2020 Civil War Institute Summer Conference

June 12-17, 2020

Register for CWI 2020

For over 35 years, the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College has hosted an annual summer conference bringing leading historians and public audiences together for battlefield tours, small group discussions, lectures, and roundtable conversations about the Civil War era. Sessions, lodging, and meals are held on the 200-acre college campus.

Join us in 2020 for an exciting lineup of CWI speakers!  We are excited to feature leading Civil War scholars, Harold Holzer, Catherine Clinton, Brian Wills, Jeffry Wert, Carol Reardon, and Scott Hartwig within our line-up of over 35 distinguished speakers and tour guides.

The 2020 CWI Conference will feature a wide range of topics, including Civil War prison escapes, black Confederates, Mary Todd Lincoln, the war in the West, and more. The 2020 program will also debut a new conference element featuring debates between leading scholars about topics including McClellan at Antietam and the generalship of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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 First Manassas, 2nd Fredericksburg and Salem Church, Antietam, Cool Springs, Spotsylvania, Bristoe Station, and more.  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 Timothy Orr. Youth attendees (under the age of 18) and their families will be provided a special evening tour focusing on the letters of soldiers who fought at Gettysburg and the varied ways they expressed their diverse experiences of battle through writing.

This conference will also continue the recently added Saturday evening tours of the Gettysburg battlefield and town, as well as both “lunch-in” and “dine-in” discussions with CWI faculty.

We are excited to announce that we have selected the following two books as the official books of the 2020 CWI conference:

  • Micheal J. Larson and John David Smith, eds., Dear Delia: The Civil War Letters of Captain Henry F. Young, Seventh Wisconsin Infantry (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019)
  • Timothy Roberts, ed., "This Infernal War": The Civil War Letters of William and Jane Standard (Kent State University Press, 2018)

The conference will feature a special session on the Civil War letters of the North's rank and file in which John David Smith and Timothy Roberts will discuss their books at length and provide an opportunity for attendees to join the discussion through a focused Q&A with the authors. Order your copies today and get a jump-start on the discussion!

The 2020 conference will offer something for everyone, from longtime students of the Civil War to those who are new to Civil War history.

Questions? Check out our FAQ page. Still have questions? Please contact the CWI office at 717-337-6590.

Speaker Highlights

  • Harold Holzer (Hunter College) and Catherine Clinton (University of Texas at San Antonio), "Mary Todd Lincoln"
  • Brian Wills (University of Virginia at Wise), "General George Thomas"
  • Megan Kate Nelson, "The Civil War in the West"
  • Nina Silber (Boston University), "Northern Women at War"
  • David Gerleman (George Mason University), "New Views of Old Abe: Unknown Lincoln Treasures from the National Archives"
  • Kevin Levin (Civil War Memory blog), "Black Confederates"

Tour Highlights

  • “1st Manassas," Ethan Rafuse (US Army Command and General Staff College)
  • "2nd Fredericksburg and Salem Church," Eric Mink (Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP) and Keith Bohannon (University of West Georgia)
  • "The Evolution of the Charge in the Civil War: Bristoe Station, Marye's Heights, and the Mule Shoe," Jennifer Murray (Oklahoma State University)
  • "Antietam: A Staff Ride," Carol Reardon (Penn State University)
  • "Youth Tour and Group Discussion: Soldiers' Letters and the Battlefield," Peter Carmichael (Gettysburg College)

Roundtable & Debate Highlights

  • “The Civil War Letters of the North's Rank and File”
  • “Debating McClellan at Antietam”
  • “Debating the Generalship of Nathan Bedford Forrest”
  • “Behind the Scenes of Licensed Battlefield Guiding at Gettysburg”
  • "Debating James Longstreet"

Curious about what it's like to attend the Civil War Institute summer conference? Watch the video below to learn what sets the CWI apart, and what you can expect as an attendee:

Civil War Institute Summer Conference at Gettysburg College

See what you can expect as an attendee!
A large group of people walking accross the field