HALO & History: More Connections with Heart of the Civil War

[Sergeant A.M. Chandler of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, Co. F., and Silas Chandler, family slave, with Bowie knives, revolvers, pepper-box, shotgun, and canteen] Date Created/Published: [United States], [between 1861 and 1863] Medium: 1 photograph : tintype ; visible image 66 x 78 mm, in frame 153 x 179 mm. Summary: Photograph shows identified Confederate soldier, A.M. Chandler, and identified slave, Silas Chandler, who accompanied two Chandler brothers during their military service in the Civil War. For more information, see "Glimpses of Soldiers' Lives," http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/SoldierbiosChandler.html Reproduction Number: --- Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. This photograph cannot be loaned to another instititution. In 1861, A.M. Chandler enlisted in the "Palo Alto Confederates," which became part of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. His mother, Louisa Gardner Chandler, sent Silas, one of her 36 slaves, with him. On September 20, 1863, the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment was engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga, where A.M. Chandler was wounded in his leg. A battlefield surgeon decided to amputate the leg but, according to the Chandler family, Silas accompanied him home to Mississippi where his leg was saved. His combat service ended as a result of the wound but Silas returned to the war in January 1864 when A.M.'s younger brother, Benjamin, enlisted in the 9th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment. (For more information, see this source: Coddington, Ronald S. A Slave's Service in the Confederate Army. New York Times Opinionator blog, September 24, 2013) http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/24/a-slaves-service-in-the-confederate-army/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Happy to meet Kyle and receive my early edition of Levin’s Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth.

Barbershop is known for connecting people through the community it creates. I’m pretty stoked to learn more and more its power to connect exiting communities and organizations! From reading our last blog post, Kyle Dalton reached out to offer me a tour of the Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick. This is the place I’d mentioned passing many times with zero interest in entering…

Of course I gladly accepted! As I approached the building it was clear to me that my feelings were strongly influenced by the very strong presence of the Confederate flag in front of the building– an issue which you may have heard from various news outlets they are addressing by considering a change of their logo. But as I joined Kyle for the tour, I was surprised to learn that the museum is primarily dedicated to the Union rather than the Confederacy.

Why should I or anyone be turned off by celebratory displays of the Confederacy? Well, even if you’ve not spent a great deal of time or energy in exploration of the nit and grit of this moment in time of U.S. history, you’re probably at least peripherally aware that not everyone is in agreement with regard to the motivations of the respective armies– and it is the flag of the Confederacy that tends to drum up the most controversy and discord. The lack of agreement among scholars and laypeople as to the meaning of this war and what it says about the people who fought on either side is arguably one of the fundamental fractures in our concept of an American identity. To that end, it’s also arguable to what extent, perhaps, a unified one can even be said to exist.

Thanks to the Heart of the Civil War, I am embarking on my own exploratory journey to learn of the facts and… let’s say, “alternative perspectives” related to the Civil War and the origins of the disputes and myths over what constitutes the truth of its narrative. I am very excited to have an early edition copy of the book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth by historian Kevin Levin, which was waiting for me at the front desk of the museum. This will hopefully allow me to contribute an informed perspective in opportunities for dialogue that lay ahead– and we hope you’ll join the conversation at our presentation at Newcomer House September 22, Race and #RealTalk– Legacies of the Civil War: Incorporating African American Perspectives.

And finally, if you haven’t had the pleasure of touring this fascinating museum, I highly recommend you drop by Downtown Frederick and have yourself a look. I can get really geeky about artifacts– so I was definitely mesmerized by the wealth of tools, medicines, documents, and stories this museum has to offer. Enjoy some sneak peeks!

An original case of medicines used in a Union army hospital. Some of these we still use, while others are virtually useless (and in some cases, actually harmful).

Amputation kit that was used by doctors for wounded soldiers. The blood stains of who knows how many men (and probably a few women) remain on the steel and inside the case.

There is not much in the way of items which represent the narrative of African Americans during the Civil War– a lacking upon which the administration of the museum hopes to eventually improve. This small tribute to the contributions of African American nurses suggest a well of stories we’d all be the better to one day discover.

This is the forearm of some unknown 16-ish year old soldier boy found on the Antietam battlefield. They say it was “naturally” preserved… make what you will of that! (Kyle shared with me in the corner of this inconspicuous display that some say this building is the most haunted in Frederick. I might also feel some type of way if my limbs were in a display case, but that’s just me!)

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