Where the woods, like banners bending,
Drooped in starlight and in gloom,
There, when that sad night was ending,
And the faint, far dawn was blending
With the stars now fast descending;
There they mute and mournful bore him,
With the stars and shadows o’er him,
And they laid him down — so tender —
And the next day’s sun, in splendor,
Flashed above my brother’s tomb.
Abram Joseph Ryan-excerpt from the poem Memorian
The Civil War has always been a passion for me. My interest began as a kid, and was cemented by Ken Burns documentary being released when I was 12. It shaped my love of history, guided me into degrees in history and anthropology, and ultimately into the field of archaeology. Growing up in the South, you are confronted with the imagery of the conflict on a daily basis. Without fail, every town has a monument dedicated to their fallen. It is a subject that permeates the region. The Lost Cause is a powerful term that has been ingrained into the identity of the South. Recently, I have been researching the creation of this mysticism of the war and it has truly fascinated me. The political, socio-economical, and very passionate religious factors that played a role in its creation are so complex. With the passing of time, the Southerners who fought in it have been turned into Crusading Confederate Christians. And down here, the Yankees are damned. Dealing with defeat creates the need for a culture to save itself, to reconcile their failing. This is usually done with religion, the one thing the majority of people turn to in times of need. A religion of the Lost Cause was born and took hold, growing over the years to form the basis of the Southern myth. I am starting this series of photographs to acknowledge to sacrifices of the soldiers who fought in the conflict, North and South, and to portray the reality of the romanticism that has taken hold of my region. The South is special, but I am biased because I am a Southern. My conciseness of the South is shaped by the myth, its existence inspires my photography. We are all a product of forces that have come before us. I accept that and am thankful for it.