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tv   The Civil War The Common Civil War Soldier  CSPAN  July 31, 2019 9:14pm-10:24pm EDT

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and national level. at 8 pm on the presidency, author john farrell talks about nixon's early life and career. >> in 1947 and 1948 he campaigned for the marshall plan. he went to every rotary club, chamber of commerce and american legion hall. every crowd that would take him. he sold them his best judgment not his obedience and he convinced them. when the party primaries were held in california in the summer of 1948 richard nixon did not just win the republican nomination, he won the democratic nomination. he wagered everything and carried the day and ran unopposed in the first reelection campaign. >> explore our nation's past on american history tv every weekend on c-span 3. next on american history tv gettysburg college civil war institute director peter
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call michael talks about his book the war for the common soldier: how men throught, fought, and survived in civil war armies. this is one hour. >> it is my honor and pleasure to introduce somebody who at this point probably needs very little introduction to most of you. peter carmichael is a director of the civil war institute and the robert c professor of civil war professors at gettysburg college. he is the author of numerous scholarly articles and essays as well as several books including one published in 1998 and the lost generation :young virginians in peace, war, and reunion published by unc press in 2005. his most recent book, the war for the common soldier: how men throught, fought, and survived in civil war armies was published by unc just last year in 2018.
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and he was a recent recipient of the 2018 civil war book award from the new york military affairs symposium. please welcome peter carmichael. [ applause ] >> thank you. i am not dehydrated. i just have as you can tell a scratchy throat but i think it will be fine. can everyone hear me okay? how are we doing? yes? thank you so much for that introduction. first is david bean. he stood on cemetery hill and he surveyed the woods and the field surrounding gettysburg. he was at that time 26 years old, a lawyer before the war. and a veteran of fredericksburg and
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chancellorsville and after all those battles the first thing that he did was right his wife. in this letter by july 5 the very first sentence he wrote declared gettysburg as this great victory that the army of the potomac had achieved. he then perceived to describe the regimen on july 2. the 14th indiana was part of a counterattack that retook cemetery hill, recaptured union battery. it was an attack made at night and it was an attack unlike many of the other battles that he experienced in which the casualties were extraordinarily light. he only lost two men in his company. one of those men was the caller bearer. both were killed instantly.
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he informed his wife and i found this to be an interesting point, that the regimental flag of the 14th indiana riddled with bullet holes, he decided he would send it to her for safekeeping. and it should come as no surprise that this flag was made by the women of his home county and that is owen county indiana. it is west of indianapolis and a bit to the south not far from bloomington indiana university. he sent the flag back to her. at the end of this letter he wrote this. i cannot say too much in praise of the two brave men who fell nor have i the time to say what i would like. none ever fell more nobly, none were ever mourned more by surviving comrades and they were buried by their friends.
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that sentence that he underlined, not me, they were buried by their friends. it struck two david beans growing estrangement with those at home. and his belief that he could only find true understanding, true communion with his comrades. in riding this book the thing that really stood out is how soldiers on both sides were so surprised and shocked by the strong connections they made with their comrades. this is not an exaggeration. they cleaned to these men emotionally and physically that they hoped to survive. the sense of attachment to his men his sense of growing isolation from the home front
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that was perfectly encapsulated in that phrase. but, david bean, he knew like every other soldier but it was not enough to have that communion with your comrades. it was not enough to have a deep bond with your fellow soldier. david bean realized like so many other men that they needed the people back home and especially women to affirm their sense of being a soldier. it struck me and someone will say a very bad and awkward comparison and i will take my chances. this excellent talk that we just heard about nat turner, he talked about the master slave relationship, always struck by how dependent white southerners, men and women who own slaves, how dependent they were on their slaves playing a
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part in playing a role to affirm their sense of self- worth. and here again civil war soldiers needed their women in this war. they needed them badly. at that point again it cannot be overstated. what were women supposed to do? women were supposed to write supportive letters full of optimism and cheerfulness what we call today support the troops. i'm not going political for you all. i don't do that in my class and i don't do it here. but i do believe there are parallels and of course we hear today support the troops, support the troops. it is your call. what i want you to consider is that the idea of supporting the troops is an apolitical statement and i say to you that the idea of civilians
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supporting the union or confederate war effort and supporting the men, that's it. that that is also apolitical and highly problematic. because david bean never received from hola one of those tearful letters. he never received one of those letters in which she wrote about him in glowing terms that she affirmed his sense of being a brave, dutiful union soldier. she never did it and he needed that from her desperately. so, what can the marriage of an obscure hoosier couple, i suspect everybody, we have some folks from indiana out there. where did the origins of hoosier come from?
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how many of you are dying to know? all right, you know what? it is a teaser. we will get to that maybe in the question and answer. this hoosier couple, what can they tell us about the civil war? well, the story of the beans tells us about the interpretive power of micro history. last night we were talking about the talk. i run everything by her. if you have any problems with my book you go straight to her. she was my editor and i ran everything by her and she is my partner in crime. last night i said micro history, and she said that is just ugly. i said well, it is. she said sounds too academic. i said well it is. she said come up with something else and we could not. i will tell you what micro history is.
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the bean story is the interpretive power of micro history. micro history is not simply the recovery of the lives of ordinary people who have been forgotten nor is the goal of micro history to make some grand claim that results in another academic term a paradigm shift of historical thinking. but, micro history can do this. it can make broader historical connections for us and the private correspondence of the beans gives us pinholes. pinholes through which we can see and understand the broader northern culture at work. now the question of whether this couple is representative, if you want me to go off on my own rant i am utterly mystified why historians continue to try to find what was representative in the civil war. it is played, plagued and you
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say he title the book the war for the common soldier. my first sentence that i wanted and i have to give my wife credit, come on in here honey. she said the first sentence should be there was no common soldier in the civil war. doctor gallagher didn't care for that so much. that sentence is not there. i don't believe there is a common soldier in the civil war. there were many common soldiers. we will talk about that a little later. i do want to say this though. this is what the beans can do for us. they can tell us about how national and local politics figured into a wartime marriage. how did ideas of gender shape the ways that men and women corresponded. what decisions did soldiers make as writer's and how did men depict combat in the
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correspondence and finally how did men cope with battle? so the bean story has that potential to make broader connections. i also want to say that. the beam story also has the potential to disrupt some accepted thinking in civil war history mainly this. we have this idea that civil war soldiers were emotionally hemmed in from their comrades and their loved ones. it was striking to me and not just in the beams but many other examples how these men opened up emotionally to everyone around them. the idea of the hardened soldier who could not bring himself to write mac or talk about what he endured, there are examples of that but there are many to the opposite. jim who is speaking i believe tomorrow published a very important book called private
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confederacy. jim has done more than anyone else to get into the emotional life of these men, obviously on the confederate side. his work has deeply influenced me and i give him a lot of credit for bringing this dimension of the soldier experience to my attention. so, a side note here as i take a drink. i'm afraid this is going to be scalding hot, so here we go. very hot. so, how did i come in contact with the beam papers? i'm going to speak to the high school students. i see some sympathetic patients here. on the weekends when i was in high school, my voice is changing just at the perfect time as i'm going through puberty all over again. how fun that will be. i can join my daughters. they are adolescents as well and we connect out all the
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time, this is good news. i don't know if my wife is hearing any of this, good luck honey. it will be quite a ride. so in indiana on the weekends some kids went to the mall. i went to the indiana historical society. that is what the cool kids did in indianapolis. that is what my mom told me. that is what she said. the indiana historical society which was my home court growing up. there's not a finer institution and it does great public history. there i encountered the beam papers in high school. i have a student now, thin roy who might be in the audience. keep that hand up there. you might get some c-span time right now. then roy just came back from the heartland. his first visit to indiana changed his world. did hit not? he is listening to john cougar
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mellencamp all the time and when he got to indiana and he looked into the student life at indiana university and he came up to the historical society as well. he and i are looking at david beams student writings. student writings. he was a student at iu from 1866 to 18 60. the papers are fascinating. it would be exciting to see what ben comes up with. some of these names that david beam wrote in his papers, he wrote a paper on the evils of materialism, he wrote another paper on politics, brace yourself. as a noble profession. david beam was slightly idealistic. he also wrote a paper entitled indiana has many charms to the eye.
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it was only one page. one page. mr. beam, come on. that is a book. we have had some interesting talks here already about politics of the 1850s. we have talked about the territorial crisis and the expansion of slavery and now i want to say something about free labor ideology. i'm going to tell you right now that is a euphemism. it is a euphemism we continue to parrot today. it allows us to look at this war as a war between saints and sinners. the saints being the northerners. i am telling you we all know is there such a thing as free labor? is there such a thing as free land? no. david beam believed in that message and the message of free labor ideology is quite simple. it is the belief that if a man has access to land, a white man had access to land that through hard work, through
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frugality in good moral living he could move himself up the social ladder. we embody that story of free labor ideology, abe lincoln and to a certain degree that was the story of the beam family. came from kentucky, left kentucky. can't blame them for doing that. i am from indiana and we all get these jokes. he comes up and in many ways he is a self-made man. he wrote about that great promise because he believed that the united states was an exceptional experiment in republicanism. that word exceptionalism is a dirty word amongst historian these days. i guess i get it. what i don't get is this. when people at the time believe that the united states had potential and we should understand why they thought that. beam did. he absolutely did.
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he was worried that the slave power, we talked about this yesterday but for our c-span audiences i will quickly just say the notion of slave power very conspiratorial. that the great planner class with its wealth and power would go into the west and that that land that should be open and available to free, white men to build sturdy farms, no, that slaveholding class would create a plantation society that would push them off to the margins. in one of david beams papers he wrote this. i knew i was forgetting something. there we go. look at that first line. the noble, free white man, back in the day that was redundant. noble free white man only asks for a little man to build a humble home but the slave power of the south scornfully denies his request and spits in his face calling him a mud
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sill and a greasy mechanic. that word mud sill was in essence introduced by james hammond of south carolina. in a speech he said that every society has a laboring class and in the south that laboring class was enslaved people. and to do the dirty work of capitalism they were called free labor. to do the dirty work of wage labor in the north there were poor white folks doing that. that is what hammond said. this word, mud sill stuck. it stuck. and i don't know if michael woods is with us some of you are taking notes, michael woods did a fantastic blog post, that word is almost never come out of my mouth, but it is very good. it is on the site here.
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society of civil war historians. it mainly attracts academics but certainly if you want to be brave and bold, join up. and michael woods did a fantastic job in talking about how mud sill became this powerful rhetorical tool that stuck with average northerners. if you of course remember in our most recent election what words stuck? in clinton's campaign? it backfired. that is the hard fact of it all. mud sill stuck. read michael woods piece and think about the society of civil war historians. i think it would be worth your time. now very quickly david beam is anti-slavery to the court. i don't really know any sense
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of his racial views. i'm sure they were not enlightened but you would not be surprised that david beam in 1861 as a supporter of abraham lincoln and the republican party that he joined the war and organized the first company from owen county, the 14th indiana. they saw some action in west virginia and it is unfortunate in the 1861 campaigns that there were no letters for hola. we don't hear from her at all. but we can because of the advantages of micro history we can reconstruct the world. i have this political cartoon that should come up right now. there we go. political cartoon of course pressuring men to join the ranks and have a woman holding her husband and she is consoling him with the words
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he shouldn't go to this war away from his wife he. i didn't think i would ever say something like that, from his wife he and spoil his pretty mustache so he shouldn't, sweet little boy he shall have a petticoat and a broom and stayed home. i find this fascinating because they are trying to portray the woman as not politically naove, but women had tremendous political power, tremendous political influence and obviously cashin beam tried to sway her husband's decisions. it is clear that she did what? >> she rejected this. she rejected it.
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again, the power of micro history, the dominant themes what can good micro history do? it can rip right through it. it can rip right through it and it gives us multiple narratives. that is what we seek. we want multiple narratives. and hola gives us just that. i have to be honest. i am not sure why she defied these gender conventions. i am not sure why she wrote these supportive letters. only had two levels. it is clear that she just wanted beem to be home. i suspect she thought that a married man's place was not at the front, that that was a job with a single man and that was
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maybe part of it. i also saw her recently a letter from beem. some of his materials are still coming in to the indiana historical society and it is a letter, i believe and 63 in which beem is not clear about the controversy in hola's family. it appears that maybe one of her brothers try to avoid the draft and had to leave owen county and the town in disgrace. that may be out there. maybe she came from a family that was more democratic, that is possible. also, we should note that she had a brother who joined the 14th indiana and came to the regimen in december 1862. he wasn't in the army not even two months before he contracted a fatal illness and
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died. i am sure that figured into her thinking. i am instructed again i don't hear his wife's voice enough. this is a letter, one of the surviving one that hola wrote to david. it makes me nearly right sick to think about you not coming home. i just cannot get over it. even if i knew that you would get home safe in the spring i would not want you to stay in the service until then. my dearest, this is all just because i desire so much to be with you and love you. i want to make a very quick point. obviously this is not what david wanted to hear but i found time and time again this tension that existed between
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soldiers and their wives, that tension was often because the men wrote letters, letters that too often described soldiering as this grand, heroic act. a word you might say is sanitized. and then the responses they receive from their loved ones often did not capture, or i should say adequately express appreciation and understanding for the physical and emotional suffering that was going on in the army. do you see how this was not transmitting and depicting the war as realistically as they could had set up that situation where this gulf of understanding was absolutely inevitable and that is in part what was happening i believe with the beams.
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this is david's response to hola's letter. my dear you are not quite patriotic enough. you say one of your letters that you wish all of your friends were out of the service. i would say hola is deeply political, would you not? well, i would say that i wish all of mine were in it, who are able to stand it, and if they were, i would wish them good luck and give them all the praise their deeds might merit. if they were brave i would be proud of them. if they were cowards i would deny them. but i am glad to know that nearly all my friends are in the works a lot to be, and am proud to know that they have always born themselves well. but i will quit the subject
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for i know you would say please don't talk so. all right, again, power of micro history. we need context and we need the context of indiana at war and we are really speaking about the midwest. all of you know it was badly divided between democrats and republicans. some of them more outspoken critics of the war called copperheads. the state of indiana had let's just say a governor who had firm control of the reins of power and that of course is all over the morton. in the fall of 1862 he witnessed a political landslide against his party, the democrats came in and they got virtually every important post in state government and they got controlled the state legislature.
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in congress they sent more democrats than republicans and what did governor morton do? he pretty much pushed them out of the political game. he did not recognize them or consult them. and you can only imagine the outrage this violation of democracy in which democrats in indiana said there is tyranny in indianapolis and tierney in washington dc and we have lincoln and morton and all they care about is a draft to fight a war. it was supposed to be for the union but now it is for emancipation. i think that historians are coming to terms with the fact that the copperhead movement was a serious threat, a serious threat against the union war effort. i will give you an example. in my favorite county in indiana, brown county indiana where my dad was born. i have family down there. a beautiful place.
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brown county indiana 1863 there was a war rally of the republicans and some soldiers were all there. who showed up? the democrats. protesters. they broke up the rally and shot and killed a union soldier who was on leave at that rally. but you all know folks we have never been more divided as a people until today. we have never been more divided. proving once again that an americans sense of history goes back how far? maybe two weeks. but what we do know a lot about and i'm getting antsy, i'm going to have to racer my talk. i need to get on twitter and see how kevin durant achilles injury is coming along. i have been shocked. leave the poor guy alone. that is all you hear about now.
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he is responsible for it, i blew out my achilles. i can tell you what happened. because your body sometimes does what? it just gives out. but it is of course filled in the news. and my point is there is a sense, a very distorted one of what we mean by being a divided people and i can't recommend enough that nicole who was on our panel last night, a generation at war. i am biased and it is clear i love my hoosier state. this is about putnam county indiana. it is a fantastic book. it digs deep into putnam county and allows you to get some altitude so you can understand the north at war. i can't say enough good things about this book and the level of research and the excellent riding, it is fantastic.
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so, being refused to give hola credit for formulating her own political views. think about that for a moment. why? smart guy. he left her. he respected her. but he could not imagine that she could articulate her own opinion on her own. because if he in fact gave her credit for that that would suggest that her lack of patriotism was a defect in her womanly makeup. what is even more troubling to acknowledge her opinions as her own is to also acknowledge
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his male authority, his power, his control over that household was under question. so you have to find another reason and beem did. he believed that she was surrounded by traders. by copperheads. that got into her ear. she couldn't help herself. because in owing county when you breathed in that air you breathe in the air of what? the year's edition. that is how he find it. after the battle of fredericksburg in which david beem's regimen part of campbell's brigade and we will give you a fun hoosier fact for the day. are you ready? commanded by nathan campbell from indiana again first brigade to attack the famous stone wall, he was from
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fredericksburg, indiana. there you go. your fun fact. the audience didn't seemed moved by that at all. disappointing. so beem's regimen charged across that open plain. you know the results. the disaster at fredericksburg and this is what he wrote to his wife. after the battle. now dear, there are great many around you who are enemies to the government and secretly rejoice at every failure. the consequences constantly exaggerate and say but little about our victories. i am sure she is saying what victories? they find fault with everything connected with the war and while they can to discourage those who have friends in the army. all that disheartened me is to know that there are so many
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cowardly and dishonest people at home. i think the other thing that frustrated david beem is that hola circumstances, her financial welfare it was not challenged by his departure into the army. there is nothing that struck me harder than riding this book than what a man's intrigue into military service did for the women left at home, north and south. particularly for women. hola never faced any financial crisis . she lived with her parents until i believe 1863. time and time again you can only imagine these men and i have also come to the conclusion that often when we
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think about history and civil war and how academics are so interested in power and that is almost always too often we have looked at these relationships of power and we'e emptied them of emotions and love and of strong connections. and they slight had that. and all these other men did as well. so when they wrote to their wives and they instructed their wives do this on the farm, take care of tis. yes you could say it's just a reassertion of patriarchy. i guess, but let's not overlook the fact of the great physical distance that separated men and women for most of these people the first time in their lives. imagine again the emotional demands placed on both parties.
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but he was really frustrated with her. i think i haven't got a letter from you without you saying that you couldn't stand to be separated from me so long and that it's so hard for women to be so far from their husbands and so farth. besides your situation is favorable compared to that of many other women and you think your case is hard. many others have reason to despair. how is it with the wives of who have large families to take of, they can stand it as they have to. most certainly you can do the same. i want to make a final point about this because this portrait
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emerging is coming across as spoiled, self-centered, unpatriotic. we don't hear enough from her. we don't know the anguish she felt when he learned about her brother died. we don't know what happened within her own household with her parents and with her brothers. we know none of that. and so i would encourage us to sort of pull back from any harsh judgments and to remind ourselves of what i said earlier, the great chasm, physical chasm that spreteparat men and women, that made it so difficult for women to be able to grasp, to be able to understand what was happening to their men. they were beholden to rumor, rumor. and you can only imagine the great uncertainty that pervaded her life. and nothing and i mean nothing i think better exemplifies the gap
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in communication than when it came to david being trying to depict, explain what he had endured in battle. it blows up, blows up the standard explanations. there's a good example of it is beans letters that follow antium because he admitted he was scared, he was confused and even suggested he wasn't certain there was a higher power reaching down and controlling affairs on earth.
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he expressed all that, all that to mahala, and now we'll get even more micro. we're going to get a little more micro here and just focus on antitum. james hope, union veteran who did these paintings long after the war. this is the painting that depicts the charge against the sunken lane. many of you have been there. you know there were these grand frontal attacks that struck north carolina and alabama soldiers and maybe some georgians as well, but mosthy alabama and north carolina in the sunken lane. beans regiment participated in that. beams regiment suffered greatly in that combat. at the end of the day fighting there was probably two to three hours, the 14th indiana started with 320 men, at the end of day
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september 17th they lost and killed and wounded 181. riding the day after the battle bean did his first of seven letters, seven letters composed in the following month an antitum. his first letter was simply a statement of survival. my dear wife, yesterday we fought a terrible battle. i came out safe after being engaged from sun rise till dark. 19 are wounded, last night we laid on the battlefield. it was a horrible battle and providence, providence strangely -- strangely protected me. strangely protected me. note his lack of certainty. there's the original one, again.
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the indiana historial society, that's where the original is. september 19th he wrote this -- did i say the 19th? that's correct, the 19th. yesterday i wrote you a very brief note to let you know i was safe though you may not get it. i'm very anxious that the friends should hear from the boys in my company knowing that they are all full of anxiety at their fate. now, he apparently put down the letter and then he added a post script. i want you to put yourself in the place of mahala and i want you to imagine how chilling these words must have been when she read them. oh, the rush and roar of battle.
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i wonder if the dreadful sounds will ever get out of my ears. in the 20th david beam was a little more subtle. that letter handwriting is not so jittery and more legible obviously as well and even described what he did. he walked the battlefield but first, first he visited the hospital. he saw many of his soliers, his comrades. he said in a straightforward manner to his wife that they were suffering terribly and he expected many of them would die. he then walked the field and he was appalled by what he had seen. but there were many confederates and there's one of those photographs. the famous one, you've all seen it, it's identified as areas directly across from the
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brigade. i am a firm believer these men did not feel in these spots. they'd been moved to this location for burial. but still ghastly and overwhelming, still shocking even to the eye today. seeing the dead, it forced beam to again think about why he survived. he's absolute lay mystified by this and he wrote, when i reflect what a terrible ordeal we have passed through and how many have fallen arn me i feel very thankful that i have been so remarkably provided. i presume that at least a half-dozen men were killed within six yards of me and some of them fell at my feet. one of those fallen was lieutenant porter lundy. it was his best friend in the army. he referred to him as his better
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half. he loved porter lundy, he was open about that. porter lundy was hit in the head by a shell fragment. he died instantly. he then wrote to his wife. today i have to perform a sad duty in writing to it life of lieutenant lundy. poor woman i scarcely know in what terms to convey the dreadful news to her and her two little children. that letter to lundy's wife survived her widow, and again our c-span audiences probably aren't aware of the fact we just don't sit here and listen to lectures and have discussions, we go to the battlefield on monday. a bunch of you will be coming with me and we'll go on the battlefield and stand where the 14th endfought and i'm going to pull out the letter that david beam wrote to lieutenant lundy's widow. there's nothing like it, right?
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so the ups and downs continued for being even after his regiment left the battlefield. on september 28th he confided he could barely write because his head was too full of bumblebees. in the days that followed he contracted a fever, he felt very anxious. he didn't have the language, medical knowledge to be able to diagnose himself. things got so bad he had to leave the regiment, check himself into a home in harpers ferry, his weight declined to 120 pounds. i'm still quite weak, my nerves
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are all unstrung and it requires an effort to make my pen go right. he received a letter from hala, but it peers she was unmove bide all the letters of antitum. he has received a letter from her, we don't know the contents, but he's clearly unhappy. you won't hardly believe when i tell you one third of your letter october 4th is taken up by complaining that some of father's folks received a letter one day when you didn't happen to get one. now i'm willing for you to complain when you feel like it, but if you believe i tell the truth when i say i write two letters a week don't you think often enough and don't you think it would save you some labor in writing to leave your complaints out and make your letters that much shorter?
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i'm going to fast forward a little bit and simply say if you can imagine the defeats that followed that the situation between them grew more and more tense. his letter from fredericksburg is beautifully composed and hoping of course that would appeal to her sympathies. david beam did not reenlist in 1864. it's largely because he contracted malaria in the fall of 1863. he never really got back into the field for much time. in the spring of '64 they were doing picket duty. for whatever reason they had to wade the river, that cold-water didn't do his system any good. he went home a little bit for recruiting but he never gets into the field. there was a rumor he was going to reenlist the summer of 1864. as you can imagine mahala got
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wind of that rumor and she skoeded him for it, and this is so important, and it's key to what i found in this book that a sense of duty is not some great abstraction that made civil war soldiers fight in predictable ways. in fact pragmatism, which gave men a flexibility to define duty as they saw it, and david beam said that he had done his part, and so he came home. of course mahala i'm sure secretly said i'm responsible for this and came home and there's a reunion that late summer of 1864. now, as all of you can imagine it's a perilous task to judge anyone's marriage, but to get behind those closed doors, who in the world could possibly know what's going on. evidence is too fractured. just can't make any hard conclusions about it.
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but -- but it appears to me that they were able to make-up. there was enough peace for them after the war to have three children and then after that a small herd of grandchildren followed. and here it is. i'd say he did all right for himself. it's not there, how about that? a blank. he did really well. there it is. there today, spectacular place. one of those rural towns it's of course struggling economically but still a lovely area. and of course fate would have it, on the other side of the house is a modern development. and the street that borders this property is named, ready, lee street. lee street, yeah.
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the final insult. and now here is the beam union and there it is 1894. if i try to use this little light on this -- okay, so there's david beam right there in the center. and then right above him there's mahala and there's the whole family. there's a picture which we all know especially if you're on facebook or instagram, we all know behind that picture looks a very different reality. and that reality for david in particular was one of a trying time and we know that because of a system in which he had to make an application, he had to describe his condition. his very first application in 1886 when he was 48 years old, he wrote that there was still so much swimming in his head.
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and that his eyes were wandering. beam also wrote when he reapplied for a pension ten years later, 1896, he was often confined to his room for eight weeks at a time. the attending physician said that beam was poorly nourished and prematurely had aged. $1,906 reported that beam was a bleary-eyed feeble old man with joints stiffened by rheumatism. it's difficult for us to imagine those final years for david beam and his wife, those long stretches, though, mahala was likely by his side offering
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conversation, offering comfort. loved to know what they talked about, love today know if they ever made peace with the war, but we can only hope for this. we can only hope that beam, he was able to hold his wife's hand, have his children and grandchildren by his side as he looked out that window. and that the words he wrote after fredericksburg, that it reentered his consciousness. i think i would never be a soldier if i had no dear ones to fight for. but feeling as i do that i have so many who i love and who love me in return, i take more pleasure in contributing all i
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can to maintain for them good laws, free institutions and a firm government that i can find anywhere else. in other words, if i love no one, i would stay at home. but loving not only one but others, too, i am now in the field fighting for one of the best governments in the world. thank you. [ applause ] >> my question is not so much specifically related to this talk but in general. yeah, the importance for you and all historians of primary documents, letters, et cetera. what happens in the future now
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when we don't write letters really any longer? everything's on the internet, it's deleted with the push of a button. where does your research go? >> i'll cut to the chase here and first to say i'm not obviously an expert on that. i'm going to keep flagging my wife who's a professional archivist, yes there is a concern about this personal and private correspondence but there's a lot of e-mails out there and there are a lot of archivists thinking about how you can digitally save and record that material. how the way through it is going to be to me one of the great challenges, but i will not despair. i'll have lots of material to work with. it might not be as intimate and beautifully written as this that you just encountered but there'll be stuff out there. yes? >> how did hoosiers get their
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name? >> what i learned in fourth grade indiana history, she said supposedly when people were passing through indiana and they knocked on a strangers door that the person would say who's there, and they ran it together and that's how you get hoosier. it's a let down i can tell but i'm sorry i wish i could make up a better story for you. there you have it. >> would you say beam's appearance was particularly northern or such things could happen on both sides of the war. >> so i think that's an excellent question because certainly we can find parallels between union and confederate couples at war. those parallels sometimes, though, can prevent us from seeing the profound differences and i'll just name a few very quickly. first, the obvious. for the most part the war is fought in the south, and so those couples have to contend in the south with the presence of
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an invading army. and two, the system of slafvery and again let's not get too excited here. i understand most southerners didn't own slaves but they still lived within a society with which slavery was the dominant economic institution and we learned from amy's talk and others that we know that slave property, quotes around that, we know that slave property had a mind of its own. we know with the presence of union armies that that social system started to break down. southern couples had to contend with that. though we'll see although parallels, i'll give you one quick one, the parallels are local communities providing relief and supports for the wives of their soldiers on both sides. it's always amusing to me to people who want to hold out the confederacy as this great beacon of states rights and
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local autonomy. they have a welfare system to try to help sustain these women and their children while these husbands are away. i want to say that point again. if you want to think about what these men were experiencing, if you want to try to understand their interior world not for a moment, not for a moment should you forget about the household. not for a moment because i'm telling you this, soldiers never forgot about it. they never forgot about it. the household, it permeated their lives and understandably so and also a tug-of-war, right? tug on peoples emotions, but we could see that david beam, it was possible for him to continue to think about this war on grand idealistic terms because you didn't have an invading army and you didn't have to worry about
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your wife starving. >> did he carry on consistent correspondence with anybody else during the war? and if he did, did the tone and content how he told the story of the war differ from the way he told it to his wife? >> that's a great question. the big part of what i have to a conclusion about, you cannot understand soldier letters without thinking about who's receiving it. and they are often scripted in very different ways. he certainly did. none of them survived, but i do know that he wrote accounts to indiana papers. again, i want to stress these accounts, we're going to go out on a second lane and we're going to read some of these things and you're going to think, oh, my god, this a war without blood -- i should say a battle without blood and the last spasms of life. this is a battle without sounds. that script that beam wrote, this is why so many northerners
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then thought, oh, my god, our men are fighting this great war of heroism and then the soldiers get frustrated. you don't understand and appreciate our suffering and it's in part because beam and these other men in the confederacy they desperately needed that affirmation from their women folk, and that aspiration again is deeply political. i don't have anyone to call me off here. i'll keep going. i'll keep talking. i'm the director. i can do what i want, right? not really. we've got time for about two more quick questions. >> he talked about the gulf between david and mahala. i just finished reading a nice book. you may have heard of it. where he writes to his sister and we had a great gulf between willy and his family at home. >> i'll give you the quick
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letter, one of the odd things -- and we're going to discuss this letter at our dine in. it's the letter describing the battle of the crater where african-american soldiers called usct, united states colored troops, they fought at the crater. many were not allowed to surrender, murdered in cold blood. that's his word. he writes it seems cruel to murder them in cold blood, but the men have every reason to do so. at the end of the letter he says god has given us a spectacular victory. he's writing that letter to his youngest sister, jenny peagram. stop asking that question, whether it's true, whether it captures the real war, that's a nonsense question. what that letter is important about is that he wants jenny, his sister to see him and see
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lee's army not as a bunch of murderers but as veteran disciplined soldiers. we just heard this great talk on gnat turner. they saw the use, the confederates did of soldiers. the killing of those men, that's an atrocity. that's an absolute atrocity. but in peagram's mind and how he wanted people back home to understand it, that's a very different question. and seriously, i plead with all of you, when you look at letters now there is a purpose, there is an intent. and don't just say i've got to get my truth meter out and find what really happened. good luck. good luck because the job is take all these accounts and then put them together. yes, something did happen. i'm not denying that. but the perception, that's where i thinkia focus should be. all right, one last question
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here. >> okay, in all of the soldier letters that you've read you said there's no common sole yr, but is that a common thread that you found in all the soldier letters you read? >> the only reason i say that is because i don't think it serves us well. what we miss is just the variety of experiences, so if we just push that aside, there are ordinary guys out there and they shared a lot, and i'm not denying that. but for the fullest understanding we possibly could have is to cast that aside and embrace the fact there are so many different types, so many different ways these men experienced and wrote about the war. amy's in the back row over there. she'd say the same thing about enslaved people who ran off to refugee camps, a common run away slave. there's too many differences. we're going to do that with this group today.
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we're going to give you two different experiences on the same place and you're going to say, man, i can't believe these people occupied the same historical ground at the same moment, but they wrote about it in very different ways. all right, last question very quickly. everyone's eager, i'm standing in their way for lunch here. >> i'll make it quick. micro history. do you believe first of all micro history might be a new part of historography and it seems as a teacher, my professor or mentor you told me there's not been an idea of micro history in the last hundred years but micro history seems to be something on the cusp because when you take history from the bottom up or every man a historian, it's kind of like do you believe it's a mixing of historography at the high school level? >> micro history is not new to the scene. the first micro history, many of you know the book, it's
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stewart's history of picket charge. he calls it a micro history. the historians that got the attention and deservedly so are professors who are written on european history. but there are plenty of us who are working in micro history and i want to stress, yes, it can bring fresh interpretations. yes, it can bring some original ideas. how we think about the past in a radical way, but it certainly can give us new as i said before peepholes. and i'll say this you loved the narratives and you loved the stories. and we all complain, even academics complain why don't people read what we do? because we don't write enough narratives. and i firmly believe you can do a microbiography and from that, from that you've got a great story but a great story with
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ideas, ideas that got a bite to them. thank you all so much. enjoy your lunch. c span's campaign 2020 coverage continues thursday when president trump holds a campaign rally in cincinnati, ohio. that's live starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. and friday, more campaign coverage with remarks from acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. he'll speak at the annual silver elephant gala hosted by the south carolina republican party. that's live friday at 8:15 p.m. eastern. also on c-span. this thursday night american history tv will continue our focus on the civil war. we'll begin with the history of gettysburg national park
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followed by discussions on civil war violence and reflections on writing about the war. watch american history tv thursday beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3. >> reagan is an intellectual. he's an intellectual. he's comfortable with yis. he understands the power of ideas. and with that kind of foundation, a kind of intellectual foundation, a political leader can do all kinds of marvelous things. >> author and historian lee edwards will be our guest on in-depth sunday from noon to 2:00 p.m. eastern. mr. edwards is the author of "just right" plus a collection of biographies. join our live conversation with your phone calls, tweets and facebook questions. watch "in-depth" with author lee edwards live sunday from noon to 2:00 p.m. eastern. and be sure to watch our live coverage of the 2019 national book festival on saturday august
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31st on book tv on c-span 2. i live in a country where there's no public transportation, where there's no i can walk and a woman to leave the house, to do everything in her life she needs a car. and to function and to drive this car, she needs a man. >> sunday night on q&a saudi arabia womens rights activist talks about her book "daring to drive" a sabe woman's awakening about her decision to challenge the saudi government's ban on women drivers. >> the right to drive is more an act of civil disobedience because women is not supposed to drive. we show that we are able, we are capable of driving our own life and being in the driver seat of our own destiny of doing this act of civil disobedience. >> watch sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a.
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american history tv's look with a look at the civil war continues now with author patrick green on his book. a new history of the gnat turner revolt. this talk was part of the summer conference. it's about an hour. >> good morning again. i'm peter car michael, member of the history department at gettysburg college. i'm also the director of the civil war institute. it is my pleasure this morning to introduce to you patrick green who's an associate professor in history and classics at providence college. i should note he's also the father of one of our high school scholarship recipients from last year, correct? she came here and enjoyed herself i'm sure.


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