On May 20th my daughter and I met my parents in Blacksburg, Virginia to attend the 2011 Signature Conference, Virginia Sesquicentennial Of The American Civil War Commission. The topic for the conference was “Military Strategy in the American Civil War.” The conference was held at the Virginia Tech College. There were nine historian/authors that spoke.
James I. Robinson Jr., Dennis E. Frye and Richard J. Sommers spoke on Military Strategy in the American Civil War: An Overview. Gary W. Gallagher, Joseph T. Glatthaar and Richard J. Sommers spoke on Military Strategy in the Eastern Theater. Richard M. McMurry, Stephen E. Woodworth and William C. Davis spoke on Military Strategy in the Western Theater. John M. Bowen, William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. spoke on Forgotten Elements of the Civil War.
I had never attended a Civil War Conference before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What was so wild was I was actually listening to speakers that I thought I would never get to hear in person, only on TV plus on the topic I really enjoy listening too. Out of all nine speakers I don’t have a favorite. I enjoyed all of them. We listened to the first six speakers then had a sack lunch, which was really good. When you registered you were able to pick chicken or barbeque for your sandwich. I picked the chicken and it was very good. During lunch the Stonewall Brigade Band performed. They were outstanding! Then after lunch we listened to the next six speakers.
During the talks I did take some notes. I haven’t gotten them all put together yet but here is what a few of the speakers spoke about within the Military Strategy topic.
Dennis E. Frye spoke on Harpers Ferry. Richard J. Sommers spoke on the U.S. Army. One thing that Mr. Sommers said and I thoroughly agreed with was “you can’t understand the past unless you know its existence. You have to understand that time period.” Sommers also spoke on 1861-62 Union strategy. Gallagher spoke on what the Union was thinking in 1863 on into strategy in 1864. William C. Davis spoke on west of the Shenandoah Valley down into North Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Tennessee. Richard M. McMurry spoke on what the Confederate reaction was during 1862-63. Stephen E. Woodworth spoke on Joseph Johnston command of the Army of Tennessee.
After the conference I was able to speak with several of the speakers and have books signed. One book that isn’t out yet but will be coming in September is Dennis E. Frye’s new one on Harpers Ferry titled “Under Fire”. I have to have this one!
If you haven’t attended one of these conferences yet you still can. There has been one held each year since 2009. Here is the schedule for the next four years:
Leadership and Generalship in the Civil War
Virginia Military Institute
March 22, 2012
The Home Front in the Civil War
College of William and Mary
April 20, 2013
Civil War in a Global Context
George Mason University
Memory of the Civil War
University of Virginia
I am going to try to attend several of these and I highly recommend you try the same. If you would like more information, click here. I have also included a couple of pictures I took so you can see what it was like.