30 March 2008

The Liberty University Civil War Seminar

My wife and I returned today from a wonderful trip to Liberty University and their 12th annual Civil War Seminar. This is my 4th trip to this event and, as usual, it was great. As always, there was a great mix and diversity of speakers and topics. Kenny Rowlette and Dr. Cline Hall were great hosts and organizers and both men work tirelessly each year to make the seminar a success. They are doing a great work and I so appreciate their kindness and friendship. They always succeed and I consider it an honor and privilege to be involved. This year’s theme was “Reaping the Whirlwind: The Battle of Gettysburg.” The event began Friday evening with a banquet featuring a delicious meal held at Liberty’s beautiful Arthur S. DeMoss Center. The DeMoss Center currently houses (among other things) The National Civil War Chaplains Museum and Research Center. The evening program included the handing out of several awards and two lectures/PowerPoint presentations. The first was by Dr. Steven Woodworth titled “The Decision to Go North.” Woodworth’s talk was excellent, except for the moment when, sitting at one of the front tables within just a few feet of the podium, my wife received a wrong number phone call on her cell phone. (It was supposed to be on vibrate.) I wanted to crawl under the table. It was, however, somewhat humorous as Woodworth was discussing “Lee’s march north” and my wife’s ring tone is “When the Saints Go Marching In.” :)

Dr. Woodworth was most gracious about the incident, nonetheless. Following his presentation was Dr. Ethan Rafuse’s talk: “Meade at Gettysburg.” His presentation was interesting and informative as well.

Saturday was a full day. I spoke at 2:00 PM--known in the seminar circuit as “nap time" :) My topic was “The Spiritual Lives of the Commanders at Gettysburg.” I chose to profile Joshua Chamberlain and Robert E. Lee. My presentation seemed to be well-received.

The last topic was Kent Masterson Brown’s discussion of Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg. I had heard Mr. Brown give this lecture at the Stephen Dill Lee Institute sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Arlington this past April. As always, he was very entertaining and brought a fresh perspective to this subject. His presentation was a little different than what he brought in Arlington, but just as informative.

I was unable to hear any other sessions as I was busy at the book table, revising a few of my notes, and visiting with some of the other participants and attendees. My lovely and gracious wife assisted at the book table. This redeemed her from her embarrassing cell phone incident.

My biggest disappointment was not being able to attend Professor Ervin Jordan's discussion of black Confederates at Gettysburg. I hope to be able to obtain a recording of his talk. One of the highlights of the event was the chance I got to meet Dr. John Brinsfield and a discussion he and I had about some revival efforts at West Point prior to the Civil War. There are some very interesting connections to these efforts and the conversions of both Lee and Jackson. I'm going to be looking into the resources he shared with me about that connection further. Dr. Brinsfield also shared with me some information regarding a change in some text books regarding the Napoleonic philosophy of “total war” while Sherman was a cadet there. Some of the research he shared with me, along with his conclusions, is quite fascinating. He shared some resources with me which I hope to look at and discuss at some point in the future. Tuesday I’ll be making a trip, along with some other of the museum board members to look at the possibility of purchasing a Union Chaplain’s field desk for our collection. The owner tells us that he is fairly certain that the desk was at the Battle of Gettysburg. We recently received a very nice donation toward its purchase. I’ll post some comments and a photo later in the week.

(1st image - display table for RMJC, 2nd image - noon meal inside the DeMoss Center on Saturday, 3rd image - my book table and lovely wife, 4th image - the host for nap time.)


Michael Aubrecht said...

Oh how I was I was there my friend.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

(I believe you meant to write how I "wish" I was there.) Yes, it was great. Oh well, you can start thinking about next year now--usually about the same time each year. BTW, Alan Farley had copies of your book for sale. Great foreword! :)

Michael Aubrecht said...

Thanks. Yes I am still medicated. Forgive my typing.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

No problem. Just don't type and drive at the same time.