Greetings Cosmic Americans!
The article "the" could easily have been added (as pointed out by one scholar in attendance) to the most recent soiree at the Huntington Library in San Marino to confirm that, indeed, the Civil War lives. It most certainly does.
Cosmic America readers by now know that last weekend I attended Civil War Lives: a conference (this time) focusing on biography. A splendid time was had by all. Even my wife, Coni attended - both days, mind you - and got some insight into the wonderful world in which we Civil War historians share.
For those of you who have never attended such a meeting, let me point out that this conference was not an ordinary academic gathering. While those can be a little on the dry side, so to speak, Civil War Lives was nothing of the sort. Yes - a number of the nation's most esteemed Civil War historians gave talks, but the colloquial atmosphere without question made the conference more inviting.
My point: both scholar and lay person would have come away pleased...as many did. The line up featured - among others - Joan Waugh, Gary Gallagher, Brooks Simpson, David Blight, Carrie Janney, and James McPherson. I will not go in to depth about the talks specifically, but I will point out that such a collection of scholars is rarely assembled for a single conference. We even got some insider jokes...Gallagher noted how he has been a great admirer of McPherson since he was a young boy (commenting on McPherson's advanced age), and one attendant suggested Waugh's attention to questioners' use of microphones and keeping the schedule within the allotted time frames would make for great high school teaching, a point to which all (including Blight) agreed.
Personally, I got to have nice chats with former teachers (Gallagher and Waugh) reconnect with an old graduate school friend (Janney), finally meet a fellow blogger (Simpson) and have lunch with one of my favorite scholars (Blight) who, by the way, I take to task in my own forthcoming book on Civil War veterans.
I did not shoot a lot of video - you can click here to see Gallagher speak on Robert E. Lee's loyalties. Consider this a teaser...keeping in mind that you will need to clear your calendar for next year's conference. Of course I will keep you all posted when I get the dates and other information. Trust me, you will not want to miss it!
PS - Brooks Simpson pointed out on Crossroads that podcasts of all the speakers' talks will be available shortly - for now, Joan Waugh's introductory remarks and Gary Gallagher's talk concerning Robert E. Lee's loyalties are available HERE.