Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War The Civil Wars Impact on Ordinary Americans  CSPAN  March 19, 2018 1:06am-2:06am EDT

1:06 am
1:07 am
minute breaks. that being said, let's get started. the title of this year's symposium is ordinary people, extraordinary times. the theme relates to the flagship exhibition that will be opening in our new museum building at historic trigger, which is now well under construction. if you have not been out to see it, it is a wonder. , of course,will address the big picture of the american civil war and its continuing effects, but it will also highlight the experiences of real people and the effect of the war on real people. in planning for the exhibition and the experience the inner, but will also be a part of the new museum, we were struck by the words of lucy buck, a young girl from front royal, virginia, who observed we shall never, any of us, be the same as we have been. and certainly, while her sentiment for strictly related to her life as a young southern
1:08 am
girl as part of the confederacy, the words do have residents for everyone else that experienced this conflict. that minds, with similar symposium speakers and asked them to develop a program to emphasize the experiences of people, both specific groups of people in the aggregate, and the specific individuals who experienced the war and the changes it rocked. wrought.ked -- it i doubt there is anyone in this room knows never heard a talk by dr. james robertson junior, were seen on television, or heard him on his long-running radio program. budd robertson as we affectionately call him has been a variable -- veritable institution of civil war history and he played major leadership in the a roles
1:09 am
sesquicentennial and you might be around for the bicentennial. it's only 43 years away and this man seems to be eternal. knowcivil war students budd robertson for his work on stonewall jackson, ap hill, robert e lee, the stonewall brigade and the army of northern virginia. his current project is an encyclopedia of robert e. lee. but he has spoken and written widely on the common soldier in the common people of the civil war era. as you can see from the book titles listed in your program and available-for-sale and on a graphic in the lobby outside, yes, i have to pitch for everyone. most recently, he edited the publication of the book highlighting the letters, thates, and reminiscences remain in private collections throughout the commonwealth. the virginia civil war cisco to --iel -- sis was continual
1:10 am
they scanned these newly developed sources and they are available for researcher at the library. this is the kind of valuable works of budd robertson has performed throughout his long career. and for which we are deeply grateful. this morning, gentlemen and ladies, dr. budd robertson will kick off our symposium with a talk entitled civil war echoes from the common folk. ladies and him alone, dr. robertson. [applause] -- ladies and gentlemen, dr. robertson. [applause] dr. robertson: thank you, christie, for those undeserved but very deeply appreciated remarks. many, many years going down the same path. and imore military than i
1:11 am
more social than he is. so we complement one another rather than compete. it's a pleasure to be here for this particular occasion, because on one of those rare instances, we will be concentrating on the battles, not on the leaders, but on the common folk, who are the bedrock of this nation. history is the best teacher you will ever have. from it, we learn the mistakes and we learn the achievements of those who came before us. ad from history, we gain better sense of direction and confidence as we make our journey through allies. similarly, history is heritage. tear down the basement and the whole house will collapse. thus, meeting such as this have enormous value. they impart to us a vital fact, namely, the past is human. it's not red and blue lines on
1:12 am
the battle map, and little box that says smith's division or joses brigade, the human beings inside those things. it contains living people who felt the emotions of their time. i've always taught that an understanding of the emotions is critical to understanding the civil war. and heard in the struggle are so deep that unless we can grasp the feelings of those people and digest them to the point of understanding them, we will never absorb what the war was. and how deeply affected every facet of today's life in this nation. certain --ng is for when the present begins arguing with the past, you are likely going to lose the future.
1:13 am
the largest of all civil war mortals as the commonwealth of virginia. it was the major battlefield of the conflict. three out of every five battles were placed inside the old dominion. the state suffered more human inflicted damage than has ever occurred in the western hemisphere. and when the civil war centennial ended in the mid-1960's, widespread feeling existed that we have found all the manuscript material that is, and we don't need to do further research. but historians know otherwise. and then came the 150th anniversary of the civil war, forvirginians, sometimes people, but we tend to be more interested in our history than we are and anything else. after all, without more of a. we have three times more history than that of the united states, so we brag about it, justifiably so.
1:14 am
it should be no surprise that the virginia legislature was the first to be created in the civil war sesquicentennial years. and it's eight years of existence, state commission accomplished more in commemorative effects or efforts than the rest of the nation combined. the federal government did more of the sesquicentennial, for which we shall ever be grateful here in virginia. it stayed out of our way and let us develop achievements that will live, literally, for generations to come. the sesquicentennial will never die, thanks to what the mission achieved. i like to pause to pay tribute to men without whom we would have accomplished nothing. one was speaker of the house, a republican, and the other was president pro tem of the senate, a democrat. without those two men at the
1:15 am
head, the state commission would never have gone off its feet, never would've had the resources and the green light to accomplish all that it did. and let me tell you, he did accomplish a great deal. no other state did a fantastic job, that far out the -- far exceeded what virginia did in the 1960's. we on the sesquicentennial commission resolved not to make the same mistake that the centennial commission made in the 1960's. it ignored the young and the first major projects we undertook was the production of a 180 minute documentary on the civil war in virginia. which was distributed, free of charge, to all 3000 schools inside the commonwealth. --the second project with which the commission undertook is the reason i'm here this morning. that therelieved
1:16 am
were in private possession still many letters and diaries, photographs and minutia of civil , but familyants members, for understandable reasons, did not particularly want to expose them or to give them away. but we knew, at least i felt, that they were there, it would we could just find access to them. so the sesquicentennial commission partnered with a library of virginia to locate and preserve as much of this material as citizens were willing to share. and so in june, 2010, the legacy project got underway. photographic teams crisscrossing the state, announcing well in say saturday from 10 onto 4:00 in the mall, there will be a photographic team or sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 at the your photographic team, we ask you to bring in any civil war material you have. we don't want you to give it away, we simply want to take a picture of it.
1:17 am
and bring it all together and put it in the library of ,irginia for future historians not much today, but future historians to use. over the next four years, those photographic teams went across the state. we have 134 legislative units in virginia, including counties and cities. stops in those four years. and photographing stretch from northumberland county which sits on chesapeake bay, to lee county, which is in annapolis, adjacent to kentucky. and collections ranged from a single item to a veritable collection. hope was that we might amass 1000 pages of material. when the smoke cleared in 2015, ofhad over 33,000 pages manuscript material.
1:18 am
it was an incredible compliment. -- accomplishment. the legacy project begin the largest source of unpublished material amassed during the civil war sesquicentennial, if not in the last 75 years. and to call attention to the collection, the commission asked me to go through the entire legacy project and to produce a small book that might be an --etizer, a sort of order orders the legacy project. 40,ther notes on hundred which is less than 10% of the collection. in the findings were so fascinating that i just found myself taking notes madly, and i used only one third of the notes i had used from less than 1/10 of the collection itself.
1:19 am
book, civila little war echoes, which went all the public schools, all numbers of the state legislature, and the remaining copies went to the library of virginia. i assume some are still available. it's a one print job, so i just assume they are there. i limit those in the book to three glasses, northern soldiers stationed in virginia, seven soldiers stationed in the state, and virginia civilians behind the lines. limitations, i just want to give you a sample of some of the wonderful material that we discovered and applied. the men in uniform of course came from all walks of life, it in their writings, they are focused on always focused, was on the same topics. sicknessle, they see a
1:20 am
more than they feared -- they feared sickness more than they feared battle. for everyone men killed, two men died behind the lines of sickness. bullets is not the biggest killer, dysentery would kill more. number three title and fever. so sickness is always there. and yet men in blue and gray belittle the sickness. leave an agent 62, he wrote that he had contracted jaundice, which is a form of viral hepatitis. he wrote home, i have taken quinine in a particular regiment , but have also got a disease a damn site worse than jaundice. i've laid here and so i am all covered with body lice. they are as big as young calves
1:21 am
and i'm afraid they will either carry me off or carry out my clothes and leave me naked. the sickness was always there. hunger, lack of clothing, no pay, little communication, distrust of newspapers, nothing new. homesickness, steady loss of comrades, desertions, executions, all added to ms. reason the military. the reactor should glorify war, so misleading. they don't tell us the real side because it is too ugly. throughout virginia, union atrocities upon healthy civilians were never-ending and created constant anxiety and pain. material and the legacy collection, for example, will not win the endorsement of the richmond chamber of commerce.
1:22 am
citizens in 38,000 1861. three years later, the population was over 100,000. the city has grown three times in population. the confederate quartermaster wrote richmond is the pride and the disgrace of the confederacy. ,t is the grandest, noblest vilest, meanest, wickedest place in the confederacy. they are here in herbalism the patriots spartan and roman virtues are constant and here there are vampires who are preying upon the country's vitals while they chant heian's to its glory. anything butnd was magnolia and moonlight. lack of housing left refugees wandering in the streets. galloping inflation made it
1:23 am
difficult to purchase even the barest essence of life. filth, occasional epidemics of smallpox and typhoid fever and tuberculosis made richmond a vestibule of hell. these three unique features appear in the legacy project collection, and all three of them have a special appeal to me. lettersf, we have more and diaries covering the last two years of the war than we do the first two years. which is quite opposite to what normally one finds. tales,y, the personal some of them, provide fresh, in-depth brand-new accounts of lesser-known engagements. there are three personal narratives on the september 1864 battle of fishersville -- fishers hill and there are three
1:24 am
different accounts that reveal that battle as i have never seen it told before. accounts ofo moving the march 25, 1865 desperation ,ttack by lee at fort stedman and that he does berg line, both of us details of that battle the never been published before. brand-neware two rather exceptional eyewitness accounts of what happened when robert e. lee wrote back to his men after the surrender to grant. and thirdly, which i especially like, is an incredible degree, throughout the 700 collections, the phonetic spelling. phonetic spelling for the uneducated, men still the way they pronounce the word, and the figure the accent, the more incredible the word appears. throughout my professional
1:25 am
career, and professors do quirky things, always kept a running cap of the different way soldiers spell diarrhea. doesn'to 22, and that include the s word. after a while, you get accustomed to seeing it that way. and some of the champion miss miller's of the civil war are unquestionably in the legacy project. one was a 36 virginia soldier named samson meadows, who is from what is now west virginia widowmehow he heard of a down in cumberland county, not too far from here, and he wrote her a letter proposing marriage. he never met her, he just knew she was a widow, had children and money. and then this long, long i-t isl i think it --
1:26 am
the only word he spoke directly. the lee turned him down. their constant companion was loneliness. it british degrees out for letter writing in american history. writing a letter was the only form of communication between a soldier in a loved one back home. and here, you see motion in its most pure form. this especially was the case with the common folk. stoneumn, 1862, henry wrote his wife i should tears every time i get a letter from menfolk don't normally reveal such emotions. and not hearing from a loved one lead to painful frustrations and leads it to the thomas fisher collection. it's a wonderful collection by a soldier and a wife, thompson frances fisher. they were in southwestern virginia and the vote for semi
1:27 am
literate and thomas fisher joined the southwest virginia's most famous unit, the 51st virginia. camp and foro about two weeks the men heard nothing. they were writing letters home but getting nothing in reply. thomas fisher wrote his wife complaining that quote we don't get letters enough. john campbell and offered me a quarter for my letter today. he said he had not got one for so long that he would have to buy one off somebody or else he would have to get none at all. james charles as if you don't get one, he intended to write a long letter, take it home and let his wife read it and then bring the answer back. was the more amazing letters of his wife, frances. i would've paid to a known that woman, she was headstrong and aghly opinionated and she is pleasure -- it is a pleasure to reader letters. in her first letter to thomas
1:28 am
in her first lighter to thomas fisher, -- letter, she asked thomas fisher, i want to know if you have washed yourself at this time, or if you have washed at all? tot difference did it make her, but i guess she was concerned. she replied with, i have not week, but il thought i would not say anything about it but she did. and then she took a shot on his father, your father tries to quarrel with me a heap of times but i do not listen to the old man. he gets tired of quarreling by himself. she closed the final letter she wrote with a slight suggestion time will soone come when the yankees the south may run, when you can come and
1:29 am
see your son sleep, and love, and sleep with me. frances fisher. she died four weeks later. the intensity of combat by listing casualties suffered by the opposing sides, that seems impersonal. yet, it is easy to glorify war. we do it all the time. with glamourling and excitement, and a sense of beauty. war distorts history, and it belittles the meaning of sacrifice, a word we too often reading about the civil war. let me give you examples of soldiers riding back about battles you are familiar with, but it will differ from yours. we know that general mcclellan advanced up the virginia
1:30 am
peninsula and ended at southern pines. there it ended with a today battle, in which we all know the commander was wounded and davis was promoted to command of what became the army of northern virginia. however, shortly after the i wentof southern pines, down toward the southern pine ground, about one mile, and it was full of wounded men. it would raise the hair on any man's head to see the wounded. i was present when they commenced cutting off one man's leg, and i had to leave. i cannot stand and watch the performance. commanded themin not to larry battery --
1:31 am
commanded the battery, and after the union forces, gatlin went and the battlefield ground is torn up by shot and shell, the trees cut in torrent, the grass scorched and burnt and trampled, and leave men and horses scattered in every direction. sometimes, they can be counted by the scores in the hundreds. our own men have all been buried, but the enemies killed friday' is,s, saturday capacity sites still live with putrid mortification, and some stripped completely naked. horrible, gaffney, devastating scene. two weeks later, lee's army crossed the book, -- crossed the river in the first inversion into maryland.
1:32 am
you where they crossed, and where they stop at sutherland. inside the ranks, a member of the 55th virginia noted -- i do not believe there are two men in this regiment that have not blistered. we himself -- and lee himself was crippled throughout the campaign. just before they crossed the river, he was holding the lanes of travel and the horse jumped and it threw him off balance and he fell to the ground and instinctively put out his hands to cushion the fall. he ended up breaking one hand and spraining the other. the broken hand was promptly put into a stint, and he was put in the carriage and he rode in the carriage. he was still so impaired, not by pain and swelling, but by the injury, that at the battle, he
1:33 am
was on horse but in aid had to lead the horse. hands, signse his his name, address, and here we have some historians calling this the climactic battle of the civil war, and the commanding general is crippled for the engagement. smashing victories in seem to manyg, confederates, more than simple justification for an end to the war. expressed frustration that the yankees seem to not to learn anything from it. he thought it difficult. excuse me. he thought it difficult for the union army to undertake the parcel again with his being horse, but they seemed to be the most patient people on earth. it is a hard matter for us to teach them in a sense, though
1:34 am
the army has exhausted most of its skill on them. it seems to do no earthly good. gettysburg,ater, in it was not much news and there was not much letter writing after that battle, at least for the confederate state back into virginia. in buckingham county, mrs. mosley, anxiously and patiently irradiate a letter from her son john terry chi had not heard from him since he wrote of crossing of the potomac river and going to the north. about 10 days after the battle, she got a letter. i will read it in its entirety. the battlefield, july 4, 1863 -- year, mother, i am here, a prisoner of war and mortally wounded. i can live but a few more hours. i was shot about 50 arts from the enemy's lines. they have been exceedingly kind to me.
1:35 am
enough toay live long hear the shouts of victory. i am very weak. do not mourn my loss. i had hoped i had been spared, but a righteous god has ordered it otherwise, and i feel prepared to trust my case in his hands. farewell to you all. pray that god may receive my soul. the unfortunate son, john. somewhere in the national park at gettysburg. men. gettysburg was just a set back, no one thought it the climax of the civil war. men, not trulye informed -- of an artillery informed his fiancee -- we are and expect then, yankees to advance any day. in ources are engaged
1:36 am
fortifications. when they do come, we will give them hell to the tune of dixie. excuse me, my dear, for writing such language. wereopposing armies entrenched near one another, personal feelings often interrupted national interests. that fraternization occurred early in the civil war, and it is understandable why. men from both sides are from the same country, they spoke the same language, worship the same god, had the same national traditions and habits. they could hate each other at a distance. sometimes it was difficult to be hostile at close range. river in 1863, it was stated -- the yankees is on one picket the river, and i
1:37 am
on the other. we swapped tobacco for coffee with them. they get one plug of tobacco for two pounds of coffee. the order is that neither side talk to the other, so we talk in spite of all of those orders. admission -- we all know about the harbor and thousands of men killed and wounded in a short space of time. the virginia cavalry rode over the field two weeks later and saw it in a different light. as we did fortifications, he wrote what horrible sight. we had to move 10 bodies are 12 bodies to get down below. they were left them -- they left them on the roadside. the horses would hardly pass. bodies were piled here, eight
1:38 am
and 10 deep as far along as we could see. this is the most catastrophic scene of dreadful disaster i have ever imagined. again, this is cold harbor. another devotion of that war is seldom mentioned and i think peter will talk about it this afternoon, but i would like to open the subject for you. george mcswain was a 34-year-old north carolina farmer. he had little interest in the break up of the union and the secession meant nothing to him. his wife, hannah, two children, and a small spread of farmland was all his works. when a large contingent of his neighbors enlisted in the army, mcswain failed to do the same. took thereafter, he unauthorized leave to go home needsy to the urgent
1:39 am
of this family. each time he was gone for several months, but both times he returned voluntarily to service. 1864, from orange county, mcswain informed his wife this was the last letter she would ever get from him because on saturday, he was to be shot to death for desertion. when -- that thought i had i volunteered in the service of my country that my life would he taken by my own people, simply for up sending myself with the view of protecting my children and affectionate wife. after receiving the death penalty, mcswain continued, that penalty washed over me like the raging hellos against a lonely lock in the sweeping storm, and i felt well assured that i would at least be at rest. but, oh, my little children, and
1:40 am
affectionate wife, may the lord see fit and prepare them to meet me in heaven, where there will be no more grief, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more trials, --more war, no more partying partying with little children, but we shall all be at rest together, forever, and he was executed and buried in an unmarked grave near gordonsville. the legacy collection strengthens the belief that romance and literature deeply affected most civil war soldiers. absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. the primitive communication of that age produced holland yearning for members of the opposite sex. virginias of the 15th visited winchester for the first time, he was smitten. beenld his sister, i have
1:41 am
to chester today and i walked with the prettiest girl i ever saw. if i could stay with her always, i would never carry the peaches never got right. he died of disease six weeks later. asilleryman john went as far to tease his fiancee. he was deeply in love but had a sense of humor, too. from camp, he declared to his fiancee -- i do not think i ever saw as many girls, and some of them are very pretty and interesting. you must not be surprised if you hear of my falling in love with some of them. i think i am entitled to three or four. can you agree with me on this point? well, i have nothing else to write about. [laughter] the largest sustainer of morale in every civil war army, north and south, was facing god. it is -- was faith in god. it is a recurring theme in many lenders. -- itashton many letters
1:42 am
was a recurring theme in many letters. countless numbers of civil war participants would have suffered confession,incoln's i have often been driven to my knees by the realization i had nowhere else to go. in the autumn of 1862, virginia soldier wrote -- i hope i will return back home again, but i must look to god on my health. god is the only true friend we have here. fredericksburg, the same sentiment was echoed -- i have read the heard work of a soldier, faith in god, however, is all i need. and maintaining faith was not always easy. a soldier named charles thomas went off toirginia
1:43 am
war, and dr. he was in service a few months, he wrote this to his wife -- he requested a need to the prepared to meet my god, which i am fine to do. i want you, if you ain't, to do the same. i stopped drinking in the measure, and i am praying to god .o help me with the rest by the end of 1864, dreams of southern independence were fading. survival was becoming an issue in the confederate armies. in the stonewall brigade, a soldier told his cousin -- this is a hard life to serve. we are hard up to find something to eat. i think we will have to go up the spout before long. we are a earned set of levels. another recalled that inside the
1:44 am
petersburg trenches during the last winter of the war, confederate soldiers, in his words, received a small quantity of taken with cornmeal twice a day -- bacon with cornmeal twice a day. the bacon call due to hold your nose when you would eat it and the cornmeal was no larger than a silver dollar. beltf them twice, and your takes up another hole to make you feel like you were full. april 9, 18 to divide, the war thehe east ended -- 1865, war in the east ended. thousands of soldiers remember that palm sunday as the most painful moment of their lives. 20-year-old edward jones of the richmond howitzers was among the number. , the first letter time it has been made public -- later that april afternoon, jones wrote home -- this
1:45 am
afternoon, the last cheer is heard a point on the light. we see generally riding toward us. the front of his shield seem to shake the earth. the general rode up with his head bowed and never did he look more noble than then. i tried to join in the cheer, but after a faint success, my voice stuck in my throat and i could not utter a sound. we rode over to his headquarters, where many followed him. voice and aling moist eye, he made public the terms of surrender. fromcused himself saying more. the crowd pressed forward to shake cans at them and then commenced the most affecting scene ever witnessed. officers high in rank seized his hands with tearful eyes. nor were they more welcome than the weeping that each of them
1:46 am
could feel and the pain of separation. the old general said with tears in his eyes and welcomed them one by one. it seemed he was a gray-headed father taking a last farewell of his children. i never witnessed such devotion. i found myself sobbing like a child. putting all parts together onto a new frame would take time. we are still working at it. every dozen steps forward has a stumbler to. as more years became history, a new nationalism whittled away at the old tales of beauty. cell, boundd in a by common memories by marches, battles, and endurance and survival, and in the 1880's, they began having battlefield reunions.
1:47 am
by the 1890's, they were meeting together at the same battlefield , for the same reason, and with the same emotions. author stephen king called "a mysterious fraternity they developed." a growing sense of brotherhood between thousands of soldiers, north and south, that placed individual ill will. the bitterness remained just before one' is. i have loved these noble confederate soldiers. we both fought for what we believe to be right. both sides were equally honest about it. well, not always honest. oftentories also -- descended into fantasy. these veterans group old, and their memories were
1:48 am
"exaggerated," and i think one of the most extreme examples occurred in richmond in the 1912 reunion. tree, and olda confederate in his 90's by them, 1864, andng july 30, a battle when federals grew up a large segment of lee's lines, and he said -- when we was blown up at the crater, the and my men were thrown up in the air. we met our captain coming down. and as he went by, he hollered, let me know when you hit the ground. [laughter] today, on theide, west side of fredericksburg, is a site of the 1863 battle of salem church. barely one acre of the
1:49 am
battlefield remains. everything around it is commercialism. on that clearing stands a monument, a monument to the 23rd new jersey. and the plaque on the front forains the usual figures the memory of our hero and comrades who gave their lives for that country's union on the battlefield. nothing unusual. but walk around the monument, and you will see another identical plaque. on it, are the words -- for the brave alabama boys and opponents on the field of battle, whose memory we are gone. up anglish never put memorial to the french in waterloo. the germans did not create a monument for polish suffering in warsaw, but yet, here, in the greatest nation on planet earth
1:50 am
we will ever know, north and south came together, in large enough numbers, and with a rather startling quickness to exchange feelings of respect, and even friendship as the last days approach. indeed, the greatest display of patriotism, any of those soldiers perform, was what they did as gentlemen, not as soldiers, there, mutual appreciation became the gateway to a lasting peace. no other civil war has ended that way, and it says much about the foundation of this country. and no amount of criticism launched today by nearsighted activists or politically correct students in history can ever discolor the beauty of that reconciliation. .nd the civil war echoes there are close to 300
1:51 am
quotations published for the first time. even more so, the legacy project in virginia gives us new, moving commentaries of human feelings of common folk during america's dramaticatic years -- years. have people always prided themselves on a reputation for pragmatism? and it relies on compromise to settle differences in a democracy. both disappear in the 1850's. the politicians failed because they allowed emotion to overcome intelligence. and so farmers, clerks, students, machinists had to become soldiers, and they had to die to settle issues politicians refused to face. century, one can never understand the civil war until and unless you truly grasp
1:52 am
the human feeling of the time. only then can we see the past in full light. for an is remembered great number of one-liners. the one i like the most is his statement -- the best news i learned is the history i did not know. history is the best teacher you hopefully,ave, and the virginia legacy project will be a big boost in that direction. alsoe of that country will and always be our greatest strength. 50 years ago, my mentor made this observation -- in the period that has elapsed, many people have gone through considerable trouble to establish dissent on high officers of the union and confederate armies. in view of the splendid conduct
1:53 am
of the folk and the great prices of the 1860's, it would seem those who sprang from that clash would take even more pride in that origin, for it was these men whose strength was the respective causes, and whose greatness made that war one of the most inspiring in the history of embattled humanity. thank you very much. [applause] thank you very much. i think we have a little time for questions, if there are any. >> thank you. i enjoyed that very much. with regard to the legacy project, i was wondering, is the
1:54 am
library still accepting contributions if people have information that they still want to get copied? >> i am not sure if the question is if people want to make additional donations -- i am sure the library of virginia would he delighted. they are short staffed because of budgetary problems, but i certainly would welcome, personally, any such donations. send them to me. i will get them in the library one way or another. i would be delighted. it is an incredible collection. believe me. i think younger historians and generations will go through these collections. some of these individual collections should be published. there is one by a young girl who in virginia and she kept a diary throughout the war, and of recalled the atrocities
1:55 am
soldiers looting, stealing, a very emotional thing. there were two brothers from richmond, one killed in the war, and another journal that should be published in its entirety. there are certainly letters were the of publication. you cannot imagine the wealth of this collection. the photographs are outstanding. again, once more, i would like to offer my thanks to the dozens of people in virginia, some of whom stood in line for one hour or more to share their collections with the library, and with you, and with mankind. it is just a tremendous accomplishment that we made it. in many respects, the centennial began with the thinking of this
1:56 am
as a celebration and not just commemoration, and they had all it wasf trouble, but just sheer joy and pleasure to work with them on behalf of history and the commonwealth. justlegacy collection is great, and i do not think any historian can bypass it. you have to examine it. it is so huge, you cannot not look at it. anything else? >> thank you so much for your talk. felt likeon, that the bad news in looking up these primary sources, i think it is very good attempted >> to romanticize -- attempted efforts to romanticize war, but many -- how could a historian
1:57 am
sort of look at this material to be corrected to say that they will just concentrate on the negative more than the positive war? that could potentially replace an incorrect narrative that we had before that this was something to celebrate and replace it with another single narrative but it was something to the floor. first, a lot of soldiers had a good time the first weeks. they were away from home, family restrictions, and they could all hang out in the army. they were having a good time. many such quotations in these letters, it is as the army lost its luster. and we much more are inclined to complain in writing that we are
1:58 am
to voice something. it is human nature. it is much better to display negative things then it is to go out and honor positive things. it is in the nature of the species, i guess. i find both there. you have to remember the times, and contrary to what is taking place in too many quarters today, you cannot look at the past through the lens of the present. generallyple say, if had done this -- a general lee had done the second is berg instead of this, what a change of the war. of course, but general lee did not have 150 years to think about it. you have to see the war to the blinders that these men saw it. this is especially the case with sickness. to get sick meant you in all likelihood were going to die. today is the opposite. you just do not feel good, call
1:59 am
opposition and get something done. bacteria did not exist as a word. it may in the future. and this is quite the case. in march of 1863, i spoke at a lot of medical conventions about civil war medicine and it does not take a genius to do because was so little was known. suffered a heart attack, no question it was some form of a serious heart attack. and what did the physicians do? nothing. they did not know about the workings of a heart. if a man gets sick, he was start feeling death. when you run into epidemics, which would take out 10% of , but you getts
2:00 am
measles, smallpox, and if you get around water, you are going to get typhoid fever sooner or later. , thesel of that sickness soldiers are scared. i will add another to that, my own beliefs, i think another reason soldiers were afraid of water was few could swim. they seat of the extreme there, and they are frightened. theater is not -- they seat stream there, -- they see a stream there and they are frightened. begins to feel a little bad and that will exacerbate until he feels awful. disease is something we take for granted. typhoid fever, we take a shots.
2:01 am
one third would die from typhoid fever. tuberculosis we could control. smallpox was our ultimate weapon. we do not need an atomic tom, just release smallpox in the territory, and you have done much more damage than a weapon. all of these diseases are there. they live in fear. as service goes on, it is less and less to be happy about, especially on the southern side. >> dr. robertson, and studying arewar, we all know letters such a wonderful primary source. veado newspaper accounts ry -- vary and reliability, and did they vary north to south, or paper by paper? >> newspapers were more one-sided than they were at. they did not even make an effort.
2:02 am
one of the few men who recognized this was robert e. lee. they had nothing to do with him. this came largely because on two or three occasions when lee was trying to conduct a secret movement, one of the richmond papers with take it up and give you a day by day schedule hour the army was. in my opinion, where robert e. lee gained his greatest achievements, after the war, he fought so hard for reconciliation. newspapers are good for opinion back then, and i use them for opinion, but they are short on fact. they were exaggerated. -- y's tendency was there much on african-americans or other unrepresented groups?
2:03 am
>> the legacy project did not, and that was our greatest disappointment. it did not contain views from african-americans, other minorities were ethnic groups. it did not. manyan probably guess americans were not writing or sending letters, and in certain areas, especially in the northern areas, that was blocked off. other books controlled the atomic river, and you could put two cavalry regiments, but it is only 10 miles between the business, and you walk up the peninsula, so those people got no letters out or in. have more minority reports. but we don't. said, it would be nice to get different viewpoints, that we do not have been. cleart collection, it is
2:04 am
the chaplains, and i'm looking forward to hearing what they got. see why so very much for your attention. [applause] -- thank you so very much for your attention. [applause]
2:05 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on