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Civil War symposium to explore Stones River

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As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s beginning approaches, Middle Tennesseans have a timely opportunity to learn more about the men who fought in that devastating conflict, thanks to an upcoming symposium.

“The Legacy of Stones River: Why They Fought,” a daylong program that will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until about 4 p.m. Saturday, March 20, will get under way in Murfreesboro, with some 150 participants expected to attend.

Now in its sixth incarnation, the event will feature distinguished speakers at the Rutherford County Courthouse in the morning and living-history programs at Stones River National Battlefield in the afternoon.

“Tennessee was quite divided during the war, so it is fascinating to discover how people chose sides,” said Antoinette van Zelm, historian with the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, co-coordinator of the symposium. “’The Legacy of Stones River’ symposium gives people new insights into the war on the battle front and on the home front … (and it) is one of the Heritage Area’s longstanding, successful partnerships.”

The history department at MTSU, Eastern National, Friends of Stones River National Battlefield Inc. and MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation also will sponsor the event, which is co-coordinated by The National Park Service.

Per van Zelm, the day’s itinerary will begin with a continental breakfast and 8 a.m. registration at the Rutherford County Courthouse. Next, the program will feature talks by authors Keith Bohannon, Sam Davis Elliott, and Kenneth Noe, all of whom are noted authorities on the Civil War’s soldiers and generals.

A question-and-answer period will follow the three presentations and speakers will be available to sign their copies of their respective books. (Teachers will have the opportunity to attend an in-service session titled “Choosing Sides.”)

In the afternoon, symposium participants will meet at Stones River National Battlefield.
“Addressing the question of why soldiers fought on the ground where thousands of them were killed and wounded, is a powerful way to complement the presentations of our visiting scholars,” said Park Ranger Jim Lewis.

In turn, “Fighting for Home and Hearth,” a ranger-led walk on the battlefield, will be held at 1:30 and 3 p.m. At the same times, the Ninth Kentucky Infantry, U.S.A., reenactment group will drill and fire their muskets while sharing the story of Southerners who chose to fight for the Union.

Registration for the daylong event is $10, with registration brochures available via the Web at http://www.tncivilwar.org or http://www.nps.gov/stri. On-site registration will be available; however, organizers request that advance registrations be submitted, if possible, by March 12 for planning purposes.

For more registration information, please call the battlefield at 615-893-9501.

More about the symposium speakers …

• Keith Bohannon of the University of West Georgia has written extensively about the war, including essays on John Bell Hood and the Battle of Chickamauga. He co-edited the volume Campaigning with “Old Stonewall”: Confederate Captain Ujanirtus Allen’s Letters to His Wife (1998).
At the symposium, Bohannon will speak on “Virginian in Blue: George H. Thomas and the Civil War in Tennessee.”

• Sam Davis Elliott, a Chattanooga attorney, has published Soldier of Tennessee: General Alexander P. Stewart and the Civil War in the West (1999), Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee: The Memoir and Civil War Diary of Charles Todd Quintard (2003) and the newly released Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator (2010).
His talk at the symposium is titled “The Battle of Stones River’s Effect on the Leadership of the Army of Tennessee.”

• Kenneth Noe is the Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University. His books include A Southern Boy in Blue: The Memoir of Marcus Woodcock, 9th Kentucky Infantry (U.S.A.) (1996) and Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle (2001).
His presentation, “Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army After 1861,” also is the title of his forthcoming book.
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