A couple of upcoming events and a milestone

First, I would like to announce that we have finally reached our one hundredth post. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this site and to all you readers out there who continue to support us.

There are a couple of events/items that I wanted to make you aware of that are coming up. First, I will be participating in a virtual book tour with TLC Book Tours, which will be showing David H. Jones’s book Two Brothers: One North, One South. I am scheduled to be a tour stop on Nov. 17. What that means is that I will have a review up by that day and the author will “stop” by here and be available for questions and comments, guest posting, and interviewing. I would like to encourage you all, especially those who have read the book, to stop by and post comments and interact with the author. I will do my best to communicate with the tour company and prepare the site. Now, I will be in and out that day, as I have class in the morning and early afternoon, but will be around. Basically, tell your friends to stop by and meet David H. Jones and learn about his book. If you are interested in following the tour, here is a list of tour stops:

Monday, November 3rd – Strategist’s Personal Library
Wednesday, November 5th – My Adventures in History
Thursday, November 6th – Civil War Literature
Friday, November 7th – Kathleen’s Book Reviews
Monday, November 10th – Bobbi’s Book Nook
Tuesday, November 11th – The Bell Rang
Wednesday, November 12th – Random Wonder
Friday, November 14th – Confessions of a Real Librarian
Monday, November 17th – Civil War History
Monday, November 17th – Military History Blog
Wednesday, November 19th – Bookfoolery and Babble
Friday, November 21st – Literarily
Monday, November 24th – Ready When You Are, C.B.
Tuesday, November 25th – In the Shadow of Mount TBR
Wednesday, November 26th – TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog
Friday, November 28th – A High and Hidden Place
Monday, December 1st - wig-wags

Also, here is some information on the book and the author:

David H. Jones’ website

David’s bio

Excerpt from Two Brothers – One North, One South

Reviews of the book

David’s blog

Two Brothers on Amazon

Two Brothers at Barnes & Noble

David’s email: david@davidhjones.net

The other item is also a bit timely. It is getting to that time of year for graduate school applications to be prepared and submitted, but it is not too late. I would like to invite professors and graduate schools that specialize in American history and the Civil War to get in touch with me, as I will be setting up a Graduate School section for the site, which will provide links and information to prospective students. What that means is that if you are involved with a graduate program in History, I want to help you reach students. So, tell me a bit about your program, including admission requirements, degree requirements, contacts, any fun facts or other interesting information that makes your institution unique. I ask that you use the Contact page on the site to submit this information. In another month or so, I will set up a section for undergraduate programs, so be ready.

I hope you all will enjoy these new features when they appear. On another happy note, I finally received my bound copies of my thesis and they look awesome. It is quite nice to finally have them to hold. I will post my thesis here sometime soon, but need to correct a security issue on the PDF. Have a great week and thank you all again for your support.

Introducing Civil Warring, a new forum

I have set up a new project for this site that I hope you will all join and contribute towards with many posts. Civil Warring is my new forum on the war and will serve as a place to discuss the many aspects of the war. I hope that this can grow into something meaningful that we will all have fun with. So I encourage you to check it out, join up, and start up some topics. Tell your friends who are into the war to check it out as well.

Video of my afternoon with James McPherson

As promised, I am posting the video of yesterday afternoon’s seminar with noted historian James McPherson. When I have my photo with him emailed to me, I will post that as well. My question, I’ll admit now, was a bit odd, but related to this site and I wanted to know what he thought about historians using blogs and the Internet. Just so you know, I am sitting in the front row, third from the left and wearing a dark suit coat.

Click here to go to the video website (click on the link “View streaming video of the session”). Note: My question starts at 15:20.

Meeting a legend

Okay readers, the wait is over! So, who did I get to meet today? None other than Dr. James M. McPherson. You read right, I said James McPherson, author of numerous books on the Civil War, including Battle Cry of Freedom. Dr. McPherson was in Fargo, ND (about 80 miles south of where I live) to visit his birth state (he spent the first few years of his life in ND) and talk about his latest book as part of the Read ND program and in early commemoration for the Lincoln bicentennial.

I attended two events today. The first was a seminar at the studio for Prairie Public Television, which is the local PBS station here. This was an invite only event and myself, several of my colleagues at UND, and students and staff from NDSU and Concordia College were able to ask questions of Dr. McPherson. It was an aweome event and I was able to get two of my books signed by him. I also was able to be pictured with him and will post it when I am emailed it. The program will be webcast and I will post the link as soon as it is available.

The second event was an evening lecture by him at the historic Fargo Theater. At this, McPherson lectured about Lincoln as commander-in-chief, which is the subject of his newest book Tried by Fire. I only wish that more of my friends could have attended, as this was an incredible event and quite an honor for me to meet a legend in Civil War history.

Sorry for all the anticipation, but I wanted this to be an awesome surprise for you all. Again, when I get the picture and the link to the program I was a part of, I will post them here. Well, it’s late, I am tired, so I am going to relax and prepare for tomorrow, so have a great night.

Since WordPress is now allowing polls with posts, I thought I would take a try at it, so here is the first of hopefully many more polls. So, go ahead and vote.

Special event tomorrow

I am really looking forward to tomorrow, as I will get to meet someone very special who is coming to North Dakota. Who will I be meeting? Well, you will have to check tomorrow evening, as I will post the name of the person I am meeting and hopefully a picture. I will give you one detail of tomorrow’s activity. I may be on public television here in the area. If I am able to access a video, I will post it here. So, stay tuned and check back tomorrow.

The Civil War in the classroom

Given this very interesting post by Brett, I thought I would bring up an interesting couple of ideas for teaching the war in the classroom and see what you all think. While understanding slavery and emancipation are essential to understanding the war years, I do feel that some classes on the war focus too much on non-military issues and not enough on battles. That is where the following ideas come into play.

The first is one I have some experience with from my days in elementary school in Illinois. When I was in fifth grade, my bus driver, who was also an avid reenactor, came and talked to our class on the war, while dressed as a Confederate soldier. It was really something cool to see and got me interested in reenacting myself (unfortunately, I do not have enough cash to get started yet, but some day) and later into public history. I think reenactors should be encouraged to present to schools, as seeing someone dressed in period attire is a wonderful way to introduce the war to younger people. In addition, reenactors do not have to just be soldiers, as civilian reenactors could portray and talk about how the war affected the home front. Further, if looking for a presentation on slavery, what better way to illustrate the evil of it than by having reenactors talk about the Underground Railroad, slave life, and African American experiences. For example, several students, professors, the college chaplain, and I participated in a play when I attended Illinois College, where we acted in several skits dealing with different contributions of my alma mater to the Underground Railroad. I would like to think that it was a great educational tool for the local children in attendance. I hope to use reenacting in the classroom when I finally become a professor, as it is a unique way to present history.

The other idea involves war gaming as an educational tool. There are many good PC games on the war that involve unit level operations and tactics. Students could have a lesson on a particular battle, then take command and see how they would lead troops. In addition to PC games, students might have a great time learning about battles and tactics of the war through more traditional war gaming, including counters and miniature soldiers. Plus, the more traditional method may be easier than attempting to link several computers and providing the software. War gaming is a very unique and fun way to get students interested in the war, as it allows them to understand what it took to lead the armies in the war.

Recall the diorama fiasco in Texas, where high school students built a diorama of the war’s last battle at Palmetto Ranch, Texas. Those students learned about the war through a unique lesson. I can only imagine how much greater appreciation those students have for history and the Civil War after building that diorama, however, when it was destroyed, I bet their enthusiasm was curtailed. This unfortunate incident does not mean that a diorama project is a great way to get students into history.

Overall, bringing reenactors into the classroom, using war games, and building dioramas are all great ways to learn about the war. There are many other great ideas to engage students, but I encourage educators to look at these ideas as potential teaching tools.