University of South Carolina

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Mary Chesnut scholar to conclude 1863 series

By Peggy Binette,, 803-777-7704

The University of South Carolina will launch an evening series featuring Walter Edgar, historian of the American South, and top Civil War writers and scholars who will discuss the historical events of 1863.

“Conversations on the Civil War, 1863” runs Jan. 17 – Feb. 21, with sessions taking place Thursdays from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Campus Room of Capstone House. The series is free and open to the public but requires registration. To register, contact the Institute for Southern Studies at 803-777-2340 or by email.

Each session features Edgar and a scholar who will discuss a range of topics including the Emancipation Proclamation, the military campaigns in the summer of 1863, diarist Mary Chesnut, the impact of the Civil War and Gettysburg.

“All historians agree that 1863 was the critical year of the American Civil War. The issues ranged from the battlefield to the home front. In my conversations with these scholars, we will deal with all of these issues,” said Edgar, the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies Emeritus.

The series schedule:

Jan. 17 – Thavolia Glymph, associate professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University and author of “Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household.” Glymph will discuss the Emancipation Proclamation, how it “led the ‘Union war’ to become a war to end slavery” and how “it would forever change the character and meaning of war.”


Jan. 24 – Mark M. Smith, USC’s Carolina Distinguished Professor of History and author of “Listening to Nineteenth-Century America” and co-editor of “The Handbook of Slavery in the Americas.” Smith will delve into the ways people – soldiers and civilians – experienced Gettysburg. Smith, whose work examines history through the senses, will discuss the sounds and smells and other profound ways people were shaped by the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. 


Feb. 7 – Winston Groom, author of the book, “Forrest Gump,” on which the blockbuster movie was based, and multiple books on the Civil War. “I hope to give the audience a sense of what the war was like for ordinary Southern people. For the first time, Northern troops besieged a Southern city. In the aftermath, Vicksburg in 1863 would have been an excellent time to have stopped the war,” Groom said.


Feb. 14 – Stephen Wise, director of the U.S. Marine Corps Museum and author of “Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War.” Wise will discuss the summer military campaigns of 1863, with focus on the campaign directed at Charleston Harbor. He said, “The fight for Charleston introduced a new era of engineering and gunnery; it was a testing ground for African-American troops and tremendously impacted life in Charleston and the Palmetto State.”


Feb. 21 – Julia Stern, professor of English and American Studies at Northwestern University and author of “Mary Chesnut’s Civil War Epic,” will “unpack the way in which at levels domestic, historical and epic, Chesnut’s literary genius uniquely illuminated the greatest conflict of the American 19th century.”

Edgar retired from the university in May after 40 years of teaching and service. He is an acclaimed writer and editor of more than a dozen books, including “South Carolina: A History,” regarded as the definitive book on the Palmetto State’s history, and “The South Carolina Encyclopedia.” He hosts the popular “Walter Edgar’s Journal” on S.C. ETV Radio.

“Conversations on the Civil War, 1863” is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and its Institute for Southern Studies.

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Posted: 01/07/13 @ 3:00 PM | Updated: 02/20/13 @ 8:29 AM | Permalink

Conversations on the Civil War, 1863

  • Jan. 17: Thavolia Glymph, associate professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University, speaks on the Emancipation Proclamation
  • Jan. 24: Mark M. Smith, USC's Carolina Distinguished Professor of History, speak on the sights, sounds and smells of Gettysburg. 
  • Feb. 7: Winston Groom, author of "Forrest Gump" and several books on the Civil War, will discuss how the war affected the lives of ordinary Southern people.
  • Feb. 14: Stephen Wise, director of the U.S. Marine Corps Museum, will discuss military campaigns of the summer of 1863.
  • Feb. 21: Julia Stern, professor of English and American studies at Northwestern University, will discuss the diaries of Mary Chesnut.
  • All programs begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Room of Capstone House and are free and open to the public. (registration required)

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