Skip to comments.Shelby Foote Buried Near Civil War Dead
Posted on 07/01/2005 11:47:34 AM PDT by Borges
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Historian Shelby Foote was buried Thursday under a huge magnolia tree near the graves of Civil War combatants whose exploits he chronicled in one of the best-known books about the conflict.
Following a graveside service kept brief according to his wishes, Foote was buried on a tree-covered hill in Elmwood Cemetery, one of the South's most historic graveyards and the burial ground for more than 1,000 Civil War soldiers, including 22 generals.
"His wife told me he didn't want anything that even came close to a eulogy," said the Rev. John Sewell, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church of Memphis. "He didn't want a lot of people standing around praying and talking about what a wonderful man he was."
Foote, 88, died at a Memphis hospital Monday night.
His three-volume history, "The Civil War: A Narrative," provided the main research for an 11-hour PBS documentary on the war that first aired in 1990, and Foote's appearance in the series made him a national figure.
Foote, a native of Mississippi and longtime Memphis resident, also wrote six novels, all set in the South. But it was the Civil War history for which he likely will be most remembered.
His soft Southern drawl, passion for storytelling and gentlemanly manner made Foote an instant hit after documentary maker Ken Burns picked him to be the leading historian on "The Civil War."
Foote's grave is beside the family plot of former Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the war's most celebrated, and sometimes reviled, commanders. Forrest was buried at Elmwood in 1877, but his remains were moved in 1904 to a city park that bears his name.
Though a native Southerner, Foote was no apologist for the South or champion for the Southern cause in his novels or history.
"We're all glad secession didn't work," he once said in an interview.
The service for Foote drew several rangers from Shiloh National Military Park near the Tennessee River. Foote often visited Shiloh, the scene of some of the Civil War's most vicious fighting and one of his favorite battlefields.
Stacy Allen, Shiloh's chief historian, said park flags were lowered to half-staff in Foote's honor.
"He had a deep place in his heart for Shiloh, and he wrote one of the most readable and emotional histories of the Civil War," Allen said.
R.I.P., good man.
May he rest in peace.
A great writer and historian. He wrote his own eulogy. RIP.
</font>Writing from Memphis, he will be missed.
Always thought these two could've been related.
Shelby Foote has a deep place in my heart; his words and his voice gave clarity that was seldom if ever equaled. A rare historian indeed.
They don't make them like him anymore. The ultimate historian with great research AND presentation.
A Fine Gentleman and a great author.
His work ranks as truly great American History.
YET another GREAT Mississippian Ping !!
He had one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. How I loved him in Ken Burns series on the Civil War!
They're dead Jim.
"Foote often visited Shiloh, the scene of some of the Civil War's most vicious fighting"
my great granddaddy was there at Shiloh ,
he survived , God bless him....
I had no idea he passed away...we've lost a fine one...
I wasn't *about* to go there.
Shelby Dade Foote Jr.
Gwyn Foote (1956 - 27 June 2005) (his death)
? (1948 - 1952) 1 child
Tess Lavery (1944 - 1946)
Historian and author. His 3-volume set "The Civil War: A Narrative" is one of the standard reference works on the subject.
He joined the Mississippi National Guard as a protest to Hitler's war. His writings were interrupted when the guard was mobilized by draft in the year 1940. By 1942, Foote was commissioned and promoted to Captain. However, while at a base in Northern Ireland, Shelby was accused of insubordination because he was in Belfast without leave, visiting the Irish girl whom he later married. In 1944, Shelby Foote was court martialed and dismissed from the service.
Foote remained relatively unknown before his role in Ken Burns' "The Civil War", a PBS documentary series first broadcast in 1990 which made him a cultural icon. Since that event, Foote has become widely viewed as an authority on the Civil War, and more generally, as a representative of an era and region whose place continues to be central to our country's understanding of itself.
He has been awarded three Guggenheim fellowships.
Attended the University of North Carolina from 1935 to 1937.
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, Vol. 131, pages 159-162. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.
After being discharged from the Army during World War II, he joined the Marines. He never saw combat.
"Picking any one moment or place is a romantic approach to history that I'm uneasy about. Singling out any one event from history as all-important. Every event is led up to by so many others, small and large. Besides, what you think about and where you'd want to go keeps changing."
"Right now I'm thinking a good deal about emancipation. One of our sins was slavery. Another was emancipation. It's a paradox. In theory, emancipation was one of the glories of our democracy-and it was. But the way it was done led to tragedy. Turning four million people loose with no jobs or trades or learning. And then, in 1877, for a few electoral votes, just abandoning them entirely. A huge amount of pain and trouble resulted. Everybody in America is still paying for it."
"It would be nice to talk to Lincoln. He'd really talk to you. Maybe run circles around you. Not like others who you figure would be mostly rhetoric."
"History is a pretty wretched subject to study in school. As I remember it, it was terrible. They required me to memorize so many things. There was a Treaty of Utrecht, and it has thirteen steps. I don't know one of those steps. But it had thirteen."
"Plot makes a story move under its own power. And to neglect plotting as a device of history is a serious mistake. Among American historians, probably my favorite is Francis Parkman. Parkman's a wonderful historian. I had not read him until late in life to realize how good he was."
"People want to know why the South is so interested in the Civil War. I had maybe, it's a rough guess, about fifty fistfights in my life. Out of those fifty fistfights, the ones that I had the most vivid memory of were the ones I lost. I think that's one reason why the South remembers the war more than the North does."
The Marines had a great time with me. They said if you used to be a captain, you might make a pretty good Marine.
Where are they now
(2001) Still writing in Greenville, Mississippi.
If you can find a good picture of DeForest Kelley in the role of a Confederate officer he played in the movie "Raintree County" the resemblance is even more striking.
"D***it Jim, I'm a doctor, not a historian!"
Close as I could get.
I try to live my life in such a manner that I don't stress over such things.