2023 Civil War Institute Summer Conference

On this page:

2023 Conference

Register for the Conference

Join us, June 9-14, 2023, for an exciting lineup of CWI speakers! We are excited to feature leading Civil War scholars, Harold Holzer, Catherine Clinton, Craig Symonds, Caroline Janney, Lorien Foote, and more within our line-up of over 35 distinguished speakers and tour guides.

For nearly 40 years, the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College has hosted a premiere annual summer conference bringing leading historians and public audiences together for lectures, battlefield tours, small group discussions, and roundtable conversations about the Civil War era. Sessions, lodging, and meals are held on the 200-acre college campus.

The 2023 CWI Conference will feature a wide range of topics, including Lincoln as Commander in Chief, the Civil War in Appalachia, Harriet Tubman, John Singleton Mosby, Confederate widowhood, retaliation in the American Civil War, the Army of Tennessee, and more.

In addition to touring the Gettysburg battlefield, participants will have the opportunity to visit a variety of other nearby battlefields and historic sites on tours that will explore Antietam and Harpers Ferry, or to combine a half-day of focused class work with a half-day out on the battlefield, exploring, in-depth, the actions on the 1st or 3rd day of battle at Gettysburg. Participants who may prefer a shorter, more physically active conference experience can also choose to sign up for our new “active track” package, featuring a combination of Friday and Saturday morning lectures and a day and a half of walking-intensive tours of the Gettysburg battlefield on Saturday and Sunday with historian Garry Adelman, exploring the First Day’s battlefield and the Union Fishhook, off the beaten path!

This conference will also continue the recently added Saturday evening tours of the Gettysburg battlefield discussing instances of surrender, the intersection of soldiers and civilians at a historic farm field hospital, and more; half-day Tuesday tours following in the footsteps of fallen commanders, as well as both “lunch-in” and “dine-in” discussions with CWI faculty.

The 2023 conference will offer something for everyone, from longtime students of the Civil War to those who are new to Civil War history.

Schedule

Dine-Ins

Saturday, June 10 Dine-Ins, 12:15-1:30 pm

Battle in the Bluegrass Borderlands: The Unchartered Road to Emancipation in Civil War Kentucky (Steve Phan)

This dine-in conversation will examine the complexities of emancipation and conditional Unionism in Kentucky during the Civil War. A wide variety of documents will be featured including newspaper accounts, official military orders/messages/correspondents, congressional legislation, diary, memoirs, and regimental histories. 

Playing Hell in Tennessee: John Bell Hood and the Challenge of Command in the 1864 Tennessee Campaign (Drew Bledsoe)

Few Civil War commanders have been as vilified as Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood. Blamed for the failure of the disastrous 1864 Confederate invasion of Tennessee, misconceptions and distortions concerning Hood’s performance and legacy in that campaign continue to influence our understanding of the last major offensive operation in the Western theater. This discussion will assess Hood’s actions and efforts to shape his legacy through post-war writings and memoir.

Animals in the Civil War (Lorien Foote)

This dine-in will explore how animals, especially dogs, contributed to military life. We will consider Confederate officers’ use of dogs to counter raids by the 1st and 2nd South Carolina (Union), the use of dogs to guard prisoners at Andersonville, the thriving trade in mocking birds among Union soldiers, and the presence of a variety of companion animals in camp and battle. Participants will read reports from official military records, excerpts from the trial of Henry Wirz, and letters and diaries.

Until Death Do Us Part: Civil War Widowhood (Angela Esco Elder)

“Now I’m a widow. Ah! That mournful word. Little the world think of the agony it contains!” wrote Sally Randle Perry in her diary, after losing her husband at Antietam. In doing so, she received a label she would share with more than 200,000 women across the nation. In this dine-in session, we will be discussing condolence letters, political speeches, newspapers, and more, to explore the experiences of women widowed during the Civil War.

Honoring the Fallen: An Analysis of Civil War Soldiers’ Obituaries (James M. Scythes)

A study of Civil War soldiers’ obituaries demonstrates that the press gave loved ones an opportunity to commemorate the life, and death, of a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation during the war. Written by journalists or the deceased’s family or friends and drawing upon information written in condolence letters, obituaries typically included basic information about the fallen soldier, but the thematic elements found in soldier obituaries also reflected the religious values of the era and reinforced notions of patriotism and sacrifice. Oftentimes, obituary writers focused on subtopics within these broader themes, such as aspects of the Good Death or describing the soldier as a Christian Gentleman or “soldier of the Cross,” to assure readers that the deceased gained entrance into heaven and depict the ideal soldier and man. An analysis of these subtopics gives us a more detailed understanding of what these larger themes meant to the people of the Civil War generation and how their authors used an obituary to commemorate the life of a fallen soldier, while also attempting to explain the meaning of his death. Their passing represented the sacrifice made by thousands of families in the North and South and came to symbolize something larger, as obituary writers attempted to place the individual soldier’s death in a national context by focusing on the human price of victory. By printing many thousands of obituaries for fallen soldiers, therefore, the press played an important role in enabling all Americans to commemorate those who died during the Civil War and provided a forum to preserve these written memorials to the common soldier.

Sunday, June 11 Dine-Ins, 5:30-6:45 pm

The Debate Over Confederate Emancipation (Keith Bohannon)

This dine-in discussion will focus on the debate over Confederate emancipation. In the closing months of the Civil War, white Southerners engaged in a national debate over whether to arm and enlist slaves in the Confederate Army. This discussion will explore both sides of the debate, analyzing primary documents that include petitions by Confederate officers and soldiers in support of African-American enlistment, and public and private statements written by Robert E. Lee and other influential military and political Southern leaders. Participants looking for background information on the topic are encouraged to read Bruce Levine, Confederate Emancipation (Oxford University Press, 2007). 

 “Power Always Compels Respect”: Late 19th/Early 20th-Century Monumentation at Gettysburg (Jill Ogline Titus)

Despite a surface veneer of sectional reconciliation, fierce debates over whose experiences and interpretations of the battle deserved memorialization on Gettysburg’s commemorative landscape raged throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. Drawing on a range of letters, memos, newspaper articles, and dedication addresses, participants in this dine-in will explore the complex backstories and “loaded symbolism” of many of the battlefield’s most controversial early monuments, including, among others, the 72nd and 84th Pennsylvania Monuments; the 2nd Maryland Infantry, CSA Monument; and the Virginia Monument.

American Exceptionalism in the Civil War Era (Andrew Lang)

 Diverse casts of nineteenth-century Americans regarded the United States as a unique and exceptional democratic republic that resided within an oppressive, revolutionary, monarchical world. While the concept of American exceptionalism may seem problematic to some modern audiences, it is important to take seriously how and why Americans of a prior era considered their nation, its founding, and its democracy the zenith of modern political enterprises. But the commanding place of slavery within a republic of liberty imposed irreconcilable understandings of American nationhood, informing the causes, conduct, and consequences of the Civil War. Referencing documents from Unionists and Confederates, black and white Americans, statesmen and common people, the dine-in interrogates the complex reasons why Americans waged a bloody civil war over the very existence, meaning, and fate of their self-proclaimed exceptional republic.

Political Generals: John Pope and George McClellan (Cecily Zander)

John Pope and George McClellan stood at opposite ends of the Civil War’s political spectrum. McClellan believed in a conservative and limited war to save the Union and nothing more, while Pope sought to wage the war for Union and emancipation—a radical and transformative vision for the conflict that placed him in the minority of army officers. In the summer of 1862, Pope and McClellan were asked to work together to defeat the surging Army of Northern Virginia, which had turned McClellan back at the gates of Richmond and marched for the Potomac frontier. Politics and personal resentments in the Union officer corps struck another blow at Second Manassas and laid bare the challenge facing the Lincoln administration if it hoped to win the war. For our luncheon, we look at what John Pope and George McClellan said to each other in the summer of 1862, what they said about each other to their friends and allies, and how they each explained their failures after their signature defeats at the hands of Robert E. Lee. We will discuss not only the Union disasters of the summer of 1862, but also look more broadly at the phenomenon of “political generals” and their influence on the Civil War’s conduct and outcomes.

Union Command Decisions at Chancellorsville (Beth Parnicza)

Although the Battle of Chancellorsville has long been famous for the decisions of Confederate leadership, Union high command played an equal--if not greater--role in the battle's development. Examine the battle through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Hooker, and Union corps commanders! This dine-in will consider key turning points of the battle, what influenced Union officers in making decisions, and the often-sassy reactions of officers and soldiers alike. We will read the contemporary thoughts and reactions of major players, followed by an analysis of Joseph Hooker's own reflections on what history remembers as his great defeat.

Battlefield Tours

Tuition

Full Time (June 9-14, 2023)

  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Lodging (Single Bedroom, Shared Suite): $1,025
  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Lodging (Shared Bedroom, Suite-Style Residence Hall): $922.00
  • Tuition with Meal Plan: $783.00
  • Tuition Only: $643.00

Part Time (June 9-11, 2023)

  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Lodging (Single Bedroom, Suite-Style Residence Hall): $678.00
  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Lodging (Shared Bedroom, Suite-Style Residence Hall): $618.00
  • Tuition with Meal Plan: $463.00
  • Tuition Only: $391.00

**New: Family Lodging Options

Full Time

  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Family Lodging Suite (3-5 individuals, Single Bedroom, Shared Bathroom): $1,985

Part Time

  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Family Lodging Suite (3-5 individuals, Single Bedroom, Shared Bathroom): $1,385

**New: “Active Track” Package** (June 9-11, 2023)

(Friday and Saturday morning lectures, plus walking-intensive tours of the Gettysburg battlefield both Saturday afternoon and evening and all day Sunday)

“The First Day and the Union Fishhook at Gettysburg, off the Beaten Path”

  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Lodging (Single Bedroom, Shared Suite): $728.00
  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Lodging (Shared Bedroom, Suite-Style Residence Hall: $668.00
  • Tuition with Meal Plan: $513.00
  • Tuition Only: $441.00
  • Tuition, Meal Plan, & On-Campus Family Lodging Suite (3-5 individuals, Single Bedroom, Shared Bathroom): $1,435.00

Discounts & Official Partner Package Deals

Discounts are available for K-12 teachers, students age 18+, public historians, veterans/active duty members of the US Armed Forces, and Gettysburg College alumni. All individuals under 18 years of age qualify for half-price tuition. (Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Please see registration page for more details about this package).

**NEW THIS YEAR** We are excited to offer a 50% discount on your tuition if you bring along a first-time CWI-conference-goer to the June, 2023 conference! (May not be used in conjunction with any other discount; discount is void if new guest cancels. Please call CWI at 717-337-6590 for details).

We are also pleased to offer discounts to members of numerous partnering institutions, including:

- Civil War Round Tables

- Adams County Historical Society

- American Battlefield Trust

- Gettysburg Heritage Center

- The Lincoln Forum

- National Museum of Civil War Medicine

- Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center

- The National Civil War Museum

-Subscribers to Civil War Times Magazine and Civil War Monitor magazine

-Listeners of Civil War Talk Radio

Be sure to also check out our NEW bundled registration package deals in conjunction with CWI’s official conference partners!

If you think you may qualify for any of the above discounts, please contact the CWI office at 717-337-6590 or civilwar@gettysburg.edu for the appropriate discount code. Discount codes may change yearly, so please be sure to call for the most up-to-date codes!