Frank P. Varney, General Grant and the Rewriting of History, California, Savas and Beatty, 2013
A critical examination of Grant’s memoirs and their effects on the historical record.
Professor Frank Varney’s first book is a bold effort to right historical wrongs…. and the wrongs were perpetrated by none other than US Grant. Varney proposes a three volume examination of the inconsistencies, mistakes, and outright lies found in Grant’s widely utilized memoirs. Volume one takes Grant (and his historical defenders) to task for ruining the reputation of Major General William S. Rosecrans. Varney carefully dissects both the historical record and the secondary sources which were deeply influenced by Grant’s account.
“The well of data about Rosecrans has been so tainted that many historians… are simply not motivated to look beyond the traditionally relied-upon sources- the writings of Grant prominent among them.” Varney sums up how Grant’s memoirs have affected Civil War historiography. Researchers simply assume Grant was right- they fail to verify with lesser known primary sources; what source could be more valuable than the man credited as the Union victor? Varney’s research is extensive and provides key insights to the Grant/Rosecrans feud. At the Battles of Iuka and Corinth, Grant was miles from the fighting- his battle reports change over time- and his memoir bears little resemblance to the Official Records. Historians like Steven Woodworth and T. Harry Williams have been complicit in propagating Grant’s distorted account and Varney cites key examples of his peers failing to carry-out the most basic research methodology.
Far from a redemptive piece about Rosecrans… Varney acknowledges the flaws in the man. But, the evidence of tampering and distortion are too extensive to be ignored by the historical community. Rosecrans had his flaws, but Grant’s accounts of the war have forever tarnished a General with widely accepted military skill. Grant didn’t care for his subordinate and Varney skillfully shows how he took credit for victories, exaggerated his own actions, and distorted (even lied) about the performance of others. Rosecrans was the victim of a concerted effort led by Grant- and historians have failed to give a balanced account of this chapter in Civil War history. Hopefully, Professor Varney’s future volumes will be as detailed and insightful as this first edition.
The recent Grant renaissance should be reconsidered.
There should be no surprise that the greatest of all our Presidents’ annual messages was delivered by Abraham Lincoln… The daunting task of explaining his decision to emancipate the slaves, a drastic measure that drew the ire of conservatives and skepticism from moderates.
Lincoln was able to explain how emancipation would not only help save the Union… but was the only way to keep our republic on the right side of history.
December 1, 1862-
“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free–honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just–a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.”
Get in touch with your inner Civil War buff (no matter how deeply repressed) by visiting these links;
Double quick- MARCH !!
Uncle Abe wants you !
Neo-secessionists are all around us… and free speech gives them a cozy blanket of protection. Rick Perry insinuating Texas could secede rather than adhere to the federal healthcare law, Todd Palin belonging to a political association advocating Alaskan secession, and Sharron Angle talking about ‘second amendment remedies’ to handle disputes with federal authorities are all examples of dangerous secessionist rhetoric permeating through modern discourse. The media focuses our attention at Civil War reenactors and pick-up trucks with Confederate flags flying on them. But public figures are influenced as well, by academics who struggle to perpetuate a most dangerous brand of revisionism. Thomas DiLorenzo is a pseudo-academic trying desperately to justify secession and rewrite American History.
Just an ugly truck
DiLorenzo wants to deconstruct Lincoln’s legacy… and in doing so, change long-held beliefs about secession. DiLorenzo deemphasizes slavery in his arguments despite the fact that none of the Confederate leaders he idolizes were willing to do so. Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, described the purpose for creating the Confederate government, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” States rights is one of the greatest fallacies ever hoisted upon the American public…there was one right, the right to own people as property (arguing about tariffs displays ignorance, for the Constitution is clear on that.) By arguing that secession was just and Lincoln destroyed the country with the war (“paragon of wickedness, a man secretly intent on destroying states’ rights” ), DiLorenzo displays his dubious scholarship in the name of stain upon our national character. He is far more dangerous than any red-neck flying the Stars and Bars.
When the research isn’t there, just make stuff up
On the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination… America needs to relegate charlatans like Thomas DiLorenzo to the distant fringe. The Civil War was caused by slavery. Lincoln saw the truth by his second term, “Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” The terrible price our country paid had to be for something higher than a discredited political ideology like secession. DiLorenzo and his ilk will never accept this reality. He will continue to use his credentials as an academic to provide a veil of legitimacy to his duplicitous message.
“I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual.”
Every generation feels an impact on the historic…
- We stop destroying history and refocus our energy on studying it
- Americans start listening to true Civil War historians like James McPherson, Noah Trudeau, Wayne Motts, and Stephen Sears
- That historical hacks like Don Lemon, Jamelle Bouie, Ilya Somin, Yoni Applebaum, and everyone at MSNBC stop talking about historical revisionism
- Seeing rational minds put an end to the scourge of American iconoclasm
- American society rediscovers the indispensable examples set by George Washington
- Americans accept the fact that if Jefferson is right, America is right
- Real efforts are made to protect historical homes, sites, and monuments
- No “Grant!” the musical
- “Hamilton!” fans actually read a few of the Federalist Papers
- Donald Trump donates all of his paychecks to battlefield preservation (the first one was greatly appreciated)
- The Confederate flag remains legal
- Ne0-Nazis and white supremacists fade to obscurity
- Living history continues to educate the public
- The Eisenhower Memorial is finished on the National Mall
- Steven Spielberg makes an authentic Civil War film as a companion to “Lincoln”
- PBS brings back “Mercy Street”
- The History Channel schedules more programs about history
- Customers of Ancestry.com realize that they are actually Americans first…
- We all stop learning history through memes
Just like ISIS
It already was, Donnie
Filed under Ephemera, News
Lincoln was worried that Sherman’s march to the sea… had failed. He hadn’t heard from Sherman since his army left Atlanta earlier in November. Sherman’s troops blazed their path across Georgia; foraging, burning, destroying, all the way to the coast. Lincoln’s fears were assuaged when the brief telegram arrived at the War Department:
Uncle Billy’s strategy of total war… was working and this simple gesture symbolizes the trust between general and Commander-in-Chief. Lincoln responded that he had many fears, but his trust in Sherman’s judgement guided him through the darkest hours.
“My aim then was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us”