March 2015

"Here's Your Mule," Part Five - Bull Run Goes South

First Bull Run w/ Cannon

By early afternoon on July 21st, 1861, the thrill of battle was wearing thin. Although troops on both sides had fought surprisingly well (given their ‘green’ status), few involved had really fathomed this ‘war’ thing prior to engagement. It was turning out to be far less entertaining than advertised. 

#OklaEd 'King for a Day' Submission

I must confess I like the responses so far, most of them more than whatever I’m about to say. Scott Haselwood’s is one I could particularly get behind – I was tempted to simply cut’n’paste it here and claim it was ‘group work’.

But in the interest of adding to the conversation rather than simply standing on the shoulders of giants, here are the approximately two things I’d sweepingly reform were I sovereign #oklaed ‘King for a Day’, in approximately 600 words (hey, Common Core math).

"Here's Your Mule," Part Four - On To Richmond!

First Bull Run Firing on Ft. Sumter officially started the Civil War, but Bull Run was the first time two armies clashed on purpose, each side with a (sort-of) plan. If Sumter was a preview of the unpredictability of this burgeoning kerfuffle, First Bull Run set the tone and attitude of the war – at least for a while.

Intermission: Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary, Part One

Mary Boykin ChesnutMary Boykin Chesnut was a Southern lady in the purest tradition, born into South Carolina’s political nobility and educated at one of the finest boarding schools in Charleston. Women in such circumstances were expected to be well-educated, but not given much opportunity to USE their fancy brains. In retrospect, it might have been kinder to either keep them as ignorant as possible or let them DO stuff - but such were the mores of the day. So she read, she observed, and she wrote. Lots.

"Here's Your Mule," Part Three - That Sure Was Sumter

Secession Cartoon After Lincoln’s election in 1860, a number of Southern states – starting, of course, with South Carolina – began seceding from the Union. Or trying, at least – depending on who you asked. Soldiers and others who happened to find themselves in the South but remained loyal to the Union began finding their way north in anticipation of the coming conflict.

This meant by and large than any arms or other military property in the seceding states defaulted to the control of those siding with the South – them being the only ones left and all.

Except one.

"Here's Your Mule," Part Two - Slavery and Sinners

Slavery Hands In reality, by the dawn of the 19th century there was slavery pretty much everywhere in the United States. More in some places than others, but it was a thing all over. There were abolitionists as well – pretty much everywhere – carrying on about the evil of the peculiar institution and making everyone unhappy. It was an onerous institution, even for those not actually slaves. It was expensive and high maintenance and morally suspect, and after a bit the Northern states began realizing they just didn’t need it that badly. Gradually, the practice was phased out and eventually banned - and everyone seemed better off.

Besides, they already had an entirely different class of not-quite-people to exploit and dehumanize. In the elite world of historiography, we call them the "Irish.”

"Here's Your Mule," Part One - North vs. South

Heres Your Mule

I am often amused at how clear cut so many things are for my students. Not always their ‘real lives’ – although many of them quickly turn indignant when people or events don’t fall in line with their wishes and assumptions – but in confronting history, and politics, and people…  everyone else’s ‘real lives’.

Reality is quite inconvenient, it seems.