It’s been nearly two months since my last blog posts, and one might think, with the end of the Sesquicentennial (don’t split hairs with me… I know there’s more that can be considered “on the calendar”, this year… and one event of interest to me is on the horizon), so too came the end to this blog.
It’s just one of those seasonal gaps that usually come about with summer… it just happened to come a little earlier this year.
Sure, I don’t post nearly as much as I once did (no surprise for those who saw the difference between postings from 2008-2011, and the posts that followed), but I’ve got more to write about. I think, however, there’s a need for a shift.
I guess what I’m left with, as of now… and as I look to future postings… are some parting thoughts on the Sesqui.
I view the end of the Sesqui with mixed feelings, but for it’s gravity-like pull on what I felt I “needed” to post here… that’s the part that I’m probably happiest to see come to an end. I prefer to be more spontaneous/random writer. Don’t get me wrong… I greatly enjoyed many an event during the Sesqui, and I enjoyed writing in it’s first years. Yet, after Gettysburg, my enthusiasm waned, as many of the rich, non-battlefield topics weren’t as present (to me, at least) as they had been earlier on. There’s just something about the early years, and before…
In fact, as we moved beyond the 150th of Gettysburg, and into 2014/1864, I became more distracted from the Sesqui…. my attention shifting back toward aspects of those earlier years… again, not so much about the war on the battlefields, but about the years before the war… and more specifically, about the prewar South.
Indeed… and this is where my thinking has taken me lately, especially with commentary I saw, in various venues, about the lead-up to the fall of Richmond, and then the surrender at Appomattox. I found that many had seemingly learned nothing (or… had failed to learn an appreciation of…) about the complexities of the war and the participants. The term “South-bashing” comes to mind, but don’t be too hasty in putting me and my thoughts in a particular category that this phrase might lead you to think. Those who have followed this blog over the years should know, I don’t particularly care for the over-zealous on either side of the pendulum. I find both equally annoying… and as an historian… maybe even disturbing. My hope is to try and counteract (not to say this means to “combat it”) that climate… if I can, whenever I can… and deploy more balanced and (hopefully) objective line-up of content. Of course, I’m sure, since I am from the Shenandoah Valley, what I write will continue to reflect my regionally-focused interests.
As I said earlier in this post… “I have more to write about.” It’s not that I think I will have some dramatic impact on those who seem more influenced by bias (or agendas) and less interested in objectivity and balance. It’s more about just putting good content on the Web. It’s both for folks who follow the blog and those who just happen to find the content as a result of a Google search. Hopefully, all will find some value in it. I just want folks to think outside “their box”.
Don’t be surprised if I reach back to the earlier years of the Republic (and, as usual, taking my preferred approach to history from the “ground, up”, as opposed to the “top, down”). Ultimately, the lead-up to the American Civil War is still at the center of my thinking. I just think it’s time to step back again, while really giving people who lived in a different time a “fair shake” (as opposed, it seems, to some sort of “violent shake”). It’s so often about context, and trying to think, not as much from within our “bubble in time”, but more about thinking about “their bubble in time.” People and their views on events and circumstances are varied… and I’ve said this many a time whenever I’ve brought Southern Unionists forward as points for discussion. Southerners were multifaceted.
I’m looking for something in the story of the Shenandoah Valley… and even the upper South… that many continue to fail to see. We’ll see if I find and flesh that out.
Also, I’m not necessarily “hemming myself in”. Remember, as I stated above, when I write I prefer “spontaneous and random”… even if that means jumping off the track, from time to time, and writing about something even outside the “in search of” track I outlined above.