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tv   [untitled]    June 24, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EDT

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everything wasoing to be stopped. so it felt like you were in a junior high food fight. so my whole thing was, oka we'll get some democrats together and we'll get out there everda awe'l pnd away. and i put these breakfasts together wit some friends, and there would be six of us that d try to think of the ng and we missionhe day and go at it. we took on newt, we took on all sorts of things. and at the end of six months, we were still the same six because most of the democrats were, oh, as a w flu. we'll back. and i'm like, these people are going to be out of power for at least ten years and i'm not going to stand here being in this junior high lunchroom throwing food at each other every day. enough. i don't need this. and i was 55 and decided that if i didn't leave there, i was going to be too old to leave because i wouldn't be able to do anything else, really. and i just didn't want to spend my life in that environment. and then, of course, came tom
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delay who made newt gingrich look sweet and lovely. and sadly, that's where it all went. the democrats really were very slow in getting the message and not getting their message back out and they lost a whole lot of ground in those ten years and it's really too bad. they're really saying, we're le t nice people and peop don't understand we'll be back. it was a long way in the wilderness. thank you. >> thank you very much. this week on "the civil war" the final session from a conference organized by the virginia civil war sesquicentennial commission. the theme of this year's gathering was leadership and generalship in the civil war. and the virginia military institute in lexington, virginia hosted the conference. university of virginia history professor gary gallagher gave this year's closing remarks in which he spoke about the significance of studying military history.
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this is about 40 minutes. >> it's a very great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to introduce to you gary gallagher. i want to say to you that the topic of his talk there about the importance of studying military history goes back to the beginning of our foundation for this conference. about three years ago jim mcpherson was in lexington and i chatted with him about how we should develop this whole thing. he proposed the idea of studying or advancing the theme, overarching theme of the principles of effective command. we seized on that. he later declined to participate, but we have kind of kept that in our pocket, so to speak, as an overarching theme. gary gallagher, when we went to seduce him, so to speak, to come to this conference and give wrap-up talk, he immediately seized on the topic of the ance of studying military history. and we have look forward to
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this day for quite a long while, not onlyhat's gone before, but this ultimate triumph that we think that gary is going to deliver to us today. you all, i'm sure, as serious scholars and buffs know exactly who he is. he's been advancing, by the way, to virginia from a long way off. he started in california, and he went to school in colorado and went to school in texas, and he taught in pennsylvania. but in 1998 he wound up at uva. and there he is the john nau professor of history of the american civil war. he is the author of or editor of 30 published volumes and he's active not only in the publishing field, but active in the preservation field. e talk about the
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civil war and what's to be gone next, theyften say what es gallagher sa itreat pleasurfome to give you garaghey gall hach. i'm delighted to be here. the lae s in lexington to give a talk at vmi, this building didn't exist and it wasn't that long ago. this is a very beautiful building. i lookt the program just d myseday again to reminlf what it was. i really knew what it was. but it's on leadership. so i wore my winfield scott tie. i didn't see a lecture on winfield scott scee's one of the five grtest soldiers in united states history, i thought i would wear this. dick summers who works up at carlisle gave it to me and i treasure it. that's the end of that. i'm going to talk about why i
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think military history is important. i realize i'm preaching to the choir here. i suspect most of you probably think military history is important or you wouldn't be here this afternoon unless you are just lost and too embarrassed to admit it. that's going to be our theme. i'll star on march 4, 1865, when abraham lincoln delivered his second inaugural address to a crowd that gathered despite drenching rain earlier that day. the president and his audience understood that union victory almost certainly lay just ahead. the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the war approached, two million men shouldered muskets in united states armies. casualti aho solers, dead, wounded and taken prisoner surpassed 800,000. lincoln left no doubt about the important role united states armies had played. the progress of our arms upon which all else chiefly depends is as well known to the public as to myself, he said in
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language, revealing a direct link between military campaigns and the civilian side of the war and morale. and it is, i trust, he added, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. in a message to the confederate congress in may 1864 jefferson davis similarly referred to the ties between the military and the civilian spheres. the army which has born the trials and dangers of the war, which has been subjected to privations and disappointments, he stated has been the center of cheerfulness and hope. as t conflict ground toward its conclusion in the spring of 1865, perhaps as many as 900,000 confederate men had served, of whom more than 650,000 had perished, been wounded or sent to united states prison camps. both presidents would have joined the overwhelming majority of fellow citizens of infirming the centrality during these four years of struggle. generals and their civilian superiors had planned and executed operations that not
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only included many of the most famous battles in erican history, but operations that also profoundly affected the politisocial dimensions of the cflict. study of those operations for us yields a two-fold return. most obviously, we as readers counter a feast of dramatic incidents, memorable characters, striking contrasts of skill and ineptitude, of gallantry and perfidy, triumph and absolutely shattering defeat. study also, however, allows us to study the myriad connections between battlefront and home front that makes attention to military history absolutely essential to any serious aempt to comprehend the broader contours of the war. great captains and their soldiers as all of you know have dominated popular understanding
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of the war. i'd venture up to ways that almost everybody in this room came to an interest in the civil war that way. i certainly did, beginning with those americans who read the century company's landmark th1880s, generation offense n amicans have enjoyed narratives about huge armies maneuvering against one other, trying to place that opponent at risk. once engaged in combat, the officers and rank and file members of those arms ensured the lasting fame or notoriety of mundane places on the american landscape. they fought for control of the ghastly entrenchments in spotsylvania. they shed their blood profligately in miller's corn field. at antietam.
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they introduced their societies to a new scale of slaughter near a backwards methodist church called shiloh and waged a desperate struggle along an unfinished railroad bed not far from a sluggish stream called bull run. celebrated commanders bethroved the military landscape crafting moments of almost impossible high drama. ulysses s. grant carried out a brilliant campaign of aggression against vicksburg reducing that great rebel stronghold overlooking the mississippi river on july 4th, 1863, despite reservations among many subordinates and his command in chief regarding his strategy. it at almost exactly the same moment, robert e. lee watched his confidant army of northern virginia sustain a wrenc hing setback in the suburban countryside near gettysburg. 14 months after those events, william tecumseh sherman who owed his success almost entirely onrant's presence, delivered a powerful body blow to the confederacy when he captured atlanta. told and retold by memoirs,
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historiansnd other writers since the confederate surrender, in the spring of 1865, this dimension of the war comes closer to serving as an american iliad than any other part of our history. although no equivalent of homer emerged from the host of authors who wrote about the military history of the civil war, a number of superb historian combed descriptive and uence huge audiences. way to again, i suspect they influenced everybody in this room. i'm going to mention two othe best. bruce catton and douglas southall freeman who between them authored a number of cltitlc beginning in the mid 1930s and going to the mid
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nyone interested t still are in the civil war. i'm going to quote a pair of passages that illustrate why catton and freeman and others who wrote well in a traditional narrative style have had such an impact on so many people who were drawn to the amerivilic c war. in glory road published in 1952, the second of his three volume trilogy on the army of the potomac, catton memorably brought the iron brigade, the brigade made up of five western regiments as they said then. we would say midwestern now. brought them on to the field at gettysburg where it would lose roughly two-thirds of its 1,800 men in just two hours on july 1st. the westerners fell into swept and came swinging up the road, wrote ca in seing the stage daya work. their blha tild down yes, rifle barrels sparkling in the morning sun. on the ridge to the west there was a crackle of small arms and a steady crashing of cannon with a long soiled cloud of smoke drifting up in the still morning air.
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at the head of the column, the drums and the fifes were loud playing "the girl i left behind me" probably, that perennial theme song of the army of the potomac, playing the iron brigade into its last great fight. freeman combined battle narratives in lee's lieutenants, a study in command, a trilogy about officers in the nfederacy's mostornt army that appeared between 1942 and 1944 and served as an impressive supplement to the four volume biography of r.e. g lee. the son of a confederate veteran, freeman embraced an number of lost cause interpretive dimensions, of his books we should keep in mind when we read them, his descriptive prose and character sketches remain engaging and very illuminating.
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i want to quote from his passage dealing with artillery fighting on may 3rd, 1863, at chancellorsville. at hazel grove in short the finest artillery of the army in nortrn vginia were having their greatest day. they had improved guns, better ammunitind supior organization. officers and men were conscious of this and the destruction they were working, for once they were fighting on equal terms against an adversary who on fields unnumbered enjoyed indisputable superiority in weapons and ammunition. with the fire of battles shining through his spectacles, william p. graham rejoiced. a glorious day, colonel, he said to porter alexander, a glorious day. there migh much ref hard concluded freeman.y assaults if those gray batteries could continue to sweep the field, t federals must yield. many of you have stood at hazel
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grove and looked at the vista from there down to fairview, and you know exactly what freeman is writing about there. and you know he's exactly correct, it turned the tide of the fighting on may 3rd. the extensive retrospective literature by participants also holds enormous value for us today. though we always should keep in mind with this genre that we must be alert for special pleading and efforts to settle old scores. i gather that john gordon's memoirs have been mentioned at least a couple times today. i'll mention some others. the postwar writings of john be josephston eggleohnson, george b. mcclellan, abner doubleday. a book such as these, put goon in that collection as we, though not without merit, they often tell us much more about what these men were up tin mind than about the ents they're actual descring. tell us more about senator john gordon in 1900, perhaps than the battle of cedar creek, for example.
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other memoirs are at the other end of this spectrum of how useful they are. i'll put ulysses s. grant and alexander at that end, they define the very best of reminiscences, beautifully and sometimes movingly written, deeply analytical, and often more perceptive than almost all modern historians. the union's greatest military hero filled his two-volume memoirs with a number of remarkable passages, few more instructive than his peer into the citizen soldiers who saved the republic and killed the institution of slavery. the armies of europe are machines. the men are brave and the officers capable, but the majority of the soldiers in most of the nations of europe are taken from a class of people who have very little interest in the contest in which they are called upon to take part, wrote grant. our armies were composed of men who were able to read. men who knew what they were fighting for and could not be d
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except in an safetye na of thon was involved and so necessarily must have been more than equal to men who fought merely because they were brave and because they were thoroughly drilled and inured to hardships. without an appreciation of the fundamental importance of the idea of the citizen soldier, it is impossible to understand the american civil war, absolutely impossible. if you don't grasp that concept, bo in its union context and its confederate context, then don't d yoselves. you're not going to understand what's going on during the american civil war. grant's memoirs in this passage and others help us across the century and a quarter since they were written to grasp that essential fact. alexander included a section in his recollections that captured the feg cmunity and attachment to nation among officers and soldiers that helped make the army of northern virginia the most important
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naal institution in the confederacy. on the morningf april 3,865,he nk of the jameriver opposite downtown richmond. lee's army was evacuating the capital and alexander who commanded the artillery of james longstreet's first corps had just watched the last of his batteries cross the bridge. we turn to take a last look at the old city for which we fought so long and so hard. remembered alexander. it was a sad, a terrible and a solemn sight. i don't know any moment in the whole war impressed me more deeply with all its stern realities than this. the whole riverfront seemed to be in flames amid which occasional heavy explosions were heard and the black smoke spreading and hanging over the city seemed to be full of dreadful portents.
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i rode on with a distinctly heavy heart and with a peculiar sort of feeling of orphanage. i don't know of any passage written by anyone who served in the army in northern virginia that captures the essence of the connection between the men and that institution and their commander better than that passage from porter alexander. critics of military history often question the need to dismiss what they deem as drums and bugle topics. people in noon academic world likely would be surprised to learn that students with emerge from programs in american history at many good universities without any knowledge of the civil war. they can take courses devoted to the conflict that include almost no attention to generals or to campaigns or to battles. fronts, on the ways in which the conflict affected or did not affect the daily rhythms of life
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on farms and cities, and hotly contested political issues also stand out sharply. for example, how and when would emancipation be accomplished and who should get credit for removing the stain of slavery that had mocked the founding generation's noble language. would republicans enact their legislative program and did their agenda anticipate the a emergence later in the century of a capital's behemoth en route to a great power status in the 20th century. in this civil war, yoman farmers in the confederacy grow disenchanted with a government that seems to favor the wealthy as do anthracite coal miners in pennsylvania. women on both side struggle to find their roles amid changing conceptions of what it means to be a patriotic mother and sometimes battling economic hardship, women in the confederacy take to the streets to demand more food. this war offers a cacophonous jumble of advocates and victims all of whom act out parts in a drama largely devoid of the boom of cannons or the rattle of musketry. the historical litature the civil war has evolved in a way
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that often conspires against anyone who would engage bo the military and the nonmilitary dimensions of the conflict and who would more especiastrive to know how the two interacted and affected one another. too many nonacademic historians care for little be gener and bales and soiers in the ranks,le mosacademic histourish a resolutely dismissive attitude toward military history in general and again civil war campaign history in particular. if i had lmoreittle ime, i'd tell you some stories, but i don't, so i'll keep going. i hasten to concede there are exceptions to this generalization about academics. i don't want to be too hard on people in my world, just very hard. anyone who has read jim mcpherson's "battle cry of freedom" or george rable's "fredricksburg! fredricksburg!" to name but two examples, knows t some historians do try to bring those two spirits
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together effectively. as ray put in his book, the old military history on the mark dealt largely with leaders, acting strategy and tactics carefully, sometimes brilliantly. but he added although some academic scholars would talk about common soldiers and social themes, quote, gaining a full understanding of a battle requires looking at both sides of the equation and mixing the elements. acrimonious debates about filmmaker ken burns's documentary "the civil war" which i'm sure you all watched at least in part and how best to interpret national park service civil war sites battlefields exemplify the continuing divide between these two civil wars, the one that's mainly military, the one that has almost no military aspects to it. in his contribution to a book of essays devoted to burns' much lauded series, leon litwack, a
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prize-winning scholar of the black experience in 19th and early 20th century, i'll quote voiced concerns i've heard many times among academic historians. i'll quote him. two major warfronts co-existed during the civil war, the clash of armies on the battlefields and the social convulsions at home. the civil war stays mostly on the battlefield, being the name of the series, virtually ignore the other war, the conflict out on farms and plantations in towns and cities throughout the south, even where no union or confederate soldiers appeared. none of the great battles, in quotation marks, not even antietam, shiloh or gettysburg compares in sheer drama with the way in which the civil war came to be transformed into a social revolution of such far reaching proportions and consequences. jeffrey c. war, the nonacademic historian who served a the principle writer for burns's series responded with passion, insisting burns tried to insinuate as much nonmilitary material as possible into the,
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quote, complicated, headlong military story we found ourselves trying to tell. clearly stung by what he saw as an unfair attack from litwack and others, ward commented that, quote, some of the criticism in this volume, that is, the volume devoted to the series, seems needlessly shrill. the wrangling over park service battlefield sites involved interpretation for potentially millions of visitors a received attention from the national press. in the 1990s, the park service began moving toward interpretive plans that would try to include more context within which each of these battles unfolded. congressman jesse jackson, junior of illinois, presided over a conference that looked at that question in 2000 in junior of illinois, presided over a conference that looked at that question in 2000 in washington, d.c., a conference that made the argument very
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strongly that the park service needed to do a lot more with the nonmilitary, the nontactical especially dimensions of what was going on in the battlefields. he said they do a good job in talking about generals and movements. they don't do a similarly good job of documenting, describing the historical, social, economic, legal and social events that led to the war and which manifested themselves in specific battles. he said that slavery's role in the coming of the war was especially left out. defenders of more purely military interpretation on battlefields mounted a strong counterattack. a cover story in "u.s. news & world report" quoted jerry russell, a preservationist and thoroughgood opponent of changing traditional interpretive emphasis, he wrote, quote, people go to the battlefields to learn about the battle. they're not there to learn about the economy or women or about slavery. very pithy, from jerry russell.
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many of you probably knew jerry and knew he could be pithy when he wanted to. i think because most americans receive their first introduction to the conflict through battles and generals, that military history affords the best way to bring these two wars together in a fashion likely to attract the broadest audience. a certain kind of military history framed to explain how battles influence the home fronts and how in turn politics and public opinion shape union and confederate war efforts. i think that will be necessary to accomplish the task of trying to give people a better sense of just why military history is so important and why you can't understand the war unless it's part of your attempt. i think success will depend on wooing readers who begin with popular treatments of battles and campaigns, piquing their interest in the other war and providing a bridge that will een academic and nonacademic history. there's no doubt work on both these civil wars is going to continue.
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publishers will allocate significant attention to campaigns and battle studies. people actually buy those books which makes them different than almost all the books that academics write. most of them have just about as much impact as a tree falling in siberia, affect just about as many people. gettysburg, of course, dwarfs all other campaigns in this regard. there's a sense there simply cannot be too many books on gettysburg. there can't be enough attention to the first 20 minutes of the fight for the railroad cut on july the 1st. we've only written 400 pages. by god, we need 600 pages. there was a bibliography of gettysburg published in 2004. it includes more than 6,000 titles, 6,000 titles so get busy if you really want to read it all. i think there will also be a continuing interest on the part of both university presses and commercial presses on
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biographies. biain, people like to read raphies. another reason most academics don't write them. bill cooper today went against that stream. he wrote a really liant biogy jon. he wouldn't have done that for s first book now becausee wouldn't get a job or tenure. but anyway, that's another story. people actually like to read biographies. so they will continue to be published. between 1991 and 2003 ten biographies of william tecumseh sherman and ulysses s. grant, appeared. ten in that period. not counting the ones since then. should should readers consult the more than 4,750 pages in those volumes or readers who happen to read the two men's memoirs missed the point that
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grant and sherman developed an effective partnership? i guess you could read them in a trance or something and trying not to get that, but just in case they missed that, from that effusion of writing in the '90s, they could turn to a book published in 2005, 480 pages long titled "grant and sherman: the friendship that won the civil war." that friendsp i thk known even before, but i don't want to be precepted in my thinng there. my point is that authors drawn to either of the civil wars should be alert to these connections. i'm not sure every book gettysburg should include 80 pages of the missouri controversy of the 182o get us down to gettysburg. that's not what i'm saying. i'm saying there should be some sense of what gettysburg meant beyond the movements of the 20th main laid on the afternoon of july the 2nd, some sense of what more was at stake. any examination of civilian morale, for example, should take into account military chronology because events on the battlefield heavily influenced how people on the home fronts viewed the conflict and its likely outcome.
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those calculations, in turn, affected how the civilian populations reacted to governmental efforts to keep this massive war going. are people going to accept conscription, impressive in the confederacy? how far are they willing to go to maintain this struggle? the main way they decided how far they were willing to go was by following military events and trying to gauge the likelihood that they would have a favorable result, absolutely critical. it's also important to remember that the contending sides were democratic republics after all. wars not fought in a relitary vacuum in a democratic blic. everybody in this room, at leas enoukn that. sometimes students at old enough to know that, but you ar

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