Gen. George H. Thomas, who fought for the Union army during the Civil War, stands in uniform for a photo.
Heritage Images/ Hulton ArchiveAs Southern states tear down Confederate statues and the military removes the names of Confederate generals from bases, the issue of how to remember the Civil War is increasingly prominent.

Are white Southerners condemned to think of themselves as the bad guys, the ones who were willing to destroy the Union to preserve slavery? Or are there other types of heritage in which they can take pride?

Growing up in Virginia in the 1970s, I was taught that Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were heroes who fought to defend their native state from Northern aggression.

As an adult, I read more widely about the Civil War and became fascinated with Union Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, who grew up in Virginia but

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