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Kaitlin Byrd @GothamGirlBlue
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Okay I am going to live-tweet Ken Burns Civil War because this is the content you pay for. I’ll be doing it from Episode 2 onwards because I’m not going to rewatch Episode 1.
Though I will say about Episode 1 that it manages to weave several threads together and make clear the centrality of slavery to the confederate treason. The tragedy is the failure to recognize exactly what treason means: to country, to community, to family.
That letter to Sarah always makes me sob 😭😭😭😭
What is interesting is how easily everyone understood what they were fighting for and yet how much they denied it as it was happening. How could John Brown become a rallying cry before September 1862 if this wasn’t about slavery?
There’s this incredible picture of the Capital under construction reminds me how much I love it and how it’s my favorite monument.
Yes I know it was built by slaves. So was the country and I love it anyway.
Do you think they use “McClellaned” as a term for fucking up at West Point? (If not and you know West Point please do not shatter the illusion for me)
lol, I love how much of a mess the North is. Like they could not get their shit together at all and they still ultimately crushed the South. And the South had to get everything right just to compete with these incompetents.
Watching this bit about ironclads and I can’t help but think about how much the Civil War was the portent of modern warfare.
Nathan Bedford Forrest is the worst person in this war and I can’t believe it isn’t automatic to spit after saying his name because he is
I really hate that they gave Shelby Foote the space to practice lost cause romanticism and whitewash (heh) the way white southern culture of every class had built slavery into their identities.
I am still watching, but Shiloh is depressing AF
There are so many tiny joys in the self-inflicted stupidity of the confederacy, like when they instituted a draft and had to centralize despite their philosophical lie that they left the Union to be more independent.
Some people may think this is wrong, but honestly I do not mind that Stonewell Jackson died and find the storytelling about him tedious. Confederates dying is good is what I’m saying.
Gladstone’s take on the confederacy is like hearing pro-Brexit nonsense today. lol Britain has so many terrible takes and is full of descendants of colonizers.
General Butler was over the line but also as bad as it was it was still far better than what the South would have done to Northern cities.
I would pay a lot to see a movie about slaves who sabotaged the confederate army and were a spy network informing on slaveholders.
There is undoubtedly a great story in the early development of war photography and the impact of the Civil War.
Omigod McClellan is so terrible though. Lincoln needed to take him in hand way sooner.
At the same time, if Lincoln had been more aggressive, the war wouldn’t have lasted as long and he probably wouldn’t have issued the Emancipation Proclamation
Oh look at all the white liberals who poured into Union-occupied territory to save the noble yet stupid slave 🙄
I really can’t help how much I hate Shelby Foote and his slavery apologia
There’s no one in our current situation who has the braggadocio and self-importance matched with puzzling ineptitude and piercing cowardice of McClellan but I almost wish they were
It’s worth remembering that Abolitionists were considered crazy in their day but were 100% right all the way up through the war. Not saying just saying
Can we exhume McClellan to kill him again? With shame, naturally.
The framing on slavery here is...not as complete as it should be
Confession time: I have paused in watching because I am trying (and failing) to bake a cake
Maybe I should have been paying more attention to my measurements than the Civil War because I put half as much butter as I should have in my creaming process 🤦🏾‍♀️
I have succeeded in getting the cake into the oven
So the live tweeting will recommence in a few minutes, as I know you all have been waiting desperately for this 😉
I’ve restarted episode 4 but I may skip ahead
And here’s Shelby Foote being the worst AGAIN
Rooting for the Union is like rooting for modern Democrats: you really can’t believe that they’re squandering structural advantages because they either misapprehend the nature of the opposition or because they can’t bring themselves to do what needs done.
Fredericksburg is such a morass of stupidity that you can understand how Lee gained his reputation: he was the only one who understood the new nature of this warfare.
Still a slaveholding jerkface who had slaves whipped and poured salt in the wounds and said nothing as his men kidnapped free black people and sold them into slavery during their march north to Gettysburg
Nathan Bedford Forrest should be erased from humanity and yet he still has his name on buildings and this enrages me beyond words
This is where the documentary loses focus: it gives more attention to camp culinary developments than to forced mass migration of enslaved people that resulted in thousands of deaths.
Shelby Foote is talking about Jefferson Davis’s “kindness,” and my soul is vomiting 🤮
“I don’t know if anyone could have done as good a job as Davis did” LITERALLY ANYONE BECAUSE THE CONFEDERACY IS A FAILURE OF HUMAN DIGNITY
It’s another failing of the documentary that in trying to balance the perspectives they minimized Southern unionism and enslaved resistance movements
Lincoln was so smart and so sarcastic and he could never have survived in the modern era and yet we need more leaders like him (but less white and less male).
Ugh Hooker. Ugh Chancellorsville. Uggggggghhhhhhhhh. ::skips to next episode::
Grant setting up the siege of Vicksburg is one of my favorite narratives out of the war, and hearing Shelby Foote with that tint of sadness in his voice as he had to explain how awesome Grant was...::chef’s kiss::
This live tweeting now comes with freshly baked apple spice cake*
*offer applicable only to people currently in my apartment
The cosmic poetry of Gettysburg and Vicksburg happening almost simultaneously is almost enough to make me believe in divine interference
The black people who lobbied for the right to fight in this horrific war are my people
I am always stunned by the sheer magic of Daisy Turner and how they got to speak to her, a brilliant, amazing woman who was the first generation of her family to be born free
I am very sure that they had a lot of footage of Daisy that didn’t get used in the first cut so I would humbly request an updated edit with more Daisy and less Shelby
“Black body servant” NO SHELBY he was a slave; servants are paid
Like it must be so hard coming from Gettysburg, PA because everyone either winces when you say where you’re from or they stare blankly until you tell them what it’s famous for
Lee: it’s gonna happen here; me or them
Gettysburg is a jewel of Union mythology and a great tragedy simultaneously.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain may be the only good white dude in this whole story
Chamberlain’s instincts are incredible and he went just back to teaching and helping young men become their best a tweed-wearing boss
It is really hard to live tweet Gettysburg because it is super dark and there’s not much space for observation. The horror is pretty unvarnished.
These regiment survival percentages are insane. 86% of a union regiment in 5 minutes and 100% of a NC one
Daisy has so many depressing rhymes about death in war stored in her memory and she was born almost 20 years after the war ended 😭
It is good and right that Lee’s arrogance caused him to miscalculate during Gettysburg, and effectively turn the war into an effort of “keep the Union from taking Richmond”
Pickett’s Charge is one of the stupidest things that any American military leader has ever done
lol, I’m joking he wasn’t American
Yo, props to the Union men for taunting the Confederates while gunning them down
That’s real multitasking
I know that the vast majority of people weren’t this eloquent and poetic but wow the quotes they get 😭
“In 150 years, a black woman will be writing about how beautiful your words are while using emoji”
“The fuck?”
The frequency with which generals refuse to follow Lee and destroy his army reminds me why we can’t trust white men in the revolution
There are never any explanations for why they’re letting Lee get away, but fundamentally it’s about respect and sympathy. The war is their duty, but while it continues, the questions are easy to answer
Everyone studies Lee’s escapes (and if you’re a tactics nerd, there’s a ton there), but not enough attention is given to why he was allowed to
I need Clara Barton not to be ruined for me. I am not sure I have the strength to cancel her
This is not an invitation to talk about how trash the Red Cross is now, please and thank you
::sees the white on black placard announcing Vicksburg::
It is a thing of beauty that July 4th is the day the tide turns in the war with two catastrophic losses for the Confederacy
lol at Vicksburg not celebrating the 4th of July until WW2; that’s next level petty and traitorous simultaneously
Oh look, it’s the draft riots
White people acting terribly due to racism and then blaming it on foreign culture and/or economic anxiety
And yet their descendants will say charming things like “we gave you freedom” and “aren’t you glad your family was here instead of Africa?”
Not worth it to be stuck with your racist asses, Becky and Chad
Oh good, we’re going to get into the treatment of black soldiers so my blood pressure can actually break monitors
“Bottom rail on top this time”
Tfw you get to confront the violent white supremacist who held you in bondage because he’s now a prisoner of war in a conflict he and his started to maintain their profitable human trafficking operation
I shouldn’t take so much pleasure in the destruction of the antebellum southern cities, but 😊😁😍👍🏾
Built by blood and destroyed by flame and I love it
Me to southern antebellum cities built by slave labor and entrenched white supremacy:
I really like how Steven Oates sets up John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and Bobby Lee as thinking their instruments of God
*They are OMG
But yeah: he basically goes Brown thought he was destined to free the slaves through violence; Lincoln thought he was gifted by God to help keep the Union together, and Lee thought God’s decision would mark Gettysburg
Low-key I wonder how many Republicans would take the Gettysburg address as an attack on them and/or Trump
Bleh, we are getting into biography and this is where the documentary gets really unwieldy
Because honestly, while Grant and Lee are vital parts of the story, there are so so so many stories that could have happened
And when you only have a few hours to summarize an entire war, spending this much time on background is painful. There was so much more room for slave narratives or southern unionism or politics and they put these charming but meaningless stories
I’ve skipped ahead to The Wilderness because ain’t nobody got time for that
Every time Shelby Foote has to praise Grant you can see a tiny piece of his soul die and it is amazing
Oh look a medical segment. A picture of me being grateful for modern medicine
I love how Grant’s willingness to use his greater numbers is considered positive from the same people being tossed into the meat grinder
“At least he fights!” is the coldest revenge delivered to McClellan
Gah Cold Harbor
The early costs of trench warfare are horrific and yet no one learned a damn thing
One of the best things to come out of the Civil War is the Army corps of engineers. They are total bosses and utterly amazing and are definitely not paid enough
I definitely thank this documentary for introducing me to the Civil War but also the particular talents and bravery of Chamberlain.
Shot through the pelvis when surgeon just means “capable with a bone saw” and he stays standing while waving on his troops. Wild.
It is so striking how after 1863, Confederate strategy for “victory” is just holding ground long enough to wear down the massive army following them
And rather than just suing for peace, the Confederacy basically invited the Union to destroy them. So that’s what 1864 was.
I’m extremely hostile to the amount of labor Dorothea Dix performed without compensation
AND with men being trash all around her...whew
Sherman is underrated.
Sherman’s siege and subsequent destruction of Atlanta is a piece of art.
It makes no sense why they would put a Confederate monument at Kennesaw Mountain. Like putting the time you pooped yourself in public in a lightbox and gifting it to all your friends
That’s every Confederate monument now that I think about it
Any time someone wonders why Trump fans will stay with him even as his policy hurts them should check out what Southerners were willing to endure to maintain even the illusion of slavery
Like they were straight up starving and eating their animals and burying their children in shallow graves and they did not sway until the very last. And many of them handed that same conviction to their children and so on and so forth straight through to today
Nathan Bedford Forrest’s granddaughter was insulted by his being compared to Lincoln. When really he should have his memory set on fire and mentioned only in the same breath as the greatest monsters of history
And she lived in a society that told her that her affront wasn’t just fair but an active good. And that same sense of grievance that animated the Confederacy is animating Trump voters. Because those are their great-grandparents.
I am skipping this hagiography of Forrest because I could always douse my eyeballs with kerosene and set them on fire instead
I do appreciate how the documentary highlights that Lincoln keeping his promise on abolition was costly politically.
This is also something to keep in mind in our current political situation, because as soon as it is over, white people will rush to take credit for a moral courage that they did not show.
The Civil War is often told in these sweeping moral arcs in which northern whites are good and supportive of black freedom and thus their descendants love to use it as a moral IOU
But Lincoln would have had an easier time if he had reneged on his promise. There was no one to hold him accountable except his own conscience. For every abolitionist voter lost, there would be 2 votes hostile to black equality
Instead of having an Atlanta, we had a Comey, and all the moral posturing of white voters collapsed like an underbaked soufflé.
The moral calculus was as clear as it was in 1864. Clearer still because we aren’t enduring the unspeakable costs of war, turning our society inside out.
There’s an unwillingness to confront what that said about white people in 1864 in the documentary, and what it says about us today
We’ve constructed a society where these moral lapses aren’t just ignored but celebrated. We extend infinite sympathy for people who would oppress rather than their victims. And it’s the same oppressors with the same rationale and the same victims.
These arsonists tried to set a ton of fires in NYC and had a few successes and then complained that the South was bearing too many costs for THE WAR IT STARTED TO MAINTAIN SLAVERY
I am so lucky to be living in this century because I would have gotten myself killed by saying my thoughts back then.
Like: good that you are suffering for your stupid war undertaken for the worst reason
I can’t discuss Fort Pillow without actually harming someone or something
Oh look, Lee demonstrates that he is an evil fuckchuckle by refusing to exchange prisoners if forced to treat black soldiers as equal
If there is any Civil War mythology I deeply hate it is Lee’s. He doesn’t deserve any of the respect he gets and it chafes.
Andersonville was an unspeakable horror, but it’s interesting how the closing quote is from a woman who recognizes it as terrible but cannot see slavery as horrific and thinks that God will enact retribution for the former
It is extremely under-appreciated how impressive it was to run a free election during a Civil War. To win? Beyond impressive.
I’m watching Shelby Foote talk about how the Confederacy lost and his sadness is palpable and so so nourishing
One of my favorite little bits of poetry in the war is how Arlington National Cemetery is Lee’s appropriated land.
Oh this is the part of the documentary where we pretend that there were very fine people on both sides 🤔
Spoiler alert: there were not very fine people on both sides
I am also struck by how frequently even sympathetic white people erase blackness from Southernness. Like 90% of southern culture is due to black people except for the racism and social nights at Wal-Mart.
Yet when we talk about Southern attachment to the war, the descendants of over a third of those same Southerners are suddenly disappeared
It’s like the Great Migration and a whole lot of racism made black people (who again, are responsible for almost everything that makes the South interesting) a non-entity in the history we created
Black Southerners are probably not mourning the end of the Confederacy and dreaming of the glamour of an antebellum world though, so.....
Yes, Sherman’s March is being covered right now and it’s too beautiful for comment
All this Confederate failure is such a relief after so many episodes of watching them succeed because the Union was so incompetent.
It is always cathartic to watch Confederates fail and suffer.
This is like watching your team pile on right after they’ve put the game out of reach
Again, all of this is historic so I don’t feel too bad about celebrating
And watching these hypocritical assholes get theirs as their government built for maintaining slavery collapses in the face of their own evil and stupidity is sooooo perfect
When Senator Cobb says that if slaves can be good soldiers than the entire theory of slavery is wrong, I feel like saying
But think about how desperate and stupid these men are for actually putting together a black Confederate unit 😂
Lincoln’s second inaugural is the speech of a man who knows that he’s won the war but is reluctant to win the peace.
Booth is every guy who talks about Obama being “shoved down [their] throats” or yells at black athletes but couldn’t run a mile if they were spotted half the distance
At the end, the Confederates were using children for war, not dissimilar to the Nazis. There’s something about terrible causes that makes people sacrifice their youth to protect themselves 🤔
This whole experience reminds me so clearly why anyone who defends Confederate monuments should be punched in the throat
Violence is bad and doesn’t solve anything but also definitely solved the Confederacy?
There’s this incredible piece by TNC that outlines why the Civil War was not a tragedy and it is what comes to mind with this mournful tableau that the documentary lays out
I feel like they’re trying to make me feel some kind of sympathy for the South and white southerners who gambled their society on a war they couldn’t win because they might have to live with a federal government hostile to slavery
I do not sympathize. Their suffering brings me joy. I delight in the destruction of their blood-soaked society steeped in hypocrisy. To me, they didn’t suffer enough.
Because we’re still dealing with their butthurt descendants and their irrational, hypocritical, self-destructive anger about having to treat black people as equals
The framing isn’t letting me enjoy the surrender the way I would want, but I am almost on schadenfreude overload anyway
So much of this framing is about shifting away from the real horrors perpetrated under slavery to the personal feelings of white men and it is giving me Kavanaugh flashbacks
It’s all very “but we can all see each other as human” and I’m like: I have been excluded from this narrative
If Lee had gotten his way, my grandfather would have been born into slavery, and so would my father and so would I. There’s no comity or unity or understanding around that.
Lee was treated better for years long treason than any slave under his ownership for even minor mistakes. We talk a lot about equality in the positive sense, but it also the insulation from consequences that makes society unequal.
There’s another episode but I am going to stop here because frankly I don’t need to document the assassination of Lincoln and the reunification of the country under white supremacist patriarchy 🤷🏾‍♀️
It has been an absolute blast doing this even with all the interruptions. Sometimes this hellsite can be Not Terrible and I’m grateful to everyone for hanging out with me!
Have a good night or morning depending on your time zone, and remember: it is always good to hate Confederates and take joy in their suffering!
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