American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Scott Reynolds Nelson: Civil War Myths and Misinformation

Published November 24, 2011

Scott Reynolds Nelson, William and Mary College
Civil War @ 150: Civil War Myths and Misinformation
CUNY Graduate Center
April 5, 2011

In his 18 minute talk, Scott Reynolds Nelson contrasts three common images or notions from the Civil War with lesser known aspects that prevailed in the nineteenth century. While Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party are generally perceived as do-gooders, Nelson describes the paramilitary Wide Awake Clubs within the Party that Southerners feared as a potentially invading army. Battle scenes are common in popular culture representations of the war, but how the Civil War changed the food industry with the rise of modern canned, branded-name foods sold in the military camps is little explored.  Finally, Nelson discusses the importance of California and the transcontinental railroad to both sides of the war. This talk was part of the public seminar: Civil War Myths and Misinformation.

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