North Carolina, James Mcpherson, John Peter Carmichael discussed on American History TV


Sorry. Could settle anything so much for that kind introduction. Coming back here is place that makes me nostalgic makes me because and he summer of nineteen eighty five. I was a seasonal historian at apple Matic's courthouse. I had to play union soldier body fields nine to five everyday dire summer, pretending sixty five. It was a great experience, of course, and Ron Wilson the former cheapest oriented there that I was interested in willy, Peter as you all know the peak family of Richmond. And he said, why don't you come to then Virginia historical society and getting to that point in my life? And I've said you remember when and you remember when it was just about a lobby. I did my first major research project there other things that I perceived since then I've relied heavily upon the collections here in many ways. This is my home court to do research. I have had. A number of people who have helped me along the way. And of course, it's always a mistake to start on this team names because you want evidently, forget somebody. But I have to certainly mentioned Francis policy was always so wonderful so kind and so is and you've got great folks here as well. So it is a real pleasure. It's an honor. And I hope this isn't some way to sort of express my gratitude because historians. They can't do this job alone. They've got to have partners in crime, right and archivist are critical to any historian success and any original research. Now, I say that and I should know my wife. Is an archivist by training you. And so I've got to get good played in here for artists is I know that she'll be she'll be watching it. So again, thank you so much for for having. On august. Twentieth. In the middle of the night. Thirteen veterans of the third North Carolina picked up the rifles slung on their cartridge boxes and fled camp. From that point on. There was absolutely no turning back. They had a track of a few hundred miles that would they hoped? Eventually bring them back to North Carolina. Now, as you know, these North Carolina's were hardly alone in the aftermath of the defeat at Gettysburg. There were likely thousands of men who these army without permission. So who were these deserters and not just these deserters in North Carolina. Who were these men who took great risk and fled? Their commands to us today. They are relatively faceless mob. Name your favorite dessert, or you can name your favorite general, but you can't name famous your favorite dessert. And you're right. We don't know them as individuals. So why is that? Why is there a silence here? And that is something that is I got deep into this study. I was reminded of the fact that acknowledged violences is also acknowledge how the historical record is created. And it's also when historical records or historical narratives, I should say that when they're created. Here's a reflection of who has power, and why we'd not heard from the deserter why you don't have your favorite deserter while you probably can't even name a single deserter is because the sources that we typically have access to the sources that are written by military officials government officials newspaper. That's here. That's what we have access to. And that's largely why of course, we cannot put a face on these men. I think there's a problem in the scholarship. And that problem in the scholarship is that. We have stereotype deserters stereotype deserters as men who were cowardly. As men who did not have a strong sense of duty. And that perception or I should say that interpretation and the scholarship. It actually reaffirms. I think. A pop their belief that the common civil war soldier was what always face the front. Always brave. Those are the stories we'd like to hear those are the stories we repeat and the scholarship by professional stories to some degree has reaffirmed that I'll just give you one example, an example for the man who I greatly admire whose work is deeply influenced me, and that's James McPherson. It's always a risk of force to take a shot at a very prestigious and very important story as Dr McPherson that of course, like any story and his interpretations. I think that they're open to questioning and open to revision. Dr mcpherson. He described deserters as. Mostly conscript s- substitutes inbounding men. He did not believe that they were motivated, and if they were motivated at all it was not by duty, honor or ideology. And. Deserters were not political. Now, I have very I think significant reservation about that claim. I think that's something that we're all going to have a chance to discuss and debate at the end of my talk. I'm not going to raise through my presentation. But I I certainly want to give you all chance to have a conversation with me about this. I of course, I can't identify the person in the audience now. But before my talk person said to me. This book that you've just written you could slap any war on the title. It could be more one World War to Vietnam. And the stories are saying because the story of ice soldier is a universal one. It's timeless one. I don't believe that. But what I have often heard is it for these men. These men who decided to flee the army. They left for reasons it's you can find again throughout time. Follow that porn away. Chew on it a little bit. And we'll have a chance I hope to be able to discuss it. I'm deeply concerned about is. This stereotyping deserves which I've made that point when I went to today for you. And what I would like to believe that I accomplished in my book is that I want you to stand in the shoes in this case of a deserter. I want you to stand in the shoes of that deserter. And I want you to take in the world as that deserter took in the world what he perceived what he felt how he made sense of that world and more importantly above all else. What options what options did he imagine? What was in the range of possibilities? Key of this talk. And of course, as I said before it's elemental toward I tried to do that my book, so. Get you all to stand in the shoes of deserted. I gotta hear their voice Ryan, I've already told you that's a challenge. Just simply not any sources, and which we hear we hear the words of the men who fled. I got lucky and in any book, you gotta get lucky, and I did when I picked up a pamphlet pamphlet was entitled tragedy and now Puglia JiJi amount. Puglia described the execution the largest execution in these army northern Virginia. It took place in September eighteen sixty three picked up that little book. I knew about this execution was always fascinated by it. And when I picked it up. I noticed that the author quoting one of the men condemned and executed. At my. They're the words right there. I was shocked surprised, and of course, they're excited and those words came from a north Carolinian his name John botch. F U T C H John Peter Carmichael on American history on C span radio. He's spoke at the Virginia museum of history and culture last February John again, there's nothing really that stands out about John fudge. He was from New Hanover county North Carolina, which is right next to to Wilmington. He owned no land Ono land. He didn't own any slaves at all. But he lived within a network of family members and some of them did own slaves. But he's certainly on the what you might say the margins of white southern society as I said, nothing really stood out. There was exceptional about him. Except for one thing. He's literally. I told you he left a body. Of course, bonnets a body of others. He obviously he dictated he dictated his thoughts and his feelings to combat. Many of these comrades were barely literate themselves. That's all I ask you to think about the books that I'm sure many of you have read about the common soldier and those books rely heavily upon those who are very educated those men who are of a highly privileged class. Those are the voices that surface when we think about the common soldier the voices of John FOX we rarely hear because as you all know, those kinds of manuscripts, those letters. I'd be willing to bet. There are many right here at this institution that come from illiterate and poor soldiers. So here I had I had to go mine. I had my path to get into the inner world of John Futch. John did not right. Up take that word out. He did not speak about his opposition to the war. He did not spell it out. He did not condemn the confederate government. He did not in any way. Critique. This life holding class. Didn't know that. But what he did say in letter after letter to my amazement is that he had reservations about the war. He had reservations about the war because he believed that it was a violation of humanity. That it was a violation of God's will that Christian should be killing each other should be shooting at each other. That's the origin. That's the origin of his disatisfaction. Again. If you one more thing to think about here. Disatisfaction? Did he had with the war? His moral reservations about having humans kill other humans. How or does it? I should say does that. Anyway. Make him political. They can political in his opposition. That would ultimately lead to hint taking that amazing act of desertion. That's what we're wrestling with here. Seeing the world is solid and try to understand understand this great risks that he took when he decided to desert is it a deeply political act..

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