The 8th Annual Civil War Conference-Cold Harbor to the Crater: Grant vs. Lee

Some of you are no doubt familiar with the series of Civil War conferences organized by UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and hosted by Gary W. Gallagher. The conferences are held a the University of Richmond and involve both tours of local battlefields and talks by some of the leading scholars in the field. This year’s conference runs from May 24-28. Here is a brief description from the advertisement:

Join us on the beautiful campus of the University of Richmond for the University of Virginia’s eighth annual Civil War conference and explore the confrontation between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee from Cold Harbor through the battle of the Crater. From early June until the end of July 1864, the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia completed the bloody Overland Campaign and probed each other’s lines during the initial phase of the siege of Petersburg. Two famous military engagements stood out in this transitional period between operations in the field and what would become the war’s most protracted and decisive siege: the powerful but unsuccessful Union assaults at Cold Harbor on June 1-3 and the explosion of The Mine and failed Union attack at Petersburg’s battle of the Crater on July 30.

The conference will use a combination of lectures and walking tours to place the action from Cold Harbor through the Crater in the broader perspective of the war, to evaluate military leadership on both sides, to examine in detail the tactical ebb and flow, to explain where and how events might have gone differently, and to assess the campaign’s impact on the United States and the Confederacy. The tours will cover much of the battlefield at Cold Harbor, including places that remain in private hands and normally are inaccessible to the public. At Petersburg, we will walk much of the ground over which the initial phase of the siege was played out. We will visit historic “Wyoming,” Haw’s Shop, Totopotomoy Creek, the scene of the 2nd and 18th Corps attacks at Cold Harbor, batteries 5, 8, and 9 at Petersburg, the scene of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery’s doomed attack at Petersburg, the Taylor Farm, the Crater, and Blandford Church. As with all our programs, we will use the battlefield walks to help convey a sense of how terrain influenced the fighting. Four and one-half days of lectures, walking tours, and discussion should give participants a better understanding of this phase of the war, the commanders who shaped it, and the sites at which it was waged.

Click here for a list of facutly, cost, schedule, and additional information. The conference is expensive, but from what I hear it is worth it. I may attend this year given that the focus includes the Crater. If you are interested it is absolutely imperative that you register early. There are only a limited number of spots. Registration opens January 10, 2006.

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“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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