Category: Blog

Ben Butler Play »

Milwaukee residents, take note! There’s a play running through April 28th about the wily Benjamin F Butler, Union general and all-around rapscallion. What if General Butler was a bundle of contradictions: a military commander with no real experience, a brash and bellowing man who was also plagued with self-doubt and a lack of confidence? What […]

Walt Whitman Exhibit »

The University of Virginia is marking Walt Whitman’s bicentennial with a new exhibit. If you’re in the area, it’s ongoing to July 29th. This year, the University of Virginia celebrates the bicentennial of his birth with an exhibition, “Encompassing Multitudes: The Song of Walt Whitman.” The exhibit showcases various editions of his best-known volume, “Leaves […]

Our Native Daughters »

I noticed this story on the Smithsonian page today, and clicked kind of idly. A few seconds into the first linked video, I was hooked. Rhiannon Giddens and some of her fellow black women banjo players have created a moving and haunting CD of music inspired by and based on slave tunes.  It really is […]

Civil War Museum Opening »

The Civil War Museum at Richmond’s old Tredegar complex is reopening with a splash, and some seriously high-brow fare! I don’t know when I’ll next go “On to Richmond!” but I can’t wait to visit once I’m there. The museum didn’t exist when last I was in the capital. The glass-walled lobby incorporates the enclosed […]

National Endowment for the Humanities Award »

In this time of conservative governments and austerity measures, arts agencies such as the NEA and NEH are constantly threatened with cutbacks. This announcement is a good reminder that some really interesting projects are born out of federal grants. This book sounds like a promising read, and a welcome rebuttal to the Lost Cause, which […]

“Camp Followers” »

The “camp followers” are an aspect of the war that don’t get a lot of press. Along with women offering different kinds of comfort (ahem), there were wives and – in this case – sometimes children accompanying their loved ones behind the armies. This is a pretty astonishing story! “She got a notice from the […]

New PBS Series on Reconstruction »

I find Reconstruction a very difficult subject to read, mainly because of all the missed opportunities and broken promises involved, but if you’re going to be depressed, you might as well be depressed with Henry Louis Gates’s shoulder to lean on, and PBS’s stellar production values to make everything prettier. PBS starts a multi-part series […]

The Trailblazing Black Female Doctor That American History Forgot »

This article is supposed to be about a Civil War era black woman doctor, but it is disappointingly light on details for her. There is this statement, though: “The Civil War, says James Downs, a professor of history at Connecticut College, “was the largest biological catastrophe of the 19th century. More soldiers died from disease […]

Lincoln, Simon Wolf and the Jewish Deserter »

The Miami Community Newspapers’ anecdote about Lincoln’s pardoning of a Jewish deserter is pretty basic, but it does open up the topic of Jews in the Civil War. Apart from some Jewish Confederate soldiers pardoned from the front lines during Yom Kippur, and Grant’s bizarre order expelling Jews from his camp, I don’t know much […]

Facial recognition software to identify Civil War soldiers »

Modern technology is being applied to old time records. I admit, I am a bit cynical in suspecting that this kind of tech is just being trialed on Civil War photos, with the ultimate use intended for privacy invasion on the level of Google and Facebook, but it is no doubt going to make genealogists […]