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Gettysburg College

Civil War Era Studies

2013

Articles 1 - 30 of 39

Full-Text Articles in History

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]


Interpretation Is Evolution: Whose History?, John M. Rudy Nov 2013

Interpretation Is Evolution: Whose History?, John M. Rudy

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

When I try to explain to non-history people what my degree means, I used to hit wall after all. It was so hard explaining exactly what, "Applied History," really means. People understand, "History," but the idea of public history has a certain brand of special sauce added on top.

I used to say something akin to, "doing Park Ranger things," though that never really worked. When I had a group on an historical landscape, I'd often just say, "Public History is this."

It doesn't work. Those definitions aren't clear. [excerpt]


Her Bright Blazon Forever Unstained, John M. Rudy Oct 2013

Her Bright Blazon Forever Unstained, John M. Rudy

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

Just a few lyrics today, nothing more, nothing less. Lyrics of joy. Lyrics of home. Lyrics of who we are as a nation. Might we never forget who we are again. [excerpt]


Ngram 150th: Race, Sex And Big Data, John M. Rudy Sep 2013

Ngram 150th: Race, Sex And Big Data, John M. Rudy

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

Data is powerful in the right hands. Aggregate data is even more powerful. And Google is data.

One of the odder tools in the Google arsenal is the Ngram viewer a search engine which charts trends within the folds of Google Books' database. Punch in anything. I mean it. Try anything in the Ngram search engine and start falling down the historical trends rabbit hole. [excerpt]


Shaw's Backside: The Other Side Of An Icon, John M. Rudy Sep 2013

Shaw's Backside: The Other Side Of An Icon, John M. Rudy

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

This week I find myself in Boston, one of the couple of American cities which call themselves the cradle of liberty. But I'm not drawn like a moth to the Revolution. It's just not my bean.

Instead, I find myself in the awkward position of standing at a visitor desk and asking a park ranger what will interest a Civil War geek in a Revolutionary-bent city. That dog don't hunt so well. [excerpt]


Plunge Into Shonash Ravine: Thinking 4th Dimensionally In Interpretation, John M. Rudy Aug 2013

Plunge Into Shonash Ravine: Thinking 4th Dimensionally In Interpretation, John M. Rudy

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

This piece was written for NAI's annual workshop this coming fall, but not everyone will have the chance to be in Reno to hear my presentation come November. So, why not give you a sneak peak of what I'm planning on discussing in Nevada? [excerpt]


Child's Play: War, Toys And Avoiding The Trivial, John M. Rudy Aug 2013

Child's Play: War, Toys And Avoiding The Trivial, John M. Rudy

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

This past weekend, I let my two hobbies combine. I spend a good chunk of my spare time doing incessant, weird and wild historical research. If you've read along on the blog for any appreciable time, you know the odd corners I've turned finding peculiar and striking stories both here in Gettysburg and beyond.

But I have another hobby.

I am an Adult Fan of LEGO. [excerpt]


Stewart W. Woods: A Peculiar Casualty At Fort Wagner?, John M. Rudy Jul 2013

Stewart W. Woods: A Peculiar Casualty At Fort Wagner?, John M. Rudy

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

Captured in the darkness of July 18th on a sandy beach in South Carolina was a native of Adams County. Stewart W. Woods, born in Heidlersburg around 1836, found himself in the hands of the rebels, among a handful of his compatriots in the 54th Massachusetts. The fighting of Woods' war was over and his fate was unclear. Stewart was a free man, born under the folds of the same American flag under which he now fought. At some point, he had drifted over the mountain range and called Carlisle home when the war erupted in 1861. [excerpt]


A New Theory For Battle Landscapes - Toward An Interpretive Future, John M. Rudy Jul 2013

A New Theory For Battle Landscapes - Toward An Interpretive Future, John M. Rudy

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

There's a misunderstanding. The misunderstanding has been long and deep. It goes something like this:

Your crusade to destroy the current practice of military history on battlefields is a form of fundamentalism just like the supposed fundamentalism of military history you aim to change. [excerpt]


To My Great Great Grand Uncle - On The Occasion Of The 150th Anniversary Of Your Death, John M. Rudy Jul 2013

To My Great Great Grand Uncle - On The Occasion Of The 150th Anniversary Of Your Death, John M. Rudy

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

Dear William Henry,

I'm writing this standing near the spot where you died, exactly 150 years ago nearly to the second. I'm typing on a tiny screen, a technological marvel that lets me share the stories of men like you with the world instantly.

They've put up a monument to you and the 17 other men who died along with you along the banks of Plum Run creek. We call this place "The Valley of Death" now. I think you among all people who have walked this green earth would understand why.... [excerpt]


Stormclouds Gather On The Horizon, John M. Rudy Jun 2013

Stormclouds Gather On The Horizon, John M. Rudy

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

The first few stanzas of a poem by Howard Glyndon from the folds of The Lutheran and Missionary from late August of 1863:

The days of June were nearly done;The fields, with plenty overrun, Were ripening 'neath the harvest sun In fruitful Pennsylvania!

[excerpt]


Memory And Meaning: Civil Rights In Lee's Backyard, John M. Rudy Jun 2013

Memory And Meaning: Civil Rights In Lee's Backyard, John M. Rudy

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

I walked up the long winding path named for Mary Custis and her family home. As I ascended the steps I stopped to quickly pay my respects to Robert Todd Lincoln. But he wasn't my quarry for the day. As I came to the top of the steps, Robert E. Lee's home hove into view. I've been inside Lee's house a few times. Each time has been interesting, but relatively hollow. Those four walls lack the raw power that the surrounding acres seem to ooze. [excerpt]


Meanings: Where This Is All Headed, John M. Rudy Jun 2013

Meanings: Where This Is All Headed, John M. Rudy

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

Human tragedy, human triumph and continuing struggle, each of its own epic proportions. One convoluted war holds inside the tripartate meanings of sorrow for 620,000 lost, joy for 4 million saved and the uneasiness that the struggle for freedom would still continue 150 years later. [excerpt]


Born In Slavery: One Grave In Chambersburg, John M. Rudy May 2013

Born In Slavery: One Grave In Chambersburg, John M. Rudy

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

A simple epitaph with amazing impact: "Born in Slavery, Died Feb 15 1908." Those words speak and speak loudly. Thomas Burl wanted it to be known for eternity that he was a slave. And he wanted it to be known that he wasn't when he died. That label defined his whole life. It defined who he was when he had the name "slave" forced on him when he was born. And it again defined him through its absence after 1863. [excerpt]


Fire On The Mountain: A Forest Fire Ignored?, John M. Rudy May 2013

Fire On The Mountain: A Forest Fire Ignored?, John M. Rudy

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

There was a massive forest fire on the South Mountain at the edge of Adams County. It ripped through thousands of acres of woodland along the crest of the ridge. The undergrowth went up like a match. The spring up to this point had been unusually dry. And a fire started. [excerpt]


Rewind: Good Morning To The Night, John M. Rudy May 2013

Rewind: Good Morning To The Night, John M. Rudy

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

Today is a special day, a momentous day. It's a day I've thought about for a long time. A day for beginnings and a day for looking back. So I'm looking back for today's blog, to one of my favorite posts. It's simple and meaningful to me. It's about a place that has changed my life so much. And today the ripples from that place are changing it again. And it's wonderful. [excerpt]


Hearing His Voice: What Does "War" Have To Say?, John M. Rudy May 2013

Hearing His Voice: What Does "War" Have To Say?, John M. Rudy

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

Lee is formulating his plan to move northward, to invade Federal territory once again and lean on the United States' popular will to fight. And War will see the fruits of that decision. He'll see it all. And we're still working to tell his tale, bit by bit. [excerpt]


From A Place Of Fear: Death, Slavery & Stonewall, John M. Rudy May 2013

From A Place Of Fear: Death, Slavery & Stonewall, John M. Rudy

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

Earlier this spring, I sat in Gettysburg at the "Future of the Civil War" conference and listened to an intern talk about how he had been scared to interpret. He was afraid of his visitors, afraid to tell them about a place. [excerpt]


Thinking Of The Ending And Beginning Of A War, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Thinking Of The Ending And Beginning Of A War, John M. Rudy

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

My lecture in class this week focused on Reconstruction, the end of war and the continuing Civil War. So I've been thinking a lot about those final moments of the Civil War and the coming of the continued century worth of conflict. And that means this photo has been on my mind, the quintessential inversion of the rebel capital, as Lincoln is forever enshrined there, a constant reminder of how the war ended and how the war still continues with different means on different cultural fronts. [excerpt]


Building The War One Brick At A Time, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Building The War One Brick At A Time, John M. Rudy

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

I've been waiting for this moment since 1996. Back then, when I was 11, My favorite toy came out with figures from my favorite era. The LEGO Western line was an amazing crossover of my love for history and my love for tiny ABS building blocks. [excerpt]


Big Interp: Processing Massive Meaning, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Big Interp: Processing Massive Meaning, John M. Rudy

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

There's been this term bandied about in the historical circles I've been running in of late: Big Data. As far as I've gathered, it's the byproduct of our information age, when more and more data gets fed into more and more machines and is accessible at the fingertips of more and more inquiring minds. [excerpt]


Dark Town's Wealth: A 150-Year-Old Rock-And-Roll Concert Review, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Dark Town's Wealth: A 150-Year-Old Rock-And-Roll Concert Review, John M. Rudy

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

I have a lot of odd things scattered around my house, weird ephemera and bric-a-brac that I've picked up here and there as I've studied history.

Some of them are treasures, like CDVs of long-dead College professors and original pieces of decking from the USS North Carolina. Some are less treasures and more, well, junk. Most folks toss old newspapers within a few days of reading. In the Civil War Era, I'm sure many a page of newsprint went to start an honest mother's hearth in the morning or a pile of moist kindling in some ...


We're Not Important: Historian In An Operating Room, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

We're Not Important: Historian In An Operating Room, John M. Rudy

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

Sometimes, historians (both public and academic) seem to have this oddly overblown sense of self-worth. I'll admit that I'm prone to this every so often. I'm wont to note that historic sites are temples of democracy, that interpreters ultimately are in the business of creating citizens and saving America and that in defining the past we find the present and chart the course for the future. [excerpt]


Wilmington: A World Turned Upside Down, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Wilmington: A World Turned Upside Down, John M. Rudy

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

There's an old myth that, as he ordered the flag brought down and the post at Yorktown surrendered, General Cornwallis ordered his fife and drum corps to play The World Turned Upside Down a traditional British Christmas song written in protest of the aristocracy outlawing raucous celebration. In its lyrics, the paupers are made kings and the kings made paupers. The song was more than likely not played during the surrender. But myths are often potent and always telling.


An Unexpected Hiatus And A Few Remarks, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

An Unexpected Hiatus And A Few Remarks, John M. Rudy

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

After a hiatus I've felt guilty about for days, I'm returning to the keyboard to rejoin the blogosphere. A bout of my own sickness and some family sickness kept me away from the keyboard. But I return, turning up once again like a bad penny. I've got plenty of things in the works, from Twitter to the New York Tribune, from the proto-Scott-Joplin to continuing my deep dives into Gettysburg's past. But for now, I wanted to take you inside the late, great Future of the Civil War conference held this weekend at Gettysburg College. My ...


Interpreting Different Cheesesteaks, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

Interpreting Different Cheesesteaks, John M. Rudy

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

I wandered around Philadelphia last week on travel for work, which meant I had the opportunity to indulge in my favorite Philly pleasure. Besides Rocky, Comcast and Benjamin "Macho Man" Franklin, the City of Brotherly Love has given us all one other joyous invention: the cheesesteak.