Southern Reconstruction and Constructed Memory: Anne Marshall Talks Veterans, Heritage Groups, and Reconcilation

By Ashley Whitehead Luskey

Anne Marshall History professor environmental portrait
Anne Marshall. Image courtesy of Mississippi State University

Over the course of this year, we’ll be interviewing some of the historians scheduled to speak at the 2016 CWI conference about their upcoming talks and their thoughts about Reconstruction and its legacies. Today, we’re speaking with Anne Marshall, Associate Professor of History at Mississippi State University. Marshall’s most recent publications include Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), and “The Jack Burden of Southern History: Robert Penn Warren, C. Vann Woodward, and Historical Practice,” in Storytelling, History, and the Postmodern South, ed. by Jason Phillips (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).

CWI: What role did memory, memorial associations, and the prolific creation of Civil War monuments play during the Reconstruction era?

MARSHALL: The efforts of both former white Confederates and white Unionists to commemorate the memory of the dead and surviving soldiers played a significant role in helping the American public deal with the trauma of war. Monuments and veterans associations became about much more about honoring the past, however. They also served as an effective way to shape the present during Reconstruction. Union veterans associations like the Grand Army of the Republic served as an advocacy group within the Republican Party, while black Union veterans often drew upon their service in the U.S. Army as grounds for obtaining and retaining the rights of citizenship in the post-war era. Most notably, white southerners created an entire worldview surrounding the concept of the Lost Cause, which they wielded to turn back the tide of federal Reconstruction and maintain white supremacy. In many ways, the very different aims of memorial groups who channeled the memory of the Civil War toward different ends became a way of continuing to fight the war in culture and in policy well after the fighting on the battlefield was over. Continue reading “Southern Reconstruction and Constructed Memory: Anne Marshall Talks Veterans, Heritage Groups, and Reconcilation”

Controversial Commemoration: Remembering the Varied Legacies of Nathan Bedford Forrest

By Logan Tapscott ’14

Over the winter break, I participated in an immersion trip to Alabama to learn about the Civil Rights Movement and visited cities like Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma that played an important part in the movement. Despite the past, I did not expect to encounter such a racially charged atmosphere fifty years after the push for desegregation and equality in the South. I also did not anticipate a controversy over a statue dedicated to Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was born in 1821 in Tennessee and, with no military education, was later promoted Lieutenant General and became a controversial figure in the American Civil War. Historians and Civil War scholars continue to debate Forrest’s complex legacy. While famous for sending a Confederate division to what is referred to as the Fort Pillow Massacre in 1864, Forrest was regarded as an important commander for his guerilla warfare-style tactics and for creating and practicing the doctrine and tactics of mobile warfare. Throughout the former states of the Confederacy, mostly throughout Tennessee, people have erected statues of him and named public spaces after him. In the past ten years, people have debated about Forrest’s legacy and whether a commemoration is suitable, especially in Southern cities with a predominately black population, including Selma, Alabama.

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Continue reading “Controversial Commemoration: Remembering the Varied Legacies of Nathan Bedford Forrest”

North Carolina and Virginia Memorials at Gettysburg: A Study in Contrasts

Sixty-six years after the repulse of ???Pickett???s Charge,??? the failed July 3, 1863 assault that represented the high-water mark of the doomed Confederate States of America, a host of devotees congregated at Seminary Ridge south of Gettysburg, Pennsy…

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Sixty-six years after the repulse of “Pickett’s Charge,” the failed July 3, 1863 assault that represented the high-water mark of the doomed Confederate States of America, a host of devotees congregated at Seminary Ridge south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to pay homage to those North Carolinians who participated in the epic attack. Among those in the delegation was the then governor of North Carolina, O. Max Gardner, his immediate predecessor, Angus W. McLean, Mrs. E.L. McKee, the President of the North Carolina division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which sponsored the memorial, and several other enthusiastic Southern partisans. Major-General B.F. Cheatham, the Quartermaster-General of the United States Army, and son of a Confederate major general, was proud to accept this monument on behalf of the United States War Department. During the ceremony, following the addresses of Mrs. McKee and past UDC president, Mrs. Marshall Williams, Cheatham expressed his gratitude toward the ladies of the South for making this monument a reality: “If there is any one person I honor more than a Confederate soldier it is his wife or sweetheart, whose courage, self-denial and moral support made his record possible. You are the daughters of those women, and today it is your persistent effort which finally brings about the erection of monuments and the marking of historic spots where your fathers fought, more than sixty years ago. May I offer you my congratulations upon the accomplishments of your desires here and upon the superlative good taste shown in the design selected.” Continue reading “North Carolina and Virginia Memorials at Gettysburg: A Study in Contrasts”