Mercer University Press News

Our Mission: Mercer University Press supports the work of the University in achieving excellence and scholarly discipline in the fields of liberal learning, professional knowledge, and regional investigation by making the results of scholarly investigation and literary excellence available to the worldwide community.

Archive for the tag “Civil War”

Happy Birthday Abe!

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday February 12

On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s most admired presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was born into a poor family in Kentucky.
Lincoln was the tallest president at 6′ 4 with record physical strength. He was a formidable wrestler in Illinois. Lincoln went on to become infamous for his dry humor and wit. After frustrating defeat after another Lincoln reportedly wrote to a general “if you are not using the army I should like to borrow it for awhile.” Lincoln was also an avid animal lover throughout his lifetime once saying “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”

He attended school for only one year, but even as a child Abraham was a voracious reader constantly striving to improve is mind. As an adult, he lived in Illinois bouncing from job to job before entering politics. Many people are unaware of the fact that Lincoln didn’t begin his journey in politics. Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was also a postmaster, surveyor and shopkeeper. After this small chapter in his life Lincoln went on to pursue politics.

Before the presidency Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature from 1834 to 1836, and then became an attorney. In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd; and had four sons. Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, when disagreements over slavery began to escalate. Lincoln proposed a restriction of slavery to the states where it existed. As president on January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

 

For Civil War Enthusiasts….

Upcoming Civil War titles:

A Just and Holy Cause?

Cracking the Solid South:The Life of John Fletcher Hanson, Father of Georgia Tech

Summon Only the Brave!: Commanders, Soldiers, and Chaplains at Gettysburg

Confederate Sharpshooter Major William E. Simmons: Through the War with the 16th Georgia Infantry and 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters

MUP Authors to Attend Decatur (GA) Book Festival!

Mercer University Press is proud to announce a number of our fine authors will be attending the Decatur Book Festival!

Stephen Davis (What the Yankees Did to Us)
Robert Jenkins (The Battle of Peach Tree Creek)
Daniel Cone (Last to Join the Fight)
Raymond Atkins (Sweet Water Blues)
Carolyn Newton Curry (Suffer and Grow Strong)
Megan Sexton (Swift Hour)

 

WhatTheYankees    PeachTreeCreek     Last to Join.jpgCurry_Suffer_Jacket01.inddSexton-Cvr-02.indd

 

 

Decatur BookFest

MUP Remembers Leonidas Polk

Bishop/ROBINS_dj080306On this day in 1864, Leonidas Polk, one of the Confederacy’s more unique generals as he was also an Episcopal bishop, died this day in 1864 during William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. In fact, Sherman was directly involved in Polk’s death as the general spotted a cluster of Confederate officers scouting along a ridge. On his orders, the 5th Indiana Battery opened fire and General Polk was nearly cut in two.

Today, Glenn Robins joins us to discuss his biography of Polk, The Bishop of the Old South, and Polk himself.

1. Why do people remain interested in Leonidas Polk?

Aside from a basic interest in the mid-nineteenth century, I think people are fascinated with why a high-profile and well-liked cleric accepted a combat assignment with the Confederate army rather than serve as a chaplain. The noted Civil War historian James McPherson contends that the Civil War armies may have been the most religious in American history. And yet, there is really no one comparable to Polk, a bishop who became a general. Also, the dramatic and unusual circumstances of Polk’s death—being killed by artillery fire—seem to have created something of a sympathetic figure. Some people see him as a symbol of the Confederate cause by conflating his religious devotion, his reputable personal character, and his military service. Finally, religious generals such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are viewed simply as Christian, whereas Polk is a decidedly Episcopalian figure, which appeals to a certain population.

2. What were your reasons for writing this biography of Leonidas Polk?

Generally, Leonidas Polk is known as the Bishop-General and his life is viewed through the narrow lens of the Civil War. I wanted to construct a narrative of Polk’s life that emphasized his prewar activities, particularly his ministerial career, his ownership of a large sugar plantation, and his role in developing the University of the South.

3. What surprised you the most about Polk’s prewar life?

First, in economic terms, he was a very successful sugar planter. He used innovative farming techniques and employed a slave management system that afforded slaves more responsibility and greater autonomy. Second, he was deeply committed to his ministerial responsibilities. He helped make the Louisiana Diocese a vibrant Episcopal organ in the South that challenged the societal influence of the region’s larger protestant denominations. Third, Polk had a remarkably ambitious vision for the University of the South. He did not envision the university as an insular institution—quite the contrary. He hoped that the university would compete with the premier universities of the nation and of Europe. He intended to recruit world-class scholars, promote academic excellence, and cultivate the Episcopal faith, as well as make the university a gathering place for social elites and public intellectuals. Of course, the war and Polk’s death changed all of that.

4. What stands out about Polk’s Civil War generalship?

Polk was a mediocre corps commander serving in a theater dominated by mediocre generals. Despite his West Point education, Polk had no real military experience and was probably not deserving of such a high-ranking appointment. It’s counterfactual history, but I have always wondered how Polk would have fared in the Army of Northern Virginia under that army’s superior leadership. Whatever limitations Polk had as a fighting man, he was widely popular with his men. Late in the war Polk became more involved in the religious life of the Army of Tennessee. He baptized several generals, including Braxton Bragg, which was truly bizarre considering that each man attempted to have the other stripped of his command.

5. Having reached the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the death of Leonidas Polk, do you have any thoughts about future studies in these areas?

I think for those individuals who survived the war more work needs to be done on their postwar lives and not just on their involvement in the political reconstruction of the nation and their respective states. Instead, there needs to be a greater emphasis on how the war impacted the participants as individuals and as families, and on how groups and individuals understood and assigned meaning to the war. As for those figures like Polk who died in battle, we need clear assessments of their initial view of the war and to know if their view of the war changed over time, and why. And for those individuals who have become symbols of a particular version or interpretation of the war, we need to examine whether the memory of the man matches the realities of the man.

Related Titles

Cobb Curry_Suffer_Jacket01.inddWalkerFurl

 Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

Georgia’s Confederate Monuments Released Today!

Confederate Monuments  Today, the Press released Georgia’s Confederate Monuments and its author, Gould B. Hagler, Jr., has graced the blog with an interview.

 

 

1. Did you sense any sort of emotional pattern to the various monuments throughout the state?

There is a pattern that changes over time. The earlier monuments were expressions of grief. Every family was in mourning. These memorials evoke strong feelings a century and a half later. Take, for example, the cenotaph on Greene Street in Augusta. The names of Richmond County’s dead are so numerous that they spill over from the tablets on the sides to the steps of the base below. Or consider the small memorial built by the Linwood Sunday School, which lists the twenty-three young men from that one country church who lost their lives.

Soon the monuments took on another function, evoking a sense of pride. The Confederate soldier fought with bravery and determination against great odds. While the monuments continued to function as expressions of grief, they also praised the martial qualities of the Confederates living and dead.

The monuments also have things to say about the cause for which the Confederates fought. The obelisk in Decatur is the best example. A long inscription argues the legitimacy of the Confederate case and says emphatically that might does not make right, that the constitutional principles remain valid.

 

2. Well, you’ve seen them all now. What’s your favorite and why?

Many of the monuments have features that make them special. I could not pick one favorite, but I will mention three that are special in different ways.

The monument on Broad Street in Augusta, my home town, is one of several Georgia monuments built on a grand scale. It has a statue of the Confederate Everyman at the top, and statues of four generals at the base. It is covered with beautiful carvings and inspiring words. This monument is a beautiful and unique work of art.

The monument in Fayetteville is quite different. It is a very modest granite slab honoring the Confederate heroes of Fayette County. What makes this one special is its date: 1934. During the Great Depression, when people were struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead, they still remembered.

The Brunswick statue is close to my heart because of what I had to do to get the picture. I took a decent picture but it did not have the qualities I wanted. Because of the monument’s orientation and the surrounding trees, in order to get a good shot I had to be there near the summer solstice and late in the afternoon. Plus the weather had to be exactly right. And there was a deadline to meet. One July day, I knew it was now or never. I drove five hours to Brunswick, spent an hour or so taking pictures—and then turned around drove home. So instead of having a rather pedestrian shot of this fine monument, I managed to get what I think is the best photograph in the book.

 

3. Had memorializing wars been significant in Georgia prior to the Civil War? What made this war unique in that sense?

There are some monuments and memorials related to the Revolution, I am sure, but I do not know whether any were built prior to the Civil War. Two Georgia towns have names related to the Mexican War—Ringgold and Buena Vista.

The Civil War was unlike anything before or since. The casualties were enormous, unique in American history. The battles were fought here, Georgia men dying on Georgia battlefields, buried by the thousands in cemeteries near these battlefields, near their homes. Georgia women nursed the wounded and dying. No family was untouched. This was not something they read about in the newspapers. They saw it. They lived it. They endured it.

 

4. We’ve had significant conflicts since the Civil War, but local memorializing of them does not seem nearly as common. Why do you think that is?

You are right; it is not as common. World War I was not nearly as costly as the Civil War, so that is a factor. I should say not nearly as costly to Americans. Go to Canada and everywhere you will see memorials to the men who died in the Great War.

It is interesting that four of our monuments honor Georgia’s Confederate veterans and Georgia men who served in the United States Army in World War I.

Few monuments were built after the Second World War, but now interest is increasing. There are now many “all-wars” monuments, and many of these new ones have elements honoring Georgia’s Confederates along with the veterans of other wars from the Revolution to Afghanistan.

 

5. Was there a sentiment you were surprised to find absent among the memorials?

No, quite the opposite. They cover the whole range. As I said before, they mourn the dead, honor the bravery of the living and the dead, and honor the Confederacy itself. But they do more than that. As time went on, the theme of reconciliation appeared. There is the famous Peace Monument in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. The monument in Westview Cemetery quotes the verse from Isaiah about beating “swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.” Two monuments in Atlanta honor the men who fought on both sides at Peachtree Creek. More recently, two monuments in the North Georgia mountains honor local men who fought for the Union as well as those who fought for the Confederacy.

Interest in this era is not waning. Almost all the monuments are well maintained. Many have been cleaned more than once since I started photographing them in the early 1990s. Some have been damaged over the years and have been carefully repaired.

Even more significant is the construction of new monuments. Not counting the “all-wars” monuments, there are thirty-one that have been built in the last twenty-five years, one of which was too recent for inclusion in the book. I know of one being planned, and there are probably others I don’t know about—yet.

 

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

Remembering the Battle of Resaca (Georgia, 1864)

ResacaAs the first battle of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, the Battle of Resaca can be said to be one of the first death knells of the Confederacy. It would also be the first major encounter between field commanders William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston. Join the battle and the first steps towards Atlanta’s demise in Mercer’s Battle of Resaca! Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

Two Books to the Mill This Week!

Under the watchful eye of Marsha, another two books have made it to the mill! Gould Hagler’s Georgia’s Confederate Monuments and Martin Harmon’s The Warm Springs Story are bound to please the history buff in your family. Click on the images below and order your copies today!

 

Confederate Monuments    The Warm Springs Story

Great Review of Daniel Cone’s Last to Join the Fight

Daniel Cone’s close examination of the 66th Georgia Infantry receives a great review from Civil War Books and Authors! Take a look at it here.

9780881464757

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

Carolyn Newton Curry at Agnes Scott College This Saturday

Carolyn Newton Curry will be signing her new book Suffer and Grow Strong: The Life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1834-1907! Come out and meet the biographer of this Southern suffragette this Saturday, April 26, at the Agnes Scott Bookstore.

 

Agnes Scott Bookstore Lobby
Alston Campus Center, Ground Floor
Agnes Scott College
141 E. College Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030

 

Open to the Public
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Call (404) 471-6350 for more information

 

Curry_Suffer_Jacket01.indd

Remembering the Author of the “Lost Cause” Mentality

Today in 1886, Father Abram J. Ryan died, a poet whose book Poems, Patriotic, Religious and Miscellaneous would go through forty editions and three generations of Southern children, Father Ryan shaped the minds and memories of Southerners, particularly in regard to romanticizing the Southern defeat in the Civil War. Read more about him and other significant Civil War figures in Mercer University Press’s line of Civil War biography!

Furl    Bishop/ROBINS_dj080306    Cobb    Walker

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

Carolyn Curry Speaks at Georgia State University Tomorrow!

Carolyn Newton Curry, author of Suffer and Grow Strong: The life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1834-1907, will be speaking about Georgia native Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, a Civil War heroine, suffragette, and early proponent of higher education for women.

Carolyn will be speaking at the Special Collections Library Colloquium Room on April 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm. Admission is free and open to the public.
Georgia State University Library
8th Floor Lounge
100 Decatur Street
Atlanta, GA 30303 Open to the Public
1:30 p.m.
Call (404) 413-2820 for more information

curry cover tbnl

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: