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‘Total War’ Comes to ASU’s Civil War Series

March 13, 2012

The concept of “total war” and the exploits of two of its most audacious proponents will be explored in Angelo State University’s Civil War Lecture Series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the conflict at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at the Fort Concho Stables.  

Panelists will be Cory Robinson, an ASU alumnus with a master’s degree in history and a living historian at Fort Concho, speaking on “Before San Angelo, Benjamin Grierson Dropped by on Mississippi” and Dr. Kenneth J. Heineman, head of the ASU History Department, talking on “William Tecumseh Sherman Demonstrated that War is Hell.”  The panel will be moderated by Dr. Robert S. Ehlers, director of ASU’s Center for Security Studies. 

The lecture is open free to the public in the Fort Concho Stables located on Flipper Street adjacent to the fort grounds.  The program is the sixth of seven public presentations that will address various aspects of the Civil War during the 2011-12 academic year.  

Grierson, who commanded Fort Concho after the Civil War, led a cavalry raid during the Vicksburg campaign.  That raid behind Confederate lines in Mississippi served in some ways as a dry run for Sherman’s later March to the Sea.  The Grierson raid was later fictionalized by Hollywood in the John Wayne/William Holden film, “The Horse Soldiers.” 

Sherman, who succeeded Ulysses S. Grant as Union commander in the western theater, is the Civil War’s most famous proponent of total war.  After taking Atlanta in 1864, he marched through Georgia and the Carolinas waging war on the civilian population and provender, ultimately accepting the surrender in 1865 of all the Rebel armies in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. 

Heineman said, “‘War,’ as Sherman noted, ‘is Hell.’  Sherman and Grierson did much to validate that statement during the Civil War.” 

The Civil War speaker series is jointly sponsored by multiple ASU departments, including the History Department, Center for Security Studies, West Texas Collection, Multicultural Center and Air Force ROTC, as well as Fort Concho and the Concho Valley Civil War Roundtable, to commemorate the watershed event in American history. 

Heineman said Angelo State’s “Civil War 150th Commemoration Discussion Series” will continue through April with ASU and local historians addressing various topics related to Civil War personalities, events and ramifications.  All programs are scheduled at either ASU’s Davidson Center or at Fort Concho. 

The final presentation in the Civil War series will be on “A New Birth of Freedom:  The Post-Civil War World,” at 7 p.m. April 17 in the Davidson Center.  Speakers will be Dr. John Klingemann, “Mexico, 1910,” and Dr. Rob Nalbandov, “Georgia, 1989.” Heineman will moderate. 

Heineman said the goal of the lecture series is to engage the community in reflection on the Civil War and its impact, even on contemporary society.  He said the lecture series would also be a learning experience for secondary school teachers and their students.