The Civil War and the Ethics of Loyalty

Institute for Honor Symposium
March 4 - 5, 2022


North and South, Blue and Gray, Yankees and Rebels. The Civil War era has frequently been reduced to neat dichotomies without careful investigation into the nuances and motivations behind loyalty. For this year’s Institute for Honor Symposium “The Civil War and the Ethics of Loyalty,” three exciting speakers contribute to our collective understanding of the mid-nineteenth century by examining the issue of allegiance and its many variegated layers. Each speaker reexamines the most divisive period in our country’s history by offering new perspectives to our growing understanding of the diverse landscape of wartime loyalty. The difficult personal and professional decisions that drove historical figures as they considered liberation, Union, secession, freedom, and independence can all be better understood by reframing our discussion around the questions of allegiance during a time of great national discord.

Faculty for the Symposium include Elizabeth Varon, Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia; Barton Myers, Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and History, Associate Professor of History at Washington and Lee University; Ricardo A. Herrera, Professor of Military History at the School of Advanced Military Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College; and Hilary N. Green, Associate Professor of History in the Department of Gender and Race Studies and co-program director of the African American Studies program at the University of Alabama.


Elizabeth Varon

ELIZABETH R. VARON is Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia and a member of the executive council of UVA's John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History. Varon grew up in northern Virginia. She received her PhD from Yale, and has held teaching positions at Wellesley College and Temple University. A specialist in the Civil War era and 19th-century South, Varon is the author of We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (1998); Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (2003), Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 (2008) and Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (2013). Southern Lady, Yankee Spy won three book awards and was named one of the “Five Best” books on the “Civil War away from the battlefield” in the Wall Street Journal. Appomattox won the 2014 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction, the 2014 Dan and Marilyn Laney Prize for Civil War History (Austin Civil War Roundtable), and the 2014 Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies of the New York Military Affairs Symposium, and was named one of Civil War Monitor’s “Best Books of 2014” and one of National Public Radio’s “Six Civil War Books to Read Now.” Varon’s public presentations include book talks at the Lincoln Bicentennial in Springfield; and at Gettysburg’s Civil War Institute; and on C-Span’s Book TV. Her most recent book, Armies of Deliverance:  A New History of the Civil War, won the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and was named one of the Wall Street Journal's best books of 2019.  She is currently working on a biography of James Longstreet, forthcoming with Simon & Schuster in 2023.

Hilary Green

Dr. Hilary N. Green is an Associate Professor of History in the Department of Gender and Race Studies and serves as the co-program director of the African American Studies program at the University of Alabama. She earned her B.A. in History with minors in Africana Studies and Pre-Healing Arts from Franklin and Marshall College; M.A. in History from Tufts University; and Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research and teaching interests include the intersections of race, class, and gender in African American history, the American Civil War, Reconstruction, Civil War Memory, the US South, 19th Century America, and the Black Atlantic. She is the author of Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890 (Fordham University Press, April 2016) as well as articles, book reviews, encyclopedia entries, and chapters in The Urban South During the Civil War Era, ed. Andrew L. Slap and Frank Towers (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Epidemics and War: The Impact of Disease on Major Conflicts in History, ed. Rebecca Seaman (ABC-Clio, 2018), Reconciliation after Civil Wars: Global Perspectives, ed. Paul Quigley and Jim Hawdon (Routledge, 2019) and Freedoms Gained and Lost: Reconstruction and its Meaning 150 Years Later, ed. Adam H. Domby and Simon Lewis (Fordham University Press, 2021). Her article entitled “At Freedom’s Margins: Race, Disability, Violence and the Brewer Orphan Asylum in Southeastern North Carolina, 1865-1872” received the 2016 Lawrence Brewster Faculty Paper Award from the North Carolina Association of Historians. She is the book review editor for the Journal of North Carolina Association of Historians, the Digital Media Editor responsible for Muster, the blog for the Journal of Civil War Era, and co-series editor with J. Brent Morris of the Reconstruction Reconsidered, a University of South Carolina Press book series. In addition to several short publications, she is currently at work on a second book manuscript examining how everyday African Americans remembered and commemorated the Civil War. She is also at work a NPS-OAH Historic Resource Study of African American Schools in the South, 1865-1900 and co-editing a volume exploring the Civil War Era and the Summer of 2020 with Andrew L. Slap.

Ricardo Herrara

Ricardo A. Herrera is Professor of Military History at the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), US Army Command and General Staff College. An award-winning writer, Rick Herrera is the author of Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778 (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2022); For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861 (New York: New York University Press, 2015); and the tentatively titled A Most Uncommon Soldier: The Life, Letters, and Journal of Edward Ashley Bowen Phelps, 1814-1893 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, forthcoming); and of several articles and chapters on US military history. Herrera is the recipient of several fellowships, including a Maynooth University (Ireland) Arts & Humanities Institute Visiting Fellowship (2020-2021); a Residential Research Fellowship (2016-2017) at The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon, Virginia; a Society of the Cincinnati Scholars’ Grant (2015-2016); and a Residential Research Fellowship, David Library of the American Revolution (2014-2015). He has also been awarded the Moncado Prize by the Society for Military History and two Distinguished Writing Awards from the Army Historical Foundation. Before joining SAMS, Herrera was Chief, Staff Rides, US Army Combat Studies Institute. A graduate of Marquette University (PhD) and UCLA (BA), Herrera has also taught at Mount Union College and Texas Lutheran University.  

Barton Myers

Barton A. Myers is the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and History, associate professor of Civil War history and director of the Institute for Honor at Washington and Lee University. He is the author of the award-winning Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861–1865 (LSU Press, 2009) and Rebels against the Confederacy: North Carolina's Unionists (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014), as well as co-editor with Brian D. McKnight of The Guerrilla Hunters: Irregular Conflicts during the Civil War (LSU Press, 2017). Myers received his B.A. from the College of Wooster and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. He teaches a number of popular American military history and public history courses, including his intensive battlefield travel course "The Art of Command During the American Civil War." In 2008–2009, he was a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation fellow for his research on violence, aggression and dominance. More recently, he served as a historian in the History Channel's documentary on the life of President and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant produced by historian Ron Chernow and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

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