Announcing Our 516th Meeting
January 15, 2017
Following in the Footsteps of a Confederate Deserter: The Story of North Carolina’s John Futch
Presented by Peter S. Carmichael
At the January meeting we honor the memory of our founder with the 21st annual Frank Rankin Lecture. We are honored to have as our guest lecturer Peter Carmichael. He is an outstanding Civil War historian and a great speaker. Peter S. Carmichael is the Fluhrer Professor of History and the Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. After completing his doctorate at Penn State University under Dr. Gary W. Gallagher, Professor Carmichael went on to teach at Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and West Virginia University. He is the author and editor of four books, including The Last Generation: Young Virginians in
Peace, War, and Reunion, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005. Every June Professor Carmichael directs the Civil War Institute’s Summer conference, which draws more than 300 attendees from across the country. More recently Professor Carmichael has appeared on the PBS Robert E. Lee documentary for The American Experience series and his lectures have been covered by C-Span. He is currently finishing a book entitled The War for the Common Soldier.
“Following in the Footsteps of a Confederate Deserter”
On August 20, 1863, just a day before Jefferson Davis called for the Confederacy to renew itself through public fasting and prayer, thirteen veteran soldiers from the 3rd North Carolina decided that God had other intentions. That evening, in the blackness of night, they picked up their rifles, slung on their cartridge belts, and escaped into the woods. From that point on, there was no turning back on a trek of some three hundred perilous miles that would eventually take them to their North Carolina homes. Earlier that day, Lee ordered his corps commanders to organize armed parties to hunt down runaways while calling for the president to back immediate enforcement of the death penalty against deserters. While the Tar Heels could not have possibly known that Lee was cracking down on the army as if it were a wild beast, the impact of the general's orders would be felt with surprising swiftness. "I am all most sick all the time and half crazy" looks at the life of John Futch who was a member of the party that deserted from the 3rd North Carolina. Through the story of Futch we look at different facets of desertion in Lee's army after Gettysburg that include the use of violence in Confederate ranks and the role of fake news in suppressing dissent among Confederate soldiers and civilians. Our conversation will be based on the actual letters of Futch, which we will read and discuss together