Meeting the Needs of Students in a Collaborative
Meeting the Needs of Students in a Collaborative
Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, released in 2011, is a movie that tells a story of the events surrounding the prosecution of Lincoln conspirator Mary Surratt. Most of the movie hinges on the trial and plays on the audiences’ curiosity about whether Mary Surratt was guilty of being a conspirator or not. Surratt is portrayed as a sympathetic character, bordering on being a victim of the federal government and the military tribunal that she was prosecuted under. While Redford’s goal seemed to be to highlight the inherent injustice in the process he, possibly inadvertently, caused the consumer of the movie to be overly sympathetic to the person on the receiving end of that injustice, Mary Surratt.
There are two facets of Mary Surratt’s life that are overlooked in telling this story. First, she was a staunch Confederate sympathizer and her part in supporting the Confederacy during the war is largely underplayed in the movie. Second, Mary Surratt was a supporter of slavery whose family profited through the use of slave labor in Maryland before the Civil War. Slavery, as an issue, is never discussed in the movie.
Viewers of The Conspirator will inevitably walk away feeling sympathy for the leading character, Mary Surratt, and quite possibly for the former Confederacy itself. Redford’s attempt to reconstruct the trial that he obviously feels passionate about left little room for an accurate portrayal of who Mary Surratt really was. The overriding impression that the viewer is left with is that this poor Confederate sympathizer was unfairly convicted and put to death by an overbearing, corrupt federal government. This perpetuated memory relates to the idea that the South suffered unfairly at the hands of the federal government after the Civil War. Redford’s emphasis on the trial and the subsequent lack of contextual character background will inevitably leave some viewers with the wrong impression of Mary Surratt and misguided sympathies about the aftermath of the Civil War.
The Conspirator. DVD. Directed by Robert Redford. Los Angeles: The American Film Company, 2010.
While conducting research into Florida State University’s use of the Seminole mascot, I ran across a picture of the “Sammy the Seminole,” a mascot used by Florida State during the 1960s. The mascot is photographed in front of the Confederate Battle Flag. This image is wrong on many levels!
While conducting research on Colonel John S. Mosby, I came across an article in the Anderson Intelligencer about General Ashby’s funeral that described Mosby as ready to continue the fight and curiously about a faithful slave. The South as being ready to continue the fight and the faithful slave aspects of the Lost Cause ideology are clear. The article (bottom right in link) is quoted as such:
“Colonel John S. Mosby, the terror of
the Yankees, was present and acted as a
marshal. He looks remarkably well, and
from every indication it would appear he
has many more campaigns in him yet.
We were much struck by a negro ser¬
vant of General Ashby’s family at the
grave. He wept profusely as the remains
of his former master were being lowered
in the earth.”
The logo of the city of Lake City, Florida (my hometown) is under attack again by the NAACP. Dr Coski pointed out in The Confederate Battle Flag that this issue previously came up in 2000. (p. 277) Dr Coski’s description of the logo doesn’t match what is being contested presently. It appears to simply depict an impending battle (the largest in Florida during the Civil War) with Union and Confederate soldiers marching toward each other carrying the American Flag and the Battle Flag respectively. Aside from being the former home of the University of Florida, the Battle of Olustee is all that the town is known for.
I found this website while doing research for my Mosby project. It is a very large resource of information, mostly about Mosby, but all from the local area. I even found a photo of a civil war marker next to someone’s above ground pool in their backyard. It supposedly marks the spot where Mosby captured someone. I will try to find out more when I head to that area over the next couple of weeks.
The primary and secondary sources listed in the attached bibliography discuss the mythology and memory of Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby. The focus of my research will be on the development of the “Mosby Myth” during the Civil War and the ways in which he has been remembered by historians and memorialized in Virginia in the late twentieth century. Despite allying himself with U.S. Grant and his run for the presidency in 1870, repudiating the rise of the Lost Cause ideology, defending J.E.B. Stuart’s actions at Gettysburg (thereby indirectly blaming Robert E. Lee for the defeat), and openly criticizing Robert E. Lee, Mosby has largely been remembered fondly by his fellow Virginians. This is especially true during the latter part of the twentieth century.
The “Mosby Myth” was created based on his wartime exploits and the reporting of those exploits. His factual wartime accomplishments have been well documented in biographical works like The Mosby Myth, Gray Ghost, Mosby’s Rangers, and Rebel. Primary sources such as the newspapers of the era are replete with stories of his exploits. Of particular importance were the writings of Mosby himself. Given that he lived until 1916, he was given ample opportunity to write about his wartime exploits through letters and articles. He authored his memoirs which were released the year after his death in 1917.
Remembrance and memorialization in Virginia is largely concentrated in and around what was known as “Mosby’s Confederacy” during the Civil War and is today known as the Mosby Heritage Area in Northern Virginia. The Mosby Heritage Area is supported by the Mosby Heritage Area Association which was founded in 1995. Research of the Mosby Heritage Area and the Association will focus on how Mosby is remembered today in Virginia.
Ashdown, Paul and Edward Caudill. The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002.
This biography is the most detailed and complete description of the creation of the “Mosby Myth” from his Civil War exploits to modern popular cultural uses of Mosby’s image.
Blight, David W. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.
Blight draws attention to Mosby’s transformation from Confederate cavalry leader to supporter of U.S. Grant and his repudiation of the Lost Cause ideology growing in the South.
Fauquier Historical Society. http://www.fauquierhistory.com/index.cfm?pagesID=9 (accessed February 10, 2013).
This website contains a wealth of information about Mosby landmarks in Fauquier County.
“Mosby Again.” The Times Dispatch, Richmond, May 1, 1904.
This article provides a great deal of evidence of the adoration that Virginians had for Mosby at the turn of the century. Supports the chivalrous ideals of the Lost Cause in detailing how Mosby never profited from his raids and that he provides an example for young men to emulate.
Mosby Heritage Area Association. 2011 Historic Fauquier County Scavenger Hunt Handout.
This 27-page pamphlet is produced by the Mosby Heritage Area Association and has detailed information about all of the significant areas within the Mosby Heritage Area. Information includes brief history of each area with names, dates, etc. The pamphlet itself is significant in showing how some seek to remember Mosby and perpetuate that memory.
Mosby Heritage Area Association. http://www.mosbyheritagearea.org/ (accessed February 3, 2013).
This is the official website for the Mosby Heritage Area Association and speaks to the motivations behind the group’s activities in its remembrance of Colonel Mosby. Site contains points of contact for possible interviews.
Mosby, John Singleton. The Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1917.
The personal memoirs of Colonel Mosby in which he speaks about his wartime exploits, his denunciation of the Lost Cause and the Lee Myth. These memoirs contributed to the growth of the Mosby Myth.
Mosby’s Confederacy Tours. http://www.mosbystours.com/index.htm (accessed February 12, 2013).
Website contains information about touring the Mosby Heritage Area, and in itself speaks to the way Mosby is remembered in Virginia.
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. “Aldie Mill Historic Park.” http://www.nvrpa.org/park/aldie_mill_historic_park (accessed February 15, 2013).
This website is dedicated to Aldie Mill which is a significant location in the history of Colonel Mosby. During the Civil War, Colonel Mosby captured several Union soldiers at the mill. The presentation of Mosby’s connection to the mill will be studied.
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. “Mt. Zion Historic Park.” http://www.nvrpa.org/park/mt_zion (accessed February 15, 2013).
This website is dedicated to the Mt. Zion Baptist Church which is a significant location in the history of Colonel Mosby. During the Civil War, Colonel Mosby’s Rangers fought with Union soldiers in the vicinity of the church on several occasions. The presentation of Mosby’s connection to the church will be explored.
Ramage, James A. Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999.
This is a biography of Colonel Mosby that covers his Civil War years, the birth and growth of his mythology, and continues through to his memory in popular culture, namely television and film.
“Reunion of Mosby’s Command.” Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser, January 17, 1895.
This article provides a detailed account of the proceedings during a reunion of Mosby’s Rangers. It reveals many Lost Cause ethos, from the playing of “Dixie” to members belting out the “Rebel Yell.” Mosby’s demeanor is described as well.
Robison, Debbie. “Frying Pan Baptist Meeting House.” http://www.novahistory.org/Frying_Pan_Meetinghouse.htm (accessed February 16, 2013).
This website is dedicated to the history of the Frying Pan Baptist Meeting House which is a significant location in the history of Mosby. During the Civil War, Mosby’s Rangers fought with Union soldiers in the vicinity of the church and used it as a meetingarea. The presentation of Mosby’s connection to the church will be explored.
Sedore, Timothy S. An Illustrated Guide to Virginia’s Confederate Monuments. Carbondale, Il: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011.
This book provides the details behind the monument erected for Colonel Mosby outside the Fauquier County Courthouse as well as the Mosby Ranger monument erected in Front Royal to the Rangers who were executed by order of General Custer.
Siepel, Kevin H. Rebel: The Life and Times of John Singleton Mosby. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983.
This is a biography of Colonel Mosby that covers his Civil War years, the birth and growth of his mythology, and continues through to his death. Unique to this biography is amount of information on the treatment of Colonel Mosby after he decides to go north and support Grant.
The History of Loudon County, Virginia. http://www.loudounhistory.org/site-index.htm (accessed February 17, 2013)
This website has detailed information about many of the significant Mosby sites.
The John Singleton Mosby Foundation Museum. 2008. http://www.mosbymuseum.org/. (accessed February 11, 2013)
This website is the official website of the Mosby Museum. It is located in a house that Mosby use to reside in. The museum’s grand opening was January 30, 2013. The background effort to create the museum will be explored.
“The Memory of Mosby.” The Lexington Gazette, October 18, 1911.
This article recounts an alleged encounter between Colonel Mosby and a bank employee where Mosby is depicted as someone to not be messed with. The article clearly speaks to how Mosby was thought of late in his life.
The Mosby Heritage Area Association. The Mosby Heritage Area Sampler: A Motoring Tour in the Northern Virginia Countryside.
Similar to the scavenger hunt pamphlet, this pamphlet provides great detail about the sites within the Mosby Heritage Area. The amount of information and detail is indicative of the Association’s treatment of Mosby’s memory.
U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. http://www.ranger.org/Resources/Documents/RHOF%20 Master %20List%20(06-04-2012).pdf (accessed February 17, 2013).
This website details the fact that Mosby was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame during its inaugural induction ceremonies in 1992.
U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. Form no. 10-300. Request to have Brentmoor placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Submitted January 20, 1978.
Provides information relative to the justification by the owner to have this home, a former Mosby residence, recognized by the National Park Service. The justification is revealing in that it provides a glimpse into the way people remembered Colonel Mosby.
U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. NPS Form 10-900. Request to have Waveland placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Submitted July 2, 2004.
Provides information relative to the justification by the owner to have this home, a home used by Mosby during the war, recognized by the National Park Service. The justification is revealing in that it provides a glimpse into the way people remembered Colonel Mosby.
Warren Heritage Society. http://www.warrenheritagesociety.org/ (accessed February 16, 2013).
Provides detailed information about significant Mosby sites and information concerning the Mosby artifacts contained within the Warren Rifles Confederate Museum.
Wert, Jeffrey D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008.
A biography of J.E.B. Stuart that provides insight into the relationship that the two had and how his association with Stuart helped fuel his mythology and his denunciation of General Lee after the war.
Wert, Jeffrey D. “John Singleton Mosby’s Revenge.” Weider History Group. HistoryNet.com. http://www.historynet.com/john-mosby#articles (accessed February 16, 2013).
Article that details the execution of Union soldiers by Mosby’s Rangers in retaliation for the execution of some of Mosby’s men on the orders of General Custer.
Wert, Jeffrey D. Mosby’s Rangers: From the High Tide of the Confederacy to the Last Days at Appomattox – The Story of the Most Famous Command of the Civil War and its Legendary Leader, John S. Mosby. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.
A biography of Mosby and his Rangers focusing specifically on his Civil War exploits and the growth of his mythic persona.
A monument was erected in Florida for Nena Mosely Feagle portraying her as the last Confederate widow from Florida. Mrs Feagle was born in 1894 and died in 1985. There are two remarkable facts about this case. The obvious one is that a woman who wasn’t even alive during the Civil War is being honored for her ties to it. The only information I could find about the “Veteran” is that he perrformed one mission, carrying a message through enemy territory during the Battle of Olustee, when he was six years old! (1) Even for modern contributors to the Lost Cause this seems like a bit of a stretch.
The more things change, the more… It seems that some never learn. A monument to honor slaves that allegedly served in the Confederate Army has been approved in Union County, North Carolina. Surprise, surprise, one of those that has been pushing for this is member of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans organization and amateur historian, emphasis on the amateur. It appears that the ancestors of the slaves are happy about the occasion, but it screams of creating the loyal slave image that is prevalent in the Lost Cause ideology. I am sure that a great effort has been made to dupe them into thinking that this is a great honor for their family members. Certainly someone on the Union County “historic commission” has read about Civil War history and heard of the Lost Cause…