The stationing of National Guard troops in the Capitol building is a reminder of the arrival of the first Union soldiers to defend the city in 1861. One of them was Robert Gould Shaw, who arrived in late April 1861.

"That evening we marched up to the Capitol, and were...
...quartered in the House of Representatives, where we each have a desk, and easy-chair to sleep in, but generally prefer the floor and our blankets, as the last eight days' experience has accustomed us to hard beds. The Capitol is a magnificent building and the men all take...
...the greatest pains not to harm anything. Jeff Davis shan't get it without trouble. Troops from New England are quartered all over it, but we have the best place. [Shaw was serving in a NY unit at the time.]

We have a great deal of fun here, but I have no doubt we are...
...the best behaved Congress that has been in session for a good while, though we were waked up this morning by cockcrows, cats, dogs, and cows all howling together."

RGS to his mother, April 26, 1861
There may have been as many as 4,000 Union soldiers stationed in the Capitol by the end of April 1861. For the vast majority it was their first visit to Washington, D.C. and the Capitol.
New York Zouaves, under the command of Elmer Ellsworth, ripped up a desk of a Senate Democrat with their bayonets. They also rigged ropes from the cornice of the unfinished Dome for use as a swing. Other soldiers used both chambers to conduct mock debates.
One soldiers stationed in the Capitol wrote home: "There are 4000 [troops] in the Capitol with all their provision, ammunition and baggage, and the smell is awful. The building is like one grand water closet—every hole and corner is defiled...
... . . . . The stench is so terrible I have refused to take my office into the building. It is sad to see the defacement of the building every where."

Stands in sharp contrast w/the way National Guardsmen are experiencing the Capitol building today.
One final image. This plaque, located in the Capitol, lists the regiments that were quartered in the building. Keep in mind that the Sixth Massachusetts had already sustained casualties when it marched through secessionist friendly Baltimore on April 19, 1861.

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More from @KevinLevin

11 Oct 20
You are propagating a myth. The man on the right is Silas Chandler. He was enslaved to the man on the left until the end of the Civil War. Silas was present in the army as a camp slave and not as a soldier. The Confederacy did not recruit black soldiers.…
The only African Americans recruited occurred in the final weeks of the war in Richmond. A small number were housed in a prison and were never given weapons. They paraded a few times, but never saw the battlefield. The Confederacy was fighting to maintain slavery/white supremacy.
What we need to remember about Silas is that he SURVIVED slavery and a war to keep him and the rest of his family enslaved. After the war Silas went on to a successful career as a carpenter. His children and grandchildren became educators and doctors. History matters.
Read 5 tweets
1 Oct 20
In all of the recent analysis of Ken Burns's Civil War documentary no one has seriously delved into how it fits into the popular memory and the historiography of the late 1980s-early 90s. Whether it's time for a new documentary has little to do w/Burns…
No one who has offered an assessment of the series in recent months has addressed the question of why groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans rejected the series when it aired in 1898. They viewed it as a serious threat to their own understanding of the war.
Finally, we have seen plenty of really good Civil War/Reconstruction documentaries in recent years that indirectly challenge some of the narrative threads in Burns's series. What exactly are we talking about in these calls for a new Civil War documentary?
Read 4 tweets
26 Sep 20
All day today Civil War historians will take up positions at historic sites across the country to talk about the silences in our collective memory of this important history and on the physical landscape as well. Follow the hashtag #WeWantMoreHistory
@scotthancockOT looks like he is ready to stake out a spot on the Gettysburg battlefield. Stay safe, Scott and thank you for helping to make this day a reality.
@PeterCarmicha15 is heading over to a place that I know all too well. Have a great day, Pete. #wewantmorehistory
Read 15 tweets
18 Sep 20
One of things that upset me the most about today's #WhiteHouseHistory conference was Allen Guelzo's silence as his fellow panelists accused secondary school teachers of actively engaging in indoctrinating their students in radical left-wing ideology. This is utter nonsense.
And Guelzo knows better. How do I know this? To Professor Guelzo's credit throughout his career he has taken an interest in the professional development of history educators. For at least the past two decades he has hosted summer workshops at Gettysburg College and other...
institutions for history educators. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that he has worked with thousands of history educators over the course of his career. He has spent time with some of this nation's most passionate teachers, who have looked to him...
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep 20
It's the height of hypocrisy to hold a #WhiteHouseHistory conference and lambast the state of history education before President Donald Trump, who has displayed for the entire world to see his utter ignorance of history, speaks.
Left-wing radicals pulling down our cherished monuments just days after the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. #WhiteHouseHistory Image
I teach "Patriotic History" as well. I teach my students how to think for themselves? How to question and how to analyze sources to arrive at their own understanding of American history. #WhiteHouseHistory #historyteacher
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep 20
Anyone up for a drinking game this afternoon to help get through The White House Conference on American History?

You take a shot every time a presenter mentions the #1619Project.
History for this #WhiteHouseHistory panel seems to be not the critical analysis of primary sources and interpretation, but a static narrative that is spoon fed to students to ensure that they love their country.
It's pretty clear that this conference has very little to do with history. The Trump administration cares about history to the extent that control of the narrative legitimizes the extinguishing of political dissent.
Read 11 tweets

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