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Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg

Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
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2017 Honorary Albert Z. Conner NMPS Intern

At our January 25, 2017, Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg meeting, John Hennessy, Chief...
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2020 2021 Program Year

September 23, 2020

Topic: The Legacy of War: A Conversation about Remembering and Forgetting

Speaker: John Hennessy

John Hennessy, Chief Historian and Chief of Interpretation at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, will lead us in a conversation about how the Civil War relates to the ongoing unrest in America--how we got here, and where we might be going. This is intended to be an interactive program, so come ready to participate or listen according to your inclinations.

October 28, 2020

Topic: The Lawrence Massacre

Speaker: Dr Matthew Hulbert

On August 21, 1863, as if out of thin air, approximately 300 pro-Confederate bushwhackers descended upon the abolitionist stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas. After overwhelming a small federal encampment, Quantrill's guerrillas broke into bands and swept through Lawrence. They moved methodically from house to house, store to store, killing, burning, and pillaging as they went. Owing to their experiences in the Missouri-Kansas guerrilla war -- a conflict of household against household, in which the traditional line between soldier and civilian blurred away -- the bushwhackers chose their targets liberally. In addition to the Union recruits stationed in Lawrence, teen-aged boys, old men, and even preachers were cut down by revolver fire. The "Lawrence Massacre," with its nearly 200 dead and $2,000,000 in property destruction, shocked Unionists from coast to coast. Easterners, in particular, were not accustomed to the domestic nature of irregular war in the western borderlands. They didn't like what they saw. Almost immediately, a second fight began to control where it would fit, if at all, in mainstream memory narratives of the Civil War.

Today, Quantrill's raid is often represented as the worst atrocity of the Civil War. At the same time, owing to its scale, the Lawrence Massacre is frequently interpreted as an anomaly within the broader Missouri-Kansas guerrilla war. My talk, "Anatomy of a Massacre: Quantrill's Guerrillas at Lawrence," narrates the day's events in gritty detail while also focusing on how the westerners who actually experienced it in real-time made sense of the bloodletting. In that context, I contend that for the Kansans who survived it, the jarring, unfamiliar elements of the Lawrence Massacre weren't the things that shocked easterners: guerrillas gunning down "civilians" or violence unfolding in households. Rather, for Kansans well-versed in irregular violence, what set August 21, 1863 apart was how much the raid resembled an engagement from the regular theater.

Dr. Matthew Hulbert, Assistant Professor of History, Hampden-Sydney College, is an historian of nineteenth-century America, with special interests in the Civil War, guerrilla violence, memory, and film. He is the author or editor of four books, including The Ghosts of Guerrilla Memory: How Civil War Bushwhackers Became Gunslinger in the American West, which won the 2017 Wiley-Silver Prize, and Martial Culture, Silver Screen: War Movies and the Construction of American Identity forthcoming from LSU Press in November 2020. Dr. Hulbert is currently at work on an intellectual biography of Major John Newman Edwards, CSA. Edwards served as Jo Shelby's adjutant during the war, spent two years in Mexican exile as a Confederado, created the legend of Jesse James, and laid the foundation for how Missouri bushwhackers would be remembered to this day.

Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg

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