News and Notes, May 31, 2012

Let’s just take a walk and see what we find …

  • Andy Hall offers a rather telling analysis of yet another attempt to manufacture a story of a black Confederate soldier.
  • Like many other people, it was not until I read the link to Kevin Levin’s recent post about Memorial Day in Fredericksburg that I found that our friends the Virginia Flaggers (all five of them) were present.  The Flaggers made a big deal of this, of course.  However, Michael Aubrecht’s observations are on the mark.  As I’ve said before, the Flaggers do make their way into news accounts because their presence serves a purpose in those accounts.  It’s free publicity.  That said, as Michael points out, the Flaggers failed to pay tribute to fallen Confederates and other notables (including Dabney H. Maury) at the nearby Confederate cemetery (which I’ve visited in the past).  So it seems I care more about honoring Confederates than do the Flaggers.
  • Those who want to honor the past might take one last look at the usenet group alt.war.civil.usa (now in Google Groups).  Oh, I’m sure it will remain on some form of life support, but the last few months have seen the departure of one of its most provoking posters and nasty exchanges among the few folks who remain.  However, a group that was once a lively place for the exchange of views about the American Civil War has been reduced to depending upon spammers to reach 100 posts a month (as of last count, only 52 posts appeared in May 2012), with a few long time participants discussing the nature of southern identity as a retired professor rediscovers what the rest of us already know on a periodic basis.  Then again, he went to school with Newt Gingrich.
  • Read this and reflect on what it says.  Nice job, Andy.

Historians Behaving Badly

I found the reaction to posts appearing here and elsewhere over the last few days to be quite educational. As I suspected (from the statistical and record-keeping aspect of administering a blog), traffic was heavy, including a good number of hits from academic institutions (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s been my experience that a good number of academic historians savor these sorts of pointed exchanges … they just do so in private (it’s called lurking followed by e-mail). At least I admit to watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (precisely because I think it’s a wonderful situation comedy presented as a reality show).

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Levin, Gallman (and even Simpson) on Rotov on Glatthaar

Yesterday evening Matt Gallman raised the following issue:

A year ago I critiqued Kevin because he posted a link to a blog that had insulted a friend of mine (and yours?). Kevin responded with his standard “who me?” The fact is that that original blog, by this fellow Rotov, was just horrible, despicable garbage. From a guy who has no platform beyond the fact that other bloggers like to praise him. Brooks, you didn’t praise him then, but you do tip your hat to him now and then. That is your choice, but you are a celebrated historian of infinitely greater stature than this guy and you are tipping your hat to someone who deserves no respect given his repeated lies. Well, precisely a year ago I challenged Kevin for linking that. So, today, if you google the name of our mutual friend, both the original post and Kevin’s link appear within the first 2 pages of links. This is I think evidence of why this stuff actually matters. Some clown sitting in his basement can write disgusting, ignorant, lies about a serious historian, and your students and my students who google that name will find those lies. So, yeah, it would be nice if bloggers would stand up for decency. Although I also take your point that it isn’t as if you as a blogger are responsible for all other bloggers.

Let’s try not to be coy here.  The historian in question is Joseph Glatthaar.  The post in question is here (with a link to the original post by Dimitri Rotov concerning Glatthaar’s book).  The comments sections reveals that I asked some tough questions of Kevin and raised some issues about Dimitri’s post.

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Another Visit From Matt Gallman

Matt Gallman has once more shared some thoughts that are sure

What is it with historians and cannon?

to spark discussion in the comments section to another post. You can find his comments here and my response here.

I’d suggest responding to the exchange in the comments to this post.

As I’ve said before, friends can disagree, and that’s the case here. But I warn Matt that he’s in danger of becoming yet another recurring character in the reality show known as “Crossroads,” much like the individual/character he highlights as performing that function. 🙂

And that’s simply one of the ironies you’ll discover in the exchange. Happy reading!

PS: See why blogging about blogging can lead to blogging about blogging about blogging? It’s a nasty habit.

And So What?

Recently I noted that of several cyber CSA “heritage” groups which have attracted my attention, only the Virginia Flaggers seem to have made any dent in the public consciousness. Oh, there are other groups, but, as even one of their supporters admits, they don’t amount to much in terms of impact even as they remain an endless source of amusement. But one must admit that the Virginia Flaggers have left their impression on several recent so-called “heritage” discussions in the press, even if they simply served as the token representative of “another viewpoint” in various pieces that hungered for a CBF-bearing group to fill out the usual story.

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Melville’s McClellan

The Victor of Antietam

by Herman Melville

WHEN tempest winnowed grain from bran;
And men were looking for a man,
Authority called you to the van,
Along the line the plaudit ran,
As later when Antietam’s cheers began.

Through storm-cloud and eclipse must move
Each Cause and Man, dear to the stars and Jove;
Nor always can the wisest tell
Deferred fulfillment from the hopeless knell —
The struggler from the floundering ne’er-do-well.
A pall-cloth on the Seven Days fell,
McClellan —
Unprosperously heroical!
Who could Antietam’s wreath foretell ?

Authority called you; then, in mist
And loom of jeopardy–dismissed.
But staring peril soon appalled;
You, the Discarded, she recalled
Recalled you, nor endured delay;
And forth you rode upon a blasted way,
Arrayed Pope’s rout, and routed Lee’s array,
Your tent was choked with captured flags that day,
Antietam was a telling fray.

Recalled you; and she heard your drum
Advancing through the ghastly gloom.
You manned the wall, you propped the Dome,
You stormed the powerful stormer home,
Antietam’s cannon long shall boom.

At Alexandria, left alone,
McClellan —
Your veterans sent from you, and thrown
To fields and fortunes all unknown —
What thoughts were yours, revealed to none,
While faithful still you labored on —
Hearing the far Manassas gun!
McClellan, Only Antietam could atone.

You fought in the front (an evil day,
McClellan) —
The fore-front of the first assay;
The Cause went sounding, groped its way;
The leadsmen quarrelled in the bay;
Quills thwarted swords; divided sway;
The rebel flushed in his lusty May:
You did your best as in you lay,
Antietam’s sun-burst sheds a ray.

Your medalled soldiers love you well,
Name your name, their true hearts swell;
With you they shook dread Stonewall’s spell;
With you they braved the blended yell
Of rebel and maligner fell;
With you in shame or fame they dwell,
Antietam-braves a brave can tell.

And when your comrades (now so few,
McClellan —
Such ravage in deep files they rue)
Meet round the board, and sadly view
The empty places; tribute due
They render to the dead — and you!
Absent and silent o’er the blue;
The one- armed lift the wine to you,
And great Antietam’s cheers renew.