12/23/2014 02:59 PM
BATON ROUGE – Long after the Civil War ended, one conflict raged on: the battle to
define and shape the war’s legacy. “Across the Bloody Chasm: The Culture of Commemoration among Civil War Veterans” deftly examines Civil War veterans’ commemorative efforts and the concomitant –
and sometimes conflicting – movement for reconciliation.
Though former soldiers from both sides of the war celebrated the history and values
of the newly reunited America, a deep divide remained between people in the North
and South as to how the country’s past should be remembered. Union soldiers could
not forget that their southern counterparts had taken up arms against them, while
Confederates maintained that the principles of states’ rights and freedom from tyranny
aligned with the beliefs and intentions of the founding fathers. Through regimental
histories, speeches at veterans’ gatherings, monument dedications, and war narratives,
M. Keith Harris uncovers how veterans from both sides kept the deadliest war in American
history alive in memory at a time when the nation seemed determined to move beyond
Harris is an independent historian.
Edited by Samuel C. Hyde Jr., “The Enigmatic South” brings together leading scholars of the Civil War period to challenge existing perceptions
of the advance to secession, the Civil War, and its aftermath. The pioneering research
and innovative arguments of these historians bring crucial insights to the study of
this era in American history.
Contributing scholars consider the ways politics, religion, and education contributed
to southern attitudes toward secession in the antebellum period; others into the challenges
the Confederate South faced as it sought legitimacy for its cause and military strength
for the coming war with the North; while still others offer new perspectives on the
changes the Civil War wrought on the economic and ideological landscape of the South.
The essays in “The Enigmatic South” speak eloquently to previously unconsidered aspects
and legacies of the Civil War and make a major contribution to our understanding of
the rich history of a conflict whose aftereffects still linger in American culture
Hyde is the Leon Ford Professor of History at Southeastern Louisiana University and
the author of several books, including “Pistols and Politics: The Dilemma of Democracy
in Louisiana’s Florida Parishes, 1810–1899.”
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2014