Dr. Joseph Glatthaar, one of America’s foremost authorities on the Civil War, will focus on General William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea when he delivers the keynote address for the Summer History Symposium beginning at 7:30 p.m. on June 24 in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Upcoming Civil War symposium examines Sherman’s March to the Sea

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dr. Joseph Glatthaar is scheduled to deliver the keynote address for the third Summer History Symposium beginning at 7:30 p.m. June 24 in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium at the University of Science and Arts.

The event is free and open to the public.

Glatthaar is a Stephenson Distinguished Professor and teaches American military history to both undergraduate and graduate students at the University of North Carolina.

His keynote address will focus on General William Tecumseh Sherman’s innovative March to the Sea (also known as the Savannah campaign) that saw his armies moving deep within enemy territory without adequate supply lines in order to break the Southern will and capacity to continue the war.

This scorched-earth campaign that fed his armies by ravaging the countryside brought a new level of brutality to the Southern front that continues to resonate down through the generations.

Glatthaar is the author of several books including The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman’s Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns; Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and their White Officers; Partners in Command: Relationships Between Leaders in the Civil War; The Civil War in the West, 1863-65; Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians in the American Revolution; General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse; and Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Dr. James Finck, assistant professor of American history and coordinator of the Summer History Symposium, sees Sherman’s March as one of the pivotal moments of the war.

“Being the anniversary of 1864, we decided to focus on one of the most controversial and important events of the Civil War, Sherman’s capturing of Atlanta and his March to the Sea,” Finck said. “Sherman’s March did plenty of physical damage to Georgia and the Carolinas, but it was the psychological effect that brought the South to its knees and was also important in helping Lincoln secure reelection.

“There was no guarantee that Lincoln would win his second bid. Some in the party even wanted to replace him. The war had drug on for four years and the death count kept rising. It was Sherman’s victories in Georgia that helped convince the North that the war could be won and hopefully soon.”

USAO’s Summer History Symposium began in 2012 and has expanded to include a history camp component. As part of the camp, high school students will have VIP seats for Glatthaar’s keynote address and the opportunity to have breakfast with him the next morning where they can ask questions in a more private setting.

The camp also is open to high school teachers and can be used for professional development hours. During the first day of camp there will be three history lectures given, including the keynote address by Glatthaar, and one more the next morning.


The Summer History Symposium is scheduled to continue with Civil War themed addresses through 2015.

The event is part of USAO’s annual symposia series, which includes the Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service each fall and the Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium in the spring.

Author and economist James K. Galbraith is scheduled to deliver the keynote address for the upcoming Giles Symposium, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 29.

Multi-award winning writer and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman is scheduled to deliver the keynote address for the Emerson-Wier Symposium at USAO on March 9, 2015.

Recent keynote speakers for the symposia include food consciousness and sustainability author Dan Barber, Nobel prize winning neuropsychiatrist Eric Kandel and celebrated novelist Margaret Atwood.

More information about the Summer History Symposium can be obtained by calling 574-1229.