Madelyn Omietanski

  • In my opinion, Beall was charged and executed for the wrong crime and should have been charged for treason along with is Confederate commanders.  On pages 40 – 41 of the memoir, it explains that Beall believed up […]

  • For the project, the items I am examining are slave narratives on website by several different slaves. This is one of my primary sources. These narratives show forth the knowledge of former slaves having […]

  • Thesis statement:  The ingenuity of the slaves and how they survived through the toughest of times during slavery proves that the culture has unbelievable endurance.

    What I have learned about writing a diary […]

    • I find it fascinating what you discovered about owners saying that they enslaved people to “help” them but then how some people used that as an excuse. I wonder how historians are able to confirm ulterior motives and private opinions, not just in this instance but any. Even with diaries or personal interviews, one would never know if people are holding things back or improperly recalling their past thoughts. Looking at a diary is fascinating! Will you try to make any correlations between Anne Frank’s diary?

      • It is my attention to mention it since all of this was occurring at the same time. The only way that I can think of that the historians are able to confirm motives and private opinions is from an arrangements of sources like court documents or a collection of data from reliable sources.

    • As someone who has extensively studied slave life for my senior thesis, I completely agree when you say the culture of slaves is unbelievable endurance. I believe that the life of a slave is one of insurmountable resilience. I suggest you look into a novel called Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackmon for a potential conclusion to depict how African Americans have continued to fight even after the Civil War during a period referred to as Neo-Slavery. This book also has a PBS special based off of it and an NPR cast from the MSU library. I highly recommend it.

      • Thanks for the recommendation Joe and I will most certainly look up the information that you so kindly provided. I love PBS and NPR. Thanks again!

    • I like what you said about endurance within the culture. I never really thought of their resilience as endurance but you are absolutely right. The culture has shown so much endurance and stamina in times when most would’ve broken down and given up. Using diaries in your research gives it such a candid viewpoint, which I really like.

      • Thanks Naomi. I had thought about it quite a bit since there seems to be a correlation between what happen during slavery and what the new generations are experiencing health wise today.

    • I loved the findings that you have emphasized on as important to your point! I think the parts about female spies and the women’s role in plans of escape are very interesting and unique. Because of these findings, you could specify your thesis a bi more and speak to the role that women played in the war and in slavery. Perhaps the skill demonstrated by figures assumed to be completely powerless, black slave women, would be a good way to go. Your thesis is good, but it is a little general and could be better if you were to strip away the obvious and focus on a point that would really show the difference of your thesis from a general observation.

      • I would agree with you that I need to narrow down my thesis. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  • Assignment 4 Tracking a Commander’s Subordinate by Mapping

    US Army Commanding Army of the Tennessee:  Maj. Ulysses S. Grant

                           Grant                           […]


    For my final project I have decided to focus on the preservation of historically significant Civil War sites. It’s not hard to imagine that since the civil war our nation has continued to advance and in […]

    • One thing that I think would be beneficial to include is what preserving war sights means for the land, what do they put on the land? is their a memorial? would people be able to visit the land? etc.

    • Do you have an thoughts as to why there are many more Confederate memorial sites than there are Union memorial sites?

    • Really interesting to note that many nonprofits are the leading source of funding for these sites.

    • As someone who has visited a number of Civil War battlefields, this is a very interesting topic to me personally. I hope that we as a nation do everything in our power to preserve as many sites as we can. It’s important to be reminded how fragile our democracy is, and the steep cost of allowing it to fall apart.

    • As this country gets more crowded I always wonder how long land preservation will last. I’ve seen debate over national forests, wouldn’t be surprised if historical sites are in danger too.

    • This is a very interesting topic. I like that you’re focusing on what exactly deems a civil war site worthy of saving. Preservation of geologically historical sites is essential to the study of societies and cultures and I think it’s very important that we make this a priority as our population expands.

    • That is a very interesting topic. I think what I find most interesting is the process in which the maps have been labeled as areas having historic significance. That really is quite insightful into just how much land was used during the war. My advice to you would be to fine tune your thesis into something a little more applicable by your sources alone. While the preservation of land is of course an important area, perhaps your thesis should focus more so on the land that was prioritized back then and why it was important. Sometimes the most important pieces of land are probably nothing now. That could be an interesting area to look into more.

  • When considering the technologies of the war, I do not plan to explore simply the positive and negative effects of the railroad, rifles, and ironclads. I want to reveal the behind-the-scenes of technology- how the […]

    • I find this to be quite a fitting option for the times. In a world of industrial innovation and evolution on the rise, I think that this is quite a fantastic research topic. It’s astonishing to hear how easily engineers were replaced and I would like to hear a little bit more about the qualifications.

  • Source 1: Secondary

    “John Ericsson.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 5, Gale, 2004, pp. 307-308. Gale Virtual Reference L […]

  • While doing research regarding the economic effects of the Civil war on both the north and south I found that both parts of the country were profoundly affected and that the Civil war essentially defined the […]

    • In my common sense about the impact of the wars, especailly the Civial War, no matter the infrastructural damage or the national debt, the ripple effects for the economy was obviously. Economy reconstruction could also be an important issue faced by the country. But actually, destruction is alwasy accompany with reborn. Big changes can also bring big chances for the nation. The differences can also be an angle to see the impact on the econimic issues which brought from the war.

    • I had never realized quite how expensive the war was when initially learning about it. Its truly astounding to think about how much of a debt that was especially in comparison to what things cost in todays times. The American Dollar almost had a different value back then because prices were so much lower so I think it would be very interesting to try and discover that if the Civil War had been fought exactly the same but today how much it would cost. It also would be really interesting to discuss some exact correlations between economic trends today that spiral from the economy of America post Civil War.

    • I hadn’t known before reading this that the Union soldiers received pensions but the Southern soldiers did not. This makes sense because they were the enemy, but it is not always a good idea to create such high tensions between the winning side and the losing side. This happened after WWI and led to WWII, thankfully we didn’t have a second civil war, but the sides of the country still have a divide even today.

    • Learning about economic changes brought about by the civil war that you motioned was very interesting. I did not know the impact the civil war had on how taxes where levied and who they were levied on. I found this to be very insightful in helping understand why things are the way they are today. If only our debt was 2.7 billion today…

  • Thesis:

    Food is a component of our everyday lives and is something that is thought about often, but when it comes to the American Civil War, the conflict of slavery between the north and the south overshadows […]

    • One of your findings was that Southerners wrote a lot about the food they ate. This is interesting because in the letters that union soldiers wrote home they would often describe the meals they ate to their family and ask if they could send additional food. There were food shortages in the north and south however I don’t think it was as much of a problem in the north as it was in the south.

    • I think this is such an interesting and abstract topic and I learned so much from just reading your post alone. I think its interesting how food was such an important issue to people despite the large issue of the war going on. Something so basic and common as food isn’t commonly considered to be so important but clearly it was a huge topic to the people living during this time.

  • I followed the battle path of Colonel Abraham Hare of the USA. I could track the path of Hare from his detailed descriptions: The South pursues the Union, the North withstands continuous attack until ammunition […]

    • Similar to you, I found the primary maps to be very useful in finding the specific landmarks mentioned in the reports. As time passes names change as well as the landscape making newer maps somewhat harder to follow when going off a first hand report written freshly after the battle took place.

    • I thought what you said about gathering more information was interesting- more contradictions. There are so many different ways to tell the same story. I agree with you in that it would create difficulties for historians to gather accurate information.

    • Originally, in my blog post, I wrote that having more reports to read would be better to confirm what another report was saying, but I think you have a point that this could lead to more difficulties in tracking a unit. Even if one report contradicts another, it is hard to know which is the true account, especially when you take in factors like the condition of the solider writing the report or how long after the battle the report was written.

    • I fully agree with your historical statement. With differing narratives within various infantries and maps not always following a single narrative as well, it is difficult to determine exactly what the “right answer” may be. This is why I find history to be more subjective rather than objective due to the fact that there are so many resources that can build upon how we view history.

    • In your post, I think you made a very good statement that different narratives can tell different stories on the same thing. The reason is that they add some personal or subjective feelings towards the same story. Therefore, we may read different stories on the same fact. It is very difficult for us to determine who told the truth or whose stories are the most close to the truth.

    • I think your point about how having more sources can actually lead to discrepancies is very interesting. It is often assumed that the more information we know about a topic the better but in a case like the one you suggested it would in fact hinder historians work. The physical or mental state of whoever is reporting the event is also a very important consideration.

  • Following the Brigade of General T. Shermann in the Battle of Shiloh was interesting and challenging. Trying to correspond the entries with the maps did not always make sense or follow a cohesive line. First of […]

    • It’s interesting how specific some reports were compared to others. The colonel I followed scarcely mentioned landmarks, whereas yours seemed to be all about it. I can imagine it being difficult as a historian to have such varied details in the reports. It’s neat that with the topographical information you were able to understand why certain retreats and surprise attacks were possible.

    • I too am directionally challenged so it was difficult for me to follow the primary source maps. The handwriting was hard to read, and for some there was no legend to reference. I found that the secondary maps were much more detailed, and easier to follow.

    • After reading your post, I think being a historian is a very difficult position. There are a lot of material which are used to depict an event. Different material show different details. Reading those different details provide historians different understanding towards the same event.

    • I was surprised to discover that I too thought the primary sources were pretty useless when it came to tracking any certain group. This was opposite from what I assumed would be true because I thought that the primary sources would be much more accurate and comprehensive. I agree that the secondary sources were much more beneficial and provided a much clearer way to track movements.

  • For this assignment I chose to follow the movements of Maj. Gen. John A. McClerand, U.S. Army, commanding First Division. In Reading Major McClerand’s report on the Battle of Shiloh I quickly discovered the g […]

    • I agree that the hardest part of research is cross-referencing the primary sources, especially if they are conflicting. At that point, I think even more primary sources need to be examined, but it could be easy to lose yourself in that. However, that’s where new conclusions come from. Without exploring more primary sources, we could be working from history that is slanted, cursory or limited in scope.

    • I would agree that the best way to get the most accurate picture of the battle is through cross referencing a great deal of primary sources from both sides. I found that when going through several reports there were many cases of the soldiers exaggerating the cowardice of the enemy or their own valor. History is written my the victors and I feel that is the case when looking through these reports, depending on which side you read the battle seems to have transpired in two different ways.

    • I really enjoyed your analysis on how the comparison of the plethora of maps would be difficult to compare because of who is interpreting the resources and providing a layout because I do agree that it is all about perception.

    • I agree that cross-referencing can be a difficult aspect of analysis when approaching primary sources. The positionality changes with each individual and – with each – the bias of the author can bring forth a different approach. It is up to historians to take the resources handed to them and determine the accepted narrative based on the most consistent information found.

    • I agree with you that recreating and mapping the events is a great challenge. As different people writing reports and making maps, it does hardly to match all the informations for historians . I believe different map makers would mark more information about the battlefield landscapes of the battles they involved. Which may not be a helpful tool to match another report which is not happened in this area.

  • I chose to track the movement of Brigadier General James R. Chalmers of the Confederate States Army, commanding the second brigade. Due to Chalmers mentioning his position to the right of Brigadier General Gladden […]

    • Interesting to follow a Confederate general. It may have been because I wasn’t looking for them, but it seemed most of the maps followed Union movements better than the Rebels. I also found the primary maps to be better laid-out than secondary ones, probably because of first-hand experience and orders as well as cross-referencing reports after the fact.

    • I too thought that the biggest challenge historians face when trying to piece together each hand written account was the bias. There are many different ways to tell the same story, and some may have been fabricated. It’s difficult to decipher what actually happened when each side is telling a slightly different story.

    • I completely agree that bias is the biggest obstacle in determining the accuracy of a report. Each officer, both North and South, is most likely to give an account of events that paints themselves and their unit in the best possible light. I think this is why official reports between officers so often conflicts in major battles (something which lead to many spats among fellow officers during the war).

    • In regards to bias’s, I am not particularly sure that I see that in the reports, but I see some of that in the maps. For example, the report given by Braxton Bragg was very humbled and slightly over-exaggerated casualties to show the severity of the en devour. As for one of the primary maps, however, I saw someone put far more Confederate troops surrounding the entirety of the Union army organized in a way that does not follow any other report I had read.

    • That’s awesome that Brigadier General Chalmers mentioned he was near Brigadier General Chalmers so that you were easily able to identify the starting position of the unit. For me the hardest part of the activity was pinpointing exactly where the starting point of my unit was. If I would’ve had something like this in my battle report it really would’ve helped me out!

  • The commander that I choose to track was Col. C. Carroll Marsh of the twentieth Illinois Infantry. From the maps, I think I was able to get a general sense of where the unit was on the battlefield, but the more […]

    • I had the same sort of back and forth movement in the report I chose as well. I think that when historians are building these videos and collective documents, they chose to do net movement of battles because it’s more concise and mitigates confusion.

    • I think you point out an important idea that forward and backward depend on the perspective of the unit. In the report I read I assumed backwards a mile meant they retreated a mile towards the landing. I hadn’t thought that from their orientation backwards might not be the same as what I thought it was.

    • I think that the fact your general gave landmarks to show location was really beneficial for not only you for this assignment but for historians. My general also stated which other infantries his was next to or around but unlike yours did not provide landmarks to show where they were so I had a hard time placing him on a map.

    • I agree with your idea to look to surrounding units to see if that helps clarify the movement of another troop or brigade. I think it would be very interesting to see whether or not doing so supports or negates facts given by other commanders. I also ran into the same problem as you did in the Trust video as it didn’t depict as much of the side to side movements and backtracking that the primary accounts did.

  • I am interested in exploring family histories of slaves from the Civil War. I think this would be an interesting topic because we have a lot of preconceived notions about family life for slaves and how that has […]

  • For this project I’m leaning towards using one of the “Civil War Then and Now” photos off of The Center for Civil War Photography website as my “object”. More specifically I think I’m going to use the GETTYSBURG: […]


    The Monitor was lighter and faster than the Merrimack due to the genius of Ericsson. While in battle, the Monitor’s technologies enabled its captains to out maneuver and surprise enemy ships. The battle of th […]

  • The object I chose was the diary of John S. Jackman. Jackman enlisted in the First Kentucky Brigade of the Confederate Army of Tennesee. He was well educated compared to the majority of his peers and as a result […]

  • I would like to focus my final project on recipes in the south before and how they changed during the civil war. Looking at the change in recipes could reveal information on the struggles the Confederacy faced and […]

  • Part 1

    Disclosure:  My responses are from a direct account of my grandfather who remembered vividly having to call a man “Massa” on a plantation as a young boy.  My beloved granddad, rest his soul, gave our f […]

    • I found that by adding comparisons from your grandfathers personal recollections you were able to give your post extra weight. That personal level that you were able to achieve by doing this really held my attention and made me wish that I could have heard some of his stories. Great job.

    • In one of the accounts I read, the woman being interviewed left her former owners, but her parents did not because they saw themselves as being needed by the white couple that had previously owned them. I was shocked by that and I don’t blame you for being shocked by the way that the slaves in your account viewed themselves as part of the family and were willing to be on the plantation even after gaining freedom.

    • I thought what you said about religion was interesting. It was always my understanding that a large majority of slaves practiced religion because they needed something bring hope and faith. What you mentioned about some slaves not believing in religion because of the atrocities being committed against them makes so much sense. Before this assignment, I never even thought about that.

    • Lisa,
      Wow! It is wonderful that you got to know your grandfather so well, and he was able to share such rich commentary on such an important time in history. You are very lucky, as I am sure you know, to have had that in your life. Clearly, you knew a lot about slavery going into this assignment. However, your remarks about still learning a lot goes to show how much information there is on the subject and how differentiated each individual’s experience was.

    • Thank you for sharing the information about your grandfather. I am sure he had some very insightful and fascinating stories to share about his experiences growing up and working on a plantation in Mississippi. Those type of first hand accounts are always the most interesting. I too was surprised that the many slaves, once freed, chose to stay on the plantations that enslaved them. I naively assumed that they would embrace their freedom and either head north or farm for themselves but this assignment helped me to understand just how difficult it must have been for former slaves to overcome the mental and physical oppression they suffered.

    • Thank you for sharing the information about your grandfather. I am sure he had some very insightful and fascinating stories to tell about his experiences growing up and working on a plantation in Mississippi. Those types of first hand accounts are always the most interesting. I too was surprised that many slaves, once freed, chose to stay on the plantations that enslaved them. I naively assumed that they would embrace their freedom and either head north or farm for themselves but this assignment helped me to understand just how difficult it must have been for former slaves to overcome the mental and physical oppression they suffered.

    • I really enjoyed reading this and was pleasantly surprised that you had direct information, which correlates well to my perspectives of slavery and the ways in which slaves were treated. It shocks me as well as how deeply conditioned some of the slaves were, to a point where they almost worshiped the slave masters and white people.

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