Civil War Times April 2009

23 02 2009

There’s been a lot of talk lamenting the apparent (or maybe not so apparent) demise of North & South magazine.  I’m not one of those talking about it, because frankly I wrote that publication off a long time ago.  The simple fact that articles include footnotes does not make those articles compelling, convincing, or even good.  I used to subscribe to N&S, but have not for at least the past year.  The magazine fired its editor, the very capable Terry Johnston, lost control of its on-line discussion group by “firing” its unpaid and also very capable monitors, increasingly ran extracts of previously published works as articles, and resorted to endless and meaningless “top ten” round table discussions.  It just wasn’t for me anymore.

cwt409But for all you folks looking for stimulating discussion of Civil War topics, there is good news in the April 2009 issue of Civil War Times.  This magazine has really stepped things up.  In this issue you’ll find a great article by friend Tom Clemens on the “original” Iron Brigade (if you are a round table program director and want to book Tom for his wonderful program on this, let me know and I’ll get word to him); Gary Gallagher defends his approach to his studies in a column titled “Let the Chips Fall Where They Will“; Peter Carmichael interviews Prof. Lesley Gordon; and heavyweights Michael Fellman and Mark Neely face off over whether or not the Civil War was a “Total War”.

Editor Dana Shoaf spoke last summer to the Society of Civil War Historians in Philadelphia on the need for academic historians to use outlets like popular periodicals, even without footnotes, to deliver the fruits of their research to the starving masses (I wrote about it here).  It looks like his talk is paying off – all six of the historians mentioned above were at the conference in Philly.

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8 responses

24 02 2009

Nice blog! As a native Fairfax Countian, and fan of places and march-routes there related to your battle, I’m grateful for all your work. This same great issue of CWT also features a splendid article that gives us a glimpse at years of research by my friend, John F. Cummings, into the extensive and incredibly evocative series of early-postwar photographs of battle torn landscapes around Fredericksburg. John’s forthcoming book on this heretofore mysterious subject will extend the illumination and explication of his article and promises to become, in my opinion, one of the most powerful visual connections to the Fredericksburg area battlefields yet achieved by a historian.

24 02 2009
Chris Evans

That looks like a very interesting issue of CWT. That’s a strong picture of Sherman on the cover. Very clear picture and a very intense ‘warface’ look from him.

24 02 2009
Brett Schulte

Interesting news Harry. I have fallen hopelessly behind reading my Civil War magazines, but I think I’m just going to have to cut my losses and start with the latest issues again. It’s good to hear Dana Shoaf is doing good things with CWT. I assume this applies to ACW as well.

25 02 2009

That piece by Gallagher is first rate! I love it when academic historians step back for just a moment and address the “peanut gallery” that takes issue with professional approaches to history.

25 02 2009
Gary Gallagher lays it out in CWT « Cenantua’s Blog

[…] it out in CWT Posted on February 25, 2009 by cenantua Hat tip to Harry at Bull Runnings for making us all aware of (among other things in the latest issue of Civil War Times) the piece (”Let the Chips […]

25 02 2009
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks to everyone for your comments.

Noel, sorry I didn’t mention your friend’s work – it was only becasue I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I’ll be sure to check out the photos.

Chris, the Sherman photo is a favorite of mine. That guy means business.

Brett, I think ACW is a more “popular” magazine than CWT – a little lighter. I think you’ll understand when you see my reviews in the next issue, due out to subscribers now.

Robert, I think a lot of people take Gallagher the wrong way. They see his defense of academic historians as an attack on amateurs. Part of that may be his fault – he’s a little heavy handed. But I also think he has some valid points regarding the differences between the two types.

25 02 2009


When I read the piece, I don’t think I picked up anything that would lead me to believe he was being critical of amateur historians. I saw it as simply a defense of his approach to presenting his findings.

25 02 2009
Harry Smeltzer


I was speaking of Gallagher in general, not of the CWT article specifically.

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