Welcome to Freedom by the Sword: A Historian’s Journey through the American Civil War Era!
I have been contemplating this change for a few months now, and the time has come for me to venture forth into the new course I've charted. I mean, what better time could there be than during the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Campaign, right? That being said, let me anticipate some of the questions that will inevitably arise from this shift and try to answer them.
So why the sudden change?
Well, while blogging about the service of U. S. Colored Troops has been a rewarding experience, my interest in the American Civil War goes far beyond this one subject. A blog solely dedicated to USCTs has its limits, and whenever I would intrude upon that subject matter with posts similar to the one I wrote on Chancellorsville a few weeks back, I would feel a nagging sense of impropriety about writing something that wasn't technically within the purview of the blog.
So I've decided to expand the horizons of the blog, not to neglect or turn away from the history of USCTs, but to provide a more spacious playing field in which to interact with Civil War history.
What’s with the name?
The name derives from the Butler Medal, which was issued to the United States Colored Troops who participated in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, September 29-30, 1864. On one side of the medal was the Latin inscription Ferro iis libertas perveniet, which means “Freedom will be theirs by the Sword” (also the subtitle of my 2011 book on the Battle of New Market Heights.)
While paying homage to the original meaning behind the phrase, I also recognize that the word “freedom” had very different meanings, depending on which side you were fighting for.
What can we expect from here on out?
While I still plan to devote much of my attention to US Colored Troops, I now plan on offering posts on topics that I am currently working on or other things which have piqued my interest, such as:
Some general reflections on Robert E. Lee (having recently finished a one year tour at Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial, I've already got some posts in mind)
Issues surrounding the First Battle of Deep Bottom (which I am currently writing a book about)
Pretty much anything regarding the Confederacy or the Confederate army (pretty hard to blog about when your focus is USCTs!)
Various and sundry battles and battlefields that are close by (at least for me) but I've never really explored in writing before, such as (in no particular order): Bristoe Station, the Wilderness, Mine Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Courthouse, North Anna, Antietam, and even…dare I say it?...Gettysburg!
While some of you are undoubtedly doing a facepalm right about now (especially at the mention of the G- word) I am certain that this new path will lead to more frequent posts and a chance to engage with a larger audience.