Monday, January 3, 2011
Gary W. Gallagher and the Americans' Fascination with the Civil War
Greetings Cosmic Americans!
I was thinking about posting something on Americans' fascination with the Civil War era - and then I found this. Gary W. Gallgher, who was my dissertation adviser at the University of Virginia, pretty much captures my sentiments as well. And he does it in only about three minutes. Nice...short and to the point.
But here's a idea that he only touches on - one I think deserves a bit of elaboration. Many Americans have a personal connection with the conflict, and we grew up hearing the older members of the family telling the war stories - passed down from generation to generation. This is what did it for me. My Civil War ancestors (that I know about) fought in the 16th Alabama and the 27th Georgia Regiments. One - Andrew Jackson Holbert, was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, walked home to Lawrence County Alabama, recovered and rejoined his unit. From what I understand...he had seen enough of war and his reenlistment was not a mutual decision.
I am quite sure the stories were romanticized, elaborated upon, and all the other stuff that undoubtedly distorted what really happened with my family - but the point is...I was sold on the history, and have since dedicated a significant part of my life to the study of the war.
People that I cross paths with in this field tell me similar stories. This personal connection to the national story of the war - from both sides - is what I believe keeps the war alive in the hearts and minds of American citizens. Northern, Southern, black and white - we see the legacy of the war everywhere. In a sense it is still very much a part of us.