The Second Day

By Ian Isherwood ’00

Like yesterday, breakfast was a success. (The addition of bacon was a wise choice by the folks at Servo. The shredded cheese next to the scrambled eggs, perhaps, a stroke of genius.) Warmed with coffee and bacon, adorned all manner of Civil War related sartoria, our conference attendees packed the ballroom for the day’s work of understanding different angles on the war in 1864.

It is hard not to see the Gettysburg College Ballroom as one of the great fields of honor for Civil War historians. Here Civil Warriors introduce new ideas, revisit old interpretations, frolic in Clio’s fruitful orchard searching for the right ingredients for their ambrosia.

And today there was an intoxicating elixir concocted by our presenters. At the start was Keith Bohannon presenting on Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. With a military map towering over his head, Bohannon argued that Sherman’s great legacy was one of supply and maneuver and not battlefield success. The anxious general was a master logistician – one unmatched by his foes – and the Atlanta campaign demonstrates what a talented Civil War general could do with an army of high morale under him, political support above him, and the ability to resupply his army behind. Bohannon took a well-known story and gave it some analytical heft.

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The First (real) Day

By Ian Isherwood ’00

Our first full day of CWI 2014 began with a hearty breakfast at the college dining hall (Servo). Armies, they say, march on their stomachs (and whatnot), and our army of Civil Warriors received the necessary sustenance of made-to-order omelets and assorted cereals to confront the day’s historiography.

Well-breakfasted, the ballroom was packed full of attendees by 8:30, all carrying their travelers of coffee (or tea) and waiting for CWI Director Peter Carmichael to speak on Robert E. Lee’s elusive search for a battle of annihilation. With C-Span and PCN’s cameras filming, we began.

Carmichael emphasized that commanders in the Civil War made decisions based on many different factors, not all of them represented in the established historiography. A neglected factor by many historians is the culture of sensibility, a prominent part of the worldview of all Americans 150 years ago. Notions of sensibility shaped nineteenth century men like Lee, men who were concerned, at their core, with matters of honor. Lee’s sense of heroic masculinity, argued Carmichael, influenced his command decisions. Carmichael challenged us in a fundamental way: to understand the past we need to immerse ourselves in the way people felt about the choices they were making, and not just on the decisions they made (or didn’t).

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And we’re off

By Ian Isherwood ’00

The CWI Staff congregated at command central/swag center at 7:30 this morning to finalize the work we needed to do to make sure that every nametag was printed, every key and meal card allocated, every swag bag stacked behind our registration tables.

After months of preparation, The War in 1864 was taking shape, the ballroom practically crying for the attentions of our always captivated (and captivating) Civil Warriors.

However, one should not violate the essential secrecy of bureaucratic inner-workings, so the less said about our staff discussions over linen procurement and nametag sorting the better.

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Prelude: CWI 2014

By Ian Isherwood ’00

Tomorrow begins CWI 2014. The conference this year is on the war in 1864 and features a wide array of speakers. The program reflects an impressive assortment of historians covering enough topics to please just about everyone. This year there will be over 400 attendees and 38 speakers and guides.

The CWI staff has been busy this week preparing for so many civil warriors descending upon our normally quiet (at least in the summer) liberal arts college. Our staff has been going over guest lists, checking names off spreadsheets, answering phone and email inquiries, creating nametags, folding and refolding merchandise, stacking books and boxes, and making the college ballroom a welcome place for conference guests. This afternoon culminated in the assembly line creation of over 400 guest swag bags, a process that took five people 2.5 hours.

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When History Clicks: An Audio Interview with Kevin Levin

By Kevin Lavery ’16

Kevin Levin will be speaking at the 2014 Civil War Institute’s Summer Conference on the War in 1864. He will be conducting a lecture entitled, “The Battle of the Crater in Memory,” a Dine-in Discussion, and a breakout session, “Re-Thinking Confederate Defeat in the Summer of 1864.” Levin is a historian, blogger, and history educator. His book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder, was published in 2012 by the University Press of Kentucky. In anticipation of the Summer Institute, Kevin Levin answered student questions about teaching history and about the legacy of the Civil War.

Levin

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“The Battle of Cold Harbor & the Soldier’s Psyche”: An Interview with Ashley Luskey

By Emma Murphy ’15

Ashley Luskey will be speaking at the 2014 Civil War Institute’s Summer Conference on the War in 1864 during which she will give a lecture on Cold Harbor and its contested memory. Luskey is currently a Park Ranger at Richmond National Battlefield and is working towards her PhD in History at West Virginia University. In anticipation of the Summer Institute, Ashley Luskey answered student questions about her research, her lecture topic, and her connection with Gettysburg College and the Civil War Institute. Let’s see what she has in store for us this summer:

Luskey

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Commemoration, Past and Present: An Interview with Emmanuel Dabney in Three Parts, Part Three

By Val Merlina ’14

Emmanuel Dabney, one of the Civil War Institute Summer Conference speakers, is a park ranger at Petersburg National Battlefield. At the Summer Conference, “The War in 1864,” he will give a lecture titled, “Catching Us Like Sheep in a Slaughter Pen”: The United States Colored Troops at the Battle of the Crater. In anticipation of the Institute, Emmanuel Dabney answered questions on intepretation, Petersburg, and the future of the Civil War. This is the final installment in a three part series. Click to read part one and two.

Dabney

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Broadening the Narrative: An Interview with Emmanuel Dabney in Three Parts, Part Two

By Val Merlina ’14

Emmanuel Dabney, one of the Civil War Institute Summer Conference speakers, is a park ranger at Petersburg National Battlefield. At the Summer Conference, “The War in 1864,” he will give a lecture titled, “Catching Us Like Sheep in a Slaughter Pen”: The United States Colored Troops at the Battle of the Crater. In anticipation of the Institute, Emmanuel Dabney answered questions on intepretation, Petersburg, and the future of the Civil War. This is part two in a three part series. Click here to read part one.

Dabney

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Complicating History: An Interview with Emmanuel Dabney in Three Parts, Part One

By Val Merlina ’14

Emmanuel Dabney, one of the Civil War Institute Summer Conference speakers, is a park ranger at Petersburg National Battlefield. At the Summer Conference, “The War in 1864,” he will give a lecture titled, “Catching Us Like Sheep in a Slaughter Pen”: The United States Colored Troops at the Battle of the Crater. In anticipation of the Institute, Emmanuel Dabney answered questions on intepretation, Petersburg, and the future of the Civil War. His responses will be posted in a three-part series.

Dabney

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Spotsylvania Undercover: An Interview with Dr. Keith Bohannon

By Sarah Johnson ’15

Dr. Keith Bohannon, one of this summer’s Civil War Institute Conference speakers, is an Associate Professor dealing in the subjects of the American Civil War, Reconstruction, Southern U.S. History, and Georgia History at the University of West Georgia. During the upcoming Institute Conference, Dr. Bohannon will be speaking on Sherman and the Atlanta Campaign and giving the tour for the Wilderness & Spotsylvania battlefields. Let’s see what Dr. Bohannon has in store for us:

Keith Bohannon

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