Week in Review: October 17th-21st
In Civil War News…
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. On October 21, 1861, Union troops crossed the Potomac River to conduct a reconnaissance mission only to be routed by the opposing Confederates. By day's end, slightly over 500 Union soldiers had been captured—unable or unwilling to swim the river under fire—and another 500 killed or wounded. Tomorrow, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and Morven Park will host the first ever reenactment of the battle on the historic battlefield. Also in battlefield news, Civil War Trust’s new initiative is to save 285 acres of the Gaines' Mill battlefield—the very ground that Longstreet's men charged through on June 27, 1862.
Radford University recently announced that Cliff Boyd, professor of anthropological science, and Bob Whisonant, professor emeritus of geology, received a $66,903 grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program to oversee the creation of an interactive virtual battlefield of 1864 Saltville. Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition announced that Stephanie McCurry, Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, won the 2011 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her book, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Harvard University Press). Meanwhile, University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers is leading a national reading and discussion program on the Civil War. The effort, called “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War,” was organized by the American Library Association and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Around the Blogosphere…
This week, the Blogosphere took a nautical turn. Andy Hall was “Talkin’ Blockade Runners,” specifically the Denbigh and the Will o’ the Wisp. The Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial blog explored the river war in Florida and the contentious relationship between the Armed Forces and the New York Times, especially when they reported on the Port Royal Expedition.
The other hot topic, not surprisingly giving the Silas Chandler buzz last week, has been the African American soldier. Ethan Rafuse discussed the controversial photograph of a group of black Union soldiers posed for with a white officer while Kevin Levin spent his week “Thinking About the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.”
Over at Disunion, Don H. Doyle recounted the Civil War career of John Bigelow and his mission to change the way the French thought about America’s civil war. At Emerging Civil War, Kristopher White reminded us that “What’s Important to Us May Not Have Been Important to Them” while at Bowtied and Fried Dr. James J. Broomall discussed the Ghost Writers of the Confederacy. And, just for fun…several bloggers have been commenting on Kevin Levin’s post about Professor Nicolas Proctor’s test which integrates some of the more bizarre Charlie Sheen quotes into a Civil War midterm exam.
In Case You Missed It…
The Front Line honored the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff with a special “From the Archives” post featuring the letters of Richard Derby, a 26-year-old captain in the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Also “From the Archives” was a letter from 25-year-old Lieutenant W. H. Timberlake of the 8th Maine Volunteers prior to their “Southward Bound” voyage to Port Royal.
Meanwhile, Craig Swain recounted his short tour of the Chantilly, or Ox Hill, Battlefield, commenting on the modern day prosperity of the battlefield turned strip mall. And, in "Coal for the Furnaces is as important as Gunpowder for the Guns," James M. Schmidt discussed the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and their role in physically and psychologically employing gunpowder in the Civil War.
The Bookshelf posted two new book reviews this week. Robert Bonner reviewed Peter Wood’s Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer's Civil War, stating that “Wood deploys his considerable story-telling skills to probe the deeper intricacies of this painting’s history and meaning.” Laura Hepp Bradshaw reviewed The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies by Victoria E. Bynum. Bradshaw states that “By resurrecting the histories of three anti-secessionist communities in the South, Bynum’s latest book about the Civil War home front and post-war aftermath brings previously ignored strains of political and social dissent back to life through an intricate examination of the period rooted in race, gender, and class politics.”
Those are the highlights for the week. Have a great weekend!
Laura June Davis, Blog & Social Media Editor
Photo Credit: Library of Congress.