007

[4] Clasby, 2007

[5] Clasby, 2007