Tag Archives: week 3

I couldn’t get this to post as a response, so…

I hope that those in charge of creating the Harriet Tubman memorials will take more care to make sure the information is correct before presenting it to the public. It reminds me of the monument to Martin Luther King Jr. The memorial of King on the National Mall in Washington came under scrutiny when Maya Angelou, celebrated poet and civil rights proponent, criticized the quote.  Angelo charges that the quote, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,”* was taken out of context.  It makes sense that when making such a permanent monument to historical figures, maybe more scrutiny should be given to the information before it becomes public.

* Eyder Peralta, “A Paraphrased Quote Stirs Criticism of MLK Memorial” NPR(blog), August 31, 2011,


To continue with a similar idea to my post last week, and incorporate some things from this week, I looked into a film that I know is influential to some people I knew in the Kansas City area.  Ride With the Devil was directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell.[1]  The movie and novel take place along the Missouri-Kansas border in the Civil War period.  The main character, Jake Roedel (played by Toby Maguire), joins a band of bushwhackers with his friend Jack Bull Chiles (Skeet Ulrich), when Chiles’ father is killed by a group of pro-Union guerrillas.[2]  The film is pertinent because it unabashedly forwards a Lost Cause mythology, and it is interesting because the mythology has some very distinctly Missourian facets.

Several elements of the Lost Cause are present in Ride With the Devil.  First, similarly to how the South claimed to be up against insurmountable odds in terms of manpower and industry, Roedel, Chiles, and their guerrilla comrades have to face not only rival partisans, but at times whole armies of Union troops.  And they do so with out even real military backup.  Secondly, the Jayhawkers (pro-Union Kansan guerrillas) and Union troops are portrayed as invaders and destroyers of Missourians’ way of life from the beginning of the film.  In contrast, the bushwhackers are represented as the sons of poor farmers who take to the woods to defend their homes and property.  Thirdly, the issue of slavery is barely dealt with, except when showing the pro-Southern bushwhackers having freed a slave.  This former slave, Daniel Holt, is shown being so grateful to his liberator that he, too, takes up arms against the Union.[3]

One significant divergence from Lost Cause orthodoxy is the brutality of the protagonists.  Throughout the film, they are seen acting without mercy, and generally un-gentlemanly.  The culmination of this behavior is when they sack the town of Lawrence, Kansas, with guerrilla chief William Quantrill.[4]

When I saw the movie, I thought it was so-so.  When I looked back at it with some more understanding of the Lost Cause, I can see how it perpetuates the ideology in a unique way in the Missouri-Kansas border region.

[1] Daniel McCarthy, “Ride With the Devil,”, March 27, 2001, accessed 6/28/2012 at

[2] McCarthy.

[3] Ride With the Devil, directed by Ang Lee (Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures, 1999), HD Stream from Netflix.

[4] Ride With the Devil.

The Civil War has brought about many controversial ideas; one idea is that if blacks were involved at all in the confederate army.  In all the books and discussions we have had in class, almost always there is a limited, almost nonexistent view of male African Americans and their participation in the Civil War.  Slavery was obviously a big part of the war and there are discussions about African American slaves and African American women but not a lot of details on black involvement in the fighting.  After doing some searching on the internet, I found some interesting things about black confederates, and some perturbed people claiming that they did not exist at all.  Despite all the evidence involved, there are those who claim black men were in no way part of the confederate army and try to defend it with all they can, truth or not.  Then there are those who have looked through many primary sources and found evidence of slaves being involved, but it may have not been on their own free will.

 A personal story of African American slaves involved in the war was John Parker and some others who fell into fighting at Bull Run.  Kate Masur who is a historian for Northwestern explains that all four men were slaves, ordered by their owners to fight for the Confederate cause. ‘We wish[ed] to our hearts that the Yankees would whip and we would have run over to their side but our officers would have shot us if we had made the attempt,’ Parker recalled.[1]  Does this story represent that masters forced their slaves to work in the Confederate army or was it their own will that they joined in the fighting?


There are other stories and evidence to prove that there were black confederates.  The battle at  Fort Pillow in Tennessee consisted of a garrison by one regiment of black troops, numbering 262, and a cavalry detachment of similar size, for a total of 557 men.[2]  Then the most infamous group, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, in which the regiment consisted of all black men.  There is also another story about blacks participating in regiments here and there.  Do you think these blacks in the confederate army are valid or are they made up?

 On one hand there are people like Harvard professor John Stauffer who states that, “They say the Civil War was about states’ rights, and they wish to minimize the role of slavery in a vanished and romantic antebellum South.  But most historians of the past 50 years hold that the root cause of the Civil War was slavery. They bristle at the idea of black Confederates, which they say robs the war of its moral coin as the crucible of black emancipation.”[3]  Even though the amount of black’s fighting for the confederacy was low, it still shows that they were there and they were fighting.  Stauffer states that blacks who shouldered arms for the Confederacy numbered more than 3,000 but fewer than 10,000.[4]  On the other hand, many scholars believe that black confederates did not exist.  Fergus Bordewich, who wrote the fiction book The Root, is not alone in his position. Top-ranking scholars have repeatedly torpedoed the myth, including Bruce Levine, the renowned professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Edwin Bearss, historian emeritus at the National Park Service; and Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, editor-in-chief of The Root and chair of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. Yet it persists.[5]  What do you think?  Are black confederates a myth or did they really exist?  If they did exist, why do you think they were involved?

A slave cartoon from Harpers Ferry, January 1863.

For more information about black Confederates:

54th Massachusetts:

Confederate Law to authorize enlistment of slaves:

Myth of black confederates:

[1] Kate Masur, “Slavery and Freedom at Bull Run,”  New York Times Opinion Pages, accessed June 28, 2012,

[2] J Rickard,”Fort Pillow Massacre, 12 April 1864,”  History of War, accessed June 28, 2012,

[3] John Stauffer, “Black Confederates,” Harvard Gazette, accessed June 28, 2012,

[4] John Stauffer, “Black Confederates, ”  Harvard Gazette, accessed June 28, 2012,

 [5] Lynette Holloway, “The Myth of Black Confederates Persists, 2011,”  The Root, accessed June 28, 2012,

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, 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,

[2] “Area Merchants—Other Services,”, accessed June 28, 2012,

[3] “Town History,” Gettysburg: The Most Famous Small Town In American, Accessed on June 28, 2012,

[4] “History of Gettysburg,” Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, accessed on June 28, 2012,

In class, we have argued the role of women in the Civil War. I delved further into the role of women during this period by researching Elizabeth R. Varon and her podcast interview with the Organization of American Historians.  Varon argues that the role of women during the Civil War was not just an occasional appearance by a few well-known women, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe. She argues that women were an integral part in the origins of the Civil War. [1] Her article in the New York Times, which the interview draws from, discusses individual case studies of women who made difference.[2]  For example, many historians are aware of the importance of Harriett Beecher Stowe’s writing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It has been credited with bringing awareness of the horrors of slavery. I, however, was not aware of books written in response to Stowe’s novel. Varon attributes these novels as, “enduring volley in the ongoing literary war over slavery,”[3] that leads to Margaret Mitchel and Gone with the Wind.   In her interview, Varon discusses the repercussions women experienced because of their public involvement in the abolition movement. Women, such as the Grimke sisters, were considered a threat to traditional values and were therefore divisive and destructive. The Grimke sisters were actively involved in abolition conventions during the mid-1800s.[4] Many religious groups considered women’s involvement in these actions as unwomanly.  I could see where men, Northern or Southern, would see this as a threat to their way of life.  If white males considered themselves as the top of the hierarchical food pyramid, then any changes in at the foundation would be taken as a threat.  Women were even a hazard in the North. Men allowed women to be part of the abolition movement as long as they were being foot soldiers. The north did not want women to take on public roles because it only caused more division between abolitionists and anti-abolitionists.  That did not stop men from asking women to be part of the political process, and legitimizing it with a women’s stamp of approval. Each side counted on women as being the mediators of their cause.

Even though men regarded women with importance when it came to counting them as part of the abolition movement, men on either side did not want women to publicize their help.  For women this fight continued beyond the Civil War.  The Civil War became a battleground for more than abolition. It became a proving ground for women.  Varon brings to light many of the individual battles that women had to fight, and the important role that women played in dividing the North and the South.

[1] Elizabeth R. Varon, interview by Carl R. Weinberg, OAH Magazine of History, Organization of American Historians, podcast audio, March 2011,

[2] Elizabeth R. Varon, “Women at War,” The Opinionator(blog), New York Times, February 1, 2011,

[3] (Varon, 2011)

[4] Karen Board Moran, “The Grimke Sisters,” Worcester Women’s History Project, accessed on June 28, 2012,

Unfortunately, most people who study the American Civil War and how it is remembered often overlook the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Even as I typed this last sentence, the program that I am using to type does not recognize the word Glorieta, but it does recognize the word Gettysburg. Sadly, most of the people who have heard about the Battle of Glorieta Pass only recognize it as being referred to as “the Gettysburg of the West.” This title that the battle has been coined into, is what mainly caught my attention to the subject. I decided to research the Battle of Glorieta Pass and eventually came across the National Park Service (NPS) website.

The Battle of Glorieta Pass

Southwest United States 1862 – Click on Image for Larger View

Once on the NPS website, I found a summary of the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Within the summary, the description of the battle states the following, “Glorieta Pass was a strategic location, situated at the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, southeast of Santa Fe, and on the Santa Fe Trail. In March 1862, a Confederate force of 200-300 Texans under the command of Maj. Charles L. Pyron encamped at Johnson’s Ranch, at one end of the pass. Union Maj. John M. Chivington led more than 400 soldiers to the Pass and on the morning of March 26 moved out to attack. After noon, Chivington’s men captured some Rebel advance troops and then found the main force behind them. Chivington advanced on them, but their artillery fire threw him back. He regrouped, split his force to the two sides of the pass, caught the Rebels in a crossfire, and soon forced them to retire. Pyron and his men retired about a mile and a half to a narrow section of the pass and formed a defensive line before Chivington’s men appeared. The Yankees flanked Pyron’s men again and punished them with enfilade fire. The Confederates fled again and the Union cavalry charged, capturing the rearguard. Chivington then retired and went into camp at Kozlowski’s Ranch. No fighting occurred the next day as reinforcements arrived for both sides. Lt. Col. William R. Scurry’s troops swelled the Rebel ranks to about 1,100 while Union Col. John P. Slough arrived with about 900 men. Both Slough and Scurry decided to attack and set out early on the 28th to do so. As Scurry advanced down the canyon, he saw the Union forces approaching, so he established a battle line, including his dismounted cavalry. Slough hit them before 11:00 am. The Confederates held their ground and then attacked and counterattacked throughout the afternoon. The fighting then ended as Slough retired first to Pigeon’s Ranch and then to Kozlowski’s Ranch. Scurry soon left the field also, thinking he had won the battle. Chivington’s men, how-ever, had destroyed all Scurry’s supplies and animals at Johnson’s Ranch, forcing him to retreat to Santa Fe, the first step on the long road back to San Antonio, Texas. The Federals had won and, thereby, stopped Confederate incursions into the Southwest. Glorieta Pass was the turning point of the war in the New Mexico Territory.”[1]

The Battles of Glorieta Pass and Apache Canyon – Click on Image for Larger View

In addition to the summary, I was delighted to find that the NPS website also has a section titled “Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans.” Within this section is a lesson plan titled, “The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream.” I believe that this lesson plan has the potential of being an excellent tool for teachers to use in educating students about the importance of this battle. The reason that the Battle of Glorieta Pass has been termed “the Gettysburg of the West” is for the fact that it was this battle that prevented the Confederate Army from advancing further west with the hopes of attaining the Confederacy’s much needed economic resources (gold, silver, access to seaports,etc.)[2]

In closure, I hope that teachers not only in the West, but that all American Civil War teachers study and in turn teach about the Battle of Glorieta Pass. This battle is highly important to the studying of the American Civil War because it was a major loss for the Confederacy. As a result of this loss, the Confederacy was denied advancement to the West and the economic resources that they needed to finance the Battle of Gettysburg and other battles that were yet to happen in the great American Civil War.


[1] National Parks Service, “Battle Summary: Glorieta Pass” (accessed June 28, 2012)

[2] National Parks Service, “The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Shattered Dream” (accessed June 28, 2012)

One of the questions asked in class this past week was . . . “Are there any memorials to Civil War African Americans?”  The only one we could come up with was the Robert Shaw Memorial in Boston.  After searching the internet, I have discovered a number of monuments dedicated to the African American (referred to in the past as “Colored”) veterans of the Civil War.  In fact there is not only a monument in Washington, D.C. but a museum dedicated to the service of African Americans during the Civil War.  The “Spirit of Freedom” and the African Civil War Memorial and Museum can be seen at:    African American Civil War Memorial and Museum.  The museum opened in 1999 and relocated to its present location in the “U” Street District in 2011.

The following list is found on the website “ Monuments to the United States Colored Troops (USCT): The List

List of USCT Monuments:
1. The Connecticut Twenty-Ninth Colored Regiment, C. V. Infantry; New Haven, Connecticut.
2. The African-American Civil War Memorial – The Spirit Of Freedom; Washington, District of Columbia
3. 2nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops; Fort Myers, Florida
4. Colored Soldiers Monument (AKA Kentucky African American Civil War Veterans Monument); Frankfort, Kentucky
5. In Memory of More Than 400 Prominent United States Colored Troops from Kent County; Chestertown, Maryland
6. Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment; Boston, Massachusetts
7. African American Monument; Vicksburg, Mississippi
8. 1st Kansas Colored Infantry Civil War Monument – “Battle of Island Mound”; Butler, Missouri
9. 56th United States Colored Troops Monument; St. Louis, Missouri
10. Soldiers’ Memorial at Lincoln University, Missouri; Jefferson City, Missouri
11. In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers: Hertford, North Carolina
12. United States Colored Troops National Monument; Nashville, Tennessee
13. West Point Monument (AKA Norfolk African-American Civil War Memorial); Norfolk, Virginia

It seems noteworthy that most of these memorials dedicated to African American soldiers are located in previously Confederate states or in what were border slave states.  There are memorial statues or monuments in Norfolk, VA, Hertford, NC, Nashville, TN, and Vicksburg, MS.  One must admit that the impressive statue in Vicksburg is surprising.

Most of these monuments have been placed in recent times (after the 1990s).  However it does depict a willingness to acknowledge the role and impact of African Americans during the American Civil War.  It seems impossible to place these monuments in southern locations and previous slave states without recognizing the issue of slavery and its role upon the division of our nation and the agency of African American men in playing a decisive role in achieving northern victory.  Granted, there are only a few of these monuments in contrast to the hundreds depicting the courageous Confederate soldiers; but a few may signal something significant in how this nation’s memory of the Civil War may be changing.  Do a few memorials to African American veterans of the Civil War mark a new view of the Civil War or are they simply a way to appear more diverse and appease the African American populations of the South?  Could they be an attempt to include the “Colored Troops” in the reuniting effort of all the soldiers uniting in valor and courage?