Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Civil War Writer's Life


I've been a little nostalgic of late.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it is due to approaching holidays.  Or maybe it is due to the fact that I am not getting any younger.  For some reason I have found myself thinking a lot about my graduate school days.  I got my Master's Degree in History from here.  As anyone who has attended graduate school in any subject knows, it can be both the best of times or the worse of times (to quote Dickens).  I had a decent experience in graduate school, primarily because that is where I met my little redhead.  In fact, I met her in a Civil War class.  The teacher was lecturing about King Cotton and I reached over and took her folder and quickly sketched a picture of a cotton ball wearing a crown.  I guess there are worse ways to meet one's future spouse.  She still has the notebook too.  Of course, I took her to Dairy Queen for our first date and luckily that didn't end the relationship!

When thinking about graduate school it has left me thinking about all of the Civil War papers that I have written both as an undergraduate and a graduate student.  You know, academic papers are kind of like ex-girlfriends in that you tend to only remember the bad ones!  Not all of the papers I wrote were about Civil War subjects.  I wrote a really good (or at least I thought) paper on the growing influence of politics on the German Army during the 1930s.  I wrote another one on slavery in Texas.  That one fell into the bad girlfriend category.  The professor agreed.  My favorite paper had to be the one I wrote on the impact of the terrain on the Battle of Shiloh.  I argued that given the conditions of their army that there was very little chance of the Confederates finishing off the Northern Army as the sun set on April 6th.  Others may disagree, of course, but it was my paper!

What amuses me to no end is that military historians like myself are often seen as the redheaded stepchild of the academic world.  (No offense meant to my wife!)  But if you look at the bookshelves at you local bookstore or take a gander at Amazon or Kindle, you'll note that military history sells very well.  There seems to be a huge disconnect between academic historians and the reading public.  I am okay with that.  Go ahead and write your massive tome on the impact of cotton underwear on farm prices in Central Alabama in December of 1862.  I'll stick to reading about the Battle of Shiloh.  Or Franklin.  Or even Gettysburg!

So I'll leave you to ponder this question, Dear Readers.  If you could write a Civil War book, what would it be?  (Let's stick with non-fiction for this one.)

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict who is just happy he has time to read.

The Civil War Addict giving a tour of San
Jacinto State Park.  Sat. Nov. 16, 2013