The premier issue of the new magazine – The Civil War Monitor – has made quite a splash here on line. While the first “physical” copies of the magazine is just hitting the stores, for those who like to try-before-they-buy, the premier issue is offered online in whole.
Terry Johnson, known for his previous work with North & South magazine, first told me about Civil War Monitor a few months back. His goal was to break new ground within the established periodical format, blending different approaches. While readers will find some familiar themes in the new magazine, I found those more as constructs to support some fresh looks at the subject.
The cover highlights Russell McClintock’s feature article on the coming of war, Lincoln, and Davis. Perhaps departing from commonplace treatments of the road to war, McClintock paints a picture of moderate leaders reacting to extremist forces within their respective bases. As a complement to McClintock’s analysis, a word cloud appears as the “parting shot” on the last page using the inaugural addresses of Davis and Lincoln. Rather interesting to see what words each man chose to use… particularly which words were shared in the messages.
Three of the five features in the premier issue examine how contemporaries dealt with different residual aspects of the war: Judith Giesberg discussing the retrieval of the dead from the battlefield; Brian Matthew Jordon on the surviving POWs and their struggle to remain in the public mind; and Silvana R. Siddali examines the northern press coverage of Sherman’s March to the Sea.
Derek Smith’s article examines the little known Naval Battalion during the final campaign in Virginia. So those, like myself, who love to read of the battlefield are treated to an often overlooked aspect of a larger, often over-simplified campaign.
The array of departments supporting these features also add to the presentation. In “Casualties of War,” we see how witnessing the Lincoln assassination affected Clara and Henry Rathbone. In “Battlefield Echoes,” Clay Montcastle takes us through the oft repeated “both sides realized the war would be long” analysis of First Manassas to examine the details. And the Center for Civil War Photography offered a rare wartime view of the U.S. Government Bakery.
Taken together, these set a fresh tone from the new magazine.
And then there are the book reviews. Civil War Monitor unleashes Robert Krick. And unleash is the word… you must read his jab at “perpetual freshet” of works on Gettysburg.
What’s more, the Civil War Monitor’s web site promises to be an interactive feature all its own. Fellow bloggers Andy Hall (Dead Confederates), Keith Harris (Cosmic America: Civil War History and Memory), Robert Moore (Cenantua’s Blog), Harry Smeltzer (Bull Runnings), and Jim Schmidt (Civil War Medicine and Writing) are contributing posts on the magazine’s blog page. I’m in that line-up of heavy hitters, but more like the eighth spot batter taking swings in the 1927 Yankee’s “Murderer’s Row”! I’m looking forward to contributing to the website with the “band of bloggers.”
A job well done by the staff of Civil War Monitor. I’m sure this periodical will impress those of us in the audience for years to come.