I am deeply interested in the Civil War. I consume a lot of documentaries and historical books. I portray a Union soldier as a sometime-re-enactor. I have toured six of the national battlefields so far, and one of my ancestors was wounded at Gettysburg (on the third day, my guess during the artillery barrage before Pickett’s Charge). I am interested.
It’s fantastic to find other people to discuss this important and pivotal time in American—and world—history. Stories about heroic bravery, dumb luck and masterful strategy abound; personal details and anecdotes preserved in diaries and letters connect us to the nearly three million people who fought—and the more than 500,000 who died—in the largest bloodbath our nation has ever seen.
So I was surprised as the national conversation emanated from the horrific violence in Virginia—since the white supremacists were in town to preserve a statue of Robert E. Lee, this was a teaching moment about the actual history of most Confederate monuments with national potential. It seemed like people were becoming more interested in discussing the War, and its implications regarding Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and even Black Lives Matter.
Yet as it turns out, most people apparently don’t care about the actual War, or about how those monuments actually got there.