March 15, 2022

Competing Memories of the Civil War – Caroline Janney

March 15 2022

Appomattox has long served to mark the end of the American Civil War.  Yet closely examining the spring and summer of 1865 reveals a far more contentious, uncertain, ambiguous, and lengthy ending to the American Civil War than previously understood.  It underscores the complexity of decisions made by the US army, civilian authorities, and soldiers from Lee’s army as well as the unintended consequences of those decisions.  Rather than serving as a clear ending to the conflict, the surrender of Confederate forces brought into stark relief many of the legal, social, and political questions that had plagued the war from the beginning.  Most importantly, what followed the surrender would offer the first real test of how a democracy might end a civil war. 

 Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor of the American Civil War and Director of the John L. Nau Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia.  A graduate of the University of Virginia, she worked as a  historian for the National Park Service and taught at Purdue University before returning to Virginia in 2018.  An active public lecturer, she has given presentations at locations across the globe.  She is a speaker with the Organization of American Historians’ Distinguished Lectureship program and a recipient of the Kenneth T. Kofmehl Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award from Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. She serves as a co-editor of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America Series and is the past present of the Society of Civil War Historians.  She has published seven books, including Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation (2013) and Ends of War: the Fight of Lee’s Army after Appomattox (available summer 2021).