Dine-ins are a new feature of the CWI summer conference, and something we hope to offer for years to come. These will be small discussion groups which will meet during a regularly-scheduled meal time in the campus dining center. A handful of our speakers have volunteered to facilitate these dine-in groups, and will serve as discussion leaders. They have all selected a theme/topic 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 topics for the 2014 Civil War Institute are as follows (check back often for additional topics!):
Today many people remember General Robert E. Lee as the beau ideal of the honorable, southern soldier, a gallant knight committed to the laws of warfare. General Lee's views on guerrilla warfare seem to highlight his abhorrence for civilian casualties before and during the Civil War, but they also confirm his ultimate commitment to the Confederacy's central political goals of establishing a white Republic dominated by a strict social and military hierarchy. Our dine-in session will explore a few moments in Lee's career where he dealt with guerrilla war to place his larger views on warfare and the Confederacy in context.
Throughout the early months of 1864, African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass traveled the North delivering a speech entitled "The Mission of the War." In it, Douglass defended emancipation and insisted that the Union must stand firm for freedom. But he also looked to the future, imagining a postwar Reconstruction that would transform the South as it reunited a nation. Douglass's speech offers a powerful evocation of the meaning of the Civil War and its promise of Reconstruction, as understood by the nation's foremost black activist. This session will focus on the speech and its author, situating both in their larger intellectual, cultural, and historical context.
The most pivotal event of 1864 did not happen on the battlefield, but at the ballot box. Over dinner we will discuss what was at stake in the 1864 presidential election, as well as the mechanics of it all -- from party platforms and electioneering to the results of the contest between Lincoln and McClellan. How did Lincoln engineer his reelection, and what did McClellan's defeat really mean? How close did the Young Napoleon come to winning the White House?
"...[T]he most pernicious idea that has been suggested" or "...a speedy and effectual method of obtaining peace..."? Through the autumn and winter of 1864-65 the Confederacy grappled with the decision of whether or not the South's slaves should be used as combat troops. Support had increased for the idea since Patrick Cleburne's ill-received statement in January 1864, but there was still a good deal of opposition. In this discussion, we'll read an article from the New York Times, originally printed in the Mobile Advertiser and Register which advocated for the Confederacy's use of armed black labor and also a letter from Major General Howell Cobb to Secretary of War James Seddon in opposition to such a measure.
Attendees will analyze and discuss examples of Union and Confederate morale from 1864-1865. We'll focus, in particular, on how one letter can be dripping with sorrow but by the next, optimism and determination have returned.
How did northern political cartoonists portray the political and military campaign of 1864? A collection of several cartoons offers insights into how northerners understood the events of that critical year.
This dine-in will examine some of the ways we have remembered John Bell Hood. We will look at the varied ways Hood was remembered immediately after the Civil War and question why historians have focused on the negative memories, rather than paint a complex and complete portrait of the general.
President Abraham Lincoln issues General Orders No. 100, Lieber's Code, on April 24, 1863, to guide the conduct and operations of Union armies in the field. This session will explore elements of Lieber's Code, analyze its implications for the conduct of the war, discuss the boundaries between civilian and military objectives, and explore the development of Federal strategies of hard war to defeat the Confederacy.
How do we draw the line between the Civil War and the Indian Wars that occurred at the same time? Should we draw such a line? Or should we incorporate these stories together? This dine-in will explore the massacre at Sand Creek and its relationship to the on-going Civil War.
This dine-in will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss a civilian's report, Rev. B.S. Schneck's The Burning of Chambersburg, which describes the destruction of the Pennsylvania town from the viewpoint of a resident.
The shift to continuous combat in the 1864 Overland Campaign considerably heightened mental stress in participating soldiers. This dine-in discussion will investigate how and why this change took place, and how combat shock manifested itself in Civil War soldiers.
This dine-in discussion group will read and discuss Patrick Cleburne's January 1864 letter to Confederate commander Joseph E. Johnston in which he suggests not only the arming of black slaves, but granting their eventual freedom in exchange for armed service.