I thoroughly enjoyed my time yesterday afternoon and all day today at the Society for Civil War Historian biennial academic conference in Lexington, Kentucky. As is the case with most conferences that offer concurrent sessions, the most difficult thing to do there is choose from the great session offerings. Attending the conference had the added benefit of providing the opportunity to meet some great historians and catch up with some old friends I hadn't seen in a while.
Yesterday I was only able to attend the afternoon session, but it was excellent. The title of the session was "Black, White and Green on Trial: Race and Ethnicity in the Union Military Justice System" and featured panelists Ryan W. Keating of Fordham University, Andrew L. Slap of East Tennessee State University and Christian G. Samito from the Boston University School of Law. Response was provided by Lorien L. Foote of the University of Central Arkansas. All of these panelists relied heavily on courts martial records for the majority of their evidence and provided some great stories of primarily Irish and African American soldiers' experiences.
The first session I attended this today was "The Transformation of Sectional Identity in the Civil War" and included scholars David Ross Zimring of Virginia Tech, Michael T. Bernath of the University of Miami and Jesica A. Cannon from the University of Central Missouri. The panelists covered such issues of how native Northerners that fought for the Confederacy adopted a Southern identity, how Northern born school teachers were treated in the seceded states, and how Maryland changed during the war from a Southern identity to a Northern one. An excellent response was provided by Jonathan Daniel Wells from Temple University.
The second session was titled "Consequences of the Brothers' War and included James P. McClure of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Jennifer Lynn Gross of Jacksonville State University, and SCWH president James Marten of Marquette University. This session examined the physical and psychological damage the Civil War caused and insightful response was give by Jeffrey W. McClurken of the University of Mary Washington.
The conference ended on a high note for me as the final session proved to be my favorite. It was titled " Reassessing Kentucky and Kentuckians in the Civil War Era: A Broader Look at a Border State." This extended panel included: Aaron Astor of Maryville (TN) College, Anne E. Marshall from Mississippi State University, Elizabeth D. Leonard of Colby College, Patrick Lewis of the University of Kentucky, Matthew E. Stanley of the University of Cincinnati and J. Micheal Rhyne of Urbana (OH) University. Much of the discussion revolved around race issues that the war raised for citizens of the Bluegrass state and how they dealt with them. Christopher Phillips provided a thoughtful response.
Any history conference is not complete with out University Press book vendors. I knew I wouldn't get away without a purchase or two so I tried to be wise and search out the best discount available. Luckily for me the University of North Carolina Press was offering a 50% off sale today so I picked up the following titles that I have had on my "wishlist" for a while.