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Old February 20th, 2014, 11:45 AM   #1
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U of Alabama History Confererence 3/7-3/8


On March 7 and 8 there will be a graduate student history conference at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Its free to the public. I'm heading up because a school mate of mine is giving a paper on camp life during the Civil War and because the keynote speaker, Dr. Aaron Sheehan-Dean at LSU, was a professor at my school a few years ago and is the one responsible for developing my interest in the Civil War in 3 classes I took under him.

Aaron's talk will on "Just War" in the Civil War and will discuss the morality of aspects of warfare such as guerrilla warfare and Sherman's march. He did his PhD work under Gary Gallagher and has a very good book to his credit - and another on the way. He will speak at 6 PM, Friday the 7th.

If you are interested in the topic and are close to Birmingham, I'd recommend checking it out.

Here is a video of Aaron speaking on West Virginia during the Civil War ...


[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGq1RJmxQWo"]When Western Virginians Remained Loyal - Aaron Sheehan-Dean - YouTube[/ame]


And here is his book on why non-slaving holding Virginians fought the Civil War...

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Why-Confederates-Fought-Virginia-America/dp/0807861847/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392928853&sr=1-1&keywords=why+confederates+fought"]Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia (Civil War America): Aaron Sheehan-Dean: 9780807861844: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VQyEhvsvL.@@AMEPARAM@@51VQyEhvsvL[/ame]
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Old February 20th, 2014, 11:54 AM   #2
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Enjoy yourself. Pay close attention, network, and stay out of those student bars.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 12:20 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pikeshot1600 View Post
Enjoy yourself.... and stay out of those student bars.
Oh come on, which is it? Enjoy myself or stay out of the bars.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 12:42 PM   #4
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As far as his book on why non-slaveholding Virginians fought, so much of the war was in Virginia, and people felt they were being invaded and defending their homes. I have ancestors from Virginia who were small slaveowners, but had been Whigs and were antisecession. My grandmother told me everyone fought because they had no choice but to defend against the invaders.

I think that attitudes might have been different in other parts of the south. There were areas where there were gangs of draft dodgers and deserters. I don't think that was the case in Virginia. The Virginia convention initially voted 2-1 against secession. I don't think there was much enthusiasm for the war initially in Virginia.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 01:12 PM   #5
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As the sub-title of the book "Family and Nation in Civil War Virgina" suggests, the book is in agreement with what you are saying. It was largely a defense of of home for the "average Virginian." (his study is entirely of Virginia in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia).

Other aspects are a strike against the "Rich man's war, poor man's fight" fight arguments; his demographic study shows large amounts of middle and upper class men from most of Virginia's counties enlisted.

His study of desertion statistics also contradicts the "Loss of Will" thesis that poorer Virginian's abandoned the war because of class antagonisms with the planters. After a huge dip in morale in late '61, they rebounded and stayed rather steady until the last 6 months of the war when soldiers rapidly fled Lee's army when it became increasingly obvious that their cause was lost (here Gallagher's influence on him is most apparent).

There is also interesting factoids about camp life among Virginia soldiers. But being a study of Virgina's it doesn't speak to the Army of Tennessee or even non-Virginians in Lee's army. As I've discussed with him, that's a different set of circumstances.

Last edited by Jax Historian; February 20th, 2014 at 01:16 PM.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 01:26 PM   #6
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It may also be of interest to those interested in "Virginians" to listen to his talk on West Virginia. Traditionally, West Virginia's separation from Virginia has been cast as based on separation between slave and non-slave sections.

Of course this is at least partially true, but Sheehan-Dean also traces animosities resulting from "slave" parts of Virginia doing more for their own internal infrastructure (canals, etc) than they supported in what would become West Virginia. Its not an overthrow of the traditional claim, but IMO opinion adds an extra layer of complexity to the situation.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 03:35 PM   #7
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I think the morale was better in Virginia due to the fighting being in Virginia, and Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Mosby being Virginians. Also, the war was conducted better in the east than the west.

Of course, there was a big question of whether Virginia would secede, and along with Kentucky and Missouri, it had delegations to both Congresses. Obviously, we are talking about whites, and not about West Virginia or some Unionist areas that are still in Virginia.

I don't know if opinion was strictly along slave-holding lines. I don't know if many slave owners or overseers were Unionist, but many were antisecession. Initially, Lee and Davis were against secession.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 05:04 PM   #8
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I think the morale was better in Virginia due to the fighting being in Virginia, and Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Mosby being Virginians. Also, the war was conducted better in the east than the west.
Most historians, i think, will agree with you. There is a thesis I mentioned above, the Loss of Will thesis, that maintains that Southerners, rather than have being defeated military, lost because the common soldier gave up over disgust with the Confederate government, and more to your point, they lacked a sufficient nationalism to win. This is a small group of historians, and Sheehan-Dean, following Gallagher, say "nonsense." Both of them stress the commitment of Lee's army and (not withstanding arguments as to Lee's military abilities) maintain that southern (mostly Virginia) morale centeried on Lee's army. Aaron's book follows Gallagher's work that the South did develop a sufficient nationalism. Aaron points specifically that a nationalistic "Cult of Sacrifice" was developed around Jackson's death and thousands of southern refuges on the road as cities succumbed to Union advancements. e points to a famous painting that hung in the Richmond capitol as an example of this nationalism.

Encyclopedia Virginia

For Gallagher, Lee was to the Confederate war what Washington was to the revolution. Lee, not Jeff Davis, was the center of morale (while Lincoln was in the North). So, if you believe these guys, the beating Virgina took only reinforced determination in both Virginia soldiers and the population.
Sounds right to me. Daniel Sutherland and George Rable are other historians who agree with this general perspective.

Quote:
Of course, there was a big question of whether Virginia would secede, and along with Kentucky and Missouri, it had delegations to both Congresses. Obviously, we are talking about whites, and not about West Virginia or some Unionist areas that are still in Virginia.
You can find pockets of all kinds of different stances throughout the south, but not near as many as in the border states. And I don't think its far out of line to see Virginia as "the border state that left." You're right, they left last and somewhat reluctantly compared to the cotton states. Most people thought it was going to be a three month war. I think if Virginia had stayed, it would have been just that.

Quote:
I don't know if opinion was strictly along slave-holding lines. I don't know if many slave owners or overseers were Unionist, but many were antisecession. Initially, Lee and Davis were against secession.
Well, as I already pointed out, Aaron points out in his talk that it wasn't strictly about slave vs. non-slave, there were other factors. He talks about why and how it wasn't.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 05:20 PM   #9

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Sounds like a great time JH. I'm jealous. But, I think it proves that there are educational venues out there if you look for them

Enjoy yourself!!
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Old February 20th, 2014, 05:30 PM   #10
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Sounds like a great time JH. I'm jealous. But, I think it proves that there are educational venues out there if you look for them

Enjoy yourself!!
Thanks, buddy. But don't be jealous. I'm sure the U of Virgina holds the same type of forums. If I hear of one I'll let you know. Maybe I'll even take a ride up to the land of Lee.
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