March 29, 2006
Bringing a New Weapon to the Civil War
The Civil War ended more than 160 years ago, but Joseph Glatthaar '78 is using statistics to look at the battle from a completely new angle.
Glatthaar will bring his experience and insight on his latest topic – General Robert E. Lee's army – to Ohio Wesleyan on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center's Benes Rooms. The title of his presentation for the Richard W. Smith Civil War Lecture Series is "Rich Man's War, a Poor Man's Fight? Soldiers in General Robert E. Lee's Army." The presentation is free and open to the public.
"I've used statistics in several of my other publications, but this is my most detailed use," says Glatthaar, the Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, specializing in the American Civil War and American military history. "There is nothing like it happening today."
The traditional argument has been that the Civil War, especially in the South, was a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. "But there is a statistical base that proves a disproportional number of rich people were fighting," says Glatthaar. "So it may have been a rich man's war, but it was also a rich and poor man's fight."
The presentation will feature the sharing of the statistical evidence through a PowerPoint presentation while also including testimonials from soldiers' letters.
Dr. Richard W. Smith, professor emeritus of history and honorary Ohio Wesleyan alumnus says, "Joe is one of the big guns in the history department at the University of North Carolina. We are excited and honored to have him coming back to campus."
Glatthaar, who was advised by Smith as a student at OWU, shares the excitement, "It is a thrill. Dr. Smith was my advisor as a freshman. We started by building a connection through our interest in sports. And as I got into the more experienced realms of history, he made time to reach out and help me." In addition, Glatthaar was quick to point out the dedication of Smith toward his students. "I remember when he took ill at the end of the semester and ended up in the hospital. All his advisees received notes or instructions on the classes we should take. So here, he was in the hospital, or recuperating at home, and still advising us on classes.
"He taught me what it means to be an excellent professor – one who will make the subject exciting and interesting."
While at Ohio Wesleyan, Glatthaar did not plan to become a history professor. "I headed off to law school," Glatthaar says. "But I really didn't have an interest in law school."
He followed his love of history to Rice University, where he earned his MA in 1981 and a PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. Glatthaar has served as a lecturer at University of Wisconsin-Madison, earned tenure at the University of Houston and joined North Carolina in 2005. He has served terms as a visiting professor for the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Military History Institute, and U.S. Military Academy.
His tenth publication, General Lee's Army, is in the writing stage and under contract with The Free Press. His latest publication, Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians in the American Revolution (Hill & Wang, 2006), with James Kirby Martin will be published later this year. Other publications include The Civil War in the West, 1863-1865 (Osprey Press, 2001), Partners in Command: Relationships Between Civil War Leaders (The Free Press, 1994), Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (The Free Press, 1991), The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman's Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns (New York University Press, 1985), Black Soldiers in the Civil War (Eastern National & Monument Association, 1996) for the National Park Service, Leaders of the Lost Cause: Confederate High Command in the Civil War (Stackpole Press, 2004) edited by Glatthaar and Gary Gallagher, editor and author of Guide Book, Confederate Military Manuscripts (University Publications of America), co-editor with John Y. Chambers, general editor, for Encyclopedia of American Military History (Oxford University Press, 2000).
The Richard W. Smith Endowed Fund in Civil War History is named after Smith, who began teaching on the Ohio Wesleyan campus in 1950 and continues to be involved today as an emeritus professor. Series lectures emphasize the beginning of modern military tactics to the methods created during the Civil War; this aspect has always been one of Smith's passions. The fund allows Ohio Wesleyan's history department to host an annual lecture by one of the nation's preeminent Civil War scholars. The series began in 2002 with James M. McPherson.
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