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Capitol Hill Civil War Round Table

Keeping Civil War History Alive in Our Nation's Capital

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Please join us on May 6 when Peter Carmichael discusses his new book, THE WAR FOR THE COMMON SOLDIER How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies.

How did Civil War soldiers endure the brutal and unpredictable existence of army life during the conflict? This question is at the heart of Peter S. Carmichael's sweeping new study of men at war. Based on close examination of the letters and records left behind by individual soldiers from both the North and the South, Carmichael explores the totality of the Civil War experience--the marching, the fighting, the boredom, the idealism, the exhaustion, the punishments, and the frustrations of being away from families who often faced their own dire circumstances. Carmichael focuses not on what soldiers thought but rather how they thought. In doing so, he reveals how, to the shock of most men, well established notions of duty or disobedience, morality or immorality, loyalty or disloyalty, and bravery or cowardice were blurred by war. Digging deeply into his soldiers' writing, Carmichael resists the idea that there was "a common soldier" but looks into their own words to find common threads in soldiers' experiences and ways of understanding what was happening around them. In the end, he argues that a pragmatic philosophy of soldiering emerged, guiding members of the rank and file as they struggled to live with the contradictory elements of their violent and volatile world. Soldiering in the Civil War, as Carmichael argues, was never a state of being but a process of becoming.

Peter S. Carmichael is the Fluhrer Professor of History and the Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.   After completing his doctorate at Penn State University under Dr. Gary W. Gallagher, Professor Carmichael went on to teach at Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and West Virginia University.  He is the author and editor of four books, including The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005. He has also published a number of articles for both scholarly and popular journals, and he speaks frequently to general and scholarly audiences. Every June Professor Carmichael directs the Civil War Institute’s summer conference, which draws more than 300 attendees from across the country.  More recently Professor Carmichael has appeared on the PBS Robert E. Lee documentary for the American Experience series and on the popular TV show “Who Do You Think You Are.” His lectures have also been covered by PCN and C-Span.  His new book, published in November 2018 is The War for the Common Soldier.

Cost

The presentation is free of charge for those ordering dinner. For those who do not order food there will be a $5 charge.

Dinner

Join us at 5:30 pm in the John Cosgrove Members' Lounge (formerly the Game Room). The National Press Club menu will challenge your palette and the very capable Club staff will be able to meet any libation request. Please bring cash or checks for payment. Please note that no dinner orders will be taken after 6:30.

Location

The CHCWRT meets in the newly renovated John Cosgrove Members' Lounge of the prestigious and historic National Press Club, which is located at 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045, on the 13th floor.

The National Press Building is conveniently located approximately two blocks from Metro Center (Blue, Orange and Red Lines).

FREE parking is available at the PMI garage located on the North side of G Street between 13th and 14th Streets, if you arrive at the garage after 5:00 p.m. and purchase food and/or drinks at the National Press Club. Just bring your parking ticket to the meeting for validation.