February 20, 2024
“The Concept of “Cowardice” in the Civil War” – Dr. Lesley Gordon
February 20, 2024
The 2nd Texas Infantry Regiment went to war with high expectations that they would perform bravely in battle. Soon after their baptism of fire at Shiloh, however, they faced stinging accusations of cowardice. For the rest of their military service, these allegations cast a shadow even after the martyred death of their colonel and their designation as elite sharpshooters at Vicksburg. After the war and beyond, acknowledgment of these charges was largely forgotten, replaced with the rhetoric of the Lost Cause and a celebration of Confederate heroism. Dr. Gordon’s talk recounts the experience of this unit and the wider significance of exploring instances of cowardice in the Civil War.
Lesley J. Gordon earned her BA with High Honors from the College of William and Mary, and her MA and PhD in American History from the University of Georgia. She presently holds the Charles G. Summersell Chair of Southern History at the University of Alabama. Her publications include General George E. Pickett in Life and Legend (University of North Carolina Press, 1998), Inside the Confederate Nation: Essays in Honor of Emory M. Thomas (Louisiana State University Press, 2005), and A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2014). She has published numerous articles, book chapters and book reviews, and her public talks have been featured on C-Span. She was editor of the academic journal Civil War History (2010-2015), and is now President of the Society for Civil War History (2022-2024). Her current book project explores accusations of cowardice and their lasting effects on two Civil War regiments.