|Sherman's March to the Sea: War Crime, or Military Necessity?
Many Southerners, at the time and later, labeled William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea" as a "war crime," with Sherman singled out as the Civil War's criminal. Certainly General Sherman was the war's prime exponent of "hard war," a war in which
civilian lives and property were targeted in the hopes that would break southern morale and infrastructure. Sherman's own "Make Georgia Howl" rhetoric fueled this image. But is the image correct? Did Sherman's practice match
his eliminationist rhetoric? More importantly, did Sherman's army violate any recognized usage of war at the time, or was its often destructive
path marked by out-of-the-ordinary atrocities? Professor Allardice reviews the facts of the March, and considers how the "March" has been treated in history.
|'These Charges Don't Pay': The Battle of Ezra Church
The Battle of Ezra Church was fought on July 28, 1864 near Atlanta, the third in a series of unsuccessful attacks by Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee on Sherman’s Union army.
Sherman's army stretched in an inverted U around the northern defenses of Atlanta. Sherman decided to cut off the railroad supply lines into Atlanta, thus forcing the defending army to withdraw without a direct assault. To accomplish this goal, Sherman commanded his easternmost army, under Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, north and west around the rest of the Union lines to the far western side of Atlanta where the railroad entered the city.
Hood, anticipating Sherman's maneuver, moved his troops out to oppose the Union army. Hood planned to intercept them and catch them by surprise with a flank attack.
The armies met on the afternoon of July 28 west of Atlanta, near Ezra Church. Unfortunately for Hood, his disjointed attacks hit Howard’s troops head on. The Confederate army suffered heavy losses assaulting the Union army's line of improvised breastwork of logs and rails. The rebels were defeated, although they managed to stop Howard from reaching the railroad line. The discouraged Confederates blamed Hood for the defeat, lamenting that they “had just enough soldiers left for another killing.” One Confederate general complained that his men “had been butchered” by the high command.
Professor Allardice discusses this battle, and in particular he critiques John Bell Hood’s management (or lack thereof) of the battle. The talk is based on his essay, “’It was Perfect Murder’: S
tephen D. Lee at Ezra Church,” in Confederate Generals in the Western Theater (vol. 3).
|Private Yankee Doodle: 5 Myths About Washington's Army
We often view the American Revolution in terms of the "Minute Men" of Lexington and Concord, or Mel Gibson's ragtag band in "The Patriot"
constatnly outsmarting those (supposedly) stupid, stodgy Brits. But the movies about the American Revolution often mythologize about the
solders who fought in the Revolution. By downplaying the British army, these myth makers detract from the real achievements of the American soldier. In this preseentation Professor Allardice will try and set the record straight.
|Charles F. Gunther: Mississippi River
Chicago millionaire Charles F. Gunther used his candy fortune to help endow the Chicago History Museum. But for
two years this northern businessman served the Confederacy as an officer on a Mississippi River steamboat. Based on his latest book, Two
Years Before the Paddlewheel: Charles F. Gunther, Mississippi River Confederate, Professor Allardice uses Gunther's wartime diary to
explore life in the Civil War South.
|Who the Heck is Abner Doubleday? Baseball and the Civil War
Baseball was labeled the "national pastime" even before Fort Sumter. Civil War soldiers spent more time playing baseball that they did fighting battles. Professor Allardice takes a sometimes serious, sometimes humorous look at the "National Pastime" and how it was played during the war. He'll show that the war destroyed most existing baseball teams, but also helped to spread the game across the nation.
|The Spread of Baseball into the South
If invented at all, the game of baseball was invented in New York just prior to the Civil War. Professor Allardice takes a look at the "National Pastime" during this era and traces how the new game spread from its northern roots into the Confederacy, and how Southerners soon adopted this "Yankee" game.
|Before the Chicago Cubs: Baseball Comes to the Windy City
Professor Allardice takes a look at the "National Pastime" during the 1850s and 1860s in Chicago. He focuses on how the game spread, who played it, and how the Civil War effected the spread of the game. And how the Chicago Cubs were formed!
|Hollywood's Civil War Movies
For the last 100 years Hollywood has had a long and sometimes unusual relationship with the war that defined our country. Professor Allardice reviews Hollywood's take on the war, including their ever-changing treatment of the war's major themes.
|Conscription and the Civil War
During the Civil War both North and South insituted the Draft (Conscription) for the first time in U.S. history. The movie "Gangs of New York" touches on one aspect of the draft--the 1863 Draft Riots in New York. But the Draft resulted in much more, arguably changing America like no other measure before or since.
|Jeff Davis's Colonels
Robert E. Lee once said that the men in his army "will go anywhere, if properly led." A vital component of that leadership was the Confederate army's regimental commanders, the colonels who actually led the troops into battle. What qualifications did they have for their office, and how were they chosen, are among the topics Bruce Allardice will address, along with stories about some of the army's odder officers. The talk will challenge several long-believed-in myths about the Confederate army.
|Lincoln as War Leader
Abraham Lincoln is regarded by many as our greatest President. An orator of unmatched eloquence, a savvy politician with a compelling personal story, he towers above his contemporaries. Like no other presidency in history, Lincoln's presidency was defined by the Civil War that began a month after he took office and continued after his death. As such, Lincoln's performance as war leader must remain the center point of his administration. Mr. Allardice will examine that war leadership, coming to some surprising conclusions.
|The Election of 1864|
Perhaps the one fleeting chance the Confederacy had to win the war occurred in 1864, when Northern voters were forced to decide, by their votes, whether to continue the war. The contest between President Lincoln, committed pro-war Republican, and Democrat George McClellan, uncertain in politics as he was in generalship, played out against a backdrop of the ever-widening war, was perhaps the most important election in U.S. history. Did McClellan have a real chance to win? If he had won, what might have been the consequences for the war, and for the Union? Expect some unexpected answers from this talk.
|The Election of 1862 in Illinois|
In the elections in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln's Republicans lost in the President's home state. Traditionally, voter discouragement with the war, and the unpopularity of the Emancipation Proclamation, have been blamed for that loss. Professor Allardice will detail the very colorful election struggle, and take a revisionist view of the election. Based on Mr. Allardice's article in the Journal of Illinois History.
|Chicagoland Fights the Civil War|
A colorful and humorous overview of the Chicago area and the Civil War, touching on the home front as well as the soldiers.
|Tracing Your Civil War Era Ancestor
Mr. Allardice discusses the resources, both in print and online, for Civil War family history research. His suggestions on the best ways to mine these resources reflect personal research and usage.
|"Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory"--The Ten Worst Civil War Generals
The generals of the armies of our Civil War were a mixed lot, quite often amateur soldiers, quite often politicians masquerading as soldiers, usually (but not always) devoted, usually (but not always) courageous. In this talk Bruce Allardice will examine the Braggs, the Burnsides, the Pembertons, how they became generals, and why they failed to justify their promotion to high rank. You've heard about the best--now hear about the rest!
|Poltroons, Patriots and Politicans. America's Civil War Generals
Mr. Allardice examines some of the more colorful characters who became Civil War generals. Sinces Webster defines a poltroon as a "spiritless coward," the topic promises to offer some entertaining insights into both the high and low points of the era.
|Why the North Won the Civil War
Was the Northern win in the Civil War inevitable? Could the North have won sooner than it did? Clearly the North, with its greater population and industry, had a distinct advantage in its ability to produce soldiers and supplies. Bruce's talk will compare our Civil War to the wars fought by other nations at the time, focusing on the disparity of resources between the warring parties, and the strategies pursued by each side. The talk will challenge many preconceptions about the war and its outcome.
|John C. Pemberton and the Struggle for Vicksburg
Like no other campaign of the war, the Vicksburg Campaign is mired in controversy and conflict. Was General Pemberton the incompetent historians have painted him? Was he ill-served by his superiors, General Joe Johnston and President Davis? Prof. Allardice will take a fresh look at the charges and countercharges, bringing new perspectives to thse century-old questions.
|"Pro Rege et Patria": Scottish-Americans and the Civil War
Like other ethnic communities, Americans of Scots descent loyally served their adopted country (the U.S. or the Confederacy) during the Civil War. Prof. Allardice will look at Scots-Americans and their experiences fighting the war, focusing on Chicago's two "Scotch" regiments, the 12th and 65th Illinois. This talk also looks at the many war leaders of Scots descent, the unique problems the Scots community faced, and how Scots-American families could be divided between north and south.