Sunday, October 23, 2005

Historical Methods and Interpretations

Dr. Vess' class last Tuesday night on "internet historical research" was a revelation to me! Here is why: have you seen the movie "Cold Mountain" starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law? The opening scene in the movie depicts "The Batttle of the Crater" in July of 1864 during the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. When I first saw the movie, it struck a strong personal note with me. When I was growing up, I had heard numerous family stories about my Great Grandfather, Charles M. Sanders, who as an 18 year old Confederate soldier fought in that battle and was severely wounded.

In the movie, Jude Law's character deserts from the Confederate army following that battle to go home. In real life, Great Grandpa Sanders recovered from his wounds and remained in Lee's army until the surrender at Appomattox. Way back in 1973 I was one of sevral individuals that decided that it was time to "re-activate" the old 3rd Georgia and apply for membership in the North-South Skirmish Association. The N-SSA requires units applying for membership to submit a history of the original Civil War regiment and also documentation of the uniforms worn by the members of the original unit. So I started researching the history and uniform of the 3rd Georgia. Over the years I dug up a lot of information about the original 3rd Georgia, but not enough to publish a regimental history. Then in 1998 I ran acoss a 3rd Georgia website run by Don Worth at UCLA in California. The California 3rd Georgia is a re-enactment unit that does "Living History" at Fort Tejon State Park in California. So, I sent Mr. Worth much of the information I had found on the 3rd Georgia and he posted it on the website. That started a trend, because other researchers (including many descendents of the original veterans of the 3rd Georgia) sent in their information and over the years the website has grown tremendously and won several awards: all thanks to the interest and hard work of Mr. Don Worth.

The 3rd Georgia website has become an "online community" for everyone interested in the original 3rd Georgia: re-enactors, skirmishers, historians, and descendents of the regiment's veterans! Until Dr. Vess' class Tuesday night, I had never realized how valuable the internet has become as a historical resource, even though I had been involved with the 3rd Georgia website for years! So check out the 3rd Georgia website:

P.S. Note the picture of the three members on the original 3rd Georgia. Note that the two soldiers on the left are holding U.S. Model 1842, .69 caliber, smoothbore muskets taken from the U.S. Arsenal At Augusta that was seized by the state in 1861( I verified that information in a state ordnance letter book I found in the Georgia Archives). The soldier on the far right is holding what appears to be a 2nd Model. .577 caliber, British Enfield Rifle-Musket. Eventually, the entire 3rd Georgia was re-equipped with Enfields. What is yet to be determined was IF that Enfield was one of the arms that was involved in that political clash between Georgia and New York as written up in the current issue of the Georgia Historical Quarterly OR if the regiment was re-equipped with Enfields that came into Savannah harbor aboard the blockade runner, "Finigal". Only additionl research will answer that question.


At 12:51 AM, Blogger Ansley said...

Brannen, I checked out the site and I too am amazed at all the research opportunity that is available on the Internet. I agree with you, Colin, that researchers today have a greater responsibility when researching because of the availability and amount of information that is viewable on the Internet. It's much easier to see so much material without having to travel to see it. However, the older methods of research should forever be remembered and respected because those were efficient and accurate in their own ways as well. Also, we must appreciate the greater distance that others have taken in order to produce scholarly work, and we should take advantage of the many windows of opportunity that we have because of computers and the net. I thoroughly enjoyed last week's class and discovered so many websites that I wasn't aware of. Those sites should be extremely handy when researching AND lots of fun to browse for general interest.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Dr. Deborah Vess said...

We need to remember the "older methods of research", because the digital collections only go back so many years -- usually not beofre 1980. So, there is still a need for libraries.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Lindsay said...

I really enjoyed researching the Medieval Sourcebook for TUesday Night's class. It was so well organized that any one could navigate the site easily. I also thought that it was an interseting site not only for researchers but for anyone interested in Medieval History. I like how the main page had links dealing with Multimedia sources for supplemental research. The sources included Maps and IMages, Medieval Films and Medieval Music. ANother helpful aspect of the site was the contect limked from the main page dealing with Internet History sourcebooks information. The section included links to courses using the Medieval Sourcebook, newly translated sources and how to cite internet and world wide web sources. Other helpful links from the site were links to other internet source books dealing with other aspects of history. There were links to the ANcient HIstory, Modern History, African , East Asian, Indain, Islamic, Jewish, WOmen's, and Global History sourcebooks. So basically this site or any of the links contained within the site can be extremely helpful to researchers or people just generally interested in history.


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