Commemorations of various key moments in the U.S. Civil War, which ended 150 years ago, have come and gone, but this month will present occasions for several more. Although Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, various battles, skirmishes and subsequent surrenders continued through May of that year and beyond.
May 1 marks the 150th anniversary of an event widely credited as the first “Memorial Day” – although that claim is also made for events at various other locales on other dates. On May 26, 1966, for instance, President Johnson signed a proclamation declaring Waterloo, N.Y., as the birthplace of Memorial Day, but a recent study also discredits that claim.
On May 1, 1865, a crowd of nearly 10,000, primarily black freedmen, in Charleston, S.C., gathered to prepare and mark a proper burial ground for Union prisoners of war who died while imprisoned at a racecourse there and were buried in unmarked graves.
As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day this May 25, we can reflect on the legacy of the Civil War and the freedoms gained at great cost.
Here are our selections from our publishers to learn more about this history:
The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis, by Kevin Dougherty and J. Michael Moore, $40.50, (List Price: $45), University of Mississippi Press, June 2005, ISBN: 9781578067527, pp. 192.
In the largest offensive of the Civil War, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan set out to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, heading up the Virginia Peninsula (between the York and James Rivers) from the southeast, an operation that ended in a devastating defeat engineered by General Robert E. Lee. This book, which includes maps and photographs, is the first major analysis from a military standpoint.
Lincoln’s Moral Vision: The Second Inaugural Address, by James Tackach, $22.50 (List Price: $25), University of Mississippi Press, November 2002, ISBN: 9781604733839, pp. 208.
Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, was delivered as the Civil War was coming to an end and only 41 days before he met his own end. As his last major speech, it reveals much about his evolution on the issues of race, slavery and religion. In this book, James Tackach, a professor of English at Roger Williams University, argues that it is Lincoln’s most important statement of his thinking at the end of his presidency. (Reprinted from January 2013).
John Wilkes Booth: A Sister’s Memoir, by Asia Booth Clarke, $22.50 (List price: $25), University of Mississippi Press, June 1999, ISBN: 9781578062256, pp. 152.
Asia Frigga Booth Clarke was the youngest daughter in the family of 10 children born to Junius Brutus Booth and Mary Ann Holmes. She grew up in a theatrical family in the shadow of two brothers who became famous for different reasons, Edwin Booth, a Shakespearean actor, and John Wilkes Booth, an actor best known as Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. Her memoir gives invaluable insight into the upbringing and character of the latter. She wrote the manuscript in 1874, but she kept it secret. Her heirs permitted its publication in 1938, and it was revised and republished in 1996, edited by Terry Alford, a leading authority on the life of John Wilkes Booth.
Confederate Industry: Manufacturers and Quartermasters in the Civil War, by Harold S. Wilson,
$27, (List price: $30), University of Mississippi Press, April 2005, ISBN: 9781578068173, pp. 232.
Before the Civil War, the South constituted a manufacturing powerhouse, with bustling mills and factories. Once the war was under way, the Confederate military took control of the industrial base and commandeered goods, until the Union forces succeeded in disrupting and destroying the South’s production capabilities. This book traces the vanquished region’s efforts to rebuild and re-establish its dominance in manufacturing.
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