When Texans study the history of the Civil War in grade school, they learn it ended when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox on April 8, 1865, and that Texas played a relatively small role in the conflict.
Historian Greg Downs argues these lessons are wrong on both counts in his new book, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War. He will challenge the traditional teachings during a lecture, Q&A and book signing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
“Greg Downs wants to challenge the idea the Civil War reached a neat and tidy end in April of 1865,” says History Chair Andrew Graybill. “What Greg does well is extend the geographical scope to the West. A big focus of his book is Texas, which was one of the last Confederate states to surrender.”
During Reconstruction, 50,000 Union Army troops were deployed to Texas, which proved the most difficult of the former Confederate states to subdue. At any given time between 1866 and 1870, 40 to 50 percent of the Union troops stationed in the south were garrisoned in Texas.
“People in Texas were still being bought and sold after Appomattox,” Downs says. “Texans still thought slavery would stay. Army officers were imprisoned and murdered in Texas. In some ways, the Civil War was just beginning in Texas as it was ending elsewhere in the South.”
A new exhibit at SMU’s DeGolyer Library features rare Civil War images of African American slave life, Southern battlefield scenes and camp life for Union and Confederate soldiers.
“The Civil War in Photographs: New Perspectives from the Robin Stanford Collection” (through March 15, 2013) represents the first time the more than 300 photographs and stereoscope views have been exhibited.
Robin Stanford of Houston has spent the last 40 years assembling the collection. Its strengths include pre-war and wartime Southern views by local photographers and views by northern photographers who documented Union-occupied areas of the South. Her collection also includes images of the daily life of soldiers at mealtime, playing cards and writing letters. Extremely rare Texas Civil War images also are included.
The highlights include:
Pre-war slave life with photographs of slave quarters, workshops and plantation life.
Images of a damaged Ft. Sumter, South Carolina, after Union troops surrendered and evacuated in 1861.
Battlegrounds and scenes rarely photographed, particularly in Southern locations such as Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.
African American soldiers and regiments.
Union soldiers in Brownsville, Texas, guarding the U.S. border.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. Library hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
A 95-page catalog of the exhibit, The Civil War in Photographs: New Perspectives from the Robin Stanford Collection, is available for $20. The catalog was created by exhibit curator Anne Peterson.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War with the first shots fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. SMU’s Clements Department of History will observe the date on which the deadliest conflict in the nation’s history began with a Stanton Sharp Lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Steven Hahn.
Hahn will discuss “Why the Civil War Mattered” at 6:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
How might America have looked had there been no Civil War – or if the war had ended differently? Hahn’s lecture will revisit these issues by reminding us of the power of slaveholders and slavery in antebellum America.
“The legacy of the Civil War and its aftermath is still unfolding in this nation. Issues of race remain current and contentious,” says Sherry L. Smith, professor and acting chair of SMU’s Clements Department of History. “Understanding this war – what was at stake and what changed as a result of it – is critical in coming to terms with race in America.”