Saturday, June 11 Dine-Ins, 12:15-1:30 pm
“Caricatures, Columnists, and Cartoons: Coping with the Civil War through Humor,” with Jim Marten (Marquette University)
Civil War-era Americans loved jokes: puns and other forms of wordplay, political cartoons, caricatures of the rich and powerful, tall tales, parodies, and virtually every form of humor animated life during America’s bloodiest war. Using a wide variety of sources—from jokes published as filler in newspapers to graphic criticisms of politicians, from visual jokes on patriotic envelopes to over-the-top satire by syndicated columnists, this dine-in will explore ways that Americans North and South coped with the Civil War raging all around them.
"Representations of African Americans in Oil Paintings during the Civil War Era," with Amanda Bellows (The New School)
Some of the most powerful images of African Americans appeared in oil paintings during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Artists from diverse backgrounds depicted African Americans escaping from slavery, serving as Union soldiers, learning how to read, and engaging in cultural traditions. These representations gained national attention, both shaping and reflecting the dynamics of the Civil War era. During our dine-in, we will examine and discuss a range of compelling paintings from 1861-1877.
“‘Disabled, But Not Disheartened’: Exploring a Left-Hand Penmanship Contest for Wounded Civil War Veterans,” with Michelle Krowl (Library of Congress)
Between 1865 and 1867, The Soldier's Friend newspaper, edited by Wm. Oland Bourne, sponsored two contests in which Union soldiers and sailors who lost their right arms by disability or amputation during the Civil War were invited to submit samples of their penmanship using their left hands. The contests offered cash prizes for the winning entries, but also encouraged disabled veterans to see good penmanship as a path to self-sufficiency. The resulting contest entries documented for posterity the soldiers’ experiences as they remembered them, or as curated for a public audience. In this session we will discuss the history of the contest, the contents of the collection, and explore a selected contest entry. This collection is available online at https://www.loc.gov/collections/wm-oland-bourne-papers/about-this-collection/.
“Smallpox during the Civil War,” with Jim Downs (Gettysburg College)
This discussion will explore how smallpox spread viciously during the Civil War. Focusing on selections from the 1867 research findings of Dr. Joseph Jones (Medical Department of the former University of Nashville, TN), we will look at the widespread impact of smallpox during the war, how it infected formerly enslaved people and prisoners of war, and how the Union and Confederacy both responded to this unprecedented outbreak.
“Gettysburg’s Camp Letterman: Inside the Civil War’s First Battlefield General Hospital,” with Jake Wynn (National Museum of Civil War Medicine)
In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, the US Army established Camp Letterman on the eastern outskirts of town to care for the severely wounded left behind. The inspiration for Camp Letterman, though, traced its roots to the aftermath of Antietam ten months earlier. By examining selections from Jonathan Letterman’s memoirs and “The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion,” we will discuss the evolution of post-battle medical treatment and the lessons learned from long-term medical facilities established in the wake of two of the Civil War's most famous engagements.
Sunday, June 12 Dine-Ins, 5:30-6:45 pm
“At the Cannon’s Mouth: Battlefield Relics and the Making of Civil War Memory,” with Jim Broomall (Shepherd University)
This discussion will focus on both material and textual sources. We will examine bullet-in-wood artifacts from the Gettysburg battlefield (photographs of said items) as well as descriptions of the destruction to the natural environment around Culp’s Hill. Participants will parse out how Nineteenth-Century Americans viewed the Civil War’s destruction; consider why battlefield artifacts became so popular; and debate how artifacts have informed our constructions of Civil War memory.
“Meade’s Leadership at Gettysburg,” with Jennifer Murray (Oklahoma State University)
This dine-in event will explore General George Meade’s leadership at Gettysburg. In particular, we will consider two (or three) of Meade’s orders on June 30 and July 1, with a specific focus on the infamous Pipe Creek Circular and missives to General John Reynolds. In reading these orders, we will piece together evidence that will allow us to evaluate Meade’s intentions regarding his desire to fight at Gettysburg and the distribution of his forces on the eve of battle.
“The Unbearable Heaviness of Survival: Gettysburg’s Wounded and the Long Shadow of Battle,” with Ashley Whitehead Luskey (Gettysburg College)
This dine-in will explore some of the oft-overlooked, lived experiences of Gettysburg’s (ultimately) “mortally” wounded whose injuries proved fatal not days or months after the battle, but years later. By unpacking selections from the widow’s pension of a New York private and Irish immigrant wounded near the railroad cut on July 1, we will discuss the expansive depth and scope of the human toll of battle upon those cut down in the height of combat who were forced to navigate the physical and emotional challenges of their ultimately life-ending wounds for years after the guns fell silent. We will also explore how families, home-town communities, and comrades sought to cope with and/or assist those struggling to survive and make meaning of the “in-between” existence of these soldiers who neither perished on or adjacent to the field of battle, nor were able ever to re-enter civic life in the wake of war alongside those more celebrated veterans who were disabled, but not debilitated.
Letters and Loyalty: Midwesterners, Political Disputes, and Articulating Loyalty During the Civil War,” with Julie Mujic (Denison University)
This dine-in session will feature a set of letters between a University of Michigan law student and his fiance. He was a staunch Copperhead, while she was a devoted abolitionist. We will examine their back-and-forth about slavery and the war, and debate how people on the Midwestern home front understood and articulated notions of loyalty. In this session, we will also consider how political divisions in a region far from the battlefield played into professional and personal decision-making.
“A Grand Army of Black Men: African Americans and Letter Writing During the Civil War,” with Kelly Mezurek (Walsh University)
It has been thirty years since Edwin S. Redkey first published A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865. Since then, access to the public and private letters of black soldiers and sailors has become more widely available due to the digitization of newspapers and military records and the online exhibits of historical societies and archives. Attendees will be provided with a collection of letters (with transcriptions) that include a variety of topics that we will explore during our discussion. We will also evaluate how these primary sources can enrich the histories that we share about African American Civil War experiences, as well as the importance of letter writing as literacy began to expand for a significant portion of the black population in the United States.