New from the Americanist Independent

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 9.29.12 AMAnd a great day it is. I have just now launched the November Issue of The Americanist Independent. And what an issue… Featured this month are two fascinating pieces on the Civil War era by Mary C. Roll and Glenna Mathews, a conversation about innovation in the history classroom with Luke Rosa, and a review of The Field of Lost Shoes by fellow blogger Robert Moore.

In addition to the new issue, there are a few other things happening on the site. I have recently added an Art and Literature section, where creative folks offer their analyses of history through the arts. Up first are three wonderfully executed pieces by Dara Vance with accompanying fictional “letters home” based on her original research of life in 19th century Florida.

If you are a Charter Member be sure and head right over and have a look. If not, you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Be sure and leave a comment either on the journal page or in the community forum. I’ll see you there!


PS – teasers below…



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dear evelyn
“Dear Evelyn” by Dara Vance





How Not to Use Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.49.33 PMOr rather…how to use Twitter poorly. This post will initiate a series discussing the things one should and should not do when using Twitter…or if you like, Social Media etiquette. I am specifically addressing people involved with historical inquiry and education – teachers, students, scholars, and everyone else. But this can just as easily apply to anyone.

I am on Twitter constantly. My students think it is funny that the old guy has a Twitter account, but I assure them that I am not interested in the Kardashians or any of the other Internet sensations out there, but rather the pursuit of knowledge and – here it is folks….INTERACTION with others who are doing the same thing.

Interaction means real conversation with real people. Note the message on the left I received from a radio host who does a show on the Constitution. I initially followed him to perhaps get a little insight on this foundational document – maybe engage in some conversation. But then I received his stupid, impersonal, meaningless automated message.

I’ll admit my response was a little snarky (I’m the king of snark). But honestly…an automated message? This is my Twitter pet peeve. I have such an unfavorable reaction to these because they serve to undermine the very best application of the platform. Here is what an automated message says: “Hi, thanks for following me. I am far too important to personally introduce myself to a peon like you (did you notice, I have 57k followers!) – but I would still like you to follow my other shit – and buy stuff too.”

No thanks.

Now normally I would publicly call this person out. But seeing that the message was intended to be private (fake or not), I respect that person’s privacy and thus blacked out their handle and website. But none of that really matters. The image simply serves as an example of what NOT to do. A very good example…I might add. Full disclosure: I used to employ one of these automated systems until I realized how obnoxious they were.  Friends, if you want to reach out to a new follower then send them a personal message. Sheesh. If you don’t, you just look like a bot. And NOBODY likes a bot.

With compliments,


Speaking Engagement in Pasadena – October 28th

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9.33.16 AMGreetings to my Southern California friends – I will be speaking to the Pasadena Civil War Round Table on October 28th at 7:15 PM. The place: the Pasadena Central Library. The topic: Civil War veterans and reconciliation. This talk will be kicking off my book tour, of sorts…kind of promotional and kind of informative at the same time. If LSU press comes through by then, I might even have a copy or three on hand. Come one, come all – I PROMISE you will not be disappointed!

Here’s the deets.

With compliments,


What to do at a Civil War Battlefield

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 12.38.40 PMMost people (read: tourists) tend to stay on the marked paths, follow the pre-programmed audio tours, or drive by, stop, read the signage, and move on. Want to have some fun? Seek out someone who knows the field (the NPS can most certainly arrange something for you) and ask to go off the beaten path. Seek out the rarely seen, the unusual, the forgotten. Visit the field during off hours or during the non-tourist seasons. I’ve done this all of these things myself and I have had quite the time. I have had the Shiloh and Perryville battlefields to myself, I have been to places at Gettysburg that only experts on the battle could ever hope to find. Do it. It will be worth the extra effort. And if all else fails, you can just stand by a cannon and point. This has been a battlefield tradition for over a century.

With compliments,