Weekly Recap: Jan 6

Here’s a recap of last week’s Civil War Podcast blog topics, and suggested readings for further study.


Post: Douglass in Ireland
Giant’s Causeway: Frederick Douglass’s Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary

In the first major narrative account of a transformational episode in the life of this extraordinary American, Tom Chaffin chronicles Douglass’s 1845-47 lecture tour of Ireland, Scotland, and England. It was, however, the Emerald Isle, above all, that affected Douglass–from its wild landscape (“I have travelled almost from the hill of ‘Howth’ to the Giant’s Causeway”) to the plight of its people, with which he found parallels to that of African Americans. Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, critic David Kipen has called Chaffin a “thorough and uncommonly graceful historian.” Possessed of an epic, transatlantic scope, Chaffin’s new book makes Douglass’s historic journey vivid for the modern reader and reveals how the former slave’s growing awareness of intersections between Irish, American, and African history shaped the rest of his life.

Post: Children of Veterans
Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America (Civil War America)
After the Civil War, white Confederate and Union army veterans reentered–or struggled to reenter–the lives and communities they had left behind. In Sing Not War, James Marten explores how the nineteenth century’s “Greatest Generation” attempted to blend back into society and how their experiences were treated by non-veterans.

Post: The Smell of War
The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War
From the eardrum-shattering barrage of shells announcing the outbreak of war at Fort Sumter; to the stench produced by the corpses lying in the mid-summer sun at Gettysburg; to the siege of Vicksburg, once a center of Southern culinary aesthetics and starved into submission, Smith recreates how Civil War was felt and lived. Relying on first-hand accounts, Smith focuses on specific senses, one for each event, offering a wholly new perspective.

Post: Ford’s Theatre Witness
Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre
This is the untold story of Lincoln’s assassination: the forty-six stage hands, actors, and theater workers on hand for the bewildering events in the theater that night, and what each of them witnessed in the chaos-streaked hours before John Wilkes Booth was discovered to be the culprit. In Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination, historian Thomas A. Bogar delves into previously unpublished sources to tell the story of Lincoln’s assassination from behind the curtain, and the tale is shocking. Police rounded up and arrested dozens of innocent people, wasting time that allowed the real culprit to get further away. Some closely connected to John Wilkes Booth were not even questioned, while innocent witnesses were relentlessly pursued. Booth was more connected with the production than you might have known—learn how he knew each member of the cast and crew, which was a hotbed of secessionist resentment. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination also tells the story of what happened to each of these witnesses to history, after the investigation was over—how each one lived their lives after seeing one of America’s greatest presidents shot dead without warning.

Post: Irish in the Civil War
The Irish in the American Civil War (Irish in the World)
This is the story of the forgotten role of the 200,000 Irish men and women who were involved in various ways in the US Civil War. This book is based on several years of research by the author, a professional historian, who has put together a series of the best of his collected stories for this collection. The book is broken into four sections, ‘beginnings’, ‘realities’, ‘the wider war’ and ‘aftermath’. Within each section there are six true stories of gallantry, sacrifice and bravery, from the flag bearer who saved his regimental colours at the cost of his arms, to the story of Jennie Hodgers, who pretended to be a man and served throughout the war in the 95th Illinois.

Post: Civil War PTSD
Shook over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War
Employing a multidisciplinary approach that merges military, medical, and social history, Dean draws on individual case analyses and quantitative methods to trace the reactions of Civil War veterans to combat and death. He seeks to determine whether exuberant parades in the North and sectional adulation in the South helped to wash away memories of violence for the Civil War veteran. His extensive study reveals that Civil War veterans experienced severe persistent psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and flashbacks with resulting behaviors such as suicide, alcoholism, and domestic violence.

Post: A Broken Regiment
A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)
The struggles of the 16th led survivors to reflect on the true nature of their military experience during and after the war, and questions of cowardice and courage, patriotism and purpose, were often foremost in their thoughts. Over time, competing stories emerged of who they were, why they endured what they did, and how they should be remembered. By the end of the century, their collective recollections reshaped this troubling and traumatic past, and the “unfortunate regiment” emerged as the “Brave Sixteenth,” their individual memories and accounts altered to fit the more heroic contours of the Union victory.

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