BATAVIA (readMedia) -- Was he a madman or a prophet, a brilliant strategist or a barbaric marauder? Somewhere among those extremes lies the true picture of General William Tecumseh Sherman, and leading the charge to try to get to the core of exactly who the Civil War hero really was, will be Genesee Community College history instructor Derek Maxfield.
Maxfield will share his insights about the man hailed as a Union hero by some and as a barbarian by southerners who reviled his "scorched earth" philosophy of warfare in the first of four fall lectures on the Civil War as GCC continues its ongoing look at the "War Between the States." Admission to each o the lectures is free, including an Oct. 10 program by Columbia University Professor Eric Foner, who will discuss the book that earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 2011.
Maxfield's talk, "Man of Monster? Prophet or Madman? Reconsidering General William Tecumseh Sherman," is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 5 in the Conable Technology Building at GCC's Batavia campus, 1 College Rd. He will reprise the lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Medina Campus Center, 11470 Maple Ridge Rd.
Sherman's March to the Sea from Nov. 15 to Dec. 21, 1864, destroyed the south both physically and psychologically. The campaign, which began when troops left the besieged city of Atlanta, Ga., and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah, inflicted significant damage, not only to the south's industry and infrastructure, but to civilian property. Sherman is credited with designing a total war strategy that instituted strategic, economic, and psychological tools that forever changed the tactics of warfare.
In October, the series takes a look at how climate and topography affected the war. Dr. Aaron Wheeler of Capital Community College will discuss how army commanders from both factions used the lay of the land to try to secure victories. He will cite specific examples of battles in which terrain was a key factor, and others in which no amount of planning could overcome the challenges posed by Mother Nature. "The Search for Good Ground and Fair Weather: The Role of Climate and Topography in the Civil War" is set for7 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Conable Technology Center.
Foner wil be on the Batavia campus for a special event on Oct. 10. He will discuss his Pulitzer-winning book, "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery," at 1 p.m. in Stuart Steiner Theatre in the Genesee Center for the Arts on the Batavia campus. The talk will be part of a month-long exhibit examining Lincoln's influence in the college's Alfred O'Connell Library.
The traveling exhibition "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, a Man for All Times" features oversized panels that take the viewer through Lincoln's roots, his presidency and the Civil War. It was created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Foner will be signing copies of his book in the theater lobby after his lecture.
The role and experiences of aboriginal Americans will be the focus on the final lecture this fall, "Among the Many Fires: Trials, Opportunities and Experiences of Native Americans in the Civil War." GCC history instructor Dan Hamner explores the range of challenges the American Civil War produced for native individuals and communities. His lecture scheduled for November 7, 2012 in the Conable Technology Center starts at 7 p.m. and will also look at how American Indians capitalized on the war to advance their agendas within the broader American society.
More information on GCC's ongoing Civil War initiative is available at the college's Civil War blog: http://civilwaratgcc.wordpress.com/, which also contains photos from previous events.