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This is part two of a five-part interview series with historian Greg Biggs. See part one.
CWG: question 3 – What kind of role(s) have you had – or still have – as it relates to Civil War organizations?
I have started or helped to start three Civil War Roundtables – two in Ohio where I used to live, and the one in Clarksville, TN where I currently live. My silly members keep electing me president every year too for some reason! I am also a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
CWG: question 4 – How or why will this book be unique in the Civil War literature?
Well, believe it or not, there just aren’t that many Civil War flag books out there that are based on serious research. There’s a few that are not worth the paper they are printed on in that there is little scholarship behind them and most simply repeat mythology without challenges to that. These are a waste of time basically. are woefully under-represented as well for whatever reason.
The late Howard Madaus began the serious work of studying Civil War flags in the 1970’s and led the way for people like me to follow. He was certainly my mentor and taught me a great deal about flags.
So we aim to have this book fill in a much needed hole in the study of the Civil War’s material culture side, which seems to be neglected as well at times. For whatever reason, academia does not like to deal with artifacts like weapons and flags and prefers to stay with paper documents, which is fine, as I use those as well. But these artifacts they ignore also have great stories to tell and help us understand the war as a whole. The book will be the joining of serious scholarship and examination of the artifacts involved and we hope this will give the reader a better understanding of the era.
Part two of five: The Civil War Gazette interview with historian and author Greg Biggs
The following images are all courtesy of the Tennessee State Museum.
CWG: Could you describe the project-book you’re working on? How did you come about deciding to write this book?
Well I fell into it actually and not by circumstances that I would choose. The former curator of the, Sheila Greene, passed away from cancer a few years ago. She was not only an outstanding curator but was also working on doing a flags book for the museum that is, and will be, encyclopedic in nature. The project sat dormant for a time until 2007 when thanks to a special appropriation from the state legislature, I was brought on board to complete the research and write it.
I had done some work with and for Sheila already and so was known to the museum while I was living in Ohio. It helped, I am sure, that I had moved to Nashville where the state museum is located.to about 50 miles from
Everyone who knew Sheila really misses her greatly.
CWG: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come about having such a strong interest in the Civil War?
I am a military historian with a wide-ranging interest that includes military flags of the 18th and 19th Century. I am also the son of a US Air Force officer which is were that interest started. I was into the Civil War as a kid but really got into it when as a 5th grader in a Chicago suburb a classmate brought a full Union sergeant’s uniform and equipment to Show and Tell. Her name was Elizabeth Bloss and she told the tale of her ancestor, Sgt. John Bloss, who lead the patrol that found wrapped around three cigars, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s operational plans for the 1862 . This, of course, led to the battles of South Mountain and Sharpsburg.
I suppose it was this direct connection of a classmate and her ancestor that really spurred me to getting into it a lot more than I already was.
Other than that I have lived across the country and even overseas and attended college in Florida and Texas with a journalism interest but got into business instead and all the while kept nurturing my love of history. I am very grateful to say that I get to lecture on the Civil War across the country to Civil War Roundtables and history groups and on topics that include flags, the Civil War in the Western Theater and some other things. I also just did my first Revolutionary War lecture this past weekend.
Part one of ten: The Civil War Gazette interview with historian and author Greg Biggs
Left to right, Eric J. Wittenburg, Brian Steel Wills, Myers Brown, and Greg Biggs.
Also: see this article from Civil War News
The following images are all courtesy of the Tennessee State Museum