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tv   The Civil War American Civil War Museum Annual Symposium  CSPAN  March 2, 2019 1:29pm-2:19pm EST

1:29 pm] ♪ we now return to richmond for more live coverage of the american civil war museum's symposium at the library of virginia in richmond. we will hear about the importance of military history from catherine shively, a history professor. and author of "nature's civil war, common soldiers and the environment in 1862." if you want to learn more about the civil war, american history tv features programming about the war and reconstruction every saturday night, at 6 p.m. eastern. >> welcome back, everyone.
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welcome back to the annual symposium. we are glad to have you with us. for those of us joining us on c-span, glad to have you with us as well. now we will continue today's journey. this afternoon out for speaker .p is dr. katie shively as the resident professor at richmond's largest institution of higher learning, virginia commonwealth university, dr. shively is a familiar face to many of you. she has spoken and published widely on the subject of her 2013 book, "nature's civil war: and the soldier environment in 1862 virginia." on the subject of her book in progress, the always entertaining general jubal early in his role as architect of the
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so-called lost cause version of the civil war history. nature's civil war brought to her to the forefront of civil war environmental history. she is one of the most effective voices in the field for the importance of studying military history. she teaches not only civil war history and environmental history, but also early american military history. most recently she has taken on the additional title of associate director of science, technology and society atbcu, and is an advocate of the increasingly familiar stem education framework. this is not surprising for someone who earned her phd from university of virginia studying with dr. gary gallagher, but it probably comes as a surprise to anyone who knew her as an aspiring opera singer in her youth, for as a nameless major
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at university of california with a concentration in poetry. today she would bring to this symposium the message she brought to our exhibit project in the form of her talk entitled "upon our arms all else depends: the importance of civil war military history." ladies and zoning, dr. kathryn shively. -- ladies and gentlemen, dr. catherine shively. [applause] >> thank you so much for that kind introduction and thank you to the american civil war museum for having me today and for allowing me to be a part of the process of constructing the flagship exhibit. obvious point that the civil war was a war. it might follow that any attempt to present its main narrative as the american civil war museum seeks to do in its flagship exhibit should substantially
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involve military history. given the american civil war museum's aspiration to offer an inclusive and multifaceted story, it is worth questioning the futility of military history to, shame these goals. the field is often only been understood in its narrowest terms, the so-called drums and bugle history. this type of traditional military history tends to be limited to the perspectives of generals and the tactical encounters of armies, shedding light on battle and campaign outcomes but little else. within such confines there appears scarce room to drop in the diverse perspectives of those people such as people of color and civilians. there can be a disconnect with larger political, social and cultural developments that might attract a broader audience.
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i will argue today than military history -- this will shock you -- should remain central to telling an inclusive history of the civil war for the following reasons. isst, military history broader, deeper and more complex than it often judged to be. demonstrate the stories of the conventional armies and the waging of the war were fundamental to the most important developments of the. s -- period of americans of all stripes, especially the unfolding of emancipation in the consideration of rights and justice for african-americans. finally, i will argue subjects that fall under the rubric of traditional military history such as weapons, technology -- weapons technology should not be discarded. attracteds audience that will come opportunities to interrogate entrenched myths, discovering
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newer and broader insights into subject matter they have studied for many years. to my first point that military history is more than drums and vehicles, gets important to understand this critique of military history has often been leveled by the academy. allow me to provide a few examples. glenn --scholar john lynn decried the field has been a pariah in u.s. universities. historians have been condemned as morally corrupt or just plain down. -- dumb. alan gelsoe explained that "the lure of studying battles remains strong, but it has acquired among my academic peers a reputation close to pornography." colleagues even inquired if military
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historians employed crayons, also a reference to a propensity for drawing battle maps. an opaque and intimidating practiced outsiders. john shyscholar lamented how often he has been asked to provide a single guest lecture on "all the military colleague's class. administrator pronounced a military history course "only fit for hormone driven fraternity boys." laying beside the point that a fraternity member deserves is rich in education as the next person, you might wonder why such hostility. in part, critics miss the fact
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that the best military historians connect in fruitful ways to the field with which other scholars are chiefly concerned. diplomatic,tical, social, cultural, environmental, medical or otherwise. military history in fact investigates warfare and the relationship between military institutions and the societies from which they spring. this endeavor is quite expansive, involving interactions within the armed forces and all manner of noncombatants. from politicians to women to children. historianslitary have provided numerous studies that reveal how wars and armies have transformed the country. anacond -- in the conflicts leading up to the war, it is shaped.u.s. institutions thehe revolutionary war continental army but only enabled the possibility of a new country, but also embodied the virtuecan, little 'r',
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of self-sacrifice. volunteers dropped off in 1776 and 1777, black men, ,any enslaved, into the ranks composing 22% to 25% of the army. this signaled opportunity for emancipation, paid work and social dignity than military service could provide for oppressed people groups. in addition to missing the richness of such military studies, some academics, particularly since the vietnam war have proclaimed the military historian aging the list of results for by studying it. war byoist who exalts studying it.
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thus a military historian could say, tell the story of soldier atrocities, rape, massacres and treachery, are not conventional or mainstream experiences were soldiers obeyed limits and accomplished sociopolitical goals. this utterly sidelines majority experiences but also overlooks the american military's goals of promoting social change such as racial integration, social welfare and higher education. at the same time that military history has suffered calumny, it has remained a steamed in the public sphere with popular historians and laypeople producing numerous campaign studies in biographies each year. some academics also proceed this as a threat because popular history need debt here to certain norms, and in many cases is and -- is infinitely
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more readable. the civil war museum is were academic scholarship and public interest co-mingle. within the museum military history can be more than drums in vehicles, -- bugles. bugles. and the story should remain at the center of any attempt to present a main narrative of the period. as lincoln explained in his second inaugural, "the progress of our arms upon which all else depends is as well to the public as to myself." americans were not confused about the fact the armies were the primary responsibility for achieving the war aims for the united states. this medical pushing reunions --
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this meant accomplishing reunions. for the confederacy, this meant an independent slavery public. americans on both sides voraciously consumed news about the progress of their armies and the generals who commanded armies. account,. gallagher's the front pages of 80% of harpers weekly, a premier illustrated newspaper featured a military topic or leader. generals where the celebrities of the villains of the time. their successes and failures affected army and civilian morale and commitment to the war effort. a chief example was robert e. lee and his army of northern virginia, which together the camp of locusts of nationalism for a country that basically only existed in wartime. the slateer argues wonders of his army proved most
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nationalistic of all confederates, using letters home, battlefield victories and reinvestment to "propel loyalty among citizens and soldiers throughout the confederacy." based on scholar joseph ladder's army,it of the'-- lee's one in 10 how do slaves in 1861. when you count those who lived with slaveowning family members, soldiers of the army of northern virginia were 42% more likely than the average confederate to live in a household with enslaved people. officers half of lee's own slaves. just as george washington's army encapsulate the revolution, so did lee's army.
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the federal government instituted conscription and martial law, imposed income tax, and oppressed slaves and farm produce among other infringement on state, local and individual rights. as long as lee and his army remained in the field, most confederates believe in the ability to win long after food and supply shortages plague their nation. yes, long after gettysburg. confederates reasonably hoped a republican incumbent abraham lincoln lost the 1864 presidential election, the piece wing of the party might advance or any negotiations which could result in confederate independence. a republican loss would have spelled the doom of emancipation in the united states which was a mere military measure in all law in 1864.
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indeed, in the 1864 presidential --ction, this event proved provides us with an example of how battlefield events profoundly shaped politics. wasoln himself convinced by the stalemates in the summer of 1864 that he would not be reelected and wrote of life memorandum -- a blind memorandum to that effect stating "this morning, as for seven days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected. the president then sealed the memo and had his cabinet sign it. yet, just as the summer campaigns brought lincoln despair, so did william sherman's win in atlanta and sheridan victory in october turned the tide of public opinion. lincoln credited his generals' a andliment with reelection,
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united states secured permanent emancipation and defeated the confederacy within five. without knowing civil war history one cannot fully understand one of the most important election outcomes in american history. analysis makes it easy to spot the importance of military history to his islection, easier to mess the decisive role that military forces play in the struggles for emancipation and social progress for african-americans. developments at the very heart of a war that erected over slavery. -- erupted over slavery. 1861, southerners working on confederate defensive fortifications fled in nearby u.s. forces under benjamin butler's command, advancing not only the possibility of their own freedom but a wider wartime emancipation, as we heard in the
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top for lunch. -- talk before lunch. the physical presence of the u.s. army is what enabled enslaved people in their children to make a dash for freedom with some hope of protection. as robert gould shaw memorial and to think 54th massachusetts infantry explained after lincoln issued the preliminary proclamation, "i can't see what practical good the proclamation can do now. wherever our army has been there remained no slaves. the proclamation will not set them free where we don't go." attempted toeople secure their freedom without the aid of the u.s. army, they faced the same dangers and consequences they had before the war or more. replete withpture, punishments such as whipping, mutilation or social death from
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the sale of themselves or their family members. in remote locations often do not even learn of the u.s. government's unfolding emancipation proclamation or policy until federal troops arrived to explain the news. in some cases well after confederates had laid down their arms. as black refugees taken into the care of the u.s. army quickly realized, however, freedom often proved in complete and almost always under supported. because the u.s. government never manifested a consistent policy towards black refugees, generals often took the lead in deciding -- assigning work. some work for meager or no wages, or merely room and board. others were forced to labor on their former plantations. then a master, uncle sam. -- their new master, uncle sam. suffering a mortality rate higher than the accompanying
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white soldiers by at least 5% to 10%. freed people with particularly valued work skills such as blacksmiths tended to receive the highest pay and enjoyed somewhat better conditions, follow this made some wages laboring for the army has pioneers, cooks or launderers. whatever the compensation, black civilian labor came to undefined amount -- just as enslaved labor did in the confederacy. each refugee who fled to union lines deprived the confederacy of vital supportive work, with 80% of the white male military aged subpopulation mobilized in the army's. for better and for worse, became the site of transformative social processes, and why soldiers representing virtually every northern region, economic class and ideological stance interacted with
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african-americans, often for the first time. the number of black americans living in the prewar free states was a mere 1% to 2% of the overall population. in the best of circumstances white soldiers allowed new experiences to disrupt preconceived racial stereotypes, such as in numerous examples provided by black refugees, laundries, and nurse susie king taylor. she recalled to the care of the u.s. navy near saint simons island, georgia, the catheter for ship "asked if i could read. i said yes. can you write? yes, i can do that also, i replied. as if he had some doubts in my answers, he handed me a book in pencil and told me to write my name and where i was from. i did this. he was surprised at my
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accomplishment. he said he did not know there es in the south able to read or write." the next thing she knew, the commodore of the fleet asked her to take charge of a school on the island, which she obliged when furnished with adequate books. since wartime experiences gateway to postwar developments. as a story and laura edwards underscores during reconstruction given the newly freed people who called for the creation of public education systems for all families regardless of race. it was african-american to first framed education as a civil that "individuals could claim and that the government could enforce." oftene interactions teamed with white northern racism. as many federal soldiers could see the value of depriving the enemy of enslaved labor the emancipation, but did not
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recognize the humanity or dignity of black people. a position typical in the 19th century republican party. points out the northern soldiers in particular invested zealous effort into producing and performing blackface minstrel shows in the army camp's. -- army camps. paste duped kidnapping, coercion and violence to steal close or -- clothes or hair. the 40th new york infantry erected a stage with -- i'm not exaggerating, 15 footballs, benches -- 15-foot walls, benches and balconies. they printed leaflets for the performance and provided after madeelimination by "gas on the grounds by a manufacturing appliance for the gatherefat and bones
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d each day at the cook houses ." union soldiers delighted in visiting the contraband can't to observe music and dancing, with some that was impressive and others deemed debased and inferior. as he explains, these practices revealed northern soldiers' great anxieties of the social transformation taking place, as well as the comfort they found every entrenching antebellum racial stereotypes. twist, some of the brightest refugee stories emerged from the leadership decision of william t sherman, who cared very little for the welfare of black people but also made possible liberation of tens of thousands of enslaved people during his march through georgia and the carolinas.
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sherman and u.s. secretary of war edwin stanton met with 20 black leaders in savannah, georgia to inquire after with their communities needed. to his mind, he was simply eager to jettison the refugees encumbering his military progress. ofever, this also proved one the rare wartime instances in which u.s. leaders consulted black southern leaders on how best to address the refugee crisis. we wantwhom insisted, " to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own." four days later, sherman issued special field order number 15, which provided for the confiscation of 400,000 acres of ind along the atlantic coast georgia, south carolina and florida to be divided into 40 acre parcels for distribution.
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a later order offer the company accomp- a company m -- aning mule. sadly, their occupancy with the revoked under andrew j ohnson. one of the most important experiences the army offered to black men beginning of localized areas in 1862 and more brothers in 1863 was the renewed opportunity to become soldiers. technically, black men had been barred from army service since the 1792 militia act. they have the occasional loopholes such as the new orleans under andrew jackson of the work week and 12. black men had been allowed access under quota restrictions to the navy throughout the and period.p -- antebellum this offered more than just a
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job by many recently enslaved men who urgently needed food, pay and board. and it offered access to education. as recent studies have shown, black soldiers talking to other literacy, waiting to better jobs, less poverty, and longer life spans after the war. importantly, black men understood, as did most 19th-century americans that military service traditionally paved the way for citizenship. to which event an eye for african by the 1857 dred scott supreme court ruling. thek men acknowledged potential military service allowed for eroding white supremacy and racism, and encouraging access to new social rights such as jerry participated -- jury
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participation. sacrificing life and limb for one's country would make it difficult for republicans such as abraham lincoln to continue to allow their fears of biracial society to feel their enthusiasm for colonization, or the idea of repatriating african-americans who had by the senate almost exclusively born in america. to places like africa, the caribbean and other locations. "this is ourglass, golden opportunity. let us accept it, and forever wipe out the dark reproaches unsparingly hurled against us by our enemies. win thewi -- let us gratitude of our country and the best blessings of our posterity throughout all time." indeed, the soldiers of the colored troops are u.s. --
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labored mightily. for instance, they overcame by extended efforts inferior wages. until june 1864, they were paid at $10 a month instead of $13 a month afforded white soldiers by protesting, refusing to accept pay and direct appeals to the president. they even issued back pay. black soldiers impressed on white officers the benefits of allowing them to serve in combat rather than merely performing labor rules by the lines. lines.s behind the at the battle of newmarket heights, 14 black soldiers received medals of honor. this effort mass casualties, such as the 54th massachusetts at the july 1863 assault on fort wagner in which nearly half the regiment became casualties.
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hitsalso took particular for their blackness, such as soldiers of the second and sixth u.s. colored artillery regiment. about 65% to 70% of whom are executed upon surrendering to confederate cavalry general nathan veteran forest. forrest.d they also served as newspaper correspondents. one helped to a road deeply indebted white cultural myths about black laziness or cowardly nuts. -- cowardliness. "these noble men of the u.s.c.t., are practically refuting the assertions by traiters the black race is incapable of patriotism, valor or ambition." the u.s. army made emancipation make a -- possible and
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platform from which blackmun could fight for social justice. could fight for social justicen. the military service social confrontation has the civil war progressed. these are stories that require expertise in soldiers in military history to tell in full. my final point today is that subjects that fall under the rubric of traditional military history such as weapons technology, tactics and combat should also remain a part of the story the museum tells. the opportunity to glimpse a rifle, musket or artillery shell patrons, but if you challenge assumptions and expose them to greater historical context. recent academic works have been painstaking labor to disprove
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long-held myths whisking can often fail to filter death of public knowledge through the scholarship alone. to provide one example, many civil war dizziness continued to mistakenly believe the rifle musket in combination with the groups conical mini ball greatly altered the way battles were fought. argument that soldiers fully utilized the longer range and greater accuracy of the new shoulder weapon, prolonging the war and contributed to the deadliness and indecisiveness of civil war combat. hessilitary historian earl ,as proven in several volumes of vast majority of infantryman, save sharpshooters and skirmishers, used the rifle musket exactly as they had before, engaging the enemy at 100 yards or less.
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this was in part because of cultural preference, but also because of the difficulties of his ability at greater distances in wooded, rolling terrain, and the parabolic trajectory of the bullet. hess explains, "a comparison of casualty rates between smoothbore battles of the 18th century and those of the rifle battles of the civil war clearly show the smoothbore musket produced as many, often more casualties than the new weapons." counters the myth that traditional european-based system of linear tactics or shoulder to shoulder lines was outdated and poorly matched to the new technology of the rifle musket. he argues with the best
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available tactical system to command and control massive armies of citizen soldiers which is sprawl to 120,000 men. many volunteers and a junior officers had never held a musket before 1861. however, they quickly learned linear tactics from field manuals and drills. some of their accomplishments included increasing the rate of movement toward and in combat, deploying some of the most effective examples of skirmishing in western military history, and successfully completing complicated field maneuvers such as the oblique movement. the length of the civil war fostered significant improvement over time. ess finds most armies struggled with articulation at the division level and above. the regiment remained the primary tactical unit.
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he argues for an exception in united states army of the potomac, this high-level coordination improved. while its opponent, the army of northern virginia, largely assumed the defensive in the last year the war, relying on small counterattacks. testing the belief of the army northern virginia was unequivocally superior and tactics to its opponents, not so. a final traditional military history topic that frequently requires and receives updating scholarship but often fails to reach the masses is the subject of casualties. hacker of the traditional account from 620,000 to relate 750,000 -- to at least 750,000. individual battle casualties need updates, and not only
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because they want to fully and accurately acknowledge those who suffered or perished. iconicr instance the june 3, 1864 salt ordered by grant on lee's entrenched troops. painstaking work has brought to light the extent to which these casualties have been overstated. including by grant himself, who in his memoirs confessed to deeply regretting the assault. estimates of union casualties used to range from 7000 to 12,000, sometimes just in minutes. greatly contributing to the myth that grant was a butcher while lee was a flawless tactician. he finds the grant charge generated more like 3500 union casualties.
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total union casualties for the entire day across all the lines approximated perhaps 6000. underlying the numbers is the challenge to us to rethink why civil war students have come so steadfastly to the idea that grant callously cast away his soldiers, especially when joseph blatter has proven that lee's army was unquestionably the bloodiest to be a part. three out of every four soldiers in the army of northern virginia or killed, wounded, died of disease, captured or discharged for disability. that percentage rises to 80% when desertion is factored in. widely fixate on cold harbor? assaultsf lee's costly . the cultural and regional mythology around the general inhibits our reading of the data
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or perhaps even inhibits a result to seek out the evidence in the first place. because so many modern-day americans received their first introduction to the conflict through battles, generals and soldiers, justice civil war americans scattered -- scour the newspapers, history can attract a large audience but offer much more than anticipated. they can challenge us to reengage with her long-held beliefs and wonder at the ward's social revolution with all of its progress in failure. to conclude, we might turn to the words of a common soldier, a regular man from the ranks who happened to be black and formerly enslaved. he did a mighty job of summing up the importance of the military. out of respect i will let him have the last word. singletoneant william
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"flected in his 1922 memoirs, i wore the uniform of those men in blue who through four years of suffering wiped away with their blood the state of slavery and purged the republic of its sentence -- sins. my discharge is one of my most prized possessions." thank you. [applause] >> now it is time for chats. >> thank you so much for that. i loved the focus you have given. one of the things i have always been interested in, especially
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lately doing a lot of reconstruction reading, colfax, hamburg, the massacres that occurred in the state of u.s. troops in the occupied south. has anyone done any comprehensive military history on the military forces of occupation? and the decisions to move troops west in that complex military setting? dr. shively: fabulous question. for many decades the reconstruction period was ignored. the scholarship had reached a point of being static. it had not changed in a while. just like with all areas of scholarship, military scholarship needed updating. it has been done with two works in particular that come to mind. greg downs has a book that talks about the -- the research is well done and shows how over time the size of the u.s.
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occupying force in reconstruction dwindled and dwindled. it was so small and inadequate to its task because congress was not allocating funds, etc., that the u.s. forces could not do a good job protecting african-americans who were suffering terrorism in the south as they were trying to transition to new jobs and new lives. that was one book i recommend it. -- recommend. ang -- iion, andrew l love this piece of scholarship. as someone who studies common soldiers i appreciate that lang looked at the different ways the occupying forces and reconstruction viewed their roles. white troops and black troops were heavily involved in occupation. white troops drew upon the citizen soldier tradition from
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way back to the colonial era that said that peacetime armies are a bad thing. they erode democracy and are scary. white troops tended to not want to be involved in occupation. they looked at their roles in assisting elections and protecting citizens and helping to navigate the birth of new rights as something they should not be doing. this was for the political realm, not the military realm. however, black soldiers, according to lang, valued and embraced this role in helping their brethren, women and children to transition to freedom, protecting them from violence, helping to embrace the rights in voting in the public square. very different experiences for white and black soldiers. lang's la -- andrew fabulous monogram on the topic. things for the question.
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-- thanks for the question. >> thank you for your presentation. thattoo little today scholars have taken the necessity of military history. part of that is because military history has been really heavily done. opinion,an't, in my understand the north after the civil war or the south after the civil war unless you understand the will to battle. said.n key in not unless you understand the methods and tactics of battle. interest people in
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the necessity of looking at this whole as far as the civil war is concerned? the way i'm interpreting this question is, how can i draw in folks who were not convinced of the importance -- therstanding military importance of military history? is that accurate? i teach military history and the civil war on regular rotation at vcu. those classes are always full. there is no problem attracting young people. many of the students in my audience are military service people. they have served, but many have not and there are people of all backgrounds, all possible diverse races and ethnicities in genders.
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i think -- this is my personal opinion. i feel as americans it is our responsibility to understand. this valuable and dangerous democratic institution. i think our responsibility to understand it, to care for it, to care for service people. i think others feel that way as well. for those who are not as convinced, i hope i talk like this helps them understand military history is broad and for everyone. sometimes be a misconception that military history is only for white men, or something along those lines. i hope my presence counters that by my being. it is not just for white people either. clearly what i have chosen the highlight today is the military has been one of the frontier sites throughout history of social interaction, social
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change and social progress for people of all colors. some of that history is ugly and some of that history is inspiring, but that is the way all history is. this is not specific to military history. i will have that stand is my answer to you. thank you, sir. >> thank you for some very informative comments. would you say a few words to us about the potential danger perhaps basing one's research and understanding of military history on things that were written far subsequent to the action as compared with researching with contemporary sources? dr. shively: this is a great question about sources. this is the historian's lifeblood. how we treat our sources in the manner they should be treated. usetypes of sources that i
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range from sources that were written at the time, letters and diaries, to memory sources that were written many decades later that are much more reflective of the time they were written. in 1890, a soldier is sitting down and reflecting back on their experiences in 1862, something stable remember clearly, like the lice or the swarms of flies. interpretation of their service is going to reflect 1890. maybe at the time this person was talking about a federal soldier. if you asked anything 62, he would have said i hate those rebels. are just can't wait to ring their necks. in 1890, kbyte of said let's let bygones be bygones. we also revised.
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-- we all sacrificed. if you look at that source, this means they was brotherly love in 1862 because this person remembered that. that is not the way memory works. there is a lot of complexity in the way you deal with sources. military history is incredibly difficult to re-create. going back to the first part of my talk when i mentioned colleagues he don't understand military history accuse us of being dumb, you can't be dumb to wade three 100 accounts of the same instance that are different because ever been experiences battle differently. it is difficult to see and hear your experiencing a certain level of high emotion and everybody has a different experience. -- itur job to sift i
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out. the reason we have to do it over and over again is because our job is never done. with casualties we keep getting it wrong because everybody had a different opinion about whom is to be counted and for what reason. we have to keep doing the work. the work is never over. some people say, the past already happened. it's the sources. we have to wade through the sources. it is very difficult. thank you very the question -- thank you for the question. [applause] >> thank you all. thank you again, dr. shively. lee will take a 15-minute break and see you back here shortly. enjoy. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] >> you are watching live
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coverage of the american civil war museum's symposium in richmond, virginia on c-span3's american history tv. we will be back after a short break with paul quickly, director for the civil war studies and the author of the civil war and the transformation of american citizenship. >> i'm standing in front of perhaps one of the most famous courthouses in the united states, where really nothing of significance happened. appomattox courthouse. the name is pretty confusing. courthouse, one word, is a building like the one behind me and it is situated in the village of appomattox courthouse. courthouse, two words, is a village. appomattox court house the village is famous because it is where general lee surrendered to ulysses s. grant on april 19 -- april 9, 1965, bringing about


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