Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Aye Candy

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 28, 2011

Over the weekend I picked up a copy of Tom Chaffin’s The H. L. Hunley: The Secret Hope of the Confederacy, which looks to be a well-crafted read. My purchase was influenced in no small part by its inclusion of plans of the boat by a respected e-acquaintance of mine, Michael Crisafulli, who probably knows more about the design and construction of the craft than anyone not directly connected with the current, ongoing archaeology project. I used Michael’s plans of the boat for my own digital model, shown here. Full-size images here.

7 Responses

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  1. Dennis said, on February 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Wasn’t this really a secret weapon of the North’s to kill large numbers of Confederate soldiers?

  2. Southern Partisan said, on March 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    What software are you using to render such wonderful images?

    BTW, this is my first visit to your blog and to me, you seem to have a decidedly pro Northern bias in your postings, and yet ironically you seem to also have a problem with those of us who have a similar bias toward the South.

    Try a little balance. The causes of the war were complicated as are the unintended consequences of that war that affect all of us to this day. Still, otherwise, you have a great blog!

    • Andy Hall said, on March 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      SP, the models are done in Rhinoceros 3D, and rendered in Flamingo.

      I respectfully disagree that I have a particularly Northern bias, or that I have a regional bias at all. I do frequently push back against what I see as regular and willful misrepresentation of historical record by some individuals and groups. You may want to read “About this blog,” as well as my very first post to see where I’m coming from.

      I do try to be fair, but if I have a bias, I can only plead the case made by the late Barbara Tuchman — better that my bias be open and obvious to all, so it can be taken into account, than hidden and so all the more insidious.

      Thanks for commenting, and I hope you find something useful here, even if we end up not agreeing on many things.

      Added: I want to refine something about “bias.’

      I understand that folks think I have an explicit “Northern” bias. But it has also been my experience that when folks say that, it’s a bit like accusing someone of being “politically correct” — it’s a vague complaint that doesn’t really rest on anything in particular, so it cannot be effectively challenged. It also, I think gives some folks a reason to dismiss someone they disagree with, without going to the trouble of actually disagreeing on specific points of analysis or interpretation. It’s easy to say, “ugh, he’s biased, ignore him” without showing, in detail, what he’s actually wrong about.

      What I try to do here is make clear and specific cases. Quite a few folks have disagreed with me, and that’s fine, but I hope such discussions can remain both civil and focused on the topic at hand.

      Anyway, please take some time with the blog. I think you’ll find some material that is worthwhile.

  3. Southern Partisan said, on April 5, 2011 at 9:33 am

    A thoughtful reply and yes, the word “bias” is rather overused and unclear. Forgive my use of such a tired and useless descriptor. Tuchman’s works, particularly Guns of August, are excellent and it is good to see that she is still appreciated.

    You ask for details on “what he’s actually wrong about”. Here’s the one that put that the question of “balance” in my mind:

    “Lincoln Derangement Syndrome (n): A deeply-embedded psychosis held by some Lost Causers and defenders of Southern Heritage™, indicated by the reflexive, knee-jerk response to any criticism of the Confederacy, by pointing out that (1) Abraham Lincoln held personal views about African Americans that were racist, (2) the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free any slaves, or (3) that Lincoln’s public policy position toward the institution of slavery changed over time. There is no known cure.” DC 8-23-10

    The deification of Lincoln is as chronic and wrongheaded as any affliction that we supporters of the Southern side are ever accused of. In reality, he was our worst president and a tyrant and their are plenty of facts to back up both of these. On the other hand, the South probably would have fared better under Lincoln after the war unless the radical Republicans turned on Lincoln as they did on Johnson.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

      Thanks again for taking time to comment. I hope you understand that my “Lincoln Derangement Syndrome” post was largely tongue-in-cheek, and meant to be amusing. (And of course, humor is a very subjective thing.) But it does make a serious point.

      I understand your point about the over-the-top deification of Lincoln, but I don’t think you’ll find it in the work of serious scholars working today, including those who hold him in high regard generally, like Blight, McPherson, Foner and others. The “deification” of Lincoln simply doesn’t exist in serious academic circles, and the complaints about it suggest that those doing the complaining haven’t actually read much mainstream Lincoln scholarship done in the last 20 years or more. Historians are quite up front about his failings, prejudices and personal hypocrisies, on race and many other things. Lincoln was a complicated, three-dimensional guy, and not all of those dimensions were laudable.

      What I personally find frustrating — and what I was addressing in the “derangement” post — is that may folks on the Southern “side” of the discussion (1) have convinced themselves that the modern historians continue to promote the idea that Lincoln was a sainted figure without flaw, contradiction, or vice, (2) that in response to this perceived bias, some Southerners feel compelled to adopt an equally ridiculous caricature, that Lincoln was evil incarnate, and (3) fail to see that they themselves tend to view Southern leaders (Lee, Davis, Jackson) through the same cloud of saintly hagiography that they ascribe to “Northern” historians when it comes to Lincoln.

      That’s what I’m pushing back against, in the hope of encouraging people to both see the complexity of the subject, and acknowledge the failings of their own “side.” And candidly, I see most of the false and grossly distorted narratives coming out of Southern heritage groups. The caricature of Lincoln as the unblemished “Great Emancipator,” simplistic and childish as it is, to me is far less pernicious and damaging to American’s sense of their history than the white-washing of history that’s gone on for over a century in the name of the Lost Cause. That frustrates me as an American, as a Southerner, and as the descendant of Confederate veterans. We owe all those constituencies and obligation to see the past as it was, not as we’d have liked it to be.

      Thanks again for commenting, and I hope you’ll continue reading.


    • Andy Hall said, on April 5, 2011 at 10:02 am

      I should probably also add that, more recently, I’ve become less satisfied with doing snark-driven posts like the one you cite, because while they are intended to make a point, they sometimes come off as more shrill than anything else. Not terribly constructive, overall.

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