Emerging Civil War historians visiting St. Bonaventure University next Saturday won’t simply be reflecting on a battle that ended 150 years ago—they’ll discuss why the ripple effects of the nation’s darkest period still wash over us today.
The Confederate flag controversy that boiled to the surface in South Carolina after the church killings June 17 in Charleston is just one example.
“The Civil War is still very much with us today,” said ECW co-founder Kristopher D. White.
White will join ECW historians Eric Wittenberg, Daniel Davis, and Derek Maxfield for a panel discussion on Saturday, Aug. 1, at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, NY. ECW’s Chris Mackowski, a professor at St. Bonaventure, will serve as moderator.
The program is free and open to the public—part of a larger series of events that day as part of the 30th annual reunion of the Descendants of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. ECW guest contributor James Brookes, flying in from England, will also present a program on portrait photography during the war.
“People have strong opinions about some of these hot-button topics,” says White, “but there really needs to be calm, rational discussion from all sides. We hope to offer some of that.”
The reunion will celebrate the donation to St. Bonaventure’s Friedsam Memorial Library of the Mark H. Dunkelman and Michael J. Winey Collection of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. The collection includes documentary material as well as numerous prints, objects and artifacts related to the regiment.
Most of the men from the 154th were from Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.
Descendants of the 154th will gather from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The reunion activities beginning at 3:45 are open to the public and free, except for the closing barbecue and concert at 6 p.m., which is open to the public but costs $30 per person. Registration for the dinner/concert closes July 29 and can be made at http://www.sbu.edu/154threunion.
The first public event is the opening of the Quick Center for the Arts exhibition of “The Hardtack Regiment: 154th New York Volunteer Infantry.” The exhibition is part of the collection of regimental artifacts from the collection of Dunkleman, author of several books about the men of the 154th regiment.
Among the cases of artifacts are letters written from the battlefield, carte de viste (small photos) of soldiers and items carried by the soldiers into battle. A to-scale mural of the regiment’s memorial at Gettysburg Battlefield is also in the exhibition. The exhibition will be open through Nov. 15.
A timeline of public events:
• 3:45-4:15 p.m.: The opening of the Quick Center exhibition of Civil War artifacts.
• 4:15-5:15 p.m.: Panel discussion with Civil War authors and historians (Quick Center).
• 5:15-6 p.m.: British scholar James Brooke’s “The Last and Most Precious Memento,” a look at portrait photography and the Union soldier (Quick Center).
• 5:15-6 p.m.: Browse the Quick Center exhibition and a second one in Friedsam Library, a short walk across campus. The Friedsam exhibition focuses on photographs and documents from Winey’s collection.
• 6 p.m.: Barbecue dinner under a tent on the lawn next to the Magnano Centre’s Café La Verna, followed by a musical performance by Rush the Growler. The band will perform its renditions of letters and poems written by members of the regiment, set to period music. Register at http://www.sbu.edu/154threunion.
For more information about reunion activities or to register, go http://www.sbu.edu/154threunion. On-campus accommodations are available for $50 per night and may be booked online as well.