CLS: Civil War
Learn about the ethical issues faced by ordinary Americans during the American Civil War.
Dr. Mark Grimsley | HISTORIAN
“Memories of Robert E. Lee”
10:30 a.m.-noon Monday, June 12 | Orchestra Hall
The dismantling of Confederate monuments, prominent among them statues of Robert E. Lee, generated cries that history was being erased. By and large, proponents of dismantling the monuments responded to these cries with impatience if not disdain. A key issue was the failure to distinguish between history, public historical memory and personal historical memory. The lecture discusses these concepts, using Robert E. Lee as an example. Academic historians bear much of the responsibility for this failure. They have long drawn a distinction between history and public memory. People are willing to debate many historical questions; for example, whether Pickett’s Charge was a good idea. But public memory—for example, Lee’s status as an American hero—resists change, because doing so involves challenge to societal consensus on key historical questions. Lee’s status as a hero derives from the long-standing societal consensus that the Union and Confederate causes were morally equivalent. This consensus did much to hasten sectional reconciliation but has outlived its usefulness to American society. Because most people have not heard of public memory, it is understandable that those disquieted by changes in that memory will object that history is being erased.
Further, a distinction that most academic historians disregard is that between public historical memory and personal historical memory. The need to dismantle statues of Lee is thus easily conflated with a demand that individuals must abandon their personal admiration for Lee. This is neither necessary nor fair.
Although primarily an academic historian, Grimsley has written extensively in magazines of popular history. In 1980 he published his first article, in Civil War Times Illustrated. He has since published over sixty articles for general readers.
After earning his doctorate, the History Department at Ohio State University hired Grimsley as an assistant professor. Grimsley attained the rank of associate professor in 1997. In 1999 he received the Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award for excellence in the classroom.
From 2008 to 2010, Grimsley received a visiting professor appointment to the United States Army War College as the Harold Keith Johnson Chair of Military History. At the conclusion of his Army War College appointment he received the Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award. Grimsley served as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1999-2007.
The Mark Grimsley Social Media Fellowship, which underwrites the provision of a stipend for the graduate student who manages the Twitter feed of the Society for Military History and sits on that organization’s Social Media Committee, is named for Grimsley in recognition of his pioneering involvement with academic blogging and other social media.
Dr. Brian Jordan | AUTHOR
“A Thousand May Fall: The 107th Ohio’s Civil War”
10:30 a.m.-noon Tuesday, June 13 | Orchestra Hall
Based on the book of the same title, this lecture chronicles the experiences of an immigrant regiment from northeastern Ohio during the Civil War. The 107th Ohio battled nativism at home and within the army, found the thick of the killing at two of the war’s bloodiest battles and struggled to keep mind, body and soul together in the last year of the war. After the conflict, they tended to the onerous errands of memory — and to the many chronically sick and disabled among them. This lecture opens a new window on the experience of Civil War soldiering.
“Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War”
3:30-5 p.m. Tuesday, June 13 | Orchestra Hall
Based on the book of the same title (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), this lecture explores the troubled homecoming of Billy Yank — who won the war but could not bear the peace that followed. How did soldiers become veterans? What was it like to tend rotting wounds amid the betrayals of Reconstruction? What lessons can our military veterans today take from the veterans of the 19th century?
“Union Regimental Mascots in War & Peace”
10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, June 14 | Orchestra Hall
Based on Jordan’s essay in Earl Hess, ed., Animal Histories of the Civil War Era (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2022), this talk explores the wartime service and postwar careers of Civil War regimental mascots. A surprising number of Civil War regiments went to war with (or acquired in the field) animal mascots. These four-legged or winged creatures became part of the regimental community, and performed crucial physical, psychological and emotional labor on behalf of Civil War soldiers. After surveying the extent of the phenomenon, the talk focuses on “Old Abe,” the eagle mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry regiment. “Old Abe” participated in battles from Corinth to Hurricane Creek. After the war, he became something of a “veteran” himself — placed on public display at soldier reunions, GAR campfires and political rallies. This talk brings to life the oft-overlooked reality that animals were Civil War soldiers and veterans, too.
Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Sam Houston State University. He earned his MA, M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in History from Yale University, where his dissertation won two coveted prizes — the George Washington Egleston Prize (for Best U.S. History Dissertation at Yale) and the John Addison Porter Prize. He is the author or editor of six books on the Civil War and its era, including Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War, which was a finalist (one of three runners-up) for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History; The War Went On: Reconsidering the Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans; and A Thousand May Fall: An Immigrant Regiment’s Civil War. Jordan has contributed chapters to more than a dozen edited volumes or scholarly anthologies and has published more than 100 reviews, articles and essays in popular and scholarly periodicals. Since 2014, he has served as Book Review Editor for The Civil War Monitor. In 2020, he appeared as an on-camera historical expert for the History Channel’s three-part mini-series chronicling the life of U.S. Grant. He is currently at work on a major interpretive synthesis of the Civil War, under contract with Liveright/W.W. Norton and due to be published in 2025.
Bobby Horton | MUSICIAN
“Civil War Music and History”10:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, June 15 | Orchestra Hall
Horton will discuss his love of history and his passion that started as a young boy. He will discuss how music is the most honest assessment of an historical event. Letters can be deceiving in that the writer may not want anyone to know how horrible it really is and they don’t want to worry the folks at home, or a soldier might write home to overstate his importance to impress his family. To get an honest assessment of what they were truly feeling and experiencing, the reality can often be found in their music. Horton’s presentation is an example of his genuine respect and admiration for the common men and women who lived the Civil War and survived to tell their stories.
Combining his love of history and music, Bobby Horton is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on Civil War music. He is a seasoned performer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and music historian and founding member of the musical comedy group Three On A String.
Bobby has worked with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns for 30 years over the course of 18 films including The Roosevelts, The Civil War and Baseball. He has composed, produced and performed more than 21 films for the National Park Service, and his series or recordings of authentic period music has garnered critical acclaim from around the world. In performance, his storytelling, musicianship, warmth and genuine love for the people who settled this nation, fought for our future and contributed to way of life is insightful and inspiring.
Jay Case | PROFESSOR
“The Underground Railroad and the Causes of the Civil War”
3:30-5 p.m., Thursday, June 15 | Orchestra Hall
Though not always recognized as such, the Underground Railroad played a critical role as a cause of the Civil War. We will examine several local conflicts over fugitives in Ohio and Michigan that illustrate how the Underground Railroad compelled many ordinary Americans to respond to the ethical issues of slavery and American law. These responses, which also raised questions of states’ rights and federal law, contributed greatly to the outbreak of war. But matters did not end there. Once the war began, the Underground Railroad not only continued in a more open and less “underground” manner, it expanded dramatically. In the process, it affected military strategy, forced revisions to federal policy and helped change the very purposes of the war itself.
“With God on Our Side: Religious Perspectives of the War, North and South”
10:30 a.m.-noon Friday, June 16 | Orchestra Hall
Abraham Lincoln famously noted that Americans in the North and South both prayed to the same God and read the same Bible. He implied — and research shows that he was correct -— that people on all sides of this war believed firmly that their cause was just and God was on their side. How could Americans, the vast majority of whom claimed the Christian faith, become so certain in their position that they were willing to go to war and kill one another at a rate not seen in this nation before or since? Furthermore, how did people of religious faith handle this belief when their side began to suffer military setbacks?
This lecture will dig into these questions to help us better understand how Americans made sense of the Civil War.
Jay Case is Professor of History at Malone University in Canton, where he has worked since 1999. He earned a B.A. in History/Education from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, in 1984. He and his wife taught high school in Kijabe, Kenya from 1986-93, before he came back to the United States for graduate school. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. (1995 and 1999) in American history from the University of Notre Dame.
At Malone University, Dr. Case has taught courses in American history, World History, Religion in America, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the History of Africa, the History of Latin America, the History of World Religions, the History of Christian Missions and World Christianity, and Film and the American Dream. Among his tasks at Malone, he has, among other responsibilities, chaired a criterion Committee for the report to the Higher Learning Commission, served on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and chaired the Cross-Cultural Committee. He has led Service-Learning trips to Jamaica and Kenya.
Dr. Case’s main areas of scholarly interest are in American Religious History and Evangelicalism. In 2012 he published a book, An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920 from Oxford University Press. He has also published a number of historical articles, including ““Emancipation and the African American Great Awakening, 1866-1880,” and “From the Native Ministry to the Talented Tenth: The Foreign Missionary Origins of White Support for Black Higher Education.”
He holds memberships in the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, the Conference on Faith and History, and the American Society of Church History. Jay’s wife, Elisa, teaches English and Social Studies at Lake High School. He and Elisa have three daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandsons. He and his wife attend Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton.