Category: Field Dispatches

Teaching Military History with the Official Records

Teaching Military History with the Official Records

 

Title page, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Ser. 1, Vol. XI, Part II (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884). Published in 128 volumes between 1881 and 1901, the Official Records, as they are commonly known, remain an indispensable source for Civil War historians and can be invaluable for classroom use as well.

Every time I teach my Civil War and Reconstruction course, I meet students who probably would not have taken any other history class. The enormous popular interest in military history, as most academic historians know, can draw students into the discipline. At a time when boosting course enrollments and attracting new majors is imperative, the Civil War’s battles, campaigns, and leaders can provide very powerful marketing opportunities. Yet military history presents fascinating pedagogical opportunities as well. Civil War battles generated mountains of paper—official orders and reports, soldiers’ letters and diaries, and some notoriously self-serving memoirs, among others—and within this abundant archive there are materials for countless projects that can introduce students to the joys, vexations, and rewards of writing history.

Most students enter college having consumed history from books, movies, or historic sites, but without having produced history themselves. For this reason, every history course must address historical methods: how to ask good questions, evaluate primary sources, handle deficient or conflicting evidence, and reach judicious conclusions. Military history, including study of battles and campaigns, offers an invaluable starting point for wrestling with these problems, because the sources reflect the confusion of battle, the fog of war, and the impulse to shift blame or claim credit. “Battle history looks deceptively simple from the outside,” wrote historian Kenneth W. Noe, but “even for a seasoned scholar it can prove the hardest, most mentally taxing work of one’s career. Never again will one use so frequently the skills we teach young scholars in methodology and historiography courses, especially the selecting and weighing of conflicting evidence.”[1]

Portrait of General Robert E. Lee, February 18, 1865. This photograph was taken nearly three years after Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862. His first major test in this role would come a few weeks later, between June 25 and July 1, during the Seven Days Battles. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Eager to guide undergraduates through some of these methodological mazes, I created an assignment that capitalizes on the wealth of material available in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, usually referred to as the Official Records or the OR. A staple of historical research since it was published by the U.S. War Department between 1881 and 1901, the Official Records comprise 128 volumes (plus 31 naval volumes) packed with orders, reports, letters, casualty returns, and other pieces of the vast paper trails left by Civil War armies and navies.[2] The OR’s pedagogical possibilities are boundless, but I decided to focus the assignment on two high-level accounts of the same event: General George B. McClellan and General Robert E. Lee’s reports of the Seven Days Battles, fought just east of Richmond, Virginia, from June 25 to July 1, 1862.[3]

Not only were the reports penned by opposing commanders in a massive series of battles that are sometimes overshadowed by Antietam and Gettysburg, they also invite students to think about how, and for what purposes, historical documents were created. McClellan wrote his four-and-a-half-page report two weeks after the Seven Days Battles ended, while his army was still perched on the Virginia Peninsula between the York and James Rivers. This meant that the clashes remained vivid in his mind, though he had not yet received reports from all of his subordinate officers. Lee’s report, in contrast, runs to nine pages and was written eight months later in March 1863. Thus, although the events were less fresh, Lee  had the benefit of reading what lower-echelon officers had written about the Confederate side of the battle.

With this background in mind, the documents open a range of questions for students to explore in their roughly five- to seven-page papers. Whose account, if any, seems more reliable, and why? What do the reports tell us about their authors, both as generals and as people? What do they reveal about the nature of Civil War combat, as viewed from army headquarters, and what do they obscure? Can they be combined to create a single coherent narrative? Or are the accounts too contradictory? I encourage students to pursue the questions that interest them most, so long as they develop and defend a clearly-stated thesis, and the assignment does not require research beyond the class notes that put the Seven Days Battles into broader context. The point is to introduce students to the richness of the OR, the complexity of reconstructing what happened in a Civil War battle, and the difficulties of weighing discrepant accounts of the same events.

George B. McClellan. Major General Commanding U.S. Army, c. 1862. This lithograph was published by J.H. Bufford in 1862, while McClellan commanded the Army of the Potomac. McClellan’s first major campaign as army commander culminated in the Seven Days Battles, during which his army was driven away from the outskirts of Richmond. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Of course, the OR could be used in assignments for students of all levels, from high school through doctoral study, and can empower them to ask and answer questions of all sorts. They might compare how an army commander and a junior officer experienced the same battle, for example, or analyze two documents written by the same person at different stages of the war. The OR also contains valuable material on non-battlefield events and issues, including the treatment of prisoners of war, military-civilian relations, the process of emancipation, and much else. Plus, the OR is available, free of charge, to anyone with an Internet connection, making it ideal for instructors teaching online courses, those who work at institutions with less-than-stellar libraries, and anyone who is concerned about the rising cost of textbooks. Most importantly, the OR enables students to do the same kind of work done by professional historians—and to explore the same trove of documents that has sustained generations of groundbreaking research on the Civil War.

 

[1] Kenneth W. Noe, “Jigsaw Puzzles, Mosaics, and Civil War Battle Narratives,” Civil War History 53, no. 3 (September 2007), 237.

[2] On the OR, see Alan C. Aimone, “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Essential Civil War Curriculum, accessed January 17, 2020, https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/official-records-of-the-union-and-confederate-armies.html. The complete OR can be found online at http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/waro.html.

[3] On the Seven Days Battles, see Brian K. Burton, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001); and Brian K. Burton, The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).

Michael E. Woods

Michael E. Woods is Associate Professor of History at Marshall University. He is the author of Bleeding Kansas: Slavery, Sectionalism, and Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border (Routledge, 2016) and Emotional and Sectional Conflict in the Antebellum United States (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which received the 2015 James A. Rawley Award from the Southern Historical Association. He is currently at work on a book entitled Arguing until Doomsday: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and the Struggle for American Democracy.

The Civil War in Southeast Asia: Trade and Privateering in Singapore

The Civil War in Southeast Asia: Trade and Privateering in Singapore

The sectional conflict in North America coincided with vast upheavals around the world, including the wars of unification in Central Europe (Italy from 1859 to 1871, and Germany from 1864 to 1871), whose impact Civil War historians have done some work to illustrate. In Asia, the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864), with its twenty million dead (one of the deadliest wars in human history), also coincided with the Civil War. However Civil War historians, both transnational and diplomatic, have paid very little attention to events in Asia. Yet for U.S. diplomatic and economic representatives, the war’s impact on trade, and even more, the threat posed by Confederate privateers, was an ever-present issue requiring them to protect the commercial and maritime interests of the United States, even in far away places like Singapore.

So far, the only work on Civil War relations with Asia highlights the offer of war elephants by the Siamese king to President Abraham Lincoln.[1] If this sounds somewhat reminiscent of some early Roman history with Hannibal crossing the Alps, there are some possible similarities. A blogger at The National Interest hypothesized what the 1st Ohio Pachyderm Battalion would have done at the Battle of Gettysburg, suggesting the use of the animals in the opening engagement with the Iron Brigade and the destruction of the advancing Confederates of A. P. Hill’s Corps.[2] While certainly humorous as a counterfactual exercise, to U.S. consuls in Singapore, the Civil War was all too real.

Singapore, at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, sprang into existence in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles established the city and port for the British East India Company. As a stopping point en route to China, the port gained importance with the opening of China as a result of the Opium War (1839-1842). The city was, and remains, an essential trade center in Southeast Asia.

View of the Harbor of Singapore, c. 1860, Leiden University Library. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For the United States, trade in Singapore was initially of only limited importance. In January 1852, U.S. consul W. W. Shaw reported that demand for U.S.-made cotton products was “moderate.” Nevertheless, he assumed that, “the consumption of American Cotton Goods is likely to increase in this market judging from the more frequent enquiries for them of late.” Furthermore, in 1852, ships tended to leave for the U.S. Pacific Coast, especially San Francisco, if their destination was the United States. With the aftereffects of the California Gold Rush, captains had to recruit new crew members in Singapore since recruiting sailors in San Francisco was extremely expensive, which had a detrimental impact on shipping costs.[3]

By the end of the 1850s, commercial activities in Singapore boomed again. Singapore’s location “as a commercial sea-port” was the result of “being situated on the great highway to India, China, Japan, and South Eastern Asia.” Over a hundred U.S. merchant vessels visited the port annually. Consul J. P. Sullivan used the commercial importance to point out that his salary was woefully inadequate to handle the trade, pay for a building to run the consulate in, and hire staff, a common complaint among U.S. consular agents at the time.[4]

The Civil War soon had an impact on the trade in Singapore. Whereas U.S. merchants represented the second largest group of ships in port prior to the war, the conflict allowed German merchants to assume second place. The change was in part the result of Confederate activities in Asian waters.[5]

One particular incident speaks to how Confederate naval operations complicated the U.S. presence in Asia. On December 8, 1863, U.S. consul Francis W. Cobb reported the departure of the U.S.S. Wyoming in search of the raider C.S.S. Alabama, an infamous Confederate ship that roamed the oceans for nearly two years.[6] Only two weeks later the Alabama arrived in Singapore. Captain Raphael Semmes had made his way across the Indian Ocean from the Cape Colony. The Alabama overnighted in port, and as Consul Cobb wrote in his report, took on coal for its continued voyage.[7]

The CSS Alabama. Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Cobb’s attempts to communicate with the crew of the Alabama failed, as port authorities did not allow anyone near the ship. Like all U.S. representatives overseas, Cobb wanted the ship brought to justice and he frantically tried to locate the Wyoming’s exact whereabouts. He knew the U.S. vessel was on its way to Batavia to repair its boiler.[8] Unfortunately, the Wyoming did not receive the honor of bringing down Semmes. In accordance with British neutrality laws, which required belligerent vessels to depart port again within twenty-four hours, the Alabama put to sea on December 24. Despite Cobb’s failure to reach the vessel, others were luckier. Cobb explained that many Singaporeans visited the ship out of curiosity, which, he thought, should not be confused with sympathy.[9] Sadly, on the day of the Alabama’s departure from Singapore, the raider destroyed a British and U.S. merchant vessel, the latter probably the Texas Star.[10] Thankfully, after only three destroyed ships, Semmes departed the region for refits in France, where its career eventually ended outside of Cherbourg.

Ever so briefly the Civil War reared its ugly maritime face in Singapore, but merely the threat of Confederate privateering had an impact on U.S. trade in the region. While elephants at Gettysburg is a hair-brained counterfactual, much less crazy is the possibility of the Wyoming bringing the Alabama to battle in the Straits of Malacca. British colonial authorities around the empire faced difficult decisions when Confederate vessels put into port—a topic that is finally getting attention within the Atlantic context, but still needs more attention in Asia.[11] Similarly, the threat of these vessels had an impact on U.S. trade in Singapore, which was still on the margins of the U.S. trade network during the 1850s and 1860s. However, only once Civil War diplomatic and transnational historians start to integrate the far flung places of empire will we get a full understanding of the impact of the war around the world, and not be stuck with the decision makers in London and Paris.

 

[1] William F. Strobridge and Anita Hibler, Elephants for Mr. Lincoln: American Civil War-Era Diplomacy in Southeast Asia (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2006).

[2] Angry Staff Officer, “What Would Have Happened If Lincoln Had Used Combat Elephants in the Civil War?” The National Interest, September 29, 2019, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/what-would-have-happened-if-lincoln-had-used-combat-elephants-civil-war-73481?page=0%2C1.

[3] W. W. Shaw to Daniel E. Webster, January 30, 1852, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 3, January 21, 1852-August 20, 1855, National Archives, Washington, DC (hereafter cited as NARA).

[4] J. P. O’Sullivan to Lewis Cass, January 23, 1859, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 5, February 1, 1858-November 16, 1859, NARA.

[5] Percy E. Schramm, Deutschland und Übersee: Der Deutsche Handel mit den Anderen Kontinenten, insbesondere Afrika, von Karl V. bis zu Bismmarck (Braunschweig, Germany: Georg Westermann Verlag, 1950), 88-90.

[6] Francis W. Cobb to William H. Seward, December 8, 1863, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 6, December 8, 1859-December 31, 1863, NARA.

[7] Francis W. Cobb to William H. Seward, December 22, 1863, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 6, December 8, 1859-December 31, 1863, NARA.

[8] Francis W. Cobb to William H. Seward, December 22, 1863, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 6, December 8, 1859-December 31, 1863, NARA.

[9] Francis W. Cobb to William H. Seward, January 8, 1864, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 7, January 8, 1864-December 31, 1869, NARA.

[10] Francis W. Cobb to William H. Seward, January 8, 1864, Despatches from United States Consuls in Singapore, 1833-1906, Volume 7, January 8, 1864-December 31, 1869, NARA.

[11] Beau Cleland, “Between King Cotton and Queen Victoria: Confederate Informal Diplomacy and Privatized Violence in British America During the American Civil War,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Calgary, 2019).

Niels Eichhorn

Niels Eichhorn is an assistant professor of history at Middle Georgia State University. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Arkansas. His first book, Separatism and the Language of Slavery: A Study of 1830 and 1848 Political Refugees and the American Civil War, is under contract with LSU Press. He has published articles on Civil War diplomacy in Civil War History and American Nineteenth Century History.

Paul Barba Joins Us as Field Correspondent

Paul Barba Joins Us as Field Correspondent

As longtime readers know, at Muster we publish pieces that are commissioned or submitted to us for consideration, but we also have a slate of field correspondents who write regular “dispatches”–posts that explore the varied facets of life in the Civil War era and help readers broaden their understanding of the period. We are pleased to announce that we have a new correspondent joining us in 2020, writing on the Civil War in the West and borderlands history. Paul Barba is an assistant professor of history at Bucknell University. He graduated with a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2016. His first book project, tentatively titled Country of the Cursed and the Driven: Slavery and the Texas Borderlands, tracks and analyzes the multiple forms of slaving violence that emerged, dominated, and intersected throughout Texas from the early eighteenth century into the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is currently under contract with the University of Nebraska Press. Prior to Bucknell, Dr. Barba served as a managing editor at the journal Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos. Welcome to the team!

We would also like to thank Maria Angela Diaz, who was our first correspondent covering Western topics. She stepped down to focus on writing her manuscript, currently titled Saving the Southern Empire: The Gulf South, Latin America, and the Civil War. Thank you, Angela, for your contributions to Muster!

Before Opinion Polling: Tracking Public Sentiment in Civil War-Era Politics

Before Opinion Polling: Tracking Public Sentiment in Civil War-Era Politics

For better or for worse, public opinion polls are deeply embedded in American politics. Proponents argue that polls keep elected officials connected to their constituents, make the government more responsive to popular demands, and dispel “myths and stereotypes that might otherwise mislead public discourse.”[1] Critics argue that strict obedience to even the most accurate polls enables politicians to shirk the responsibilities of leadership, while misleading ones can damage the policymaking process and skew elections. Ever since George Gallup correctly projected Franklin Roosevelt’s victory over Alf Landon in 1936, however, serious politicians have relied on polls to help them manage campaigns and make crucial decisions.

But what about the generations of politicians who won, lost, and governed without the benefit of scientific polling? How, for instance, did Civil War-era politicians keep a pulse on public opinion? And how can historians recover their efforts to do so?

Nineteenth-century politicians had several tools for measuring the public mood. Like their constituents, politicians were voracious newspaper readers. While most Civil War-era papers were openly partisan, their news columns and editorials provided valuable information about what journalists were thinking and what voters were reading. Determining what any given politician read can be tricky, but traces turn up in a variety of sources, including congressional records, which reveal which newspapers were purchased for individual senators and representatives. The contingent expense report for the 35th Congress (1857-1859), for example, shows that eight members of the House of Representatives subscribed to the Cincinnati Daily Commercial, including both Clement L. Vallandigham of Ohio, later an infamous “Copperhead” Democrat, and Francis Preston Blair, Jr., a Missouri Republican and future Union general.

“Contingent Expenses – House of Representatives,” Letter from the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Communicating His Annual Report of the Contingent Expenses of the House of Representatives, House Documents, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., Misc. Doc. No. 25 (n.p.: n.p. [1860]), 117.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives kept careful track of the newspapers that were purchased for and delivered to their members. Although somewhat obscure, these records reveal much about how Civil War-era politicians kept up with national and local opinion.

Mingling directly with constituents was another option, of course, and some officeholders reserved time for regular face-to-face contact. Abraham Lincoln famously held biweekly receptions to allow any and all visitors to speak with him in the White House. Although taxing—and potentially dangerous—these “public-opinion baths,” as Lincoln called them, yielded vital political intelligence. “I have but little time to read the papers and gather public opinion that way,” Lincoln explained, and the receptions gave him “a clearer and more vivid image of that great popular assemblage” to which he was responsible.[2] These were far from scientific polls, of course, and they were necessarily limited to those able to visit Washington, D.C., but the ritual reflected both the humanity and the shrewdness of a man who believed that “public sentiment is everything” in American politics.[3]

Private correspondence was another valuable source of information, particularly for occupants of state or national offices who had to relocate to state capitals or Washington for extended periods of time. Thus, archival collections of politicians’ papers can illuminate crucial intelligence-sharing networks. Some statesmen relied on family members for the latest news on public sentiment. Lucy Lambert Hale, for instance, maintained a politically candid correspondence with her husband, New Hampshire senator John Parker Hale, while he was away at Washington. In December 1848, she reported on a sermon delivered by a local minister who warned against making any degrading compromises on slavery, and in other letters detailed the extent of antislavery sentiment in their hometown of Dover.[4] For all their insight, however, Hale’s letters are limited in scope because it would have been considered unseemly for her to mingle in many of the spaces, like courthouses or taverns, where so much of nineteenth-century politicking took place.

Most politicians also received piles of constituent correspondence, which typically consisted of fulsome praise, angry recrimination, and, above all, urgent requests for patronage, ranging from pensions to postmasterships. Careful readers could glean nuggets of political intelligence from these letters, but the authors were prone to irrational exuberance or despondency, particularly right after elections. Many were also laden with self-serving flattery; a constituent seeking a plum government job, after all, would hardly be inclined to downplay the recipient’s popularity at home.

Not surprisingly, many powerful statesmen relied on one type of correspondent: the local agent who may or may not have held office, but served as the politician’s eyes and ears within a particular community. Careful study of rich archival collections shows that many of these pen pals supplied politicians with vital local updates over extended periods of time. One example is the unheralded but politically astute Samuel Ashton, who for several turbulent years provided Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas with timely and candid appraisals of public opinion in Chicago. Douglas had called Chicago home since 1847 but spent much of the year in Washington while the Senate was in session. As a register at the local land office and, from 1854 to 1856, an alderman from Chicago’s eighth ward, Ashton was well-positioned to keep tabs on developments in a city that had once been a base of Douglas’s strength but, by the 1850s, was beginning to turn against him.[5]

“Chicago, As It Was.” Currier & Ives, ca. 1856-1907. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
The bustling Lake Michigan port city of Chicago had been a core element of Stephen A. Douglas’s political strength since his first bid for a congressional seat in 1838. As his political support in Chicago waxed and waned in the 1850s, updates from local operatives like Samuel Ashton provided a vital link between Douglas and his home city.

Ashton wrote to Douglas less frequently than some of the senator’s other operatives, like Indianapolis postmaster William W. Wick or Springfield resident Isaac R. Diller, but he offered inside information at critical moments. As the backlash against Douglas’s pending Kansas-Nebraska bill intensified in early 1854, for instance, Ashton penned a detailed account of a protest meeting held at North Market Hall (now Court House Place).[6] Two years later, Ashton sent a much more buoyant report shortly after Chicago Democrats endorsed Douglas for the presidential nomination.[7] Ashton’s commentary was colored by his partisanship—he denounced the anti-Nebraska meeting as the work of “violent whigs and abolitionists, assisted by a number of broken down politicians and disappointed office seekers”—but he shared an informed perspective on local affairs when Douglas was away from home for months at a time.[8] And because Ashton was politically prominent without being a rival for Douglas’s power in the Illinois Democratic Party, he was an ideal source of news.

Douglas clearly appreciated Ashton’s insights because in 1855 he sought to repay the shrewd Chicagoan in the expected nineteenth-century style: by securing him a patronage appointment. In the spring of 1855, Douglas recommended Ashton for a captaincy in one of the U.S. Army’s new regiments. The nomination provoked a prickly exchange of letters with the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, and ultimately Ashton—and Douglas—came away empty-handed when the commission went to another applicant.[9]

The Ashton episode seems trivial in comparison with the weighty decisions and quotable speeches that made Civil War-era politics so dramatic. But tracing the networks of family, friends, and allies which kept politicians apprised of developments back home, helps to reveal the inner workings of a nineteenth-century political world in which information was, as it always is, a vital source of power.

 

[1] Quoted in Matthew J. Streb and Michael A. Genovese, “Polling and the Dilemmas of Democracy,” in Polls and Politics: The Dilemmas of Democracy, eds. Michael A. Genovese and Matthew J. Streb (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2004), 2.

[2] Charles G. Halpine recollection in Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, comp. and ed. Don E. Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), 194.

[3] Quoted in Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, vol. 1 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 493.

[4] Lucy Lambert Hale to John P. Hale, December 3, 1848, Box 1A, Folder 5, John Parker Hale Papers, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, New Hampshire.

[5] M.L. Ahern, The Political History of Chicago (Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1886), 105-106; Robin L. Einhorn, Property Rules: Political Economy in Chicago, 1833-1872 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 166.

[6] Samuel Ashton to Stephen A. Douglas, March 18, 1854, Box 4, Folder 5, Stephen A. Douglas Papers, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

[7] Samuel Ashton to Stephen A. Douglas, March 5, 1856, Box 4, Folder 21, Stephen A. Douglas Papers.

[8] Samuel Ashton to Stephen A. Douglas, March 18, 1854, Box 4, Folder 5, Stephen A. Douglas Papers.

[9] Jefferson Davis to Stephen A. Douglas, March 15, 1854, Box 42, Folder 5, Stephen A. Douglas Papers; James Shields and Stephen A. Douglas to Jefferson Davis, March 23, 1854, in Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist: His Letters, Papers, and Speeches, ed. Dunbar Rowland, 10 vols. (Jackson: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1923), II, 450; Stephen A. Douglas to Jefferson Davis, March 30, 1855, in The Letters of Stephen A. Douglas, ed. Robert W. Johannsen (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961), 336; Jefferson Davis to Stephen A. Douglas, April 5, 1855, in Rowland, Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist, II, 448-450; Jefferson Davis to Stephen A. Douglas, February 10, 16, 1857, Box 42, Folder 6, Stephen A. Douglas Papers.

Michael E. Woods

Michael E. Woods is Associate Professor of History at Marshall University. He is the author of Bleeding Kansas: Slavery, Sectionalism, and Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border (Routledge, 2016) and Emotional and Sectional Conflict in the Antebellum United States (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which received the 2015 James A. Rawley Award from the Southern Historical Association. He is currently at work on a book entitled Arguing until Doomsday: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and the Struggle for American Democracy.

Honoring and Remembering Indigenous Civil War Veterans in Public Spaces

Honoring and Remembering Indigenous Civil War Veterans in Public Spaces

Artist rendering by Harvey Pratt/Butzer Architects and Urbanism, illustration by Skyline Ink. Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial was held on September 21, 2019—the fifteen-year anniversary of the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). The memorial will be located on the grounds of the NMAI on the National Mall. The ceremony included the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, speeches, a blessing of the ground before the groundbreaking, and, in closing, an honor song by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Singers.[1] The finished memorial—the Warrior’s Circle of Honor—will consist of a steel circle standing on a stone drum with water-flowing off of the drum, surrounded by lances where visitors can tie prayer cloths. The artist, Harvey Pratt, hopes his design will create a sacred place of “healing and comfort” for visitors, especially veterans.[2]

Pratt is a multimedia artist and forensic artist. He is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The memorial is meant to honor Indigenous veterans from the American Revolution through the present—a goal Congresswoman Deb Haaland commented on in her speech during the groundbreaking. Haaland’s parents both served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and Congresswoman Sharice Davids (also the daughter of a veteran) were the first Native American women elected to Congress. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Haaland emphasized that “Native Americans have served the nation’s military at a higher rate than any other group of people and have participated in every major U.S. military encounter since the Revolutionary War, yet Native American veterans and their contributions to our country have largely gone unrecognized throughout history. But we’re going to change that with the installation of this wonderful memorial. Our country owes a great deal of gratitude to the Native American community.” [3] Haaland briefly mentioned the Civil War, along with the American Revolution and the War of 1812, before talking about Indigenous contributions to twentieth-century conflicts. The National Native American Veterans Memorial has been a long time in the making with veterans, activists, and supporters arguing for a space to honor Native American veterans.

As part of these larger efforts to specifically recognize the military service and contributions of Native Americans, Indigenous individuals and nations have worked for Native Civil War veterans to be honored and remembered. In May 2010, descendants of Anishinaabe (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) soldiers in Company K of the First Michigan Sharpshooters traveled to Andersonville, Georgia, to honor seven Anishinaabe soldiers who died at Camp Sumter. The seven Anishinaabe men who died at Andersonville were part of a group of fifteen Company K soldiers captured at Petersburg in June 1864. Members of the Anishinabe Ogitchedaw Veteran and Warrior Society conducted a drum ceremony, sang a Mukwa (bear) song, and saluted the graves of the soldiers.[4]

Andersonville is not the only Civil War site where Company K men have been honored and remembered. In December 2010, Company K descendants and tribal representatives traveled to Petersburg, Virginia, to honor and recognize American Indian soldiers buried at Poplar Grove National Cemetery (including graves of Brothertown Indians and Menominee).[5] Eric Hemenway, who is currently the Director of the Department of Repatriation, Archives and Records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, was one of the tribal representatives honoring Anishinaabe soldiers at Poplar Grove. Hemenway also attended a July 2014 commemoration of the Battle of the Crater, where Company K men fought.[6] Hemenway has researched and talked about Company K in multiple venues, working towards recognition of the participation of the Anishinaabek from Michigan in the Civil War. He argues that their story is important to understanding the Civil War, and he stresses their contribution to the Union war effort despite not being United States citizens.[7] The National Park Service has acknowledged the specific contributions of American Indians to the Civil War, releasing a collaborative book in 2013 to help educate the public.[8] There are plans and conversations at specific sites to facilitate collaborations between the NPS and several tribes in order to remember and honor Indigenous peoples who participated in the Civil War.

In the late 1860s, government officials sometimes remarked on the Civil War service of American Indian veterans. The U.S. Indian Agent for the Mackinac Agency, Richard Smith, wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs about “our Indians.” Smith estimated 196 Native men from the Mackinac Agency enlisted in the Union army. “Very much to their credit and praise it is to be mentioned, that when offered an opportunity of engaging in the military service of the country, they promptly and cheerfully came forward and assumed all the duties and responsibilities of the soldier.” In common rhetoric for a nineteenth-century government official, Smith noted that “these men who have thus periled their lives for their country deserve none the less of that country because of the tawny color of their skins.” Smith goes on in the following paragraphs to request “special attention” for the “land matter of the Indians of this agency.”[9] Service in the Civil War was mentioned occasionally in other correspondence related to land and politics in Michigan. Drawing attention to Anishinaabe Methodists and their contributions to the war, an 1866 report underscored: “These people are patriots as well. This mission [Pine River], was represented in the noble army of the Union. Some of their numbers went forth to return no more…. They fell in the conflict, and are now sleeping in honorable and honored graves on the battlefields of the republic.”[10] The Anishinaabek and government officials used similar rhetoric when negotiating citizenship after the war. While returning veterans were noted by government officials, many of the promises related to land were not fulfilled. As Hemenway has recounted in numerous interviews, the Anishinaabe members of Company K who returned home “were dealing with the same discrimination and same issues that were plaguing Native communities before they left.”[11]

The First Michigan Sharpshooters monument outside of the Michigan State Capitol was authorized by the state legislature in 1915. Photo by author.

Anishinaabe veterans took part in reunions and remembrances of their Civil War service. Veteran Francis Tabasash gave a speech about the war and his exploits at an event attended by the Indian agent for the Mackinac Agency. An account of the event calls it a “war-dance” but does not provide details about the context, participants, or attendees.[12] Tabasash may also have participated in Memorial Day parades. Upon Tabasash’s death, a newspaper reported that “[a]fter the war he returned to his farm, and his stooped form and gray hair were always seen in the soldiers’ parade here [Harbor Springs] on Memorial Day. He was the oldest member of the local G.A.R..”[13] Some Anishinaabe veterans joined the Grand Army of the Republic and took part in G.A.R. events, as well as regimental reunions. As part of the First Michigan Sharpshooters, Anishinaabe soldiers are memorialized with the First Michigan Sharpshooters monument outside of the Michigan State Capitol. They have been remembered in multiple ceremonies, talks, and discussions across Michigan by descendants, tribal nations, and outside researchers. The honoring of Native American veterans on the National Mall will be another step toward acknowledging the service of Native Americans in the Civil War, which is just one part of the larger contribution Native Americans have made to the U.S. Armed Forces.

[1] Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), “The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial,” YouTube, September 26, 2019, accessed November 10, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k64CV5wkkkg.

[2] Harvey Pratt, “Meet Your Designers 4— National Native American Veterans Memorial,” YouTube, February 7, 2018, accessed November 10, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sPA3bBchUw.

[3] Congresswoman Deb Haaland, “The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial,” YouTube, September 26, 2019, accessed November 10, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k64CV5wkkkg. Also quoted in Rosemary Stephens, “Breaking Ground for the National Native American Veterans Memorial,” Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribal Tribune, October 1, 2019, 1 and 7. Accessed November 10, 2019, https://cheyenneandarapaho-nsn.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Oct.-1-2019.pdf.

[4] David B. Schock, Kookoosh Roger Williams Kchinodin, and Chris Czopek, The Road to Andersonville [film], Penultimate, Ltd., 2013.

[5] Major Jo Ann P. Schedler, “Wisconsin American Indians in the Civil War,” in American Indians and the Civil War ed. Robert K. Sutton and John A. Latschar (Fort Washington, PA: Eastern National, 2013), 86.

[6] Jim Burnett, “American Indians in the Civil War? Petersburg National Battlefield is Part of the Story,” National Parks Traveler, December 17, 2010, accessed November 10, 2019, https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2010/12/american-indians-civil-war-petersburg-national-battlefield-part-story7361 and Thomas Duvernay, “Retracing the Footsteps of their Ancestor, A Member of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters,” Odawa Trails, October 2014, 6. Accessed November 10, 2019, https://www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/newspaper/2014/October2014.pdf.

[7] Eric Hemenway and Sammye Meadows, “Soldiers in the Shadows: Company K, 1st Michigan Sharpshooters,” in American Indians and the Civil War, 48.

[8] Robert K. Sutton and John A. Latschar, eds., American Indians and the Civil War (Fort Washington, PA: Eastern National, 2013).

[9] Richard M. Smith to Dennis N. Cooley, October 30, 1865, in Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Year 1865 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1865), 452-453.

[10] The Forty-Seventh Annual Report of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Year 1865 (New York: The Society, 1866), 121.

[11] Eric Hemenway and Steve Ostrander, Stateside/Michigan Radio NPR, “The Story of Company K: Native Americans from Michigan who saw Tough Action in the Civil War,” August 23, 2017, accessed November 10, 2019, https://www.michiganradio.org/post/story-company-k-native-americans-michigan-who-saw-tough-action-civil-war.

[12] Andrew J. Blackbird to James W. Long, December 12, 1869, in Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75, National Archives Microfilm 234, Reel 408.

[13] “Indian Veteran Dead,” Grand Rapids News, November 23, 1912, 5.

Michelle Cassidy

Michelle Cassidy is assistant professor of history at Central Michigan University. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 2016. Her current project emphasizes the importance of American Indian military service to discussions of race and citizenship during the Civil War era. She has presented her research at numerous conferences and has published an article in the Michigan Historical Review.

Removing Slavery from Westward Expansion: Two Case Studies of Public Memorials in Missouri

Removing Slavery from Westward Expansion: Two Case Studies of Public Memorials in Missouri

The town of Marthasville, Missouri, is located about forty-five miles west of St. Louis. The oldest town in Warren County, Marthasville today is a quiet place with fertile farmland, a lakeside resort, and numerous wineries. Although I have lived in Missouri most of my life, I had never been to this place until fairly recently. I quickly discovered that residents of Marthasville are proud of their history. Dotted throughout this rural landscape are numerous historical markers celebrating the life of Daniel Boone—whose original gravesite was located two miles from downtown Marthasville—and the voyage of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Another historical marker explaining the history of Marthasville notes that the town was founded by Dr. John Young, who purchased more than 500 acres of land and named the town after his first wife, Martha.

It soon dawned upon me, however, that something was missing from this landscape. Dr. Young’s name rang a bell in my head, and at first I struggled to remember where I had heard his name. But then it hit me: Dr. John Young was a wealthy settler from Kentucky who had owned a large number of enslaved African Americans. The most notable of these African Americans was William Wells Brown, the famous abolitionist who went on to become a prolific writer and the country’s first black novelist with his 1853 book, Clotel.

A historical marker detailing the early history of Marthasville, Missouri, that fails to mention the famous abolitionist William Wells Brown, who lived in the town from 1817 to 1825. Photo courtesy of the author.

Of the seventeen years in which John Young owned Brown, eight of them (1817-1825) were spent in Marthasville. As Brown’s biographer Ezra Greenspan notes, Brown’s experiences distinguished him from other African American antislavery activists before the Civil War because he “grew in maturity as a participant in the great frontier drama unfolding across the interior of nineteenth-century North America. Move by move, he and his relatives were pushed westward . . . their master following the footsteps of Boone and other pioneer settlers.”[1] And yet, visitors to Marthasville today would have no idea that one of the country’s earliest civil rights leaders—a man that contemporaries compared to the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass—had spent a number of his formative years in this small town.

Brown is not the only African American missing from the story of westward expansion in Missouri. In the city of St. Charles—a nearby suburb of St. Louis that lies on the Missouri River—a statue depicting Lewis and Clark figures prominently in a local park along the riverfront. Positioned in between the two men is “Seaman,” a dog that had been purchased by Lewis and accompanied the Corps of Discovery for the entire duration of their three-year trip. Notably absent from the monument is York, an enslaved man owned by William Clark who also accompanied the Corps of Discovery and played an important role as a scout, trader, and caretaker for the expedition. As far as I can tell, there are at least ten historical sites throughout the United States with monuments or statues that either depict or mention Seaman, while York only has two statues: in Louisville, Kentucky, and Portland, Oregon (Yorks Islands in Broadwater County, Montana, are also named for York).[2] The fact that a dog in the Corps of Discovery has more statues in his honor than an enslaved man (or any Indigenous people associated with the expedition) speaks volumes about the ways Americans have chosen to remember the interconnected stories of westward expansion, colonialism, and slavery before the Civil War.

The Lewis and Clark Monument and accompanying text in St. Charles, Missouri. Photo courtesy of the author.

A few conclusions can be drawn from these two historical icons in Missouri. First, while towns and cities throughout the United States frequently celebrate their “founders” and other early settlers through monuments and historical markers, the underlying historical actors who played their own roles in shaping the history of westward expansion—enslaved African Americans, Native Americans, and/or women who may have accompanied their white husbands in their travels—are often left out of the story. “Founders” monuments and historical markers often celebrate the image of heroic, “self-made” men who braved the dangers of a new frontier and helped create a new nation. That these same men contributed to growing conflicts over slavery’s westward expansion and eventual civil war is a point often ignored when told in a public history setting.

One reason for this silence is explained by my second conclusion: while historians have covered all aspects of slavery in the Deep South and Mid-Atlantic regions in recent years, the same cannot be said about slavery in the West. In her 2009 publication Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery’s Frontier, Lea VanderVelde argued that “although there is a very important increasing body of scholarship about antebellum southern slavery . . . there has been very little scholarship about frontier slaves.”[3] In the ten years since VanderVelde’s publication a range of studies has more closely examined slavery in wide ranging places such as the Northwest territory, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, and California.[4] Nevertheless there remains much work to bridge the gap and better demonstrate the interconnected history of westward expansion, slavery, and the Civil War. As Kristen Epps argues in her book Slavery on the Periphery, “enslaved emigrants found themselves participating in a westward movement designed to continue their enslavement on a structural level as well as a personal one.”[5]

How does your local community commemorate westward expansion in its public memorials? Let us know in the comment section.

 

[1] Ezra Greenspan, William Wells Brown: An African American Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014), 12.

[2] “Seaman – Lewis’s Newfoundland Dog,” The Lewis and Clark Trail, 2011, accessed November 5, 2019, http://www.lewisandclarktrail.com/seaman.htm.

[3] Lea VanderVelde, Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery’s Frontier (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 3.

[4] See Diane Mutti Burke, On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010); Christopher P. Lehman, Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1787-1865: A History of Human Bondage in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2011); Kristen Epps, Slavery on the Periphery: The Kansas-Missouri Border in the Antebellum and Civil War Eras (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016); Dale Edwyna Smith, African Americans Lives in St. Louis, 1763-1865: Race, Slavery, and the West (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2017); William S. Kiser, Coast-to-Coast Empire: Manifest Destiny and the New Mexico Borderlands (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018); Stacy L. Smith, Freedom’s Frontier: California and the Struggle Over Unfree Labor, Emancipation, and Reconstruction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

[5] Epps, Slavery on the Periphery, 15.

Nick Sacco

Nick Sacco is a public historian working for the National Park Service as a Park Ranger at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis, Missouri. He recently had a journal article about the Grand Army of the Republic published in the Indiana Magazine of History entitled "The Grand Army of the Republic, the Indianapolis 500, and the Struggle for Memorial Day in Indiana, 1868-1923" (December 2015). Nick also runs a personal blog about history, "Exploring the Past," at https://pastexplore.wordpress.com/.

To Have and to Hold…or Not: Weddings, Independence, and the Civil War

To Have and to Hold…or Not: Weddings, Independence, and the Civil War

“Record-Low Marriage Rate,” based on data from the Center for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System. Courtesy of economist Jay L. Zagorsky.

Even with the legalization of same-sex marriage, the U.S. marriage rate is the lowest it has been in at least 150 years, according to economist Jay Zagorsky of Boston University. Another recent study from Cornell University researchers concluded that the U.S. has “large deficits in the supply of potential male spouses.” Lead author of the article, Daniel T. Lichter, believes “marriage is still based on love, but it also is fundamentally an economic transaction. Many young men today have little to bring to the marriage bargain, especially as young women’s educational levels on average now exceed their male suitors.” Shortage of suitors or not, the marriage rate of millennials (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) is most certainly lower than previous generations; in 1960, 72 percent of adults were married, while today the rate is 50 percent. Put together, these statistics suggest the institution of marriage is changing.[1]

From 1861 to 1865, marriage likewise seemed to be changing for those living through the Civil War. Some white southern women felt particularly worried that there would be few suitors left by the end of it all. In 1863, unmarried Ardella Brown lamented, “If I Can get any Body to have me you Shall get to a weding But there is nobody a Bout here only Some old widiwers for all the young men has gone to the army.” While some women would use the war as an excuse to delay marriage, the shortage of eligible men did worry others who intended to become wives and mothers. As historian Drew Gilpin Faust elegantly put it, “a married woman feared the loss of a particular husband; a single woman worried about forfeiting the more abstract possibility of any husband at all.” Not only was marriage a key component of ideal, nineteenth-century womanhood, for most southern white women, it also provided a clear societal position in this time of uncertainty.[2]

“Soldiers’ Cemetery, Alexandria, Va.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

And so, as a somewhat unexpected consequence of wartime death tolls rising, wedding bells rang. From Virginia, Judith McGuire believed there to be “a perfect mania on the subject of matrimony” during the war, writing that “some of the churches may be seen open and lighted almost every night for bridals, and wherever I turn I hear of marriages in prospect.” Another young woman, Esther Alden in South Carolina, reflected, “One looks at a man so differently when you think he may be killed to-morrow. Men whom up to this time I had thought dull and commonplace…seemed charming.” In a changing world, some women increased their dedication to seemingly unchanging institutions, like marriage.[3]

Women were not alone in this desire to marry; many young men also sought wartime weddings, wanting the reassurance of wives awaiting their return as they marched toward an undecided future. On July 2, 1861, Frank Schaller of the Twenty-Second Mississippi Infantry sent a letter to his “dearest Sophy” in South Carolina, writing, “Every day I feel more reluctant to go into an uncertain life without having the consciousness of being yours entirely…Now prepare for it. I am in earnest.” Not only did he believe, “I could fight better & do everything better” as a married man, he also reflected on her future, “Should I fall, you could have at least the satisfaction to be a soldiers widow who I trust will only die in honor. Besides, though I know you do not want me to tell you this, some pension would insure you the prospect of a humble but honorable existence.” Frank would be shot, but he ultimately survived the war. For Frank, it was not just about emotional stability, but also economic stability for Sophy.[4]

Frank was not alone in his urgency to secure the label of marriage – take Georgia Page King and William Duncan Smith’s story, in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Just three months into his courtship he wrote, “A war is fast approaching. Oh Let me claim you as my own! Let me have the right to protect you, and shield you by my earnest love.” Realizing Georgia might object to their rushed courtship, he urged, “Do not let, oh! do not let, any slight obstacles, or conventionalities, prevent you from being mine as soon as you can. We know not what may happen!” They married July 9, 1861. William died in Georgia’s arms on October 4, 1862, after sixty-seven days of dysentery. In a time when everything seemed uncertain, and everyone seemed to be declaring independence, Georgia claimed her own in choosing to marry William. As she explained to her brother, “I feared that you all might not approve—but my heart relented.”[5]

Unexpected matches brought on by ambiguity and emotion reached even Abraham Lincoln’s family, with Elodie Todd, little sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. Elodie sent a letter to her future husband in May 1861, writing, “Ever since I can remember, I have been looked upon and called the ‘old maid’ of the family, and Mother seemed to think I was to be depended on to take care of her when all the rest of her handsomer daughters left her, and I really believe they all think I am committing a sin to give a thought to any other than the arrangements they have made for me.” They had just met in February. Elodie was twenty, he was thirty-two, twice-widowed, and the father of two little girls. It was an unlikely match, and a surprising proposal, made even more surprising when Elodie decided, “But as this is the age when Secession, Freedom, and Rights are asserted, I am claiming mine.” She married him the following year.[6]

“Marriage at the camp of the 7th N.J.V. Army of the Potomac, Va.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In 2019, women are more likely to claim independence not in the choice of marriage partner, but in the choice of marriage, period. Though the choices in the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries may appear to be totally different, they are opposite avenues to the same path – choosing a future that best suits them. In a time of political and economic upheaval, some nineteenth-century women chose marriage in a search for stability, while today, some women delay marriage for similar reasons. If walking down the aisle, today many millennials do so with a combination of prenuptial agreements, cohabitation before marriage, and marriage at a later age (late twenties). Experts have also estimated that millennials are driving down the divorce rate as much as 24 percent since the 1980s. In short, fewer millennials are marrying, but those that do are staying married. While single white women of the Civil War era feared their chances for marriages would lessen, it turned out to be a false fear; “the vast majority (approximately 92 percent) of southern white women who came of marriage age during the war married at some point in their lives.” Today, with a percentage so much lower than this, it appears the institution of marriage is shifting again, with effects still to be seen.[7]

 

[1] Jay Zagorsky, “Why are Fewer People Getting Married,” The Conversation, 1 June 2016, https://theconversation.com/why-are-fewer-people-getting-married-60301; Daniel T. Lichter, Joseph P. Price, Jeffrey M. Swigert, “Mismatches in the Marriage Market,” Journal of Marriage and Family, 4 September 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jomf.12603; John Anderer, “Why are Marriage Rates Down? Study Blames Lack of ‘Economically-Attractive’ Men,” Study Finds, 5 September 2019, https://www.studyfinds.org/why-are-marriage-rates-down-study-blames-lack-of-economically-attractive-men/; Kim Parker and Renee Stepler, “As U.S. Marriage Rate Hovers at 50%, Education Gap in Marital Status Widens,” Pew Research Center, 14 September 2017, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/14/as-u-s-marriage-rate-hovers-at-50-education-gap-in-marital-status-widens/.

[2] This post keeps all spelling and phrasing quoted from documents in its original form without including [sic], except for on occasions when punctuation has been converted to modern-day notations. For elite white women, Confederate loyalty/service replaced many of the other qualifications, like wealth, manners, and family lineage, in evaluating the worth of a suitor, according to Anya Jabour, “Days of Lightly-won and Lightly-held Hearts: Courtship and Coquetry in the Southern Confederacy,” in Weirding the War: Stories from the Civil War’s Ragged Edges, ed. Stephen Berry (Athens: University of Georgia Press: 2011); Ardella Brown to Cynthia Blair, 20 May 1863, Blair Papers, Duke University, quoted in Anya Jabour, Scarlett’s Sisters: Young Women in the Old South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 270; Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 151.

[3] Judith W. McGuire, 8 January 1865, Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War by A Lady of Virginia (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), 329; Esther Alden, quoted in Francis Butler Simkins and James Welch Patton, The Women of the Confederacy (Richmond: Garrett and Massie, 1936), 188.

[4] Frank Schaller, Soldiering For Glory: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Frank Schaller, Twenty-Second Mississippi Infantry, ed. Mary W. Schaller and Martin N. Schaller (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2007), 44.

[5] William Duncan Smith, Savannah, to Georgia Page King, St. Simons, 10 April 1861, King and Wilder Family Papers [K-W Papers], 1817-1946, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia; Georgia Page King to Henry Lord Page King, 1 July 1861, K-W Papers, GHS.

[6] Elodie Todd to Nathaniel Dawson, 28 April 1861, quoted in Stephen Berry and Angela Esco Elder, eds., Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence of Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2017), 22-24.

[7] Hillary Hoffower, “7 Ways Millennials are Changing Marriage, from Signing Prenups to Staying Together Longer than Past Generations,” Business Insider, 24 May 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-are-changing-marriage-divorce-weddings-prenups-2019-5#millennials-are-having-weddings-that-are-more-nontraditional-7; J. David Hacker, Libra Hilde, and James Holland Jones, “The Effect of the Civil War on Southern Marriage Patterns,” The Journal of Southern History 76, no. 1 (February 2010): 42.

Angela Esco Elder

Angela Esco Elder is an assistant professor of history at Converse College. She earned her doctorate at the University of Georgia, and the following year she was the 2016-2017 Virginia Center for Civil War Studies postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech. Her research explores gender, emotion, family, and trauma in the Civil War Era South. She is the co-editor of Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence of Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Queen Victoria’s Speeches to Parliament: The Role of the Civil War in British Politics

Queen Victoria’s Speeches to Parliament: The Role of the Civil War in British Politics

At the opening of each Parliamentary session, the British monarch delivers a policy statement crafted by the Prime Minister, explaining the cabinet’s plans for the forthcoming sitting of Parliament. With Parliament prorogued until October 14, 2019, when Queen Elizabeth II is supposed to read Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s agenda to Parliament, we have a modern reminder about the traditionalism and ceremonial role of the monarch in British politics. As the British political system struggles with the antics of Boris Johnson, faces the disintegration of the Conservative Party majority, and crumbles from the utter disaster Brexit has become, we may look into the past when the United States suffered from rebellion, and how Queen and Prime Minister addressed the international crisis of the early 1860s, as a reminder of the always entangled history of British foreign and domestic relations.

The Queen’s Speech historically included not only an elaboration of domestic policy plans but also dealt significantly with foreign and imperial challenges. The speech offers a glimpse at what the British cabinet assumed the most important issues would be in the coming months This post refers to this as the Queen’s Speech, and will refer to Queen Victoria as the deliverer and speaker of the speech in a metaphorical sense, crediting her even after Prince Consort Albert’s death, when the Lord Commissioners read the Queen’s Speech for her. These speeches in the early 1860s indicate how important the United States and the southern rebellion was to British policy makers. A nuanced understanding of British foreign relations during the Civil War requires an appreciation of the various British foreign policy entanglements.

“Queen Victoria at the opening of Parliament, 1866. The Lord Chancellor reading the Royal Speech in the House of Lords,” Illustrated London News, c. 1866. Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.

On February 5, 1861, the Queen opened the new session of Parliament. Considering news required at least two weeks to cross the Atlantic, the British were not yet aware of the secession of Louisiana or Texas, nor aware of the formation of the Confederate States of America. Noting the state of peace in Europe, the Queen’s government hoped for a continuation, despite some uncertainties. At the top of the foreign policy concerns were Italian unification, the French peacekeeping mission to prevent further atrocities against Christians in Syria, and the continuation of the Arrow War in China. The rebellion in the United States followed Indian imperial issues and insurrectionary Maori in New Zealand.[1] By August, when the Lords Commissioners delivered the closing address in the House of Lords, the conflict in the United States had risen to second place, right after Italian unification and before the lingering concerns over Syria.[2] Therefore, when it came to British political attention, the United States in the first year of the rebellion had to contend with a number of other foreign policy crises. However, the uncertainty and fear of getting dragged into a maritime conflict–either because of the lack of policy directives, or the belligerent, Anglophobic policies of Secretary of State William H. Seward–forced the British government to initially pay close attention to the events in North America.[3]

The following year, having just resolved the Trent affair with the release of the Confederate envoys James Mason and John Slidell and a suitable apology, the Queen opened Parliament in February 1862. She noted her gratification with the “satisfactorily settled . . . restoration of the passengers to British protection.” Even more the Queen concluded, “The friendly relations between Her Majesty and the President of The United States have therefore remained unimpaired.” However, the Queen worried about the Americas. The offenses done toward foreigners in Mexico and the country’s refusal to honor foreign debtors had forced Spain, France, and Great Britain to join for a debt collection mission.[4] As a result, both the United States and Mexico were of grave concern. However, with the danger of getting dragged into the Civil War averted, the British had to closely watch their partners, especially France, as they tried to force Mexico to honor its foreign debt. In the rapidly changing political, diplomatic, and imperial environment of the early 1860s, British policy makers had to remain flexible and ever cautious to avoid committing to unpredictable adventures overseas.

By the time of the closing of Parliament, and only two months removed from the cabinet debate about intervention in North America, the Lord Commissioner noted the growing intensity of the war in North America, “but Her Majesty, having from the outset determined to take no part in that contest, has seen no reason to depart from the neutrality to which she has steadily adhered.” Also foreshadowing other issues later in the fall, the British government worried about “disturbances” in the frontier regions of the Ottoman Empire, which could challenge the post-Crimean War equilibrium.[5] With global tensions declining, the rebellion in the United States drew attention, but the crown’s desire to maintain strict neutrality remained.

By early 1863, Queen Victoria’s speech focused on the recently vacated Greek throne. The queen refused to let her son Alfred ascend to such a dangerous, revolution-prone monarchy. The “Greek Question” was closely tied to the larger “Eastern Question’s” containment of Russia. Nevertheless, the United States lingered as a topic and the Queen included the rather ironic statement that “Her Majesty has abstained from taking any step with a view to induce a cessation of the conflict between the contending parties in the North American States,” a reference to the recent cabinet debate. In addition, the government worried about the impact of the blockade on cotton manufacturing, but the speech noted that “this suffering and this distress are rather diminishing than increasing, and that some revival of employment is beginning to take place in the manufacturing districts.”[6] When faced with the difficult decision to prioritize the “Eastern Question” or the rebellion in the United States, Great Britain always focused on the former as the greater threat.

Throughout the Civil War, the British government of Prime Minister Lord John Palmerston operated in the shadow of the Crimean War. Home Secretary Palmerston had been instrumental in drawing Great Britain into the conflict with Russia, which he oversaw and brought to an inconclusive peace as Prime Minister.[7] Throughout his political tenure, Palmerston desired to contain Russia’s autocratic political system. Even once the country suffered under what might be called a “Crimean War Syndrome,” causing a general desire to avoid another inconclusive war, Palmerston watched cautiously against any political or territorial advances by Russia into Europe or the Mediterranean. Despite his occasionally belligerent language toward the United States, Russian containment had priority.[8]

“Lord Palmerston making the Ministerial Statement on Dano-German Affairs in the House of Commons,” Illustrated London News, July 2, 1864. Courtesy of University of Southampton Special Collections.

When Queen Victoria delivered the opening speech in February 1864, North America was entirely absent and European issues took priority. The death of the Danish king and anxieties about the future of the Protocol of London of 1852, which had ended the First Schleswig-Holstein War predominated the speech, foreshadowing the Dano-German War that was about to destabilize the Jutland Peninsula. Like so many other instances, the Queen’s government desired peace. Despite the ever-increasing death toll in North America, the only other three foreign policy issues the Queen touched on were recent assaults of British subjects in Japan, the continued insurrectionary behavior of Maori in New Zealand, and the return of the Ionian Islands to Greece.[9] By the last year of the war, British attention had turned away from North America. With the Wars of German Unification destabilizing Central Europe, British political leaders worried that French and Russian ambitions could escalate the localized conflicts in Denmark (1864) and between Austria and Prussia (1866) into a general European war, prohibiting an unpredictable overseas engagement in North America.

These speeches by Queen Victoria offer a glimpse into the British political mind. Civil War historians have long argued about what British foreign policy regarding the Civil War, but these works hardly take into consideration the many British foreign entanglements, especially the adventurous French emperor and the “Eastern Question.” The Queen’s Speech, authored by her cabinet, allows readers to gain a better understanding of British foreign policy priorities. While the rebellion in the United States during the first two years ranked high on the list of British concerns, it was never alone and had to contend with other far-flung questions. During the crucial final months of 1862, when Civil War historians emphasize the British cabinet debate, the Queen and her cabinet looked east to Greece. The speeches offer a first step to reevaluating Civil War diplomatic relations within the larger British foreign policy entanglements.

 

An earlier version of this post failed to note that Queen Victoria did not personally deliver all of these speeches, due to her being in mourning for her late husband. We have edited the original to clarify this.

 

[1] Speech of the Queen, on the Opening of the British Parliament, Westminster, February 5, 1861, in British and Foreign State Papers, 1860-1861 (London: William Ridgway, 1868), 1-2 (hereafter BFSP).

[2] Speech of the Lords Commissioners, on the Closing of the British Parliament, Westminster, August 6, 1861, BFSP, 1860-1861, 3-4.

[3] For good studies on the subject see Norman B. Ferris, Desperate Diplomacy: William H. Seward’s Foreign Policy, 1861 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976); Howard Jones, Union in Peril: The Crisis Over British Intervention in the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992); Phillip E. Myers, Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2008).

[4] Speech of the Queen, on the Opening of the British Parliament, Westminster, February 6, 1862, BFSP, 1861-1862, 1-2.

[5] Speech of the Lords Commissioners, on the Closing of the British Parliament, Westminster, August 7, 1862, BFSP, 1861-1862, 3.

[6] Speech of the Queen, on the Opening of the British Parliament, Westminster, February 5, 1863, BFSP, 1862-1863, 1-2.

[7] For works on the Crimean War see Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History (New York: Picador, 2012); Paul W. Schroeder, Austria, Great Britain, and the Crimean War: The Destruction of the European Concert (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1972).

[8] For more detail on how Great Britain prioritized the “Eastern Question” over North America, see Niels Eichhorn, “The Intervention Crisis of 1862: A British Diplomatic Dilemma?” American Nineteenth Century History 15 (November 2014): 287-310. The best study of Palmerston’s political identity and his views on liberalism vs. Russia is in David Brown, Palmerston: A Biography (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012).

[9] Speech of the Queen, on the Opening of the British Parliament, Westminster, February 4, 1865, BFSP, 1863-1864, 1-2.

Niels Eichhorn

Niels Eichhorn is an assistant professor of history at Middle Georgia State University. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Arkansas. His first book, Separatism and the Language of Slavery: A Study of 1830 and 1848 Political Refugees and the American Civil War, is under contract with LSU Press. He has published articles on Civil War diplomacy in Civil War History and American Nineteenth Century History.

Teaching with Raw Primary Sources: The Value of Transcription

Teaching with Raw Primary Sources: The Value of Transcription

The rhythms of academic life make August an opportune time to reflect on past teaching and to plan new lessons. Teachers of history at all levels appreciate that primary sources can pique students’ curiosity and introduce them to historical methods. Whether through the Document-Based Questions featured in Advanced Placement exams or the document readers often assigned in college-level courses, thousands of history students will pore over primary sources this fall. Yet while DBQs and published readers certainly provide hearty intellectual sustenance, they necessarily arrive pre-packaged, offering boneless and skinless fare which obscures the messier details of how historians make sense of the past. There is, however, a simple way to widen the menu: incorporate raw primary sources and make transcription the first step in the process of interpretation.

Six years ago, I decided to supplement a class discussion by distributing copies of a raw primary source that illustrated the intense backlash against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Browsing through my own research notes to find a suitable sample, I selected a letter written by Boston abolitionist Theodore Parker to New Hampshire senator John P. Hale in May 1854. The document, which is only a few sentences long and written in reasonably legible script, seemed appropriate for a 50-minute survey course, and I hoped it would provide a fresh alternative to the processed sources my students had been digesting all semester.

It did—and I’ve used the letter in every survey class I’ve taught since then. My students relish the challenges of interpreting nineteenth-century scrawl (and sometimes surprise themselves with their facility of comprehension), thinking about the author and recipient to make sense of the letter’s importance, and connecting the letter’s contents to the larger story of sectional conflict. The Parker-Hale letter presents a puzzle to solve (is that a “g” or a “j’? was it dated before or after the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law? who exactly was John P. Hale?) even as it puts a more individualized, humanized face on an amorphous “North.” It forces students to slow down, read carefully, and make educated guesses about specific words, using context to fill in gaps left by Parker’s sometimes unsteady hand and hasty phrasing. It presents them with a complete text, including the salutation and signature sometimes omitted from published documents, thus illuminating epistolary conventions and adding a bit of historical flavor. Most importantly, it makes reading an active rather than passive activity, a habit I hope students will carry with them long after graduation. By grappling with the letter, my students have learned something about the raw materials with which historians work.

Abraham Lincoln, Farewell Address given at Springfield, IL, February 11, 1861. Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Whether presented as digital image files or photocopies—or, for students lucky enough to access them, original copies—handwritten primary source documents offer unique access to the past. Reading Lincoln’s farewell address to his Springfield neighbors is always a moving experience, but the raw immediacy of the original document helps to humanize the author and his audience.

This simple classroom activity can be adapted in all sorts of ways. In my advanced Civil War and Reconstruction course, I’ve asked students to transcribe a longer letter, written just after the caning of Charles Sumner, and to write a paper analyzing what it reveals about the escalation of sectional strife. This reduces the time constraint and enables me to assign a meatier source, but also introduces the pressure of a grade into the task. Other teachers might incorporate a transcription and interpretation activity into a quiz or exam, although advance preparation would likely be necessary. Instructors seeking to make transcription a regular feature of their early U.S. history surveys could assign Mark M. Smith’s Writing the American Past, a unique document reader which includes copies of texts in their original, handwritten format, along with the interpretive apparatus typically found in such volumes.[1] And while I have primarily used documents drawn from my own archival research, many online databases—including the Abraham Lincoln Papers—include images of raw sources alongside transcriptions, making them available to students in online and traditional courses alike.

The challenge and the joy of teaching history comes in no small part from the effort to make the past seem as relevant and as tangible to students as it does to historians. For teachers of Civil War-era history, the bountiful archive of handwritten sources can offer a feast for novice and advanced students alike.

 

[1] Mark M. Smith, ed., Writing the American Past: US History to 1877 (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2009).

Michael E. Woods

Michael E. Woods is Associate Professor of History at Marshall University. He is the author of Bleeding Kansas: Slavery, Sectionalism, and Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border (Routledge, 2016) and Emotional and Sectional Conflict in the Antebellum United States (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which received the 2015 James A. Rawley Award from the Southern Historical Association. He is currently at work on a book entitled Arguing until Doomsday: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and the Struggle for American Democracy.

Are Tourists Falling Out of Love with Civil War Battlefields? Public Historians Respond

Are Tourists Falling Out of Love with Civil War Battlefields? Public Historians Respond

Two monuments at the Gettysburg Battlefield. The one on the left is General Alexander Hays, and the one on the right is dedicated to the 126th New York Infantry Regiment. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Last year I published a post on this website about visitation trends to Civil War historic sites within the National Park Service (NPS) during the Civil War Sesquicentennial from 2011 to 2015. After looking at the numbers I concluded that visitation to these sites remained relatively strong, but not everyone feels the same way. Two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and Politico argue that historic sites throughout the United States are losing both visitors and their general relevance as tourist attractions. The Wall Street Journal article focused specifically on Civil War battlefields and painted a bleak picture of the future; no more battle reenactments or living history performances, gift shops going out of business, and a generation of young people who lack “respect” for history.[1]

While it is fair to discuss the future of Civil War battlefields and historic sites more broadly, these articles fall short in one crucial way: they leave out the perspectives of the public historians who make their living interpreting history at these sites. Curious to learn more myself, I put a call out on social media asking for comments in response to three of my own questions about visitation to Civil War sites. A few public historians who work at these sites responded and their comments are summarized below.[2]

1. What do think about visitation trends to Civil War battlefields today?

Almost everyone who responded warned that visitation numbers needed to be placed into context. Eric Leonard pointed out that NPS historic sites experienced a forty-year decline in visitation from roughly 1976 until the mid-2000s. “The Civil War Sesquicentennial and ‘Find Your Park’ campaigns have helped buck that trend,” argues Leonard. Jake Wynn pointed out that non-military historical sites have something new to offer visitors. He cited the National Museum of Civil War Medicine as an example of a site that has experienced tremendous growth over the past ten years. Stephanie Arduini gave a thoughtful answer, stating that “All history sites are trying to understand the larger decline in numbers, but [I] suspect it’s a combination of competition for limited time/funds, disconnect with older narratives not relevant to contemporary audiences or are too nostalgic at the expense of accuracy, and even aspects of design/platform for how visitors want to engage.” And Chris Barr reminded me that people visit historic sites for a range of reasons not necessarily connected to history education. “A lot of our parks that are near relatively large urban areas have growing visitation. Runners, hikers, joggers, etc…. Those people are every bit as much visitors as anybody.”

It seems that the bigger question, as Leonard suggested in his comments, is how to make all historic sites more relevant in the future.

2. Do children have a lack of respect for history?

A common talking point I’ve seen online suggests that young people are glued to their cell phones and not interested in visiting historic sites. At the same time, I have also seen articles contending that nature sites such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone are “being loved to death” because of record visitation and young people who will stop at nothing to get the perfect image for Instagram.[3] In both cases alleged visitation trends are unfairly blamed on young people. In reality, the primary drivers of historic site visitation are currently older Americans (Generation X and Baby Boomers, for example) who have more time and disposable income to travel. Ultimately young people are shaped by the environment around them, and they are more likely to be interested in history if they are exposed to it early in life. The comments I received from others echoed my own sentiments.

Barr suggested that young people respect history as much as previous generations and that “one day [in the future] today’s young people will grumble about kids not respecting or caring.” He also pointed out that the history curriculum in K-12 education has evolved and the Civil War simply isn’t given as much emphasis as it used to. “If you’re 70 years old right now the Civil War Centennial hit when you were in middle or high school,” said Barr. “The conflict loomed large and took up a huge part of the curriculum you studied. Your grandparents may have been alive in the 1800s and there’s a chance you may have even met an elderly Civil War vet when you were a little kid. You definitely knew children of Civil War soldiers and the conflict was still in living memory.” But today “somebody in an 11th grade US History course right now was born in 2003, the same year the US invaded Iraq. Your curriculum has to run all the way up through probably 9/11.” It isn’t so much that students don’t respect history, Barr argued, but that they might “feel a stronger connection to eras other than the Civil War.”

Several commenters spoke to the need of finding new ways to hook students into Civil War history using more primary source documents and interactive activities. Arduini spoke to the larger challenge of building an environment—both at historic sites and elsewhere—in which “learning is built based on their curiosity and inquiry instead of rote memorization, and also where the adults in their lives feel both comfortable and confident supporting their learning.” That challenge partly means finding ways to deal with decreased field trips for students amid increased time for standardized tests in the classroom. Leonard asserted that blaming young people for visitation declines is “lazy and stupid” and cited the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program as an effective example of providing students the chance to learn and “speak to their experiences.” Finally, Andrew Druart offered an optimistic take on the future. Druart, who leads the “Civil War Kids” initiative for the American Battlefield Trust, cited Pamplin Park in Petersburg, Virginia, as an example of a site that emphasizes youth education by “finding personal connections and reading diaries from those who lived it to help kids better understand the human perspective.”

3. What new, dynamic ideas can sites implement to achieve relevance?

All commenters stressed the importance of finding new strategies for meeting young people where they are. Several emphasized the importance of audience-centered education and facilitated dialogue techniques in educational programming. Barr explained the challenge to me in a straightforward way: “Many of us who choose to work in these sites are ‘buffs’ to varying degrees. Where we fail is when we try to come up with something to force our interests on somebody else.” Understanding what visitors bring to the table (and why other people choose not to visit at all) is a crucial aspect moving forward. “We all have this idea that building relevance or connection is still going to be a ranger-centered or historian-centered endeavor. [But] relevance and audience building won’t come from a cool new topic to talk about, or a new subject to emphasize on a tour. It’s going to come from us being facilitators for the public to make their own connections and experiences,” said Barr.

Arduini and Wynn both highlighted the importance of using historical artifacts and documents in education programming. Arduini suggested that part of the challenge is using “contemporary design that helps people feel like the stories are contemporary and relevant.” She cited the new American Civil War Museum’s efforts to use colorized photos in their permanent exhibits and a larger effort to build partnerships with organizations not previously associated with Civil War history sites as two different ways to create a culture of honesty, accuracy, and inclusion in the museum’s historical interpretations. And Leonard differed slightly from Barr’s arguments by stressing the importance of more explicitly interpreting the Reconstruction era as a relevant and crucial historical moment in U.S. history. “All [Civil War sites] have Reconstruction stories,” he asserted. Leonard would also like to see a reevaluation of living history programs, both in content and methods. “Are we doing living history because visitors have come to expect it, or because it’s the most effective means for communicating a subject?”

Should Civil War battlefields and related sites be worried about future visitation trends? I believe that the Wall Street Journal article painted too gloomy a picture that almost implies a crisis is at hand. I also reject the notion that young people are to blame. Nevertheless I fully agree with the various commenters that new ideas for innovative outreach, programming, and interpretation are crucial moving forward. There are no easy answers, but we need to keep placing the perspective of public historians working at Civil War historic sites front and center as this conversation continues.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this essay reflect the personal views of those who were willing to be interviewed. They do not reflect the views of their previous or current employers.

 

[1] Cameron McWhirter, “Civil War Battlefields Lose Ground as Tourist Draws,” Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2019, accessed May 30, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/civil-war-battlefields-lose-ground-as-tourist-draws-11558776600; M. Scott Mahaskey and Peter Canellos, “Are Americans Falling Out of Love with their Landmarks?,” Politico, July 4, 2019, accessed July 7, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/04/are-americans-falling-out-of-love-with-their-landmarks-227258.

[2] Most of these conversations took place on Twitter through Direct Messaging on July 7 and July 8, 2019, between Jake Wynn (@JayQuinn1993), Chris Barr (@cwbarr), Stephanie Arduini (@ACWMuseum), Andrew Druart (@AndrewDruart), and myself (@NickSacco55). The conversation between Eric Leonard and myself took place on July 7, 2019, through Facebook Messenger.

[3] John Coski, “Whither Public History?,” The Civil War Monitor, June 25, 2018, accessed June 26, 2019, https://www.civilwarmonitor.com/blog/whither-public-history; I responded to Coski on my personal website. See Nick Sacco, “The Times Are A Changin’,” Exploring the Past, July 9, 2019, accessed July 9, 2019, https://pastexplore.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/the-times-are-a-changin/; See also National Public Radio, “Instagramming Crowds Pack National Parks,” National Public Radio, May 28, 2019, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/05/28/726658317/instagramming-crowds-pack-national-parks.

Nick Sacco

Nick Sacco is a public historian working for the National Park Service as a Park Ranger at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis, Missouri. He recently had a journal article about the Grand Army of the Republic published in the Indiana Magazine of History entitled "The Grand Army of the Republic, the Indianapolis 500, and the Struggle for Memorial Day in Indiana, 1868-1923" (December 2015). Nick also runs a personal blog about history, "Exploring the Past," at https://pastexplore.wordpress.com/.