Hat tip to Harry at Bull Runnings for making us all aware of (among other things in the latest issue of Civil War Times) the piece (“Let the Chips Fall Where They Will”) written by Gary Gallagher. Gallagher addresses, as I see it, a “peanut gallery” of critics. Though a short piece, it’s enough to say (and this is my interpretation of his words), “you know what? I’m doing what I love doing;” and it’s not Confederate bashing or Southern bashing, but it is critical analysis of a complex time in our nation’s history… and it’s fascinating stuff.” Among other things, he briefly addresses the “Black Confederate” question, that ever so-slippery Confederate “CAUSE,” the necessary distinction between “southern” and “Confederate” when talking about the war, and, of course, the backlash that he gets from some from within the new era Confederate remembrance movement.
I think a lot of us in this ever-growing CW blogosphere do what we do because there is a lot more of the Civil War than what can be found in traditional studies. It’s incredible to think of it, but despite the stacks of books written about the subject, there is so much left to be considered. As we turn through evidence and not only look at the same data differently than previous generations of historians, but also find new material not considered by previous generations in the development of their studies, we are not only challenging the “memory” of others, but are challenging our own. It becomes even more interesting when we step back for a while and observe how cultural “memories” of the war have gone so far astray from the evidence that we find in own research that speaks quite to the contrary. It is also interesting to see how some have allowed “memory” to impair their ability to look at the past; a past that is much more than one-dimensional.