ON REMEMBERING AND RELIVING HISTORY
This was a speech I prepared for a weeklong seminar on the
Civil War at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan, in February
1994. My friend Albert Castel, who with his wife lives in retire-
ment in Hillsdale, was behind my being invited. I was pleased
with how the piece turned out, and was extremely gratified by
its reception. The speech was videotaped, but has never before
been published. I have updated the section about my career.
Between Friday, April 12, 1861, when Fort Sumter was fired upon and replied, and Monday, April 2, 1866, when President Andrew Johnson proclaimed that the “insurrection is at an end… peace, order, tranquillity, and civil authority now exist in and throughout the whole of the United States of America,” 1,816 days elapsed. During that time the American Civil War was fought: 10,455 battle actions of one kind and degree or another, variously described then and later as campaigns, battles, engagements, combats, actions, assaults, skirmishes, operations, sieges, raids, expeditions, reconnaissances, scouts, affairs, occupations, and captures.1
“The Civil War is at the center of our national psyche. Each year more than 100 new Civil War books are published. Tens of thousands of people devote their spare time to its study—collecting memorabilia, reenacting battles, touring historical sites, discussing causes,” considering alternative outcomes, dissecting each campaign and battle.2
1. Herman Hattaway, “The Embattled Continent,” in Touched by Fire: A Photo-
graphic Portrait of the Civil War, 2 vols., ed. William C. Davis (Boston: Little,
2. From the description of Long Shadows: The Legacy of the American Civil War
(1987) in the James Agee Film Project catalog.