Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ordinary Men and Women in the Civil War

"Any power not specifically given..."

On May 15th the Senior University at Georgetown, Texas hosted a seminar on "Ordinary Men and Women in the Civil War." The program began with an excellent overview of the events leading to the Civil War. Dr. Tommy Stringer, VP for Institutional Development Navarro College. Dr. Stringer traced roots of the conflict from the "Constitutional Compromises" through the "Decade of Turmoil" in the 1850s.

"Go if you think it's your duty"

Baylor University's Julie Holcomb provided a personal perspective on the Civil War through reading correspondence between soldiers and their families. The letters portrayed a conflict that ripped apart families and made courting a long-distance campaign. She illustrated how the letters were slanted differently for wives and friends as soldiers tried to shield their families from battlefield dangers.

"We shall meet, but we will miss him"

After a brief break for a light lunch, it was back to the Civil War with songs of the period. Dr. Paul Lehman, Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan, led us through a wonderful presentation with recorded songs of the period from Dixie's Land to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Listening to the music was enhanced by copies of the lyrics which prompted a mass sing along to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

"Religious rival followed conflict"

Dr. Steven Woodworth, Assistant Professor, Texas Christian University, presented an overview of the soldier's life from food to uniforms. Soldiers lived in two-man or "dog" tents, cooked their own meals supplemented by blackberries and treats from the sutlers, and spent their leisure time in camp playing cards and dominoes.

The day concluded with a panel question and answer session. The discussion was moderated by Senior University faculty member Dr. Stephen Benhold. Dr. Benhold ran an excellent program allowing amble time for questions but keeping us on the program's tight schedule.

We would also like to thank Ann and Michael Kessler for hosting us at their home in Sun City.

The program was sponsored by the Senior University at Sun City. The Texas Hill Country, golf courses, Austin and fellowship make Sun City an attractive retirement venue.

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