You might have noticed I like to title any post timed to the sesquicentennial observances with “150 years ago.” That’s partly because while writing, I must periodically look up and remind myself “less on the markers and cannons, more on the event.” But beyond that, when published, I hope it is a queue for the reader to think about the actions and events which occurred real-time a century-and-a-half before. Certainly the “150 years ago” or similar title components prompt those type thoughts when I see them in my news feeds. Lately I’ve been noticing a new perspective as my mind “aggregates” those.
The talks at Longwood University yesterday represent one type of that threading – perhaps in a series. Topics began on the Virginia Peninsula; passing through 2nd Manassas to Antietam; then concluded as we considered a cold December day at Fredericksburg. It is an EASTERN locality, so I sort of understand the lack of WESTERN topics. And there is the well recognized serialization of events. Sort of conforms to our traditional framework, from the big Golden Book of the Civil War…. turn to the chapter on the eastern theater, and we’ll get to the western theater in the next chapter.
But we are entering a week where another type of event threading appears very evident. Of course we should all recognize the parallel nature of events in the Civil War. Even a novice can recount how eastern and western theater events, along with political turns, played into decisions and reactions – thus writing the course of the war. But we don’t often see examples of such short of some grand overview or on one of the “this day in the Civil War” calendars.
March 1862 was a very active month. And our sesquicentennial dialogs will reflect such. In a few days, the Civil War Navy types will remind us about the Monitor and Virginia. Dale Cox will conclude his excellent, detailed coverage of the Pea Ridge campaign. Civil War Daily Gazette will run a post mentioning a fellow by the name of Sherman establishing a base at some obscure corner of Tennessee named Pittsburg Landing. Perhaps someone else will chime in, but I plan to mention two sieges – one at the mouth of the Savannah River and the other on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River at an island with a nondescript name. Someone along the way will mention Glorietta Pass, Head of the Passes, New Bern, and discussion will return to Hampton Roads at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula. And these parallel threads won’t stop… not until April 2015.
Unless you have the disposable income and security to take six months (or more) away from the salt mines, there is no way any of us “sesquicentennialists” can follow this parallel threading in person. Most of us will do so while reading and conversing. And I submit to you we “sesquicentennialists” will have a perspective the “centennialists” lacked fifty years ago.
No topic is so obscure to escape notice on some blog or message board. The arrival of our favorite periodicals, while a highly anticipated pleasure, is not the only “feed” we receive. And those feeds are far more diverse, with more vibrant colors than the Cinemascope of 1962.