After reading Gary Gallagher’s book, I grew more curious about the Lincoln statue controversy. Gary Gallagher details in Causes Won, Lost & Forgotten how many southerners rose up in opposition to a statue depicting Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad in Richmond, Virginia – the former capital of the Confederacy. Supporters of the statue argued that including it at Richmond was a: “historical symbol of unity and reconciliation.”[1] The Sons of Confederate Veterans considered the statue to be “a slap in the face of a lot of brave men and women who went through four years of unbelievable hell fighting an invasion led by President Lincoln.”[2] Protestors of the Lincoln statue held up signs depicting Lincoln on a wanted poster and others comparing Lincoln to Hitler, Bin Laden, and other war criminals.[3] There was even a small plane with a banner with Sic Semper Tyrannis written on it. John Wilkes Booth uttered these words shortly after fatally shooting Lincoln.[4]

Abraham Lincoln has long been considered a divisive figure to southerners. When Lincoln traveled to Richmond, the city was still aflame from the Union capture and hostile Confederates were still nearby as Lincoln and his 12 year old son toured the city.[5]

In opposition to the statue, the Sons of Confederate Veterans would also sponsor a symposium where scholars critical of Lincoln were invited to discuss their negative views of him. [6] It is difficult to believe that Lincoln is still treated with such animosity nearly 150 years after his death. There have always been claims that when Lincoln was assassinated Southerners remarked that his death was the “Worst thing for the South” and this is echoed in Gallagher where he states that Lincoln desired an easy transition for the South in returning to the Union.[7] I was under this belief. That Lincoln’s death was met with great sadness in the North as well as the South. Is the hatred that the SCV has shown towards Lincoln misdirected? Further, is the SCV so fanatic that they will lash out publicly against anything representing Non-Confederates? What can we learn from this controversy and as teachers should we lend credence to Southern sympathies?


[1] Gary W. Gallagher. Causes Won, Lost, & Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 209.

[2] Gallagher, 211.

[3] Gallagher, 212.

[4] Gallagher, 212.

[5] Frank James “Lincoln Statue Fuels Controversy”. The Baltimore Sun, March 13, 2003. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2003-03-13/news/0303130338_1_lincoln-statue-president-abraham-lincoln-richmond [Accessed July 4, 2012].

[6] Ibid.

[7] Gallagher, 212.

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Cavalry Bugler

Legend has that it in July 1862 Union General Daniel Butterfield had enough.  The military bugle call at the time, a calling derived from a French bugle melody, found its way into the mouthpiece of every bugler.  Used in reveille, lights out, and the honoring of the fallen, the French tune irritated Butterfield to no end.  Thus, he conceived to compose his own bugle call.  At Harper’s Landing, Virginia, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Michael Lee Laming writes, “There he made what may be his most lasting contribution to the military.”[1]  Laming is astute in this observation as Taps, the bugle call credited to Butterfield, has survived the Civil War.  Historical memory has remembered Butterfield and the story of the creation of Taps well.  However, Taps isn’t the only military song of the Civil War to have a colorful history.

One of  the most famous military songs to come out of the Civil War is not “Taps”, and maybe even more shocking, not even Northern.  The Confederate ‘national anthem’, Dixie, is well known today and has entered the American psyche as a powerful statement of rebellion.  In fact, the song is so famous, it is played by the modern United States Military Academy Marching Band.  The song was composed in 1859 by Dan Emmett who composed a lot of music for minstrel shows and appeared many times in blackface.[2]  Emmett, a native of Ohio, said in composing the piece, “Like most everything else I ever did, it was written because it had to be done.”[3]

The tune, in historical memory has taken on epic proportions.  In Gone with the Wind, the song is heard as a rallying cry after the fall of Fort Sumter, and again after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg.  In the latter, the camera focuses on a band corps playing the tune to strike up pride in the Confederate cause.  The scene becomes disagreeable as a young band member sheds a tear as he plays.  In reality, the song found its origins exclusively on the minstrel stage, and not in the hearts and minds of Southerners.  The Lost Cause pride in the anthem is laughable when considering the true first lyrics of the song and not the longing to be back in the South:

Dis worl’ was made in jiss six days,

an’ finished in various ways,

Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie land.[4]

When singing the song today it is only fitting when beginning the Confederate anthem to sing in the original minstrel fashion, and remember the stereotypical black dialect written by Emmett:

I wish I was in de land ob cotton,

Old times dar am not forgotten,

Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie land.[5]

The racial undertones of Dixie come through when examining the lyrics of the piece, which seems to be seldom done.  Historical memory concerning the song has forgotten these undertones and instead focuses on the upbeat nature of the piece, made even more impactful by nature in which the song has been played in recent years by bands belong to the United States military.  However, as memorable as Dixie is, it would be inappropriate to leave out the fact that the Union had a similar prideful tune, minus the racial undertones of course.

 

Battle Hymn of the Republic was composed by an individual that can be considered the exact opposite of Emmett.  Composed in in 1861 by Julia Ward Howe, Howe may actually be considered less of a composer and more of a lyricist.  Around this time she heard a group singing John Brown’s Body, a popular marching song of the day.  This tune proved to be so popular that numerous lyricists wrote variations on the lyrics.  Howe’s lyrics, as the legend told by her goes, were composed while her infant slept.[6]  Published in 1862 in The Atlantic Monthly, the Battle Hymn of the Republic evoked pride and nationalism.  Interesting to note, Howe herself was an abolitionist and devout evangelical.  Her lyrics and the song, like Dixie, have survived the years and entered into American memory, serving as a song of rally during the World Wars.[7]

 

 

While Battle Hymn of the Republic remains in the repertoire of military bands this day, few recall the biblical passages associated with the song.  The lyric, “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;” most assuredly comes from Revelations 14:19 which reads, “And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”  The translation, this blogger asserts, is that Howe contends that the institution of slavery has laid over the land for too long and the wrath of God has festered and has now been unleashed upon the South.  Not all marching tunes of the Union, it should be noted, were steeped in abolitionism.

 

 

Another famous rallying tune for the Union was a very old song to the soldiers of the Civil War.  When Johnny Comes Marching Home was an Irish folk song of the seventeenth century and, interestingly enough, was at first an anti-war song.[8]  In 1863, Patrick Gilmore wrote the lyrics to the Irish folk song and became the song we know it as today.[9]  Being a folk song, the tune is less of a military march and more of popular tune.  Much like Johnny Comes Marching Home, Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel, composed in 1863 by John Thompson was less of a marching song.  Thompson’s composition, as Historian Chandra Manning notes that the song, “Mocked the Union Army’s failure to capture Richmond in 1861 and 1862.”[10]  Unfortunately, this wonderful backstory has faded from memory and now resides only with historians.

 

 

Songs of the Civil War are numerous and varied and all of them have interesting stories.  Whether Union or Confederate, abolitionist or pro-slavery, the music of the Civil War is intriguing.  As it is played today, Civil War tunes are much different in terms of connotation, but knowing these stories will elucidate the impact of the Civil War on music of the day.  Concerning music, perhaps  Ulysses S. Grant said it best when he claimed, “I only know two tunes: one of them is ‘Yankee Doodle’, and the other isn’t.”

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Lanning Lt. Col., The Civil War 100 (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2008), 345.

[2] Steven H. Cornelius, Music of the Civil War Era (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2004), 30.

[3] Dan Emmett, quoted in Steven H. Cornelius, Music of the Civil War Era (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2004), 30.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Diane Ravitch, The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation, Rev. 2nd ed. (New York, NY: William Morrow Paperbacks, 2000), 257.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Mark Aldrich, A Catalog of Folk Song Settings For Wind Band (Milwaukee: Meredith Music, 2004), 36.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War, 1st Vintage Civil War Library ed. (New York: Vintage, 2008), 53.

“There is
Some indescribable communion
Between a man and horse
Who’ve shared the roughest roads,
The longest hours,
The hardest battles;
A singleness of spirit, faith unflagging.”
Jack Knox, excerpt from The General’s Mount: a Poem on General Forrest’s Horse

When discussing the Civil War, the use of animals is often left out of the dialogue because let’s face it, without PETA around, no one really cared if a horse died here or there.  The Civil War was all about marching and mobility, and so horses played a critical role in the transportation of guns, supplies, and soldiers.  Horses were not the only animal utilized, mules and oxen also bared the brunt of the war.

Mules were the best tempered for the war scene and could walk through trails of wooded areas if needed.  They could carry heavy loads, most often with pieces of howitzers through mountainous and wooded terrain.[1] The use of mules to carry howitzers and other guns was a choice based on their fitness for the task, not due to any shortage of horses. The Manual for Mountain Artillery, adopted by the U.S. Army in 1851, stated that the mountain howitzer was ‘generally transported by mules.’ The superiority of mules in rough country outweighed their notorious contrariness under fire.[2]

Horses were the animal of choice but as the war raged on, especially in the South, many were in short supply.  The generals realized the importance of horses and demanded that they be taken care of in the fullest extent so they could go into battle with the utmost strength.  Robert E. Lee and Sherman both issued orders for specific care to be given to the horses under their command, to the extent that if anyone in charge of the horses neglected them, they would be punished.  As the war waged on, both sides would steal horses from no only other soldiers but from the towns they went through as well.

In spite of the care given to artillery horses, the animals still perished at an astounding rate. Many died of disease or were put to death because of exhaustion. Many more were killed alongside their battery mates in battle.[3]

Over an estimated 1.5 million Equines; horses & mules perished during the Civil War this page is dedicated to the memory of their service.[4]  Most horses did not die from one bullet wound, many were shot up seven or eight times. Horses played a major role in moving, supporting, and being a strong arm for both sides during the Civil War.

Civil War monument dedicated to all the horses lost


[1] James R. Chostner,  “America’s Civil War: Horses and Field Artillery,”  History Net, accessed July 3, 2012, http://www.historynet.com/americas-civil-war-horses-and-field-artillery.htm.

[2] Chostner, “America’s,” July 3, 2012.

[3] Chostner, “America’s,” July 3, 2012.

[4] Michael Luca, “Civil War Horse,” High Bridge Battelfield Museum, accessed July 3, 2012, http://highbridgebattlefieldmuseum.com/civil_war_horse.

In the book, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten, How Hollywood & Popular Art Shape What we Know about the Civil War, Gary Gallagher devotes chapter 4 to the fine arts and the power of the image.[1]  Civil War artists captured the battles and their heroes in the style of realism to aid in remembering the Lost Cause.  Since ancient times, the skills of the artist have captured epic moments of the past on a grand scale. Art documents the events worth remembering or sometimes forgetting in history.

During the nineteenth century, the cyclorama became a popular media to record grand events, especially battles.  The Battle of Gettysburg painted by the French Artist Paul Philippotcaux became a famous featured cyclorama of the late 1800’s.[2]  Philippoteaux made several sketches from the photographs he took of the battles. Over fifty Civil War battles were captured in the cyclorama, Paul created four original Gettysburg cycloramas, and only one survives intact at the Gettysburg Museum.  Recently restored by European artists at the cost of $13 million dollars, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park officials made plans to create a permanent edifice to house the epic chronicle of the historical battle.[3]Understanding the importance and value of an original piece is part of the aesthetic experience. Paintings actually created during the specific time period provide valuable resources to the past. However, Gallagher gives examples of contemporary artists like Mort Kunstler who continues to capture the same battles, the same people, the same style, it’s all very redundant, and very commercial to be sure. Gallagher notes that “Original Lost Cause art interpreted African Americans as carrying out their quotidian labors without challenging the Confederacy’s slave based social structure.”[4]

Maybe the time has come to look at a new cause from a new perspective from the other side of the fence.

Cyclorama Paper Silhouette, created by Kara Walker, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Compare the art of contemporary African American female artist Kara Walker who also creates large room installations but with a different twist of memory. Born in 1969 and considered one of the most talented, and controversial artist of her generation. Her first art installation in New York was titled: Gone, A Historical Romance of Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of one Young Negress and her Heart.[5]  Her work is black and white; no middle ground. She uses the Victorian style of the cut out silhouette. Through these forms, she reveals her story of the American South before the Civil War. The form distinguishes the status of the character. Her compositions play off the stereotypes and life on the plantation “where masters and mistresses and slave men, women, and children enact a subverted version of the past in an attempt to reconfigure their status and representation.” Her installations forcefully pluralize our notion of a singular “history’, with “back stories and revisions that slash and burn through the pieties of patriotism and the glosses of color blindness.”[7]

In 1997,  Kara Walker created a commissioned 85-foot-long cyclorama work for the Walker’s Group Exhibition, the monumental Slavery! Slavery! Presenting a GRAND and LIFELIKE Panoramic Journey into Picturesque Southern Slavery or “Life at ‘Ol’ Virginny’s Hole’ (sketches from Plantation Life). Her work remembers a different color of the past that can be difficult to look at directly.  She questions, “How do you make representation of your world given what you’ve been given?” [8].  

Click on her name to watch this clip for further insight into her work.

Kara Walker 

 


[1] Gary W. Gallagher, Lost, and Forgotten, How Hollywood & Popular art shape What we Know about the Civil War (Chapel Hill:The University of North Carolina, 2008) 161-179.

[2] Diana Loski, “The Cyclorama: Art for the Masses.” The Gettysburg Expression, November, 2011,1, Accessed July 3, 2012, http://www.thegettysburgexperience.net/past_issue_headlines/2011/august2011/cyclorama.html

[3] Loski, 1

[4] Gallagher, 181

[5] Ian Berry; Darby English; Patterson; MarkReinhardt; Vivian “Beyond the Controversy Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress” Kara Walker Review Johanna Branson The Women’s Review of Books, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Jan., 2004), Published by: Old City Publishing, Inc.1URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4024363 Accessed: 02/07/2012 01:16

[6] Barbara Kruger, “Arts & Entertainers, Kara Walker,” Time Specials:The Time 100, May 03, 2007.21,accrssed July 3, 2012 http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/time100/article/0,28804,1595326_1595332_1616818,00.html #ixzz1zbeTPV75

[7] Kruger, 21.

[8] Kara Walker, “The Art of Kara Walker :A Companion to the Exhibition — My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love”,WalkerArtCenter, accessed July3, 2012, http://learn.walkerart.org/karawalker

 

“The Peacemakers” by George P.A. Healy

Now that we are close to the end of this class, it seems that an inordinate amount of time and energy was spent working to vindicate the South. The results of the work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is the most tangible in terms of the many, many monuments erected as memorials to Confederate leadership, museums, portraits, etc.  It appears that no equivalent campaign was needed in the North because they, after all, were the victors.  In the century and a half since the war ended the Union generals and other leadership are no longer held in such high regard.  Certainly the Lost Cause propaganda served to tarnish their reputations and that legacy continues in the minds of those who were exposed to that version of Civil War memory in the classroom.

In the post-Vietnam decades, as the culture has become increasingly anti-militaristic, the popular culture attempted to cast the military in a less than favorable light.[1]  For a while, interest in the Civil War ebbed to such a low point that many publications focusing on that subject had such a decline in readership that they considered suspending publication.[2]  There has been a resurgence of interest in the military because of the recent high levels of operations.  The large audience for Ken Burns’ Civil War series on PBS piqued public interest.  The sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War has received a great deal of coverage in the press and in general interest magazines.  I am optimistic that sufficient numbers of families, children especially, will have visited battlefields and other historical sites, reversing the trend of declining interest in the Civil War.

Upon reading Gary Gallagher’s book, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood & Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War, I was reminded of the negative reputation that many Union generals still hold today.  Gallagher, when referring to public demand for Civil War artwork, suggests that there are almost no prints of these leaders are either sold, or created.[3]  He confirms that this represents a reversal of the immediate post-Civil War trends, in which they were popular figures for artwork in the North.[4]  How is it that the memory of these men became so tarnished in the North?  Obviously, figures such as General William T. Sherman became the target of so much southern vitriolic as a result of his march to the sea.  However, he held in similar low esteem by many in the North.  Is it legitimate to demonize him and other Union generals?  I would suggest not; they too became victims of the aggressive Lost Cause re-write of Civil War memory.

 

 


[1] Gary W. Gallagher, Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood & Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 4.

[2] Gallagher, 5.

[3] Gallagher, 142-143.

[4] Gallagher, 184-185.

 

 

In four weeks of learning about the subject, it never occurred to me to see how the world defines the Lost Cause on our go-to problem solver, Google.  I often use the search engine to find out what the most popular and pressing views are of a particular topic, but there is no denying that Google is often used to find out the answer to a certain question.  When I Googled the Lost Cause, I came to find out about Confederate History Month.

In 2010, at the dawn of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation that reinstated Confederate History Month after its eight-year hiatus from the region.[1]  When the Governor issued the proclamation, he originally left out one “small” detail about both the Confederacy and the Civil War: the issue of slavery.  In its original state, the proclamation not only leads out slavery entirely, it is filled with boastful Lost Cause language and hypocritical statements.  For example, one of the whereas clauses reads, “it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present.”[2]  Yes, important for all citizens to reflect upon the history minus African Americans who want to show the progression from a time of slavery to a time of freedom.

Once again, one of the challenges I met in this course revolved around understanding why individuals fight something that is so easy and so beneficial for society.  Why would the Governor fail to include slavery when it could have clearly shown “how our history has led to the present?”  To me, it would have demonstrated a great deal of heroism for Virginia to describe how they have become more in touch with the modern world and its values of equality and freedom.  At the same time, I do not know why I am surprised either, especially after reading about the Confederate Museum, conveniently located in Virginia.

In a New York Times article entitled, “The South Reinterprets Its ‘Lost Cause,’” author Edward Rothstein describes how even though the Virginia Historical Society is not trying outright to continue the Lost Cause ideology, it occurs by happenstance.  For example, there is an exhibit called “Inconvenient truth or propaganda?” in which Harriet Beecher Stowe’s revolutionary book Uncle Tom’s Cabin is on display, conveniently next to a Southern “rebuttal” to the book entitled “Life in the South: Or ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ as It Is.”[3]  The latter of course describes that the slaves were happy and well treated.  Rothstein asks a good question in reference to these two books when he states, “Well, which is propaganda?  The exhibition’s understated response appears only in the display of a slave collar, as if pointing out that no ‘contented’ human being would consent to wearing such irons.  But why the reluctance to specify the truth simply, however inconvenient?”[4]

Unfortunately, the answer is because Virginia and other regions among the South truly want to continue their beloved ideology and frankly could care less about the historical accurateness or present-day repercussions for doing so.  In both the museum and the proclamation about Confederate History Month, there is a sense of focus around the valor and honor of the Confederacy as opposed to the fact that they did indeed lose the war.  However, I personally find them naïve if they think these kinds of remarks and actions will not bring up intense debate and inevitably bring out the truth of the matter.  Southerners like Governor McDonnell and the Georgia Sons of Confederacy (who have brochures about the celebration, which even have a list of Confederate Heroes Birthdays, but no regard to slavery)[5] should know better than anyone that the more ignorance individuals have towards a subject, the more attention the other side is going to bring to it.  Case in point, the proclamation as it stands two years later has a clause about slavery[6], no doubt as a result of President Obama’s public callout of the Governor.[7]  Unlike the preliminary days of the Lost Cause just after the war, one cannot simply ignore a part of the war today and expect nobody to notice.

I have learned a lot in the past four weeks, but the point that sticks out the most is that the Lost Cause ideology is alive and well in the present day.  Like any good ideology, it is going to shape how we not only learn about the Civil War, but also how we choose to remember it.

As southerner Emily Haynes states, “They can remember that war all they want…so long’s they remember they lost.”[8]


[1] Washington Post, “McDonnell’s Confederate History Month Proclamation Irks Civil Rights Leaders,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/06/AR2010040604416.html (accessed July 4, 2012).

[2] Washington Post, “Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s Original Confederate History Month Proclamation,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/07/AR2010040704411.html (accessed July 4, 2012).

[3] The New York Times, “The South Reinterprets Its ‘Lost Cause’,” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/arts/design/museum-of-the-confederacy-and-others-depict-the-lost-cause.html?pagewanted=all (accessed July 4, 2012).

[4] New York Times.

[5]Confederate History and Heritage Month Committee, “Confederate History Month 2011 Brochure Update,” Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, http://confederateheritagemonth.com/heritage/2011/entry.php (accessed July 4, 2012).

[6] Governor Bob McDonnell: A Commonwealth of Opportunity, “Confederate History Month,” Virginia.gov, http://www.governor.virginia.gov/ourcommonwealth/Proclamations/2010/ConfederateHistoryMonth.cfm (accessed July 4,2012).

[7] The Christian Science Monitor, “Confederate History Month Fight: Obama Rebukes Virginia Governor,” http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0409/Confederate-History-Month-fight-Obama-rebukes-Virginia-governor (accessed July 4, 2012).

[8] Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 52.

Happy Independence Day! 

On July 4, 1863 the Confederacy, under General Pemberton, surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant.  The Battle of Vicksburg is an excellent example of the Lost Cause.

“The Vicksburg campaign was one of the Union’s most successful of the war.  Although Grant’s first attempt to take the city failed in the winter of 1862-63, he renewed his efforts in the spring.  Admiral David Porter had run his flotilla past the Vicksburg defenses in early May as Grant marched his army down the west bank of the river opposite Vicksburg, crossed back to Mississippi, and drove toward Jackson. After defeating a Confederate force near Jackson, Grant turned back to Vicksburg. On May 16, he defeated a force under John C. Pemberton at Champion Hill. Pemberton retreated back to Vicksburg, and Grant sealed the city by the end of May. In three weeks, Grant’s men marched 180 miles, won five battles, and took 6,000 prisoners.

Grant made some attacks after bottling Vicksburg, but found the Confederates well entrenched. Preparing for a long siege, his army constructed 15 miles of trenches and enclosed Pemberton’s force of 29,000 men inside the perimeter. It was only a matter of time before Grant, with 70,000 troops, captured Vicksburg. Attempts to rescue Pemberton and his force failed from both the east and west, and conditions for both military personnel and civilians deteriorated rapidly. Many residents moved to tunnels dug from the hillsides to escape the constant bombardments. Pemberton surrendered on July 4.”[1]

The Battle of Vicksburg doesn’t receive very much attention, because in the east, the Battle of Gettysburg was occurring simultaneously.  The combined two Confederate losses mark the turning point of the war for the Union. 

What makes Vicksburg a shining example of the Lost Cause is that it fits most criteria associated with the Lost Cause.  David Blight states that “the ingredients that would form the Lost Cause were: public memory, a cult of the fallen soldier, a righteous political cause defeated only by superior industrial might, a heritage community awaiting its exodus, and a people forming a collective identity as victims and survivors.”[2] 

The public of Vicksburg remember very vividly the siege and eventual surrender.  It was not until the 1950s that Independence Day was celebrated with any conviction.[3]  The public memory that is shared by Vicksburg residents reinforces the memory of the Lost Cause.  In reference to the cult of the fallen soldier…according to civilwar.org, the Confederates had over 9,000 casualties.  This figure does not include civilian casualties.  The way the town was able to endure a 47 day siege shows how valiantly they fought.  Many soldiers and citizens died to save their town.  Also, reinforcements were not able to reach General Pemberton, thus proving that one of the key reasons why the Confederates surrendered was because the Union had limitless resources.  I believe the citizens of Vicksburg chose to unite around this battle because they had endured it together.  They are both the victims and survivors –each with their own challenges as the remainder of the Civil War played out. 

After exploring the National Park Service website, http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/index.htm, it is clear there are memorials to both the Union and the Confederacy.  There’s even a memorial to African American soldiers who helped fight for the Union at Port Hudson and at Milliken’s Bend.  Does this combination of memorials at the site of Vicksburg show reconciliation?  Or, is it an attempt by the Park Service to carry out due diligence and offer both perspectives of the battle?  If Vicksburg is an example of the Lost Cause, can it also participate in other memory theories?

[1] “This Day In History July 4, 1863: Confederates Surrender Vicksburg,”  History.com: This Day in History, accessed July 2, 2012, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/surrender-of-vicksburg.

[2] David Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001) 38.

[3] Beverly Beyer and Ed Rabey, “Vicksburg Hides Civil War Memories Behind Sleepy Facade: Once called Gibraltar of Confederacy, Mississippi River Town is Famed for Battlefield and Mansions, ” Los Angeles Times, October 18, 1992.