A few days ago, I was working the desk at the Cold Harbor Visitor Center when a burly man with a goatee walked through the door. Approaching the desk, he told us in a thick southern accent that he was looking for an ancestor who had fought at Cold Harbor 150 years earlier. He believed his ancestor had been wounded and taken to a hospital in Richmond. He told us that several days earlier a ranger had assured him his ancestor would have been hauled into Richmond on a railroad, not a wagon, as he had previously feared. He was looking for confirmation of this. “I want to make sure that I can tell my mother that he didn’t suffer, that they didn’t haul him all the way in on a wagon,” he explained.
Dr Kathryn Shively Meier will be speaking at the 2014 Civil War Institute’s Summer Conference on the War in 1864 during which she will lead a session on Jubal Early’s 1864 Valley Campaign. She will also conduct a dine-in session on psychological warfare in the 1864 Overland Campaign. Her first book, Nature’s Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia , examines the relationship between soldiers and the environment in 1862 Virginia, with a focus on the Peninsula and the Shenandoah Valley. She is currently a Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University.
While a young student at the University of North Carolina, Iveson Brooks, an optimistic student of promise, wrote several speeches arguing that slavery was an impediment to the future. After graduating, he decided his best prospects following graduation lay in the Baptist ministry. By 1851, while his piety remained, Brooks’ antislavery had vanished, replaced by a deeply conservative outlook which held slavery as not merely essential to southern society, but as intended by God. In his pamphlet, A Defense of Southern Slavery against the Attacks of Henry Clay and Alexander Campbell, Brooks argued that slavery was not only allowed by the Bible, but was an integral part of Christianity “intended to exist until the Day of Judgment.” This passage, found in the Old Testament, was one of many instances in which Brooks read that the Bible implied that God desired a hierarchical society. Like many other southerners, Brooks argued that the curse laid upon God to the descendants of Ham, whose descendants were allegedly the people of Africa, sanctioned slavery along racial lines.