A leading author of Civil War history books who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize 11 years ago will speak here this month at the Fall Kickoff of the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning.
The free kickoff will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Pollard Auditorium. Fall catalogs of ORICL courses and trips, as well as refreshments, will be available.
At 4 p.m. Earl J. Hess, Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, will speak on “Appalachia as Seen by Union and Confederate Soldiers during the Civil War.”
“My talk will reflect what Civil War soldiers thought about the geography and especially the people of East Tennessee when they campaigned through the area,” Hess said. “I will cull material from my recent book.”
The book is titled “The Knoxville Campaign: Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee.” During the Civil War, more than twice as many people in East Tennessee voted to remain in the Union than to secede from it.
This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point for the Civil War. Interest in the American Civil War has been rekindled by this anniversary.
In 2002, Hess’s book “Pickett’s Charge: The Last Attack at Gettysburg” received the James I. Robertson Literary Prize for Confederate History. The book was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in history and was a selection of the History Book Club.
Hess, who has a Ph.D. degree from Purdue University, has published almost 20 books, many of which focus in detail on Civil War battles and campaigns. Mark Grimsley, author of “The Hard Hand of War,” praises Hess’s work for its “combination of adroit writing, high intelligence, and well-reasoned but unabashed judgments.”
His books are said to offer perspectives on both the Union and Confederate experience. They also reveal the driving motivations of combat soldiers, whether serving under Union General Ulysses S. Grant or Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
ORICL is a nonprofit program housed on Roane State Community College’s Oak Ridge campus. It offers more than 130 courses and trips in three terms annually for more than 400 members. ORICL instructors are volunteers from the area. For a listing of courses and trips in the fall, please visit the ORICL website www.roanestate.edu/ORICL.