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Full-Text Articles in History

We've Got A Movement Down In Selma: Day 5, John M. Rudy Mar 2015

We've Got A Movement Down In Selma: Day 5, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"My people, my people, listen. The battle is in our hands. The battle is in our hands in Mississippi and Alabama and all over the United States.... And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away more than ever before committed to this struggle and committed to nonviolence. I must admit to you that there are still some difficult days ahead. We are still in for a season of suffering...." [excerpt]


Can't Turn Around, We've Come This Far By Faith: Day 4, John M. Rudy Mar 2015

Can't Turn Around, We've Come This Far By Faith: Day 4, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"...today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now. Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now."

The last time I went to a Catholic Mass was on Easter last year. My head was in a bad place. I felt all alone. Mom was gone. and the landscape of the world looked entirely foreign. Even the Mass itself had changed. New responses replaced old ingrained phrases. My ...


The Thunder Of The Marching Men Of Joshua: Day 3, John M. Rudy Mar 2015

The Thunder Of The Marching Men Of Joshua: Day 3, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"Let us march on ballot boxes until the Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.... There is nothing wrong with marching in this sense.The Bible tells us that the mighty men of Joshua merely walked about the walled city of Jericho and the barriers to freedom came tumbling down." [excerpt]


Like An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Day 2, John M. Rudy Mar 2015

Like An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Day 2, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, 'We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around.'"

I met Edith today. We were walking down the road and Edith was with us. She didn't say much. She just sort of gurgled, dangling from a sling on her mother's chest. [excerpt]


Walking Through 1965 On An Alabama Highway: Day 1, John M. Rudy Mar 2015

Walking Through 1965 On An Alabama Highway: Day 1, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"Outside in the backyards I had just passed other youngsters engaged in their game 'State Trooper' in which half the number lined up locked arms, and proceeded to march singing 'We Shall Overcome,' then were set upon and beat down by the others wielding sticks and branches. In situations like these, one must observe the tragedy: that the misdeeds of our immature society are imprinted in the minds of innocent children."

Carl Benkert, Freedom Songs: Selma, Alabama, 1965

We were marching down the road. Seriously. We were marching down a rural Alabama highway. Hundreds of us. Marching. [excerpt]


We Will Now Rejoin Your Civil War (Already In Progress), John M. Rudy Jan 2015

We Will Now Rejoin Your Civil War (Already In Progress), John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a mouse and keyboard. I love diving neck deep in historical documentation for no good reason. Falling down the research hole can be so much fun, particularly when it's looking for one elusive piece of evidence. [excerpt]


Fruit Of A Vile Tree: The Eshelman Family's War, John M. Rudy Jan 2015

Fruit Of A Vile Tree: The Eshelman Family's War, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Frederick Eshelman's father wasn't home. He was in Petersburg, the chilly and treacherous trenches stretching to his right and left as far as the imagination might take them. That's where the danger was. That's where war lived. [excerpt]


A Carriage Ride From Home, John M. Rudy Jul 2014

A Carriage Ride From Home, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Elias Sheads Jr. worked in his father's shop. They made wagons and coaches, some of the bedrock laborers in Gettysburg's society. In 1860, when census taker Aaron Sheely walked the streets of the borough counting heads and recording in vivid detail what Gettysburg looked like, Elias lived with his mother and father. [excerpt]


One Year On: A Glorious Frightening Fourth, John M. Rudy Jul 2014

One Year On: A Glorious Frightening Fourth, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

When in the Course of human events...

In the mottled shade of Culp's Hill's trees, Dr. Charles Horner read the words of the Declaration of Independence clear and loud. A year earlier, rebel troops surged past his home on Chambersburg Street chasing soldiers flying the flag of the United States crafted by that document. Cannon fire reverberated off of the walls of his home. And this morning, a year on, cannon fire again echoed off his walls. But today it was a salute fired atop Cemetery Hill. America was preserved.

We hold these truths to be self-evident... [excerpt]


One Year On: New Gettysburgians, John M. Rudy Jul 2014

One Year On: New Gettysburgians, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

It's been one year since freedom was preserved on a black man's farm. It's been one year since the rebel charge of men from North Carolina and Virginia crashed against Abraham Brien's stone wall and were repelled, since men from South Carolina and Maryland found their best laid plans for independence dashed upon the rocks of Emancipation and American Liberty. [excerpt]


One Year On: Preparing A Somber Holiday, John M. Rudy Jul 2014

One Year On: Preparing A Somber Holiday, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Newspapers are built by bits and pieces. Type is set all throughout the week, long before the paper in Gettysburg goes to press. July's first edition in 1864 was cobbled together in the last few days of June and the first few days of July. Dropping sorts into the frames must have been agonizing work. It was labor intensive, requiring the meticulous placing of each letter and every space into the plate for every single word. [excerpt]


One Year On: Obliterated By Degrees, John M. Rudy Jul 2014

One Year On: Obliterated By Degrees, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The battle anniversary loomed in the waning days of June. And Gettysburg was preparing. Aside from the feasting in the Spangler Meadow on the 4th, the holiday would undoubtedly see tourists swarming the fields and hills where just a few dozen weeks before time had stood still and Death held a grand carnival. [excerpt]


One Year On: June 28th, John M. Rudy Jun 2014

One Year On: June 28th, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A year ago, rebels swarmed the street. Now they don't. A year ago, the town was on edge. Now it's not. A year ago, time stood still. Now it rushes on. "The arrangements are in process of completion," the Adams Sentinel trumpeted, "for a handsome celebration at Culp's Hill." The town was organizing a grand picnic. The moment wasn't simply for the people of the borough so recently made famous by fate and bad luck. "There will be many strangers here," the newspaper's tight print reminded Gettysburgians, "and we hope that every one of our ...


Slave Revolt At Battery Wagner, John M. Rudy Jun 2014

Slave Revolt At Battery Wagner, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The assault on Battery Wagner: we so often look at that tense moment on a beach in South Carolina from the eyes of the men of the 54th Massachusetts. They hailed from all over the United States. Some were from Pennsylvania, Massachusets, Connecticut - born free and willing to risk it all for the freedom of others. Some were from the American South, former chattel property who had seized their freedom of their own accord. [excerpt]


Broken Record. Broken Record. Broken Record., John M. Rudy Jun 2014

Broken Record. Broken Record. Broken Record., John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I've been helping a friend workshop some posts for an upcoming anniversary (surprisingly for me, not a Civil War event but a deviation into the land of the Revolutionary War). And again and again, I find myself repeating some variation on a single nugget of interpretive wisdom. This is no fault of my colleague. I am often a broken record. [excerpt]


Gettysburg's Tragedy In Virginia, John M. Rudy Jun 2014

Gettysburg's Tragedy In Virginia, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Jacob and John Kitzmiller were brothers-in-arms, fighting through the thickets of Virginia with the 138th Pennsylvania. And spring of 1864 was one hell of a slog.

The two boys were the youngest members of their family. When the war erupted, their mother and father, Samuel and Jane, lived alongside their daughter Catharine. Jacob was an apprentice blacksmith in B.G. Holabaugh's shop. John still lived at home with his parents. [excerpt]


Pride Overcometh, John M. Rudy May 2014

Pride Overcometh, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A couple weeks ago I got the chance to wave to Ben Franklin and Mark Twain. They waved back from the stage as the curtain dropped. Jess leaned in to me. "I didn't realize that this is what history is to you," she said, with a bit of derision in her voice. I understand my wife's derision. Disney World is not the first place that comes to mind when most people think of powerful and meaningful history. But for me, it is where I began to find the magic in history. [excerpt]


Name Calling: It's What's Not There That Matters, John M. Rudy May 2014

Name Calling: It's What's Not There That Matters, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The article in the Adams Sentinel May 17th, 1863 was innocent enough.

David McConaughy, prominent local lawyer, moderate Republican and progenitor of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association was passing along a simple request. "I am very anxious to have a collection of trophies and interesting relics from the Battle-field of Gettysburg," Margaretta Meade wrote to McConaughy. The famed General's wife was appealing to Gettysburg to create one of the central attractions for the Great Central Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia that summer. [excerpt]


Mom, John M. Rudy Apr 2014

Mom, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I study the Civil War because of my mother. It's a simple truth.

My Mom, more than anyone else in my life, taught me to be the historian that I am. She is present in so much of what I do when I process the past.

I lovingly refer to her as my idiot-filter. She was a theology major in her undergraduate training, studying comparative religions. I've never read her thesis, I know it's in a cupboard at my parents' house, but I vaguely remember that it was centered around comparing Christ with the other messianic figures ...


Everyday Sesquicentennial: Ghoulish Capitalism Takes Root, John M. Rudy Apr 2014

Everyday Sesquicentennial: Ghoulish Capitalism Takes Root, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Nothing was happening in Gettysburg in the spring of 1864.

That's not quite true. There was tons happening in the first few weeks of April 15 decades ago. But that "tons" was not massive or earth shattering. A dozen men and women died. Another handful of men and women found new lives in each others' arms. Life continued in this place just as it had a year before. It continued on in spite of the new cemetery, in spite of the war, in spite of the rebel arms and heads poking out of gardens alongside the budding spring flowers ...


Postage Due: Stewardship, Stamps And A Watch Pocket, John M. Rudy Apr 2014

Postage Due: Stewardship, Stamps And A Watch Pocket, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Why do we forget that people are human? I've been asking myself that question more and more lately. Partially it's driven by a laundry list of things happening in the world, vitriolic attacks on humanity, both strangers and friends. I just see cruelty looming sometimes, particularly over the lowest in our society. [excerpt]


Confederates In The Swimming Pool, John M. Rudy Jan 2014

Confederates In The Swimming Pool, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I was swimming last night and thinking about dead Confederates. Someday, it's utterances like that which are going to see me involuntarily committed to an asylum. But it's true. I swam and thought about dead Confederates. [excerpt]


For Gods' Sake, Copy-Edit That Textbook On The Wall, John M. Rudy Jan 2014

For Gods' Sake, Copy-Edit That Textbook On The Wall, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

So, my social streams flooded on Monday with an article from the Denver Business Journal, a weekly Colorado publication with a circulation rate of about 16,000 issues. The internet is an amazingly powerful force for magnification. It can make a rant from one irate museum goer with very-close-to-nil circulation seem like a meaningful and broadly held opinion. [excerpt]


Bloody January: Adams County's Own Fall, John M. Rudy Jan 2014

Bloody January: Adams County's Own Fall, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

On a cold 10th of January, in the dark early hours of the morning, more disaster struck. Cole's Cavalry, the 1st Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry had seen nothing but disaster since January began. Cold air stung their noses, snow and freezing rain pelted their stand collars and soaked their saddles. Finally, the found rest in a camp atop Loudon Heights, with vast panoramic views of the Shenandoah and Potomac from the crest of the hill. [excerpt]


Gettysburg's New Dawn, 1864, John M. Rudy Jan 2014

Gettysburg's New Dawn, 1864, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The first few days of January are usually crisp and cold in Gettysburg. Sometimes there is frost or snow, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a bitter wind, sometimes not. Sometimes there is sun bleeding across the horizon and splashing a cloudless sky, sometimes there is not. But the new year here, like everywhere else, stands as a symbol of promise and hope for the future. [excerpt]


Halfway Out Of The Dark: Christmas 1863, John M. Rudy Dec 2013

Halfway Out Of The Dark: Christmas 1863, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A note received any day letting you know a son is gravely wounded is horrible. Receiving it on the first day of December is particularly horrible. In this month of gathering together, hearing your son is suffering can't be cheering. [excerpt]


Tarnish'd With Ashes And Soot: A Classic Poem’S Dank Corners, John M. Rudy Dec 2013

Tarnish'd With Ashes And Soot: A Classic Poem’S Dank Corners, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The legend is striking: Clement Clarke Moore, sitting with his children on a Christmas Eve in 1822, reading them a poem he has scrawled out that day, inspired by a winter shopping trip. Little Charity and Mary were likely entranced at six and three. Clement, a one-year-old, and Emily, a newborn, likely weren’t as enrapt by the lilting rhymes.

The poem for Moore’s children found new life a year later, published in a Troy, New York newspaper. And since then, A Visit From Saint Nicholas has been embedded in our culture. [excerpt]


And With The Sound The Carols Drowned: Captives In Bleak December, John M. Rudy Dec 2013

And With The Sound The Carols Drowned: Captives In Bleak December, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Christmas was coming, and a knot of officers of the 87th Pennsylvania suddenly found their December a bit brighter. Nine boxes had been sent along to the officers, packed to the brim with, "all kinds of necessaries and delicacies, such as will be conducive to our comfort and health while in our present condition." And the soldiers were pleased.

Any soldier would be pleased to have a pair of warm socks, a stack of stationary or a can of preserved vegetables from home. But these men were doubly pleased.

The letter of gratitude they wrote to the Gettysburg Compiler was ...


Obsessive Digging In Carolina Sand And Baltimore Asphalt, John M. Rudy Dec 2013

Obsessive Digging In Carolina Sand And Baltimore Asphalt, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

My parents moved to Wilmington, North Carolina a couple years ago. I have to admit, I am fascinated when I visit the South, for the sheer fact that it is such a vastly different environment than I'm used to. For one thing, the war happened there. For another, the war got very complex and interesting there. [excerpt]


Buckeye Blood Waters The Longleaf Pines, John M. Rudy Dec 2013

Buckeye Blood Waters The Longleaf Pines, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

In the woods south of Wilmington, men in blue uniforms moved forward in a loose skirmish line. They were probing, trying to find General Hoke's last line of defense. Brig. General Charles Paine sent the men forward to develop the enemy. But in the pine thicket ahead, in a thin, ragged line, the bedraggled rebel troops likely had more to fear than bullets as those skirmishers probed and prodded on a February day in 1865. [excerpt]