First Vice President: Rob Monroe, Editor
Richard Forrester 2416 Edenbrook Dr.
Second Vice President: Richmond, VA 23228-3040
Shep Parsons email@example.com
May 2004 PROGRAM
Dr. Elisabeth S. Muhlenfeld,
"Mary Boykin Chesnut"
8:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 11, 2004, at the
Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard,
Richmond, VA (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.) Enter
the basement door on the right side under the front steps.
Dr. Elisabeth Showalter Muhlenfeld has been president of
Sweet Briar College since August 1996. Prior to her arrival
at the Amherst County school, she was Dean of Undergraduate
Studies at Florida State University where she had held
various positions since 1978. Throughout her administrative
services at FSU, she continued to teach one or more courses
a year in American literature and Southern literature. Dr.
Muhlenfeld received a Ph.D. in English from the University
of South Carolina, concentrating on Southern literature for
her doctoral studies.
She is author of four books, including a biography of Mary
Boykin Chesnut, a work on Chesnut's novels and an edition of
Chesnut's original diaries, co-edited with historian C. Vann
Woodward. Mary Boykin Chesnut: A Biography was nominated
for various prizes, among them the Pulitzer, and was
selected by Choice magazine as an "outstanding academic
book." In 1992 the biography was reprinted in paperback, and
has now had numerous reprintings.
Dr. Muhlenfeld has written dozens of articles and essays
and has made frequent presentations at state, regional,
national, and international conferences and workshops, many
of which have dealt with the works of Southern writers. She
is a frequent commentator in newspapers, journals, and on
C-SPAN and National Public Radio. Active in many
professional organizations, she has served on various
boards, committees and councils, including the Board of the
Tredegar Civil War Center. Dr. Muhlenfeld is the current
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the United Way of
Review of the April Program
The April meeting of the Richmond Civil War Round Table
began with a reading of General Orders Number Nine. The
recitation of Gen. Robert E. Lee's farewell address to his
troops in the Army of Northern Virginia has been an April
tradition with the RCWRT, marking the anniversary of the
surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865.
Mark G. Malvasi, a history professor at Randolph-Macon
College, then addressed the Round Table on "My Brother's
Keeper: Proslavery Thought and the Southern Critique of
Modernity." Malvasi began his talk by stating no one wants
to talk about slavery. When discussing the subject it is
almost impossible to avoid being controversial.
According to Malvasi, the generation of southern thinkers
who came of age between 1815 and 1850 recognized the plight
of the modern world arising directly from the brutal nature
of the so-called free labor system and from the exploitive
character of free society itself. They posited slavery as
One of the great myths of the 19th century, Malvasi says, is
that there was an overall lack of education in the South. In
general, southerners were well-versed in the Bible and
maintained "a Christian defense of slavery." For the typical
slaveholder of the mid-1800s, Malvasi explains, to maintain
bondsmen meant to be "my brother's keeper."
White southerners, being primarily products of an agrarian
society, often bemoaned capitalism and its perceived lack of
concern for the welfare of its labor force. Malvasi stated
that "progress" (as it was defined in the North) meant "few
in charge of many" to white southerners. This fueled
skepticism in slaveholders who countered that slavery in the
South was better than much wage work in the North. White
southerners contended that this wage labor was
"irresponsible" and more exploitive toward its workers than
Antebellum southerners reasoned that all societies had
foundations in subordination - it was always necessary for
one class to rule another -- and all advanced civilizations
had slavery. Servitude prevented anarchy, they believed,
and slavery was necessary to establish and maintain moral,
social and political order. Malvasi stated that white
Southerners of the mid-19th century believed that without
slavery there would be no standard of living and blacks
would live in squalor.
Some of the most passionate proslavery arguments came from
antebellum white southerners who looked to the Bible for
justification. They proclaimed that God had decreed slavery
and that Authority-Subjugation was His way. Pointing to Old
Testament scripture, they noted that even God's chosen
people, the Israelites, owned slaves. In the New Testament,
St. Paul told slaves to obey their masters.
The South, Malvasi explained, is vilified by the remaining
symbols of slavery. During the 20th century, southern
conservative thinkers argued that slavery had come to the
South without decision. Their efforts to distance
themselves from the legacy of slavery, Malvasi said, have
obscured the most critical and imposing insights of their
Conference to Focus on Women and the Civil War
The 6th Conference on Women and the Civil War, June 25-27 in
Richmond, features the latest in research into women's roles
during the conflict. The conference, jointly sponsored by
the Society for Women and the Civil War (SWCW) and the
Museum of the Confederacy (MOC), includes the following
presentations: The Stories Behind the Socks: Women's
Handiwork as Social and Political Expression (Karin Timour);
History Done Her Wrong: The True Story of Mary Custis Lee
(John Perry); The Civil War Diary of a Good Woman: Mary
Samuella Hart Curd (Dr. Susan Arpad); The Horizontal Trade
(Elizabeth Topping); Listen Ladies One and All: Northern
Soldiers Yearn for Their 'Fair Cousins of the North' (Dr.
Patricia Richard); Women on Trial: The Courts-Martial of
Southern Women by the Union Army (Beverly Lowry & Dr. Thomas
Lowry); Soliloquy for Sarah (Robin Young); The 'Fairer' Sex
of the 1860s: How Patriotic Women Raised Money in Support of
the Union (Dr. Gwen Harding-Peets); Period Correct: 19th
Century Sanitary Protection Protection (Virginia Mescher).
Saturday night's entertainment will feature the U.S.
premiere of "The Unsexing of Emma Edmonds," a documentary on
the life and adventures of Sarah Emma Edmonds, alias Pvt.
Franklin Thompson, 2nd Michigan Infantry.
Optional events include, on Friday, behind-the-scenes
workshops on the MOC uniform and flag collections, as well
as furniture and decorative objects in the White House of
the Confederacy and, on Sunday, an optional 4-hour bus tour
of Civil War Richmond focusing on sites relating to women.
For more information: womenandthecivilwar.org or
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-381-4518.
The Richmond Battlefields Association (RBA) will hold its
annual meeting on Saturday, June 12, at Willis Methodist
Church on the Frayser's Farm/Glendale battlefield. William
J. Miller will give a talk on the battle and lead a walking
tour through the southern two-thirds of the battlefield.
This is a great and rare opportunity to see the privately
owned Whitlock Farm in the heart of the battlefield. The
event is free, open to members and non-members alike, and
begins at 10:00am. For more details go to
Please save your 2004 Ukrop's Golden Gift Certificates to
benefit the Richmond Battlefields Association (RBA). Ukrop's
will send the certificates to its customers during the month
of May. While we know many organizations participate in
this program, please try to direct your, and your friends',
certificates to help our local efforts to save area
Please bring your certificates to a RCWRT meeting or mail
88 West Square Drive
Richmond, VA 23233
Thank you for your continuing support of the RBA!
Symposium Explores the War in
Shenandoah Valley in Fall 1864
In the fall of 1864, as the Union solidified its control of
the Shenandoah Valley, Federal troops passed from village to
village, destroying farms, mills, livelihoods -- this
"breadbasket of the Confederacy". On May 21-22, noted
historians John Heatwole and Jeffry Wert will lead a
symposium on this devastating time. Based at Bridgewater
College, the event will offer participants their choice of
three tours exploring the personal stories of this tragic
consequence of the American Civil War. For more information
or to register online, visit ShenandoahAtWar.org.
Registration deadline is May 15.
The symposium is sponsored by the CrossRoads - the Valley
Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, the
Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, Bridgewater
College and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation,
the management entity for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields
National Historic District. This is a 140th Anniversary
event in the Shenandoah Valley. For more information about
the calendar of 140th events, visit Valley1864.com.
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2004
To facilitate the printing and timely distribution of the
monthly newsletter, information for it should be submitted
to the editors no later than the following dates:
June newsletter May 28
July newsletter July 2
August newsletter July 30
September newsletter September 3
October newsletter October 1
November newsletter October 29
December newsletter December 3
Information may be emailed to email@example.com
Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter
Rob Monroe, Editor
2416 Edenbrook Dr.
Richmond, VA 23228-3040