Welcome to Civil War Weekend
We look forward to welcoming you to Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus for our annual Civil War Weekend. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn new perspectives on the Civil War era while enjoying fellowship with other history enthusiasts.
This year’s theme is “The Information War.” Although wars are ultimately decided on the battlefield, intelligence, propaganda, and even rumors play pivotal roles. We’ll explore the influence of different types of information on the course of the Civil War, ranging from Lincoln’s use of the telegraph to photographs and newspapers to communication among enslaved people. A highlight of the weekend will be a first-person portrayal of Confederate spy Rose Greenhow.
You can also join us for an optional two-night field trip to Fredericksburg, VA. Led by renowned tour guide and retired National Park Service historian John Hennessy, we’ll study the changing nature of warfare at the epicenter of the Civil War’s Eastern Theater. In addition to exploring the historic town of Fredericksburg, site of the remarkable Union failure of December 1862, we’ll visit sites connected to Grant’s Overland Campaign of 1864.
Whether this is your first Virginia Tech Civil War Weekend, or you’ve been attending ever since legendary historian James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr. organized the first meeting in 1991, we look forward to welcoming you to the group and sharing our curiosity about this endlessly fascinating period of American history. See you in March!
James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War Studies
Director, Virginia Center for Civil War Studies
Civil War Weekend schedule
Friday, March 22
4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Registration
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Reception
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner
8:00 – 9:00 p.m. Welcome; Tom Wheeler, “Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War.”
Saturday, March 23
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Registration
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Lauren K. Thompson, “‘Holding Correspondence with, and Giving Intelligence to the Enemy:’ How Soldiers Shared Information Across the Lines.”
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Wayne Hsieh, “‘Look to your left, you are turned’: Observation and Signals from First Bull Run to the Overland Campaign.”
11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Barbara A. Gannon, “War in 3-D: Stereoviews and Civil War Memory.”
12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Paul Quigley, “A War of Words: Newspapers and the Battle Over Slavery.”
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Virginia Tech Civil War History Showcase
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Cash bar
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner
8:00 – 9:00 p.m. Emily Lapisardi, “The Dangerous Mrs. Greenhow: A First-Person Portrayal.”
Sunday, March 24
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Caroline Wood Newhall, “They Heard It Through the Grapevine: The Role of Communication in Civil War Freedom Struggles.”
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. William C. “Jack” Davis, “War in the Shadows: What Spies Did and Didn’t Achieve.”
THE SPRING CAMPAIGN: FREDERICKSBURG
Extend your Civil War Weekend experience with an optional two-night field trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Leaving directly from the Inn at Virginia Tech on March 24, we’ll travel together by charter bus to Fredericksburg, our base for the next two days.
The cost of the Spring Campaign includes accommodation, all meals, tours, and round-trip transport between Blacksburg and Fredericksburg. Space is limited so please register right away!
William C. “Jack” Davis is the author or editor of more than 50 books in Civil War and Southern history. He retired in 2013 as Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. His latest book, coedited with Sue Heth Bell, is The Whartons’ War: The Civil War Correspondence of General Gabriel C. Wharton & Anne Radford Wharton, 1863-1865. Among his awards are a record fourth Jefferson Davis Award from the American Civil War Museum and the Richard Nelson Current Award from the Lincoln Forum.
Barbara A. Gannon is a professor of history at the University of Central Florida. She is the author of the award-winning The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic (UNC Press, 2011) and Americans Remember their Civil War (Praeger, 2017). She is currently researching the Battle of Olustee, Florida’s largest Civil War battle, and the status of the Union dead whose remains were left on this battlefield.
Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh has authored West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace, various essays and articles on military history and military affairs, and co-authored with Williamson Murray A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War. He currently serves on the civilian faculty at the U.S. Naval Academy as an associate professor of history.
Emily Lapisardi is the editor of Rose Greenhow’s My Imprisonment: An Annotated Edition. An experienced historical impersonator, she has portrayed Greenhow at a range of venues in fourteen states and the District of Columbia, including the International Spy Museum, Manassas National Battlefield Park, and the National Civil War Museum. She is currently Director of Musical Activities for the Catholic Chapel of the United States Military Academy (West Point, NY), and also serves on the board of the Society for Women and the Civil War.
Caroline Wood Newhall is an assistant professor at Oberlin College where she specializes in 19th-century United States history, focusing on North American slavery and captivity, warfare, and the Civil War Era. Her publications include numerous blog posts, book reviews, and book chapters, and her public talks have been featured on C-SPAN and YouTube. Her current book project explores African American soldiers who became prisoners of war (POWs) in the Confederacy, as well as a digital database and mapping project centered on these POWs’ genealogies and movements throughout the American South.
Paul Quigley is James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. A native of Manchester, England, he is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-1865, winner of the British Association for American Studies Book Prize, the Museum of the Confederacy’s Jefferson Davis Award, and Phi Beta Kappa’s Albert Sturm Award.
Lauren K. Thompson is the Samuel Hedding Deneen and Charles Samuel Deneen Professor of Early American History at McKendree University, where she also serves as the Director of Ethnic and Gender Studies. She is the author of Friendly Enemies: Soldier Fraternization throughout the American Civil War (Univ. of Nebraska, 2020). Her current research project centers on segregated leisure and recreation spaces in Civil Rights Era St. Louis.
Tom Wheeler is a businessman, author, and former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2013 to 2017. Presently, he is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. His publications include Take Command: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000), and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006)