You might not be able to tell from all the Revolutionary War posts at my blog Walking the Berkshires, but that is a relatively recent historical interest of mine. My first love, and an obsession that has stayed with me since I was the age of my 9-year-old daughter, is 1860s America and the war that shattered and then reforged the Union.
I have written about the changing nature of my passion for this subject, how it has ebbed and flowed and found new expression. It may have mellowed as I have matured, but has never turned to vinegar in the cask. And it still is capable of causing me to rethink what I have long understood about the past (and myself), about how we remember, and what parts we choose by design or default to carry forward.
In the course of writing this blog, I have become friends with a southern gentleman by the name of Grant who made me a splendid proposition. He is involved with South Carolina's plans for commemorating the Civil War's Sesquicentennial - that's 150 long years ago - and has invited me to blog with him on topics related to this critical period in American history.
To the extent that Grant offers a southern perspective and I a northern one - given our respective geographies and various kin who took part on either side - there may be opportunities in this format to shed light on these matters from more than one quarter. I think it should be great fun. Besides, I was born on April 12th, a date they have cause to remember in Charleston as do we in the North.
Neither of us, I believe, has any need to re-fight our version of the past with a partisan spin, so I won't be playing Billy Sherman to his Bedford Forrest. We both care about good history, and that means getting beneath the surface explanations of events and conventional interpretations of causes and implications. We also care about bringing forgotten stories to light, and placing them within the broader context of the war and its aftermath, so expect some of that from us as well.
Notwithstanding any of the forgoing, I should also say at this point that like Grant I am a genealogist with a keen interest in the doings of my ancestors and an ample trove of family archives to draw from relating to this period. My ancestors and near relations who served in the Civil War did so, with one notable exception, in northern uniforms. The confederate in the closet was a brigadier from New Jersey.
The rest of my kin served in shades of Yankee blue and Zouave red primarily with various New York regiments, including the 5th (Duryea's Zouaves), 7th New York State Militia, 9th (Hawkin's Zouaves), 133rd (2nd Metropolitans), 146th (Garrard's Tigers) and 1st NY "Lincoln" Cavalry, but also in the 10th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps and 37th Wisc.
There was also the first husband of the second wife of my great, great grandfather who was Hospital Steward on the "Monitor", which I learned when digging through pension applications for my direct ancestor, and a 2nd cousin 5 times removed who commanded the 1st SC at Fort Pulaski which he was compelled to surrender, but I digress.
I have already written about most of them, but anticipate some of their stories finding their way into my occasional sesquicentennial posts. History is personal, which is why we have to be honest about it, and thorough.
So, stay tuned for more of Grant and Greenman as we see where this joint venture in history blogging takes us.