|Peter Feinman, New York and the Civil War|
|Posted by Graham Humphrey|
|on August 23, 2012|
Adapted from “New York and the Civil War” by Peter Feinman, published in the online news magazine New York History. (http://www.newyorkhistoryblog.com/2012/08/peter-feinman-new-york-and-civil-war.html)
Mark Morreale’s presentation, “The Lost Cause versus the Reality of War: The Hudson Valley Experience,” concerned ways to disabuse college students of sentimentalized, unrealistic, and romanticized views of both the ante- and post-bellum periods. He finds that exposing students to primary sources, such as soldiers’ and civilian’s letters and diaries, is quite effective.
One of the striking visuals in the exhibit at the Columbia Historical Society is a series of wall-sized lists of soldiers from the county who served in the war. Since the population of the county has not changed that much since the Civil War, one immediately sees that for years on end the equivalent of every male in the high school senior class--and then some--participated in the war.
These lists really bring home the enormity of the war effort, a point Jason Schaaf made the following day. The list of names seen by some participants in Columbia County made visible his suggestion that we multiply all Civil War numbers by a factor of ten to equate them to today’s population numbers.
Given these experiences and activities, what should New York do to remember and honor its citizens who contributed to the Union cause? Peter Feinman suggests that educators focus on the following topics:
For instance, Mark Stewart, a middle school teacher in Florida UFSD, a participant in THV’s institute, and a past THV grantee, has shown that it is possible to teach the Civil War using sites in the Hudson Valley. His Village has 50 Civil War veteran’s graves and he involved students in researching them using online sources from the NYS Archives and local historical societies.
Next he plans to have students research the veterans' units including where they fought, news articles about them, photos, and so on. He will start by visiting the small cemetery to photograph gravestones and perhaps take rubbings.
Mark’s lesson plan, “Florida Fifty: Civil War Veterans in Florida Cemetery” is available free in THV’s online library.
Jason Schaaf’s presentation, and others from the institute, are available here on THV’s website.