Civil War Pop’s Sad Commanders

Image result for stephen lang gettysburg

Reviewing Shenandoah made me realize something: wow, there are a lot of sad sack leaders in Civil War fiction. In that film, it was George Kennedy’s Colonel Fairchild. He only gets one scene but spends all of it in a seemingly deep state of depression. His tone is muted, his eyes are downcast, and his whole demeanor suggests he’s lost faith in the Union cause.

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Entry 26: Dreaming of a Confederate Christmas

General Lee and Santa Claus. Written by Louise Clack. Modern revision by Randall Bedwell.

Release Date: 1867; December 1997.

Original Available Here.

We’re in the heart of the holiday season and it seems fitting and proper to offer up some Civil War Christmas content for your perusal. Fortunately, I’ve had just such an item sitting on my bookshelf for almost a decade. Back before Amazon, I had to subscribe to a Civil War book catalog to get a sense of what was out there. One issue prominently featured the hilariously titled General Lee and Santa Claus. Of course, I immediately ordered it for laughs and out of morbid curiosity. As with most such purchases, it’s sat unread on my bookshelf ever since—at least until now. Read More

Entry 25: See Dick Secede

B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet. Written by Pat Bauer. Illustrated by David Geister.

Release Date: April 20, 2009.

What kind of a children’s book can you write about the Civil War? In general, war is a horrible thing and anyone reading about it, regardless of age, will have to contend with that horror. Children, as a rule, aren’t too keen on horror of any kind. There is certainly value in teaching children about history, and accurate history is always preferred, but some historical subjects require a certain level of maturity to fully comprehend without doing more harm than good. Thus, it seems to me, readers should leave a conflict as deadly and brutal as the American Civil War alone until at least reaching adolescence. Read More

Entry 18: The Plastic Punk Goes Confederate

Billy Idol, a British rock star, even displays the Confederate flag on his guitar.

“Rebel Yell,” Billy Idol. Produced by Keith Forsey. Written by Billy Idol and Steve Stevens.

Release Date: October 24, 1982.

I recently reviewed Craig A. Warren’s The Rebel Yell: A Cultural History for The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. I liked the book and my review is largely positive, but there’s one aspect I’d like to discuss here because it pertains directly to Civil War memory in popular culture. Warren commendably incorporates “Rebel Yell,” Billy Idol’s most famous tune (with the possible exception of his cover of “Mony Mony”), into his study but I disagree with Warren’s interpretation of the lyrics. This was too small an issue to warrant a lot of attention in my review, but it seemed like good fodder for a blogpost–especially since there’s some overlap with my previous discussion of the Confederate flag. Read More