What is a “Civil War Blog”?

18 07 2012

I ask that without implying that there is, or even should be, a definition. The beauty of a blog is still that it can be whatever the blogger wants it to be. I’ve tried to be pretty clear of my own intentions, which you can read over in the right hand column of this page.

I read most of my favorite blogs using Google Reader. There are dozens I consider to be “Civil War blogs”, even without ever having firmed up what that means in my own head. What classifies a blog as “Civil War” to you? One that shares research concerning the military, political, or social aspects of the war (there are a few out there, though not as many as one might think)? One that discusses how the war, or rather the era and its elements, are remembered today or at various times? One that offers opinions on what other bloggers or writers or commentators are saying? One that simply promotes the blogger’s print works? One that draws tenuous comparisons between the Civil War Era and our own to prove out the blogger’s own current political positions, or to discredit those of others? One that at least attempts to use some of the unique capabilities of digital history techniques, such as hyperlinks, metadata, video? All of these? None? Are any of them more important to you than others?

On a related note, what compels you to read a “Civil War” blog, or deters you from doing so (you can include Bull Runnings in either case)?

You may recall that a while back a few of “us” tried to categorize at least one type of blog, the “information compilation blog” or “battle blog.” You can read about that here and here.


UPDATE: A related question is “Who are Civil War Bloggers?”. Robert is discussing that very thing now over at Cenantua’s Blog.



6 responses

18 07 2012
Robert Moore

Since we first started down this path almost four years ago (geeez, can you believe it’s been that long?!), I think I see other categories as well. We broke them down into categories ranging from information compilation, battle blogs, unit blogs, and so on…

The deviation from this is, I think… the way the information is presented. Is it traditional format, whereas, to the “veteran Civil Warrior”, it’s the same-old, same-old, and we’ve seen it all before, but someone just happens to be touching on it again? (though to other folks, it might be valuable learning material). Or… is the information done with a twist that makes us think in ways we haven’t thought about it before?… Or is it blogging controversially?… Or blogging to incite? There are so many paths. These, of course, are just a few examples. Fact of the matter is, some blogs weave a little through all this stuff, touching on all categories.

At the core, however, I think a Civil War blog should be considered defined as one which actually discusses the Civil War… at least a certain percentage of the time. Who sets that percentage… well, to each his/her own, I suppose… but I’d think it needs to be in the “most of the time” percentage. Of course, at that point, we get into other categories… blogs that focus on the Civil War 25%, 35%, 50%, 75%… etc., etc.

In the end, people are going to define this category in different ways… in some ways they already have… in their blog rolls. If they consider them Civil War blogs, and if they like them… or like them enough to follow them… they will be in the blog rolls defined as (usually) other “Civil War Blogs”.


18 07 2012
Robert Moore

You know… another interesting thing to consider is “Who are Civil War bloggers?” What’s interesting about this is, the majority are not academians (despite what some may imply), nor do the majority “do” history as a means of supporting themselves. Granted, some may have made their way through the ivory tower(s) at some point, maybe even written a book… or two… or three… etc., but their approach is not academic in nature… and that, frankly, is a good thing.

It’s that chance given to these folks (myself included), through the blogs, that ability to express their passion for different aspects of the subject. That’s pretty awesome. I also like that chance that it offers to break free from those chains that seem to continue to keep writing “static” when it appears in print.


18 07 2012
Richard McCormick

I think Robert makes a good point – it’s kind of “in the eye of the beholder” much like beauty supposedly is. I think ones that only use the Civil War as a starting point to base their current political opinions do not count and ones that only commentate on what other blogs/bloggers say are very borderline.

Most I follow (also on Google Reader) are a bit of everything – some focus on one particular issue of the Civil War/War era (navy, women, medicine, new books/publications, certain battles, etc) and some are more research oriented, while others are a bit more general, with some research, some commentary, some promotion of the blogger’s works. All of them are what I consider Civil War blogs, though I admit I have not put too much thought to this question before now.

The format does not make much of a difference to me – if the blogger uses just plain old text, or he/she add links, videos, etc, the material is much more important in determining it;’s type, again, at least “in my eye.”

I think Robert’s point about “discusses the Civil War” is another valid one, though I guess we could question what that phrase means. I won’t worry about parsing that right now, but I probably try to keep it simple and say that any blog that focuses on the war or some aspect of as the main feature of the blog qualifies.


18 07 2012
Robert Moore

“I think ones that only use the Civil War as a starting point to base their current political opinions do not count.”

Isn’t that the truth… we get enough of the political stuff, blow-by-blow, in other forms of media. To be honest, I know we have a wide range of political interests among bloggers, and to each his/her own. I prefer not to muddy the waters with that stuff. We share common ground in an interest, and to bring in other factors that have potential to drive wedges into the exchanges… weirds it out… some even going to the point of judging analysis of a blogger based on political sentiment. That’s not what it’s about.


19 07 2012
Patrick Young

Civil War blogs are those blogs that the readers of Civil War blogs read.

I read a half dozen weekly and visit a bunch more every so often. The ones I am most drawn to, including Bull Runnings, are characterized by clear writing, carefulness in research, and an ability to provoke my thinking on matters that might otherwise be obscure to my 21st century life.

The CW bloggers I like the best would be good bloggers even if they weren’t writing about the Civil War.


20 07 2012
Before the Days of the Blog | To the Sound of the Guns

[…] this week, Harry posed the question: what is a “Civil War blog”? A fair question. One he and I (and others) have debated over beers. And it’s not like the […]


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