Oh…you Southerners

Funny Birthday Ecard: I hope you live even longer than it's taking racist Southerners to get over losing the Civil War.

Somebody sent this to me as a birthday card, and I thought it appropriate to share after our Confederates experience.

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Tonight’s the night!

This is me and our author Tony Horwitz.  I think I told you all that I had the chance to go see him when he spoke at Highland Park Library a couple months ago.  Despite e-mailing him and giving him my business card at this meet and greet, he did not respond to my request for an interview.  To be fair, he is on a national book tour promoting the paperback release of his latest book.  So it’ll just be us tonight – and I am looking forward to it.  See you soon.

Subculture Club

“In this episode of Subculture Club we take you to the front lines in El Dorado Park, CA on 400 acres of land where a Civil War Reenactment group presented the NORTH vs SOUTH. Get to know the presenters, the men at battle and the man behind Abraham Lincoln. There are more than 50,000 American Civil War reenactors in the U.S. recreating, reliving and presenting American History. Understand why they do it. How they relive and present – Authentic battles. Live cannon fires. Period costumes. Historical presentations.”

Naming the War

In addition to the Civil War and the War of Northern Aggression:  Did you know that battles had different names too?  I find that very interesting because I had no clue that was the case (for which I entirely blame my US History AP teacher in high school).

Civil War Battle Names

Date Southern name Northern name
July 21, 1861 First Manassas First Bull Run
August 10, 1861 Oak Hills Wilson’s Creek
October 21, 1861 Leesburg Ball’s Bluff
January 19, 1862 Mill Springs Logan’s Cross Roads
March 7–8, 1862 Elkhorn Tavern Pea Ridge
April 6–7, 1862 Shiloh Pittsburg Landing
May 31 – June 1, 1862 Seven Pines Fair Oaks
June 26, 1862 Mechanicsville Beaver Dam Creek
June 27, 1862 Gaines’s Mill Chickahominy River
August 29–30, 1862 Second Manassas Second Bull Run
September 1, 1862 Ox Hill Chantilly
September 14, 1862 Boonsboro South Mountain
September 14, 1862 Burkittsville Crampton’s Gap
September 17, 1862 Sharpsburg Antietam
October 8, 1862 Perryville Chaplin Hills
December 31, 1862 –
January 2, 1863
Murfreesboro Stones River
April 8, 1864 Mansfield Sabine Cross Roads
September 19, 1864 Winchester Opequon

Possibly the coolest blog post yet…

Why They Fight

“The past is never dead,” wrote William Faulkner of Oxford, Mississippi. “It’s not even past.” In Europe, they know this. Modern apartment buildings in Rome are built on Renaissance foundations that in turn contain bits of ruins that are thousands of years old. In Germany it’s not unusual for a work site to shut down suddenly, or for a neighborhood to be evacuated, after the discovery of an unexploded bomb from World War II.

Americans, though, have always focused more on making the history of tomorrow, rather than remembering the history of long ago. And so, 150 years after the Civil War, many of the fields on which soldiers bled and died are nearly forgotten, buried beneath parking lots and subdivisions and interstate highways. Yet, at the same time, the wounds of that terrible war have never fully gone away. They live on in the mental terrain even as they are wiped from the physical landscape.

Photographer Gregg Segal decided in 2009 to try to bring the ghosts of the war back to the places they once inhabited so fearsomely. Working with the renowned re-enactor Robert Hodge and his colleagues, Segal identified battlefields from Gettysburg to Nashville, Cedar Creek to Atlanta. Places where the mundane humdrum of today covers ground that was once, to borrow a phrase from historian Stephen W. Sears, “landscape turned red.”

“State of the Union is a juxtaposition of two contrastive eras,” Segal says of the finished project, “an idealized Civil War embodied by period re-enactors vs. the commercialism of contemporary life.”

“I wanted locations where actual Civil War battles had taken place — and that were now part of the commercial world,” Segal continues. “Rob was very familiar with just such locations as he’s been fighting for years to preserve battlefield land from development.”

The images, which are first of all very inviting with their bold color and dramatic lighting, pack a complex wallop. At first they are funny—proving the theory that humor arises from the unexpected collision of jarring frames of reference. But deeper lies a strong poignancy. These ancestors are all around us, if only we could see them. And what do they think of us, and of what we’ve done with the world they passed along?

These pictures ask us to remember that it happened right here—right where our car slowly drips transmission fluid onto the vast parking lot outside Staples, or where we stand and drink a beer with the neighbors while steaks sizzle on the shiny new gas grill and kids thumb their new Xbox controllers in the basement. And they tell us it could never happen again. We’re too busy shopping.

Text by David Von Drehle

To create these pictures, photographer Gregg Segal collaborated with Civil War re-enactors to construct scenes at historic battle sites that have been compromised by modern development.

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