Dine-ins are small discussion groups which meet during a regularly-scheduled meal time in the campus dining center. Dine-ins are facilitated by speakers, who select a theme/topic for discussion as well as some brief readings that will be distributed prior to the conference. Each dine-in will contain no more than 10 people. Anyone is welcome to sign up for a dine-in, but due to space limitations, pre-registration is required and the seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The dine-in selection process for 2018 will open in early April.
Keith Bohannon, “The Port Royal Experiment”
We will discuss a series of primary documents from the book Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War. These documents explore the end of slavery on the South Carolina Sea Islands and the introduction of free labor among the former slaves.
William Feeney, "An Arm and a Leg: Laying the Foundations for the Field of Medicine"
We will be dissecting documents by nurses, surgeons, and wounded soldiers in an effort to understand how the destructive aspects of war inadvertently provided the means to usher the field of medicine forward. Much of the veneer of medicine today is a direct result of wounded bodies.
Evan Kutzler, “Civil War Prison Experience and the Senses”
Civil War participants were witnesses not only through their eyes but also through their ears, nose, palate, and skin. This Lunch-In will consist of several rich sensory sources and we will discuss how public and academic historians can use the senses to evaluate Civil War prisons and similar places of long-term trauma. Can attention to patterns of perception restore the texture of everyday life? We will also discuss to what extent “sensory history” and public history are compatible and whether there are limits to understanding the past through the senses. No special knowledge of Civil War prisons is required and digressions into other wartime experiences are encouraged.
Jonathan Lande, “African American Soldiers in the U.S. Civil War”
African American soldiering in the U.S. Civil War was a turning point in American history. From the start of the war, Frederick Douglass contended that service would liberate black men, lead to African American inclusion in the polity, and reestablish black manhood. Douglass was right. As historians have shown since 1865, service provided African Americans new opportunities and contributed to the efforts to open up citizenship and suffrage for African Americans. However, during the war, lesser-known men found service to be a violation of their freedom. For many of these black soldiers, the army challenged their ideas of freedom. The men grew discontented by military service and resisted to improve conditions and make freedom substantive. In this discussion, we will examine the decision to enlist and the politics surrounding it; the history of African American military service since the war; and the soldiers who determined that service did not serve freedom and resisted as a result.
Ashley Whitehead Luskey, “Surviving the Soldier Experience”
How did the temptations of camp life and the grim realities of the battlefield challenge soldiers’ closely held religious beliefs and their overall confidence in the war effort? What options did a soldier have whose fundamental belief system was shaken to the core by the world around him? How did soldiers attempt to make sense of the contradictions between their personal ideals and the demands placed upon them by military service? This dine-in will use a small sample of letters from Sergeant Philip Hamlin of the 1st Minnesota to examine how Civil War soldiers’ world views and mental processing of the war evolved between 1861 and 1863, when Hamlin met his fate at Gettysburg. Our discussion will analyze how even the most idealistic soldiers sought to come to terms with the difficult realities of soldiering. pecifically, we will discuss how, ironically, it was these men’s seemingly incompatible ideals that ultimately enabled those like Hamlin to transcend the challenges of soldiering in the ways necessary for the everyday survival of both body and soul.
Jennifer Murray, “Meade & Lincoln: Exploring Civil-Military Relations”
This dine-in discussion will examine the relationship between General George Gordon Meade and his commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln. Specifically, we will explore Lincoln’s “unsent letter” and his expectations for Meade following the battle of Gettysburg. This affords an opportunity to reevaluate the civil-military dynamic during the Civil War.
Caroline Newhall, “He Will Make Me a Good Servant: Uncovering the Black POW Experience Through Pension Files”
Decades after the Civil War ended, Private Charles Cissel of the 5th United States Colored Cavalry enumerated his capture at the Battle of Saltville, Virginia in which he sustained several injuries and was forced to work in the salt works. Using Charles Cissel’s own testimony, we will discuss the challenges of uncovering the black POW experience, and how men like Charles navigated the war.
Deirdre Cooper Owens, “Black Women, Labor, and the Civil War”
This dine-in will focus on the work of black women military personnel as well as unidentified black women whose work was largely unaccounted for by military leadership. Living in between slavery and freedom altered how this group re-imagined life for themselves outside bondage, especially as workers.
Susannah Ural, “Sustaining Morale in a Hard-Fighting Unit: A Case Study of Hood’s Texas Brigade”
From 1861 through 1865, the Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia earned a reputation as one of the best in Lee’s Army. But that reputation came at a price. While Civil War soldiers died at a 2:1 ratio of disease to combat wounds, the opposite proved true of the Texas Brigade. This dine-in, and the readings that support it, will focus on understanding how such a hard-fighting unit sustained such losses through exceptional junior-officer leadership, the men’s determination to return to the brigade despite wounds and capture, and their families’ ability to sustain themselves and fellow brigade families on the home front.
Angie Zombek, “The Trial of Henry Wirz”
While not the only Confederate to stand trial after the Civil War, Andersonville Commandant Henry Wirz was the only man subject to execution. Participants will consider his trial by military tribunal, Wirz’s defense, and the evidence against him that argued that he violated the laws of war.