Memorial Day is a time of both national reflection and diverse local tradition. In a piece connecting poetry and community storytelling, The Atlantic offers some literary history in observance of this past weekend’s holiday. Two years after the end of the Civil War, the magazine published Francis Miles Finch’s conciliatory poem, “The Blue and The Gray.” Finch, a northerner, was inspired to write the piece by four women in Columbus, Mississippi, who decorated the graves of deceased Confederates and Union soldiers alike in a gesture of nonpartisan respect. Today, students in Columbus honor the event by retelling the life stories of those buried in that cemetery....more
Posts Tagged: Civil War
Byliner’s list of spectacular nonfiction articles of 2012 highlights two complementary essays from the Atlantic‘s Civil War issue.
First, Yoni Appelbaum uses a hyperrealistic “cyclotron” painting of the Battle of Gettysburg as a pin to puncture the national narrative that the Union and the Confederacy were equally noble, and that veterans from both sides had only to recognize their mutual heroism to become “comrades.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates takes on the same battle and the same narrative (as well as the same Faulkner passage) from a different perspective....more
The Daily Beast has a fascinating post about a mostly forgotten moment in American history: the time General Ulysses S. Grant “wrote out an order banishing all Jews throughout his entire command.”
It involves contraband cotton, Grant’s conflict with his own father, and an apocryphal appeal to Abraham Lincoln....more
Remember all those VHS tapes that added up to a compendium of everlasting Civil War knowledge?
It turns out Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary series isn’t entirely accurate, but in fact, “deeply misleading and reductive.” This may feel like a betrayal for those of us who were weaned on his sentimental historical depictions, or mesmerized by the zooming in and out of battle scene paintings....more
I’ve been an ardent follower of the NY Times Disunion blog almost since it started. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Times is reliving the Civil War in a sense, offering a day by day discussion of the war through the eyes of the people who lived it, offering access to not only the famous figures we learned of in history books, but also those whose stories haven’t gotten the same level of attention, like that of Pastor Dwight Witherspoon....more