Sanctified by War

A Tale of Two Silver Bowls

Sugar or sweetmeat bowl, "Presented to the cong: Beth Elohim By Josha Lazarus, AM 5601," by David Bell (active 1753–1779), London, ca. 1777, Silver, 6 × 4½ inches, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.

ACCESS PURCHASE
Students and scholars can access articles for free via Project Muse.

Sanctified by War

A Tale of Two Silver Bowls

by Dale Rosengarten
Southern Cultures, Vol. 23, No. 3: Things

“When the basket/bowl vanished, the loss was blamed, naturally, on General Sherman.”

This is the story of two silver bowls whose journeys since the decade of the American Civil War make interesting narratives in themselves because they follow closely what the late French historian Marc Bloch called “the vicissitudes of life.” The tale is one of return, and of loss averted, reassuring to white southerners, Christians and Jews alike, who felt the world as they knew it had vanished. The bowls became shining emblems of the Lost Cause, a quasi-religious fervor grounded in a fictional version of the past, disregarding the system of enslavement and terror that created antebellum wealth. Sanctified by war, the vessels ascended to the status of sacred relics.

RELATED CONTENT