The Week in Review: June 3rd-9th
After an extended hiatus, the "Week in Review" is finally back. So, without further ado, here are the news and highlights for the week.
Civil War in the News
Much of the news this week has been about the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Memphis. Additionally, Alonzo H. Cushing, a 22-year old Union artillery lieutenant who died during Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, is close to receiving the Medal of Honor. A little-noticed provision of a House-approved defense bill would waive the time limit for posthumously bestowing the nation’s highest military honor, allowing the medal to be bestowed on Cushing nearly 150 years after his valiant death. Friday, a life-sized statue of Dred and Harriet Scott was unveiled in front of the historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri. In related news, the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission dedicate a marker at the grave of John Porter McCown—the highest ranking officer in the Confederate States Army to be buried in Arkansas. In international news, the public Czech Radio Radiozurnal reported that Leopold Karpeles, a Jew born in Prague, received the Medal of Honor for his courageous efforts to the Union’s cause during the Civil War. According to experts from the Czech Military History Institute, McCown is the only known person of Czech descent to receive this American award.
Creating quite a buzz in social media circles is the controversial news that the Union County Historic Preservation Commission of North Carolina unanimously voted to approve a plan for a privately-funded marker to honor 10 black men, nine of whom were slaves, who served in/for the Confederate army. You can read Kevin Levin’s thoughts on the matter here.
In other news, Linn's Stamp News, a weekly newspaper for stamp collectors, reported that the U.S. Postal Service’s 2011 Civil War commemorative stamps (featuring Fort Sumter and Bull Run) were voted "favorite stamp" of the year by its readers. A rare 25-cent scrip issued during the Civil War by Molbay Carr, who operated a stagecoach line between Valparaiso and what became Chesterton, Indiana is now on display at the Porter County Museum. The substitute currency is believed to be one of only five like it still in existence. Meanwhile, the Library of Congress recently named Natasha Tretheway—a Pulitzer Prize-winning author best known for her book of Civil War poetry entitled Native Guard—as the nation’s 19th poet laureate. And, the reprint of Eric Wittenberg’s book Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions recently received the prestigious Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award, for Reprint, 2011. You can read Wittenberg’s thoughts about the accolade here.
What We Are Watching
Hat tip to Brooks Simpson for sharing these two videos: George C. Rable explicating his views on the Civil War as a political crisis and John Hennessy discussing the Battle of the Wilderness.
Around the Blogosphere
Kevin Levin shared a preview of his forthcoming book, Remembering The Battle of the Crater: War as Murder, on Civil War Memory. Meanwhile, a couple of bloggers have noted that June marks the beginning of competing commemorations: the Civil War sesquicentennial AND the War of 1812 bicentennial. Craig Swain addresses this issue in “Dueling Anniversaries start this month” while Craig Symonds noted the intersection of the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Battle of Midway anniversaries in “Connecting the War of 1812 and the Battle of Midway.” In addition, both Brooks Simpson and Keith Harris broached the topic of Confederate battle flags on their respective blogs; Simpson posted an explanatory video on Crossroads while Harris displayed a series of pictures on Cosmic America. And not surprisingly, there were several posts about the Battle of Memphis. Craig Swain discussed the battle in “150 Years Ago: The Battle of Memphis” while Mark Greenbaum recounted “The Rams of Memphis.”
Per usual, things have been quite busy on the New York Times’ Disunion blog. In “The Wars of Carl Schurz,” Andrew M. Fleche explained how a German revolutionary became a Civil War general while Phil Leigh recounted the strange career of Henry Morton Stanley, Civil War soldier and African explorer. In addition, Thom Bassett wrote about “Grant on the Edge.” Meanwhile on Dead Confederates, Andy Hall discussed the U.S.S. Fort Jackson while Robert Moore asked readers, “Has the Sesqui of the ’62 Shenandoah Valley Campaign fallen short?” Over on To the Sound of Guns, Craig Swain explored “The First “shot” of the war at Chattanooga” and recounted the “Artillery Duel at New Bridge.”
In case you missed it.
A few weeks ago, The Front Line introduced a new segment entitled the “Friday Funny”—highlighting Civil War cartoons. This week’s illustration, “Masterly Inactivity,” was a Frank Leslie piece satirizing the 1861 stalemate between McClellan and Beauregard. In addition, we have had two Iron Men Afloat series. The first was a four-part series on The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff featuring a battle overview written by Major Dave Kummer, USMC, a discussion of "John Mackie: The Man and the Memory," and two articles by the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial on the battle’s commemorative activities: Matthew Eng’s speech during the USS Monitor Sign Dedication and a recap of the Drewry's Bluff Weekend. Our second series focused on the Battle of Memphis and featured a discussion of the “Rams at the Battle of Memphis.”
Other posts on The Front Line include Andy Hall’s Memorial Day themed piece on Nathan Bedford Forrest: “Nathan Bedford Forrest, Reconstructed.” In addition, Craig Swain has been exploring the evolution of Civil War commemoration with his two pieces “Form follows Function: Changing Audiences Bring Changes to Interpretations” and “Revising, Refreshing, Evolving Battlefield Interpretation.”
Things have been quite busy over on The Bookshelf these last few weeks. Our most recent reviews include John R. Neff’s assessment of With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other: The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North by Carol Reardon; Megan Kate Nelson’s review of Views from the Dark Side of American History by Michael Fellman; and Randy Finley’s critique of Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War by Christian McWhirter.
Lastly, if you have not checked out our Facebook page in the last few days, stop on by for a sneak peak of Summer issue which hits newsstands soon.
Have a great weekend!
Laura June Davis, Contributing Editor
Image Credit: Emory University