Gettysburg, November 1963

Here’s a brief but interesting newsreel covering the commemoration of the centennial of the Gettysburg Address in November 1963.

President John F. Kennedy had been invited to speak at Gettysburg that day, but he decided instead to go to Texas to mend some political fences in anticipation of running for reelection in 1964.

(h/t Chuck Teague)

Playing Games

Many people who read this blog are familiar with wargaming/simulation gaming. In most cases those games concern military campaigns, battles, or the entire war. Although a good number of these games can be played on a computer (and there are a handful of so-so video games), there are still enough traditional board games, utilizing some combination of a board, pieces (often called counters), cards, charts and tables, and a die (or dice).

There are games, however, that cover other themes.  One is Divided Republic, on the 1860 presidential contest.

Here’s a video review of that game:

Then there is Freedom: The Underground Railroad. The publisher’s offered a series of videos showing how the game is played, and so you might go there to see what’s up.

I wonder what a Reconstruction game would look like. A well-designed one might do a better job than most accounts of Reconstruction in illustrating the challenges faced by policymakers and politicians.



News and Notes, April 16, 2014

Ah, the pause that refreshes …

  • Many of you were interested in what Jim DeMint had to say about emancipation. I was not.
  • Kevin Levin had some interesting observations about the impact of the sesquicentennial. I’m never sure how one measures such things. What was the impact of the bicentennials of 1776 and Lincoln’s birth in 2009? Hard to tell.
  • Al Mackey wants to draw your attention to a stunning presentation.
  • As for more stunning presentations, check out what Jill Titus of Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute has to say about the upcoming June 2014 conference:
  • This week Connie Chastain thought it was proper to post profane and ugly lyrics on her blog, just as one time she posted pictures of mostly unclad women. For the record, I don’t know Goad Gatsby and I don’t select his playlist. I think he’d be far more effective with clean lyrics (maybe he should add The Battle Cry of Freedom and John Brown’s Body/Battle Hymn of the Republic). However, it seems to me that he has as much right to do what he does as the Flaggers have to do what they do, and if he’s violating any laws or ordinances, then by all means, ask one of Tripp Lewis’s friends in uniform to have a talk with him. Connie, by the way, apparently still has no problem with atrocities, racism, bigotry, and violence against women. When her buddy John C. Hall Jr. uses the same language she claims to deplore in rap lyrics, she says nothing; recall that she once defended Pat Hines’s antiSemitism … really? Same goes for Connie defending Hall’s antiSemitism. Maybe she can spend some time telling us how her views differ from those of Glenn Miller.

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Southern Nationalists and the Crimea Crisis

Southern nationalists are divided as to where they stand on the situation in Crimea. Southern nationalist Connie Chastain offers this statement:
Meanwhile, the League of the South supports Russia’s acquisition of Crimea through a referendum, because it’s a secessionist movement. Indeed, I’ve heard that Dr. Michael Hill has invited Vladimir Putin to address the League at its next national meeting.

April 12, 1864: Massacre at Fort Pillow

Today, 150 years ago, Confederate forces under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked Union forces at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, along the Mississippi River. What happened next has been a matter of controversy ever since.

Watch and listen as some descendants of soldiers who fought that day reflect on their ancestors’ experience. And here’s one historian’s reflections on the battle and its legacy.

To this day there are two critical issues that spark much controversy:

(1) Was there a massacre of black soldiers?
(2) What responsibility does Forrest bear for the behavior of his men?

All too often, these arguments are blurred, to the point that I’ve seen arguments that since Forrest wasn’t responsible for the behavior of his men, there was no massacre at Fort Pillow. However, it’s rather easy to argue that. regardless of what Forrest desired or ordered, there was a massacre of black soldiers, and there’s a great deal of documentation to support that point of view.

When it comes to Forrest’s responsibility (or culpability), I’ll simply note that one cannot claim that William T. Sherman is a war criminal without accepting that Nathan Bedford Forrest is a war criminal. After all, Sherman did not issue orders calling for the raping of women or the destruction of property outside the laws of war. Nor did he issue orders for the destruction of Columbia in February 1865. One can hold him accountable for (a) the orders he issued and (b) his actions (or inaction) in punishing his own men for violations of the law of war. One would have to hold Forrest to the same standard, unless you think the destruction of property is a greater crime than cold-blooded murder … or whether you think crimes against white people bother you more than crimes against black people, especially those wearing the uniform of the United States armed forces. Once you say that Sherman must be held responsible for the actions of his men, you must say the same for Forrest.

McConnell and the College of Charleston: Kerfuffle or Controversy?

In the aftermath of Glenn McConnell’s selection as president of the College of Charleston, the discussion has been (as I warned you) fairly predictable, although we now have a spat over the nature of the new president’s library (and what he sold at his store).

I confess that I am not terribly interested in this matter in terms of McConnell’s interest in Confederate heritage. The College was well aware of his interests when it chose him, and the reaction should have come as no surprise. But other people are far more interested. Are you?