Civil War Weekend at Virginia Tech goes virtual with free events

New River Valley News

1864: During the Civil War, Confederate forces attempt to invade Washington, D.C., in the Battle of Fort Stevens. (National Park Service)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Calling all historians, history buffs, and anyone else interested in learning about the Civil War: the 30th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s Civil War Weekend will be virtual for 2021.

Attendees can participate in this event from anywhere at no cost.

“The COVID-19 pandemic foiled our original plans for marking the 30th anniversary of Virginia Tech’s Civil War Weekend,” said Paul Quigley, the James I. Robertson Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War History at Virginia Tech. “But we are making the best of a tough situation and are thrilled to open this annual event to an even broader audience.”

Those interested in learning more about the Civil War can meet via Zoom on Thursday, March 11 and Thursday, March 18. Each gathering will occur from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees will have opportunities to ask questions during these meetings.

“Civil War Weekend is open to anyone interested in learning more about the war, not just those who already have a deep knowledge of its history,” said Quigley. “This year’s Civil War Weekend will certainly look different in format, but the ultimate goal remains the same: We will continue striving to make connections between the speakers and the attendees, and gain a deeper understanding of the nation’s history together.”

The theme of the Virtual Civil War Weekend is “Resources for War.” Nine expert historians will explore overlooked but crucial elements of the conflict, from nourishment and clothing to the millions of horses and mules that provided transportation.

Attendees will learn how soldiers and their families coped with the heartache and trauma by communicating with one another through photographs and letters. The historians will even explore how soldiers and civilians sometimes argued over how the war should be remembered.

 The speaker lineup includes:

  • Emmanuel Dabney, a historian at the Petersburg National Battlefield whose ancestors include slaveholders, free and enslaved Black people, and non-slaveholding white people.
  • William C. “Jack” Davis, the author of more than 50 books on the Civil War and Southern history and the former executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.
  • Angelo Esco Elder, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies whose research explores gender, emotion, family, and trauma in the Civil War Era South.
  • David Gerleman, a 19th century historian and an emeritus assistant editor of “The Papers of Abraham Lincoln.”
  • Hilary Green, author of “Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890.”
  • Kurt Luther, an associate professor of computer science and history at Virginia Tech who created the Civil War Photo Sleuth website, which uses crowdsourcing and facial recognition to identify unknown soldiers.
  • Caroline Wood Newhall, the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies postdoctoral fellow, who analyzes the experiences of Black Civil War soldiers who became prisoners of war in the Confederacy.
  •  Dana B. Shoaf, editor of Civil War Times magazine, who researches the impact of the percussion cap on the tactics of the Civil War.
  • Sarah Jones Weicksel, director of research and publications at the American Historical Association and author of several works, including an upcoming book focused on how Americans used clothing to wage war against one another across a wide range of battlefronts.

“We are honored to bring together Civil War historians who represent diverse backgrounds and stages of their careers. These talented scholars and storytellers will help us explore the ‘Resources for War’ theme of the program, from the invention of the Minié ball bullet, which changed warfare dramatically, to the critical resource of human labor that both sides needed so desperately.”

Paul Quigley, the James I. Robertson Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War History at Virginia Tech

Anyone interested in registering for the upcoming virtual Civil War Weekend events can find additional resources through the center’s Virtual Civil War Weekend page.

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