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Friday, October 09, 2015

Teaching the History of the American Civil War: Flies of a Summer (Part II)

Which of these three statements is the most egregious?

American History -- Part 110 -- Lincoln -- Lee surrenders at Appomattox, The Making of a NationAmerican history in Voice of America Special English [YouTube]
#1: Id. at 2:06ff “But [Lee] failed [to break the ring of Union soldiers surrounding his army]. Nothing was left. Nothing but surrender. Lee sent a note to General Grant asking to meet with him to discuss surrender terms.”

#2: Id. at 11:48ff “General Grant left Appomattox Court House to return to his headquarters a few kilometers away.”  
American History -- Part 113 -- A Johnson -- War Officially over, The Making of a NationAmerican history in Voice of America Special English [YouTube] 
#3: Id. at 12:00ff “There was also the question of the 4,000,000 former slaves. They were free now. But few could take care of themselves. They needed jobs and training.”
Seth Barrett Tillman
Twitter:  ( @SethBTillman )

PS: My prior post is: Seth Barrett Tillman, The Veil: Tolkien, Rowling, and the American Civil War, The New Reform Club (Oct. 6, 2015, 4:58 PM),

PPS: I have a paper which, among other things, discusses errors in Civil War era historiography. See Seth Barrett Tillman, Ex parte Merryman: Myth, History, and Scholarship, Military Law Review (forthcoming circa Summer 2016) (peer reviewed), available at

PPPS: Seth Barrett Tillman, The Decline of American Martial Culture—Flies of a Summer (Part III), The New Reform Club (Oct. 23, 2015, 8:23 AM),;


Seth Barrett Tillman, American Culture: The Flies of a Summer (Part I), The New Reform Club (Sept. 29, 2015, 6:33 PM), 

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Re #3, Southern historian Shelby Foote took a bath from Ta-Nehesi Coates ["Understanding the Civil War was a luxury his whiteness could ill-afford"] and the rest of the chattering class for a similar observation--and for saying some nice things about historical villain Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The institution of slavery is a stain on this nation's soul that will never be cleansed. It is just as wrong as wrong can be, a huge sin, and it is on our soul. There's a second sin that's almost as great and that's emancipation. They told four million five hundred thousand people, You are free, hit the road. And we're still suffering from that. Three quarters of them couldn't read or write, not one tenth of them had a profession except for farming, and yet they were turned loose and told, Go your way. In 1877 the last Union troops were withdrawn after a dozen years of being in the South to assure compliance with the law.

Once they were withdrawn all the Jim Crow laws and everything else came down on the blacks. Their schools were inferior in every sense. They had the Freedmen's Bureau, which did, perhaps, some good work, but it was mostly a joke, corrupt in all kinds of ways. So they had no help. Just turned loose on the world, and they were waifs. It's a very sad thing. There should have been a huge program for schools. There should have been all kinds of employment provided for them. Not modern welfare, you can't expect that in the middle of the nineteenth century, but there should have been some earnest effort to prepare these people for citizenship. They were not prepared, and operated under horrible disadvantages once the army was withdrawn, and some of the consequences are very much with us today.