2022 Symposium Recap

We had a wonderful 2022 Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge this past weekend. “You all nailed it,” one of our attendees said on a feedback form. “Can’t wait for next year.” More than one person said “Best Symposium ever!” We have to admit, we were pretty stoked.

Here are some of the highlights from the weekend (with thanks to Hank Ballone for all the great photos!):

ECW Editor in Chief Chris Mackowski makes a point as the event’s emcee.

ECW Chief Historian Kris White introduces our first speaker.

Historian Brian Matthew Jordan introduced the concept of “What If” as a tool we can use to challenge our own thinking about history. “So provocative,” one attendee said. Brian is co-editor of ECW’s recent collection The Great What Ifs of the American Civil War.

Neil Chatelain got naval on us, exploring Confederate dreams of a European-built ironclad navy. “Knew almost nothing about this topic,” one attendee said. “Made the entire conference worthwhile.”

Keynote speaker Garry Adelman was a HUGE hit. Garry talked about the What-Ifs of Gettysburg, bringing a huge dose of levity to the discussion. “Garry is a force and so much fun,” someone wrote–and those of us who know him well agree 100%!

Our final session for the opening evening consisted of a panel discussion on the What-Ifs of the Antietam Campaign. We gave each of our panelists a drink to encourage a “beer and cigars” atmosphere and then let them go at it. The experiment proved to be huge fun, with plenty of laughs, chops-busting, and a catty rivalry between the Antietam and Gettysburg camps.

Dan Welch (left) was honored with ECW’s Emory Upton Award for his contributions in service to the organization. Huzzah, Dan–and thank you! (photo by Kevin Pawlak)

ECW honored the American Battlefield Trust as the recipient of this year’s ECW Award for Service in Civil War Public History. Garry Adelman, the Trust’s chief historian, accepted on ABT’s behalf. He and Chris Mackowski mugged a little for the crowd. Support the Trust at battlefields.org.

Special recognition went to Sarah Kay Bierle and Kris White, recipients of the Waylons Smithers Award and the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence, respectively.

We had a Rob Orrison sighting! Rob took a break from his Emerging Rev War duties to make an ECW cameo.

Phill Greenwalt kicked off Saturday morning, channeling his inner Frank Sinatra, with a discussion of Confederate aspirations for a southwestern empire.

Tom Van Winkle, president of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, made a cameo appearance to talk about preservation at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. Visit them at cvbt.org.

Sarah Kay Bierle considered the real or imagined impact of Phil Sheridan on the battle of Cedar Creek: What if Sheridan’s horse, Rienzi, tripped while bringing Sheridan to the battlefield? “Sarah always delivers,” a fan said.

We had to have Jon Tracey go before lunch. He asked us to imagine, “What if Civil War medicine was really as bad as we think it was?” Imagine how well lunch would have sat if he’d gone “full medical” after we’d all eaten?

Gordon Rhea had such a good time in 2021, he asked us if he could come back. How could we say “no” to someone as awesome as Gordon? And, of course, he did not disappoint! He gave us a run-down of the many moments of contingency during the 1864 Overland Campaign.

On Gordon Rhea: “Engaging speaker. Great mix of alternating facts and what ifs. This is how it should be done.” Great responses on Q&A.”

Kris White gave a much-anticipated talk on the greatest of all Civil War “What Ifs”: What if Stonewall Jackson had survived. What the audience did not anticipate was Kris’s stand-up routine mixed in throughout the talk! “I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much,” an attendee wrote.

We were pleased to have Zack Fry join us for the first time. He asked us to consider, “What if Meade had attacked Lee along the Potomac after Gettysburg?” As one attendee put it, “This was an awesomely informative presentation.”

The 8th Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge–we packed the house!

Darren “Daz” Rawlings of the Facebook page “American Civil War and U.K. History” came from England to cover the conference. Here he stands with Chris Mackowski after Sunday’s tour of the Slaughter Pen Farm. (photo by Terry Rensel)

Kris White explained the opening scenes of the Battle of Fredericksburg during Sunday’s tour at Slaughter Pen Farm. (Photo by Sarah Kay Bierle)

A history hitchhiker at Sunday’s Slaughter Pen Farm tour. (photo by Darren Rawlings)

One of the feedback surveys aptly said, “Thanks to everyone involved for all the hard work and long hours put into prep and during the event.” The Symposium was, indeed, a team effort, with special thanks to our “team leaders,” co-coordinators Sarah Kay Bierle and Jon-Erik Gilot. We also want to offer a special shout-out to Jennifer Mackowski and her staff and Stevenson Ridge for the great accommodations.

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Ted Schubel, news director at Fredericksburg’s NewsTalk 1230, captured excerpts from Brian Matthew Jordan’s talk and Kris White’s talk. We’re pleased to share them:

Videos:  Brian

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNIUKd7PcMg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uwgrH3K58E

Videos:  Kris

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQgogMSspeg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epP3vVXATUg

“Wait, wait, wait! Kris White said what about Stonewall Jackson?”

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6 Responses to 2022 Symposium Recap

  1. Shipdriver says:

    Another great symposium. Thanks!

  2. Scott Byrd says:

    Truly enjoyed the entire event. I will be back next year!

  3. Richard M Schwab says:

    A great weekend of excellent speakers! A big thank you to the ECW family and the Stevenson Ridge staff!

  4. Excellent symposium with lots of good insights. Looking forward to next year.

  5. Charlie Downs says:

    Great symposium as always. Registered for next year and looking forward to attending.

  6. So bummed I missed it this year. Looks like it was a blast!

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