Cracked History

April 11th, 2013

This one is from the website

6 Civil War Myths Everyone Believes (That Are Total B.S.)

The list outlines popular myths, like how the North was full of abolitionists or the Confederate Flag looks like the one we always see on trucks and t-shirts. But one of the best parts of the page are the comments. One commenter, Bored12222, wrote, “Why some of this is bull****: The South did in fact have a very good chance of winning, despite what the author would like to think.” Then he goes into a long diatribe about how wrong the article is.


Gangs of New York — The movie that’s sort of, kind of about the Civil War

April 4th, 2013

Amsterdam and Cutting

Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) is a gritty look into the riots of New York City before and during the Civil War. The film begins in 1846 with the gathering of two rival sides: natives and Irishmen. They meet at the center of five streets known as “Five Points” in order to settle conflict over the Irishmen’s and Irishwomen’s right to live and work in the city and in America. The protagonist of the story, a young Irish boy in 1846 by the name of Amsterdam, watches his father die at the hands of a nativist that goes by the name of Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. This begins Amsterdam’s quest for revenge on Cutting as the young boy is sent to an orphanage. Sixteen years later, Amsterdam returns and finds the city filled with corrupt leaders, including Cutting, who now runs Five Points. The Civil War is in its second year by this point, and the dead are returning home in coffins on the harbor just as Irish immigrants leave their boats and set foot in America for the first time. Amsterdam joins in with Cutting’s corrupt dealings within the Five Points in hopes of getting close to his enemy. He meets a woman named Jenny who is under the care of Cutting since she was an orphan child. Drama arises between Cutting and Amsterdam over Jenny and Amsterdam’s plot to kill Cutting. Amsterdam attempts a different method and amasses the Irish people of Five Points in order to take control of the town. The final confrontation takes place during the New York City draft riots of 1863, and Cutting is killed by cannon fire.

Gangs of New York is not about the Civil War; however, it is set within the context of the war. One of the first scenes depicts the celebration of and resistance to the emancipation by Lincoln. A number of other scenes also impress upon the audience the problems facing the North during the war, mainly that they needed soldiers. As Irish immigrants apply for citizenship they also sign up to be soldiers, put on their uniforms, grab their guns, and get on another boat, this one headed for the South. While this is often considered a movie about the draft riots, it would be more accurate to describe it as a film with the draft riots in the last 10 minutes. This film does offer an interesting and modern look at the racist and uncooperative North during the Civil War. People of the North are often regarded as abolitionists, and at the very least, a safe place for African Americans. This movie illustrates a small part of the difficulties they faced. The war is not a positive event in this movie; it means death and conflict. Given that Scorsese had hoped to make this movie in the 1970s, it may be possible that the Vietnam War and the subsequent wars affected this perspective.

Cocks, Jay. Gangs of New YorkDVD. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Santa Monica, CA: Miramax Films, 2002.

IMDb. Gangs of New York. Photos. (accessed April 3, 2013).

From Germany to Larry the Cable Guy

March 28th, 2013

I hope it’s okay if I include more than just one source.

After hearing on Tuesday about how other countries reenact the U.S. Civil War, I could not help myself in looking this up and reading more about it.

Apparently, I am not the only one who is curious why people in places like Germany, Australia and the U.K. reenact a war that isn’t in their history.

The first source is a piece from PRI (Public Radio International..NPR for everyone?), entitled, “Germans love reenacting the American Civil War.” Instead of admitting to the fact that they can’t really don Nazi uniforms and reenact the horrors of World War II, the people of the PRI story describes a different reason for their participation: “‘There were about 200,000 who had German roots that fought in the Civil War,’ Melchurs said. ‘I think it is important for our history.'” Of course, the PRI story points out that they can’t really reenact Nazis, but it’s more important that the people today don’t mention that.

The second source is an article from The Atlantic, “Confederates on the Rhine.” This article points out the inherent problems with Germans siding with the wrong side–basically: “They have missed only one thing. In their search for an anodyne conflict, lacking the baggage of their historical wars of mastery, these Germans have taken a wrong turn. The units they prefer to recreate fought to preserve an abhorrent system that kept more than three million men, women, and children in bondage while denying their very humanity”

Finally, I point you towards something completely off topic from what I just described–it was on my search, and I believe that everyone needs to see it: Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. It’s about the Battle of Manassas, too.

The Forgotten Cause: Civil War Memory at Hollywood Cemetery

March 26th, 2013

The Forgotten Crusade from bparker5 on Vimeo.

UPDATE: I updated the youtube video to a better quality for viewing. You can still view the old video which was uploaded before class here.

I am still trying to get a 1080p video on youtube for my own purposes. I want the best quality possible, because the zooming looks strange when it’s pixelated….


All images except the ones below were accessed from the Library of Congress web site,, and the Valentine Richmond History Center web site,

Adeluc4. “Civil War Battle Noise.” Web site. MP3 file. (accessed March 20, 2005).

Curran, Colleen. “Memorial Day Weekend Events.” (accessed March 24, 2005).

Dimmock, Charles H. The Pyramid, monument. 1868-9. Hollywood Cemetery.

“Distinguished Sons of the Confederacy Write for the Times of Memorial Day in the South.” The [Richmond] Times. May 25, 1902. (accessed March 23, 2005).

“Famous People of Richmond, Virginia.” Richmond Then and Now. (accessed February 14, 2013).

Harmond, Richard P. & Thomas J. Curran. A History of Memorial Day: Unity, Discord, and the Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002.

Heras, Jaime. “Piano Concerto – Movimiento I.” Internet Archive Web site. MP3 file. (accessed March 23, 2005).

Hollywood Cemetery Company. “Hollywood Cemetery.” Hollywood Cemetery. (accessed January 21, 2013).

Kollatz, Harry. True Richmond Stories: Historic Tales from Virginia’s Capital. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2007.

Janney, Caroline E. Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Mitchell, Mary H. Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1985.

National Park Service. “Hollywood Cemetery and James Monroe Tomb.” National Park Service. (accessed January 29, 2013).

Otway. “Hollywood Pyramid.” O3 Archive. Comment posted on April 4, 2009. (accessed March 20, 2005).

Pcaeldries. “FireBurning_v2” Web site. MP3 file. (accessed March 20, 2005).


Predictions for the future of Civil War Historiography

March 20th, 2013

I don’t usually go for predictions in history, mostly because I think about the Ladies’ Home Journal articles from the early 1900s that predicted the future. While some came true in some form, most didn’t.

This site has predictions for Civil War historiography written by an associate professor of History from the University of Georgia.

My favorite is  #8: Civil War History Will Become a STEM Discipline. Yes, you read that right.

Reddit Discussion

March 20th, 2013

While using Reddit for a source post has been on my mind for awhile, I finally decided that this was the topic that could really illustrate popular opinion.

So I’m including some screen shots to give you an idea of the conversations.

This one is from “When you see the Confederate Flag being flown, what’s your reaction?” which has 1154 comments. That’s right. 1154. Didn’t get high up on the forum at 109 points, but the conversation is really interesting because you get to see all types of opinions in an almost anonymous fashion.


This next one had only 432 comments, but still has an interesting conversation. There are so many different opinions in this one–again, the anonymity helps people really say how they feel about something without any consequences so we get to see their true feelings.

What meaning are people trying to convey with the confederate flag?

I totally thought I submitted this two days ago. Hopefully still counts!

Bringing “Lincoln” to Life

February 28th, 2013

“No! No! You’re going to tell a story. I don’t believe I can bear to listen to another of your stories right now!”

I stumbled upon this video on Reddit. Since we’re discussing Lincoln in popular culture this week, I thought this was appropriate. In this video, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Steven Spielberg, and Daniel Day-Lewis talk about how they used common descriptions (I really hate calling anything “a fact”) of Lincoln by those around him to build a character that we not only relate to but also sympathize with.



Rebel Yell

February 20th, 2013

I was searching around on YouTube for reunion videos, when I came across this one:

These various clips of a reunion from 1930 are rather remarkable.

The Confederate veterans relive a bit of the war in sharing their versions of the Rebel Yell. While it’s interesting enough that they were celebrating a reunion in the 1930s, the crowd seems to have enjoyed the different calls the Confederate veterans make. It’s a celebration, and they are all remembering the “fearsome rallying cry” of the Confederate army.

You can read more about it in this article here.

Annotated Bibliography

February 19th, 2013

Hollywood Cemetery and the Lost Cause

On May 31, 1866, in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederate States of America, the daily buzz of activity in the city was suspended for a day of remembrance for the Confederate dead.[1] Organized by the ladies of the Hollywood Memorial Association, the Memorial Day was a somber affair for many as children, business owners, veterans all gathered in Hollywood Cemetery to decorate the graves of the honored dead.[2] The story of Hollywood Cemetery’s relationship with the Lost Cause begins here. The Hollywood Memorial Association transformed the rural, garden cemetery founded in 1848 into a significant symbol of the South’s continued resistance to the Union and their elimination of slavery from the public memory of the Civil War.

Through the use of photos and illustrations, newspapers, and personal narratives from individuals who have worked for or volunteered with the Hollywood Cemetery Company, this documentary will tell the story of Hollywood Cemetery’s transformative and lasting relationship with the South’s memory of the Civil War. This documentary will also examine the Lost Cause today, and whether or not the memorials and celebrations that occur through the Hollywood Cemetery Company today mirror any of the events held in Richmond and Hollywood Cemetery between Reconstruction and the end of the twentieth century. For example, why do people still attend these events today? Have beliefs changed from the ideology of the Lost Cause?

This past winter, the Civil War Sesquicentennial remembered the Battle of Fredericksburg, and this summer, the sesquicentennial will reach its turning point with the Battle of Gettysburg. The interest in the Civil War is clearly still present in American society today, especially in the South. This documentary will deepen the understanding of why the American public continues to be fascinated by commemorating the honorable dead.

[1] Mary H. Mitchell, Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1985), 68.


[2] Ibid., 68-69.




Daily Dispatch (1860-1884)

Richmond Dispatch (1884-1903)

The [Richmond] Times (1890-1903)

Times Dispatch (1903-1913)

Richmond Times-Dispatch (1995-2013)

The Daily Dispatch and The Times eventually became what we know today as the Richmond Times-Dispatch. All of these newspapers provide insight into the events of Memorial Day and Hollywood Cemetery celebrations as well as their popularity.


Primary and Secondary Sources

 Blair, William A. Cities of the Dead: Contesting the Memory of the Civil War in the South, 1865-1914. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

 Blair’s text interprets the postwar commemorations of the dead as suggestions of Southern politics and tension with the North. Unlike other histories of Civil War memory, Blair’s book examines two states, Louisiana and South Carolina and includes brief discussions of other states’ memorial services.

 The Center for Civil War Research. “Memorial Day.” The University of Mississippi. (accessed February 14, 2013).

 This website presents primary source material on the experiences of Memorial Day services from 1862 to 1913. Two depict Hollywood Cemetery, while others describe cities like Petersburg, Memphis, Charleston, and Knoxville. This is not a site for a breadth of information, but the viewpoints will be helpful in determining differences in services.

 Dimmock, Charles H. The Pyramid, monument. 1868-9. Hollywood Cemetery.

 The monument honors the 18,000 Confederate dead who were buried in Hollywood Cemetery following the Civil War. The Pyramid is also a symbol of the Lost Cause with the inscription, “Memoria in Aeterna Numini et Patriac Asto” or “In eternal memory of those who stood for God and Country.”

 Foster, Gaines M. Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865 to 1913. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Foster’s book presents the arc of Confederate memory and emphasizes the significance of memorial activities in the South’s effort to forget the past, reconcile with the North on their own terms, and restore confidence to a battered South.

 Harmond, Richard P. & Thomas J. Curran. A History of Memorial Day: Unity, Discord, and the Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002.

 A concise, but useful summary, Harmond and Curran’s book explores the history of Memorial Day and the changes that occur to transform the holiday from a day of solemn remembrance of the dead to a commercial and festive government holiday. The majority of the authors’ sources are from periodicals, such as the New York Times, which provides a clearer picture of the public feelings towards the holiday, instead of using mostly government or organizational records.

 Hollywood Cemetery Company. “Hollywood Cemetery.” Hollywood Cemetery. (accessed January 21, 2013).

 This is the official website for Hollywood Cemetery, and it contains an abudance of sources, including newsletters, photos, and descriptions of impressive monuments and sights in the cemetery.

 Janney, Caroline E. Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Janney’s book challenges the history and memory of the Civil War and argues that Ladies’ Memorial Associations were not only essential to the advancement of the ideology but also were the architects of what we now know of as the Lost Cause.

 Keister, Douglas. Forever Dixie: A Field Guide to Southern Cemeteries & Their Residents. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2008.

Keister’s book is a guide to various Southern cemeteries and noteworthy sights within them.  Keister also includes details on the meaning of symbols, monuments, and architecture in these cemeteries.

 Kinney, Martha E. “’If Vanquished I am Still Victorious’: Religious and Cultural Symbolism in Virginia’s Confederate Memorial Day Celebrations, 1866-1930.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 106, no. 3 (Summer 1998): 237-266. (accessed January 30, 2013).

Kinney’s article outlines Southern Memorial Day commemorations in Virginia from their beginnings in 1866 with a simple Decoration Day in Richmond to the state-wide celebration it became in the early 1900s. Kinney describes the evolution of the day and how the remembrance of fallen heroes became a political theme.

 Kollatz, Harry. True Richmond Stories: Historic Tales from Virginia’s Capital. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2007.

 Kollatz brought stories he wrote for Richmond Magazine to this set of short and bizarre stories that collectively construct the history of the city of Richmond. One of these stories contains the history of the Hollywood Pyramid and how a horse thief helped finish it.

 Mills, Cynthia J. and Pamela H. Simpson. Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2003.

 This anthology presents a series of essays that interpret the commemorative activities, especially Civil War monuments, from various women’s groups from the Reconstruction era to the end of the twentieth century.

 Mitchell, Mary H. Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1985.

 Though Mitchell’s book is 28 years old, it still remains the only authoritative text on Hollywood Cemetery. Using sources like city newspapers, records, and meeting minutes along with the records of the Hollywood Cemetery Company, Mitchell traces the cemetery from its founding in 1847 until the mid to late twentieth century.

 National Park Service. “Hollywood Cemetery and James Monroe Tomb.” National Park Service. (accessed January 29, 2013).

 This website provides a history of Hollywood Cemetery from its very beginnings as a rural cemetery to its place in American history. The website describes the two presidential monuments and the one Confederate presidential monument to Jefferson Davis.

 Richmond Then and Now. (accessed February 14, 2013).

 This website, while not an official historical Richmond site, offers insight into a piece of the public memory of the Civil War. The website provides photos of Richmond “Then & Now” for comparison as well as event photos from Hollywood Cemetery memorials.


Textbooks in Virginia

February 13th, 2013

I picked another Washington Post article for this week.

This time, though, I looked up articles on Southern textbooks.

I found an article titled “Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized over claims on black Confederate soldiers.”

So what was the big deal that got people upset?

Well, this textbook claimed that “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” Where did this information come from? Apparently, the author, Joy Masoff, “who is not a trained historian,” turned to the internet to find out about African Americans as Confederate soldiers. Even better–these internet sources “referred to the work by Sons of the Confederate Veterans.”

What is most troubling is that the book was reviewed “by a publisher’s advisory council of educators,” and none of them caught this.