June 2019 (vol. 9, no. 2)

June 2019 (vol. 9, no. 2)

Volume 9, Number 2

June 2019


Editor’s Note

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Andrew F. Lang

Union Demobilization and the Boundaries of War and Peace

This essay represents the acceptance speech for the Watson Brown Prize for the best book published on the Civil War era in the calendar year 2017. Tad Brown, president of the Watson-Brown Foundation, awarded the prize to Andrew Lang for his book In the Wake of War, published by LSU Press. These remarks were given at the annual banquet of the Society of Civil War Historians (SCWH), held during the Southern Historical Association annual meeting on November 9, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama. The SCWH judges and administers the book prize.

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William S. Kiser

“We Must Have Chihuahua and Sonora”: Civil War Diplomacy in the U.S.-Mexcio Borderlands

The diplomatic missions of Confederate Colonel James Reily in 1862 and U.S. Army Major David Fergusson in 1863 attempted to broker alliances with the governors of Chihuahua and Sonora, and each quest was undertaken by local commanders acting independently of national leaders. Army officers on both sides hoped to exploit the precarious dynamics of political power in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, recognizing the plurality of sovereignty that the American Civil War and the French Intervention interposed across that vast frontier. With Mexico upended by the European invasion and the United States divided against itself in violent conflict, an environment of contested authority emerged wherein no single entity dominated.

Keywords: Civil War, Diplomacy, Mexico, New Mexico, Confederacy, Texas, Chihuahua, Sonora, Borderlands

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Patrick J. Kelly

The Lost Continent of Abraham Lincoln

During the U.S. Civil War, a brief period of ideological solidarity developed among the United States and the republics of Spanish America. During this era, the word “continent” was widely deployed in the geopolitical vernacular of both the U.S. and Spanish America to signify the revived fraternity among hemispheric republics.  An important example is the first line of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”  This essay discusses the context in which Lincoln deployed the word continent in his immortal speech to acknowledge that the crisis of the 1860s reached beyond the boundaries of the United States to encompass its neighboring republics in the New World.

Keywords: Continent, inter-American fraternity, Spanish America, republicanism, Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

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Courtney Buchkoski

“Luke-Warm Abolitionists”: Eli Thayer and the Contest for Civil War Memory, 1853-1899

In the 1850s, Eli Thayer’s New England Emigrant Aid Company promoted free-state emigration to Kansas as a gradualist solution to the slavery problem. In the years after the Civil War, however, Thayer saw his reputation fade in comparison to immediate abolitionists. This essay explores Thayer’s attempts to cement his legacy as a true anti-slavery visionary through continued colonization of Western land and archive building. In uniting the moral superiority of anti-slavery with the jingoism of Manifest Destiny, Thayer sought to project Northern memory of the war beyond issues of citizenship and reconciliation. He both won and lost the battle over the memory of Kansas—his legacy lives on in the archival, imperial narrative he created, but his name remains largely forgotten in the narrative of the Civil War.

Keywords: Civil War; Memory; Kansas; Abolitionism; Archives

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Andrew S. Bledsoe

Beyond the Chessboard of War: Contingency, Command, and Generalship in Civil War Military History

This essay encourages historians of the Civil War era to reimagine and reintegrate traditional military history into their scholarship by deepening their understanding of the role, importance, and consequences of Civil War command and generalship, and their essential connection to historical contingency. It urges historians to adopt a holistic approach, considering the political, cultural, personal, and military contexts of command, generalship, and the decisions that shape contingency in war. This essay also suggests a practical interpretive framework for both specialists and non-specialists in Civil War military history to help them integrate command and generalship into a broad spectrum of other histories in thoughtful ways.

Keywords: Military history; Command; Generalship; Contingency; Leadership; Generals; Benjamin F. Butler; Emancipation

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