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Civil War's influences on Meridian, Starkville topic of forum

By Staff
Special to The Star
Jan. 21, 2001
The enduring influences of the Civil War with emphasis on how it affected the Meridian and Starkville areas is the subject of a two-day forum scheduled next month at Mississippi State University's Starkville and Meridian campuses.
High school and college students, Civil War buffs, and citizens of the areas are invited to learn more about their regions' involvement as a forum called "The Civil War in the West" unfolds Feb. 6-7.
MSU's history department is sponsoring the program as part of its 17th Annual Turning Points in History Forum. As even casual Civil War buffs know, the 19th century conflict's "West" refers to Union military activities against strategic sections of Confederate territory between the Appalachian
Mountains and the Mississippi River. Most were in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Local history experts, including Dr. Dennis Mitchell, chair of the Arts and Sciences Division at MSU-Meridian, and S.W. "Ward" Calhoun Jr., director of the Lauderdale County Archives, served on the forum planning committee.
Calhoun, who became interested in the Civil War after a genealogy search revealed that about 30 of his ancestors had fought in the war, is active in the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The national heritage organization, comprised of descendants of soldiers, sailors and government employees who participated in the Confederacy, holds educational programs and is involved in marking and upkeep of veteran cemeteries.
Calhoun said that with the anniversary approaching when Sherman burned Meridian (Feb. 14, 1864), the forum offers an opportune time to reflect on the impact of the war on this region.
Forum speakers include historians Anne J. Bailey of Georgia College and State University, John Y. Simon of Southern Illinois University, Craig L. Symonds of the United States Naval Academy, Russell F. Weigley of Temple University and Steven E. Woodworth of Texas Christian University.
The program includes sessions at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6th, and at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7th. Some of the sessions include live concurrent speakers at each location, while other portions of the program link the two campuses via interactive broadcasts.
Joining the history department in sponsoring the 2001 Turning Points forum are the Mississippi Humanities Council, offices of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at MSU-Starkville, and the Office of the Dean at MSU-Meridian.
In addition to their individual teaching responsibilities, all the speakers have gained national reputations as researchers and authors on the subject.
– Bailey is national co-editor of "Great Campaigns of the Civil War, a series published by the University of Nebraska Press. Her latest book is "The Chessboard of War: Sherman and Hood in the Autumn Campaigns of 1864," a 2000 History Book Club selection.
– Simon is editor of a 24-volume collection of the papers of Ulysses S. Grant, commanding general of the Union armies. He is founder of the Association for Documentary Editing and is considered the dean of American documentary editors.
– Symonds is the author of eight books, including "Confederate Admiral: The Life and Wars of Franklin Buchanan." He also has authored four historical atlases, among them "A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War" and the "Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U.S. Navy."
– Weigley holds the rank of Distinguished University Professor at Temple's Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy. A widely recognized authority on both historical and contemporary military subjects, he most recently authored "A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865."
– Woodworth most recently had published "Jefferson Davis and his Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West," a 1990 Fletcher Pratt Award winner and History Book Club main selection.
For more information on the forum, call Dennis J. Mitchell (MSU-Meridian) at (601) 484-0167, or John F. Marszalek (MSU Starkville campus) at (662)325-3604.