June 2022 (vol. 12 no. 2)

June 2022 (vol. 12 no. 2)

Volume 12, Number 2
June 2022

Editors’ Note
Kate Masur and Gregory Downs

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Ryan Hall

Chaos and Conquest: The Civil War and Indigenous Crisis on the Upper Missouri, 1861–1865

By approaching the Civil War from the vantage point of the American West, this article demonstrates how the wartime collapse of civil administrative and economic institutions upended western life and ultimately accelerated the dispossession and conquest of Native lands. Prior to the Civil War, Indigenous people of the upper Missouri River region relied on treaties and trade to manage their relationships with the United States. The Civil War undermined these structures by disrupting transportation networks, accelerating inflation, exacerbating fraud and deliberate mismanagement by Republican officials, and crippling the fur trade. The region’s Native people were plunged into an irreversible state of crisis and found themselves more vulnerable to postwar American empire-building in the 1860s and 1870s. This article builds on previous scholarship connecting the Civil War, the American West, and the Indian wars by emphasizing the profound impact of wartime disruption upon Indigenous communities in the American West.

Keywords: Indian Wars, Indian Affairs, Missouri River, Dakota Territory, Montana Territory, St. Louis, Sioux, Blackfoot, Republican Party, Corruption

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Patrick A. Lewis

Rereading the High Private: Restoring Class and Race to Co. Aytch

Confederate memoirist Sam Watkins wrote from the perspective of the “high private,” and has been the voice of the common soldier in the Army of Tennessee for scholars, public historians, and viewers of Ken Burns’s documentary series. Yet this essay delves into the immense wealth and wartime slave-owning of Watkins himself and his famous Co. H, First Tennessee Infantry. Watkins’s own camp slave, Sanker, makes no appearance in his memoir. Once seen, however, Sanker provides a lens through which to see the intentional manipulation of Civil War memory by an important author in the Lost Cause canon.

Keywords: Tennessee, Army of Tennessee, Slavery, Black Confederates, Ku Klux Klan, Civil War Memory, Public History

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Christina K. Adkins

Mary Chesnut’s War Fever: Disease in the Civil War Narrative of a Lost Cause Dissenter

In the 1880s, Mary Boykin Chesnut transformed her wartime journals into one of the most important first-person accounts and literary works of the Civil War era. With an examination of how changing medical theories influenced Chesnut’s writing, this article analyzes the representation of disease in Chesnut’s 1880s narrative and its evolution from her original 1860s diaries. It argues that as Chesnut crafted her narrative-in-diurnal-form, she amplified the significance of disease—both literal and figurative. She made disease prominent in her depiction of slavery and central to her account of Confederate defeat in ways that diverged from the Lost Cause mythology but were obscured by early twentieth-century editors. The article concludes with a discussion of how the decisions of her early editors affected Chesnut’s portrayal of disease in two problematic editions of her narrative, published in 1905 and 1949.

Keywords: Mary Chesnut, Civil War narratives, Civil War literature, Civil War diaries, Civil War/nineteenth century medicine, disease in literature, slavery, Lost Cause

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Mark Boonshoft

Histories of Nineteenth-Century Education and the Civil War Era

This review essay analyzes the last generation of writing on nineteenth-century American education, focused on how it speaks to the broader literature on civil-war era debates over citizenship and rights. It begins by surveying new work on the origins of public schooling in the antebellum North, and on the regionally distinct and exclusive educational cultures of the antebellum South and West. It then discusses how this new literature on antebellum education helps contextualize why public schooling was important to Republican and African American plans to remake the South and extend citizenship to freedpeople. Finally, it analyzes recent scholarship on the role of imperialism and white supremacy in stifling inclusive education policy and explains how that scholarship supports the current historiographical trend to see Reconstruction continuing beyond 1877.

Keywords: Education, Common Schools, Public Schools, Citizenship, Civil War, Reconstruction, Antebellum U.S.

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