Buckhout Writer

My Life in the Civil War — A Memoir, of Sorts

I have been fascinated with the American Civil War my entire life. I cannot point to any single reason why this is so. I was not raised on stories of distant ancestors wading with honor through the carnage. There is no familial connection to speak of, really. I am not driven by ideological fervor or the arcane sectional sparring that lingers, most of these spats a waste of time that pick over settled historical fact and adds little to my exploration. There is no single thing I can point to as a root inspiration. There is only the visceral, often mystical reverberations of a long ago cataclysm flooding over me when I stand on the lands where it all went down.

This is not your typical Civil War history project. It will run out fine-detail on battles and campaigns and the profiles of those who fought. It must. But ultimately, this is not a history of that war’s battles and campaigns. It is about specific scenes and the people embedded within those scenes whose settings and actions form the taut tethering cables of transcendent themes, themes that have come to define the war in my eyes. For this is ultimately a personal story. It traces a lifetime spent wrangling and digesting history as something more than a staid collection of dusty old facts and artifacts. It tracks my coming to see history as a conscious entity charging the present atmosphere, of my getting wise to it being a most trusted guide clarifying the world as it is, verifying the continuum that ferried us all to this point, and lighting up my fit-filled attempts to quantify the larger ideas and ideals embedded within.

This is a documentary project that will parse the mysterious life-long fascination of living a life dominated by a subject. Regardless of setting, the American Civil War, in all of its myriad threads, is with me all of the time. That is odd, that is fascinating, and that is this story. This is a history project leavened with the backstory of my making sense of it all and slowly, swing-by-swing, forging the presentation of an overdone topic at an angle no one else could: my own often crackling life experience within the resonant energy of Civil War lands.