Year-Long Observance Marks Sesquicentennial of Civil War in Kentucky

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­Eastern Kentucky University will mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a year-long series of programs and activities.

“Shadows of Blue and Gray: The Civil War in Kentucky” will feature numerous lectures, as well as an art exhibit, an Oxford-style debate, colloquium, concert, special displays and specially tailored academic courses throughout the 2012-13 academic year, beginning in August.

“The year 2012 was chosen because it has been precisely 150 years since the pivotal battles at Richmond, Kentucky, in August 1862 and at Perryville that October settled the question of whether border-state Kentucky might secede and join the Confederacy,” said event Coordinator Dr. Tom Appleton, a professor in EKU’s Department of History. “Although Kentucky subsequently would witness frequent skirmishes between the Union and Confederate sources, as well as guerilla activities by partisans of both sides, the state after the fall of 1862 remained securely in the Union column.”

Highlights of the series include a lecture by State Historian James Klotter, “Kentucky, the Civil War and the Spirit of Henry Clay,” a lecture by award-winning Kentucky historian Kent Masterson Brown on the Battle of Perryville, a lecture by Catherine Clinton from Queens University in Belfast on “Women and the Civil War,” a talk by Richmond author Bracelen Flood on Ulysses S. Grant, and presentations on aspects of the life of President Abraham Lincoln by two Pulitzer Prize winners, Eric Foner and Mark E. Neely.

Numerous academic colleges, departments and offices at EKU have joined in the effort to plan and sponsor programming, Appleton noted.  (Four of the lectures, in fact, are part of the university’s annual Chautauqua series.)

“Scholars are coming together to explore what happened during the Civil War and the following years of adjustment and how the conflict continues to impact American society,” Appleton said. “Some departments will be offering courses specifically inspired by the sesquicentennial. Numerous faculty members are stepping forward to share their expertise with students, fellow faculty and staff, and the community at large.”

Throughout the year, Appleton said, the observance “will be just that – an observance, a commemoration. We have no desire to glorify war or to re-fight long-ago battles. The Civil War is often called the defining moment in America’s history. The sesquicentennial affords us an opportunity to pause and consider how the very fabric of our nation unraveled and how we found ourselves in the most tragic sort of war, a civil war. Kentuckians felt the tragedy perhaps more keenly than others because in the Commonwealth the war literally was ‘The Brothers’ War.’ Many families saw one son ride north to fight for the Union while another son headed south to join the Confederacy.”

Confirmed events (all free and open to the public) include:

·         Thursday, Aug. 23, “Lincoln and the Constitution,” Mark E. Neely, Penn State University, Pulitzer Prize recipient, 7:30 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, Student Success Building (SSB) Auditorium, part of Chautauqua lecture series.

·         Wednesday, Sept. 19, “Kentucky, the Civil War, and the Spirit of Henry Clay,” State Historian James C. Klotter, professor of history, Georgetown College, 7 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, SSB. Co-sponsored by EKU Department of Government.

·         Monday, Oct. 8, “Perryville: The Long Road Back to Kentucky,” Kent Masterson Brown, Lexington attorney and award-winning historian, 7 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, SSB.

·         Thursday, Oct. 25, “Medicine in the American Civil War: What We Learned and Why It Matters,” Michael A. Flannery, associate director for historical collections, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 7 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, SSB.

·         Thursday, Nov. 8, “Grant’s Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant’s Historic Last Year,” Bracelen Flood, historian and biographer, 7:30 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, SSB, part of Chautauqua lecture series.

·         Tuesday, Feb. 12, “Ambassador Cassius Clay: American Lion and Russian Bear,” Jennifer Spock, professor of history, EKU, 7 p.m., Perkins Building.

·         Thursday, Feb. 28, “Slavery on the Border: The Lives and Labors of Lewis and Milton Clarke,” Benjamin Fitzpatrick, assistant professor of history, Morehead State University, 7 p.m., Grand Reading Room, John Grant Crabbe Library.

·         Tuesday, March 5, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” Eric Foner, Columbia University, Pulitzer Prize recipient, 7:30 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, SSB, part of Chautauqua lecture series.

·         Tuesday, March 21, “Women and the Civil War,” Catherine Clinton, Queens University, Belfast, 7:30 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, SSB, part of Chautauqua lecture series.

·         Monday, April 1, “Waiting to Secede: Kentucky’s Civil War in History and Memory,” Anne E. Marshall, assistant professor of history, Mississippi State University, 7 p.m., Grand Reading Room, John Grant Crabbe Library.


·         The Department of Art and Design will open a juried exhibition in October on the theme “Reverberations of the Civil War.” The exhibition, in Giles Gallery of the Campbell Building, will examine how the war has shaped the cultural landscape of the U.S. Participating artists will include students, faculty, retired faculty and alumni.

·         In February 2013, Black History Month, the Department of Philosophy and Religion will team with the African/African-American Studies Program to hold an Oxford-style debate on the question of reparations for slavery in the U.S.

·         A Department of Psychology colloquium presentation entitled “Soldier’s Heart: A Psychosocial Look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Kentucky Civil War Soldier,” Theresa Botts, assistant professor of history, EKU, will be held on Wednesday, April 10, at 3:30 p.m. in Cammack 228.

·         Richard Crosby, professor of piano at EKU, will offer an encore presentation of his well-received “A Walt Whitman Portrait” on Tuesday, April 16, in Brock Auditorium.

·         Special Collections and Archives in EKU Libraries is preparing a display of Civil War items, which will be available for view in the main lobby of John Grant Crabbe Library.

·         Several professors will incorporate the Civil War sesquicentennial into new and existing courses.

Published on July 12, 2012

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