CSM hosts Civil War Book Discussions, Tuesdays through March

Civil War Book Discussion: March and Americas War anthology Part One. 7-9 p.m., Jan. 29, College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry, BI-113E, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. This is a five-part series sponsored in part by the Maryland Humanities Council, in which three books are discussed. Loaner copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the La Plata Campus library. Discussions center around Geraldine Brooks book March which tells its story through the characters of Louisa May Alcotts Little Women by representing the point of view of the father of the girls in Little Women, Reverend March. The reader travels with the chaplain into places where he is not wanted, where his values elicit ridicule and contempt. The harsh world of slavery, men and war challenges everything the March family believes in, including one another. Another voice in the first conversation is Louisa May Alcott's, drawn from her experiences as a nurse for the Union in 1862. Alcott tells of her determination to find a purpose for her life by helping the hospitals in Washington, D.C. She experiences horror, satisfaction and deep personal trials during her time with the wounded, ill and dying men. Free. 301-934-7606, or smsc@csmd.edu.

Civil War Book Discussion: Americas War anthology Part Two. 7-9 p.m., Feb. 5, College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry, BI-113E, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. This is a five-part series sponsored in part by the Maryland Humanities Council, in which three books are discussed. Loaner copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the La Plata Campus library. Discussions continue with the conflict that is presented when the Confederacy and the Union are formed and Americans experience a split in beliefs and loyalties. Abolitionists, including the March family from Louisa May Alcotts Little Women, encourage Frederick Douglass to make a speech on their behalf but Douglass gives them more than they asked for by stripping away any illusions white Americans may have had about their innocence, confronting them directly with the hypocrisy of a nation dedicated to freedom and built on slavery. Abraham Lincoln attempts to restore division as he is elected into presidency; Robert E. Lee embodies the agony of disunion and Mark Twain tells of his own wayward path in the confusing early days of the war. Free. 301-934-7606, or smsc@csmd.edu.

Civil War Book Discussion: Americas War anthology Part Three. 7-9 p.m., Feb. 19, Calvert Library Prince Frederick, Meeting Room 1, 850 Costley Way, Prince Frederick. This is a five-part series sponsored in part by the Maryland Humanities Council, in which three books are discussed. Loaner copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the La Plata Campus library. Part three of the discussion series approaches the Battle of Shiloh, which occurred in April 1862, almost exactly a year after Fort Sumter and the secession of Virginia. The battle redefined the boundaries of the military conflict and thousands of men with little training and no experience in war were thrown against one another in days of inexpressible suffering and waste. The war was seen as a desperate, defiant effort by the Confederacy to stop the progress of the Union Army and Navy and shattered any fantasies people had that the war would be won easily by either side. Free. 301-934-7606, or smsc@csmd.edu.

Civil War Book Discussion: Crossroads of Freedom and Americas War anthology Part Four. 7-9 p.m., March 5, College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown Campus, Building C, Room 216, 22950 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown. This is a five-part series sponsored in part by the Maryland Humanities Council, in which three books are discussed. Loaner copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the La Plata Campus library. In the fourth segment of the discussion series opposing views are offered on the study of Antietam. Neither the Union nor the Confederacy could claim a glorious victory but Civil War historians James McPherson and Gary Gallagher argue sides on a victory. McPherson sides for a Union victory while Gallagher argues on behalf of the strength of the Confederate Army. Drew Gilpin Fausts excerpt shifts our focus from the course of battle and politics to the suffering of families and communities and asks that we broaden our vision of what took place. Free. 301-934-7606, or smsc@csmd.edu.

Civil War Book Discussion: Americas War anthology Part Five. 7-9 p.m., March 26, College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry, BI-113E, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. This is a five-part series sponsored in part by the Maryland Humanities Council, in which three books are discussed. Loaner copies of the book are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the La Plata Campus library. The final conversation focuses on the emancipation of four million people who had been held in slavery for over two centuries. Following the conclusion of the war at Antietam, President Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, allowing Frederick Douglass to rally black men to the defense of the United States because it is now fighting for their freedom. While the Gettysburg Address, given in November 1863, does not speak of slavery directly, its potent language frames the purpose of the war as freedom understood it its broadest terms. After finally being able to enlist, 200,000 African American men joined the service in just two years. Emancipation was not a single event but a long and uneven series of struggles on plantations and farms, in cities and town, all across the South. In a final essay on Images of the War, Americas War illuminates drawings from artists who were able to see firsthand, army camps in the midst of battle and enabled the public to picture the war as it progressed and to help us make sense of the American Civil War today. Free. 301-934-7606, or smsc@csmd.edu.

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