Hosting the Grand Army Blog has been incredibly exciting for me thus far. For quite some time, I contemplated the launch of a blog, but only after some recent prodding from Kevin Levin did I decide to give it a try. What ultimately convinced me was Kevin waxing eloquently about the role that blogging played in shaping his questions and testing the conclusions that he was reaching in his own scholarship. Indeed, Kevin’s forthcoming book on the battle of the Crater and historical memory, which I eagerly await, may be the first academic monograph “written” on a blog.
After scarcely two weeks on the blog rolls, I now understand the power of this medium to inform scholarly work and historical research. And I sincerely hope that other academic historians, who routinely lament the increasingly limited appeal of their work, will consider joining me in this enterprise. Ten posts have already generated nearly three-dozen comments from fellow students of Civil War history, including several source leads. I have started a dialogue about the tension between veterans and civilians with a Ph.D. student in Pittsburgh that I likely would not have had otherwise. And my work has reached readers as far away as Australia and the Philippines.
But the most meaningful exchange that I have had thus far is with Greg Taylor, a gentleman from California whose great-great grandfather saw action at the Crater, spent time in a rebel prison, wandered west after the war, became an alcoholic, and died in the San Francisco City Jail.
Greg has very generously shared with me several letters that his great-great grandfather wrote from San Francisco. I not only plan on using these incredible sources in my dissertation, but I will be providing them here on the blog in the coming days. I hope to contextualize the heartrending story of Greg’s ancestor and to share it with the wide audience that it deserves. If I achieve nothing else here, I will have succeeded.
Thanks for following.