A growing obsession with the development of Civil War “memory”

Posted on March 7, 2008 by


There are a fair number of people today who write of the issues they have with Civil War “memory.” Obviously, I consider myself among that lot (my obsessiveness with the abuses reminds me of the way that Lynn Truss has issues with punctuation and addresses them in Eats, Shoots and Leaves). However, I find myself growing more obsessed with the way that Civil War “memory” develops… uniquely in different people. Yes, there are books that discuss this, but not to the degree that I would like to see it examined (maybe, as my second masters, I should have selected either psychology or sociology as a discipline – the thesis focusing on the way that people distort historical memory – neat idea for a thesis but the degree… naaaah).

I can't attest to the quality of this book, but it does come to mind as one of those that deals specifically with the Confederates who headed into South AmericaI think back to this past October when, at the Cedar Creek reenactment, I encountered a lad who was dressed in gray, but had what appeared to be a somewhat displaced accent. He wasn’t from the South… at least not the South that we would consider within the geographic region once known as the Confederacy, but rather, he was from… of all places, South America. I’m well aware of the Confederate exiles (self-imposed) to South America (theThe Memory of the Civil War is one of those works that I would like to read when I get the chance. I did enjoy Alice Fahs Imagined Civil War Confederados can be cited as an example of one group), but he didn’t even have a connection with them. Nevertheless, having moved here (the U.S.) in the earlier years of his life, he had, through some means, developed not only an interest in the Civil War, but also a connection (almost an identity) with the Confederate soldier. This isn’t necessarily unique, as I am also aware of several people from above the Mason-Dixon Line who develop an interest for the Confederate soldier. As a matter of fact, I can think of one group of fellows from the Buffalo area who, while having no ancestral ties to the South, decided to portray a famous Confederate regiment from North Carolina!

As one who has ancestral connections to people from both sides of the fence in the war (and the middle of the fence as well), I’m pretty sure that the root of my interests developed from an identity with genealogical connections. However, it is this other group that remains a curiosity, at least to me. I’ll work with this, and continue on my path of introspection about “memory” of the war, a little more in posts that will follow.