Category Archives: Week 5: Focus Statements

Research is Really Starting to Build … LOTS to Read

Research is going very well and after talking with Dr. Quigley on the sources I am coming across, he and I are working closely to narrow my original thesis topic question. I have been busy on Worldcat, EbscoHost, American History and Life, and others just to name a few.

I have found multiple journals, diaries, and various letter excerpts. I have also uncovered several theses, which are proving to be a wealth of information on sources, both primary and secondary, which has been very exciting. I have found secondary sources of ship manifests of blockade runners that made it through the Union naval blockade, as well as several books on British imported uniforms, weapons, equipment, and various supplies.

I have also found seemingly endless records and reports located in the National Archives, and all kinds of photographs, which have been digitized in the Library of Congress. There are many different locations which have repositories of original uniforms, weapons, equipment, and gear, which will help to substantiate the research that I am uncovering, going a long way towards helping to dispel that myth I have been chasing…

Current Events that Resonate with My Research Topic and Interests

As many of you may know, or for  those of you that do not know, I am a Civil War reeanctor and living historian. As you read through many of my blog postings, you can see that have a great passion for studying the American Civil War. My research topic for my thesis is based upon dispelling the myth surrounding the “Ragged Rebel” of Southern history notoriety. Obviously, I am not the only reenactor or living historian out there, as there are thousands of people who are serious students of history, that reenact the American Civil War. The opportunity to meet with kindred spirits, who are just as passionate about the study of the American Civil War, who portray both Northern and Southern soldiers, gives us many opportunities to network and fellowship with people who are studying many different aspects of the American Civil War. These reenactors encompass a wide array of professions, such as doctors, lawyers, contractors, students, teachers, college professors, professional historians, truck drivers, real life soldiers, and many others from various walks of life.

I wrote the previous to explain the types of people that you run across at various events in this fascinating hobby. I am writing about several events over the next few months that will give rise to talking with a lot of different people who are experts on many different parts of my research.  For example, I will be attending the North Carolina State Historical site in Newton Grove, NC for the 150th Anniversary commemoration of the battle of Bentonville, the last major battle of the American Civil War in North Carolina. Then I will be attending an event to be held on part of the original battlefield at Sailor’s Creek, VA, where Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia lost over 6,000 men captured on April 6th, 1865, leading to the ultimate defeat and surrender at Appomattox Court House. I will also be working very closely with the National Park Service at Appomattox Court House on the 150th Anniversary commemorative, providing “real time” living history programs for thousands of visitors.

While attending these events, there will be many speakers and lecturers on topics which will help with my overall research. In the past, I have been able to work with park historians, museum curators, archivists, etc to network and work with them on various research topics.

Past and present have a unique way of interacting with each other when you are involved with living history and reenacting. It presents a way of actually experiencing an inkling of what the soldiers themselves did, minus the fleas, lice, sickness, death, fear, hunger, loneliness, homesickness, and any number of other obstacles. However, you do get to experience the sight of thousands of men in formations, under arms, the heat,the cold, the miserable food, the drill, the camaraderie, and yes the wool uniforms.

While experiencing some of these things, you get to meet historians such as Robert Krick, “Bud” Robertson, Ed Bearrs, Chris Calkins, John Heiser, and Rod Gragg, just to name a few, as well as many thousands of people who have an interest and possible research leads into the past and often on your particular topic of research.


Bringing My Focus Statement Into Sharper Focus

Do you believe that Southern soldiers who fought for the Confederacy were barefoot, clothed in tattered uniforms,  and faced the problem of a dwindling supply of uniforms, arms, and equipment, as the war drug out, leading to the emergence of the myth of the “Ragged Rebel” from the American Civil War? Scholars, historians, and history buffs alike, have been led to believe this over the last century and a half. My research includes close scrutiny of period photographs of Confederate prisoners of war, and soldiers killed in action, as well as period engravings, paintings, lithographs, Quartermaster depot records, unit requisitions, ship manifests, letters, journals, and diaries, to paint a very different picture of what the average Confederate soldier was wearing and fighting with throughout the four years of conflict. The significance of this research will lend itself to deconstructing the myth which has been a tenet of the “Ragged Rebel” myth, and in doing so, will show how the Confederate States of America was able to survive for four long and bitter years.