VSU Hosts Five Nights Of 'Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of theCivil War'

July 25, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Hosts Five Nights Of 'Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of theCivil War'


VALDOSTA -- Recognizing the Civil War sesquicentennial, Valdosta State University will host a series of discussions regarding the meaning of freedom and the Battle of Antietam, which changed the course of the war, helped free millions of people, and devastated Sharpsburg, Md.

A joint effort of the Department of History, Archives and Special Collections, and the Georgia Humanities Council, “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War” will kick off on Tuesday, Aug. 28. From 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Dr. Chris C. Meyers, professor, will lead participants in a discussion titled “Imagining War.” The event will be held on the fourth floor of the Odum Library, in the Archives’ William H. Mobley IV Reading Room, and is open to university faculty, staff, and students, as well as residents of the surrounding communities.

“We have lots of history buffs in the area who would likely enjoy this opportunity to discuss the Civil War in an academic setting with a scholar,” said Deborah S. Davis, certified archivist and director of the university’s Archives and Special Collections.

Meyers holds a doctorate in history from Florida State University, is a specialist in United States military history, and has written extensively on the Civil War. In 2009, he was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award.

“Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War” will continue on Sept. 18 with “Choosing Sides,” Oct. 9 with “Making Sense of Shiloh,” Oct. 30 with “The Shape of War,” and Nov. 13 with “War and Freedom.” Refreshments will be served.

Each discussion will be based on readings participants should complete in advance. The American Library Association and National Endowment for Humanities chose three books for this event, which will be held in cities all over the country -- March" by Geraldine Brooks, "America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on their 150th Anniversaries," edited by Edward L. Ayers, and "Antietam: The Battle that Changed the Course of the Civil War" by James M. McPherson.

Meyers noted that the university has 20 sets of books provided by the Georgia Humanities Council that can be loaned to anyone who wishes to participate in the discussions. They will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis as people register for the event. Others are encouraged to borrow the books from friends or a public library or purchase them and join the discussion.

“This is going to be intense,” said Davis. “This is going to be like a mini course on the Civil War, creating a community of scholars who share this experience.”

“There will definitely be something for everyone,” said Meyers.

In addition to the readings and discussions, VSU’s Archives and Special Collections will release a collection of Civil War diaries and other information donated by the family of Frank Reade, the university’s third president from 1935 to 1948. He had a grandfather who served with James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart, a Confederate general during the war. This collection also contains a handwritten journal that went on to be published as In the Saddle with Stuart.

“Anyone around the world with a computer and Internet connection will be able to view that collection,” said Davis. “We felt like it was time to release it to the public.”

Meyers noted that the release of the Reade family collection will make VSU’s event truly unique.

“Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War” was made possible by a $3,500 grant from the Georgia Humanities Council. Compared to other states offering the grant program, Davis said that Georgia had the most applicants. She said that the interest was very strong, and she and Meyers look forward to a full house during each of the five discussions.

To register for “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War,” please call VSU’s Department of History at (229) 333-5947 or Archives and Special Collections at (229) 333-7150.

Did You Know?
The Battle of Antietam ranks as the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. It was the culmination of the Maryland Campaign of 1862, the first invasion of the North by Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. The 12-hour battle began on Sept. 17, 1862, and ended in a draw with several thousand dead and both the Confederate and the Union armies “stubbornly” holding their ground. “The next day, Sept. 18, the opposing armies gathered their wounded and buried their dead. That night, Lee’s army withdrew back across the Potomac to Virginia, ending Lee’s first invasion into the North. Lee’s retreat to Virginia provided President [Abraham] Lincoln the opportunity he had been waiting for to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Now the war had a dual purpose of preserving the Union and ending slavery.”
Source: The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, which operates the Antietam National Battlefield.