Peter S. Carmichael
AUTHOR

Peter S. Carmichael

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 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 Lee's Young Artillerist: William R. J. Pegram; Audacity Personified: The Generalship of Robert E. Lee; and The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005. He has also published a number of articles for both scholarly and popular journals, and he speaks frequently to general and scholarly audiences. Every June, Professor Carmichael directs the Civil War Institute’s Summer Conference, which draws more than 300 attendees from across the country. More recently, he has appeared on the PBS Robert E. Lee documentary for The American Experience series and his lectures have been covered by C-Span. Dr. Carmichael has finished The War for the Common Soldier, which will be released in November. For more information on this book, see https://www.peterscarmichael.com/ The War for the Common Soldier, which is part of the University of North Carolina Press’s Littlefield History of the Civil War series, pursues this critical question: How did Civil War soldiers endure the brutal and unpredictable existence of army life during the conflict? Based on close examination of the letters and records left behind by individual soldiers from both the North and South, Carmichael explores the totality of the Civil War experience--the marching, the fighting, the boredom, the idealism, the exhaustion, the punishments, and the frustrations of being away from families who often faced their own dire circumstances. Carmichael focuses not on what soldiers thought but rather how they thought. In doing so, he reveals how to the shock of most men, well established notions of duty or disobedience, morality or immorality, loyalty or disloyalty, and bravery or cowardice were blurred by war. Digging deeply into his soldiers' writing, Carmichael resists teh idea that there was "a common soldier" but looks into their own words to find common threads in soldiers' experiences and ways of understanding what was happening around them. In the end, he argues that a pragmatic philosophy of soldiering emerged, guiding members of the rank and file as they struggled to live with the contradictory elements of their violent and volatile world. Soldiering in the Civil War, as Carmichael argues, was never a state of being but a process of becoming. Lorien Foote of Texas A&M University observes that "Carmichael's deep focus on individual stories brings to life the complexity of the soldier experience better than any existing book in the field." In The Last Generation, Carmichael challenges the popular conception of Southern youth on the eve of the Civil War as intellectually lazy, violent, and dissipated. He looks closely at the lives of more than one hundred young white men from Virginia's last generation to grow up with the institution of slavery and finds them deeply engaged in the political, economic, and cultural forces of their time. Age, Carmichael concludes, created special concerns for young men who spent their formative years in the 1850s. In 2004 Carmichael edited Audacity Personified: The Generalship of Robert E. Lee, published by Louisiana State University Press. Despite the literary outpouring on the life of Robert E. Lee, the southern chieftain remains an enigma. The existing scholarship is so voluminous, complex, and contradictory that it is difficult to penetrate the inner Lee and appreciate him as a general. Carmichael assembled a formidable array of Civil War historians who rigorously return to Lee’s own words and actions in interpreting the war in Virginia. This is the first collective volume to scrutinize specific aspects of the general's military career. Carmichael’s opening contribution confronts Lee’s supposed drive for a victory of annihilation and takes issue with claims that he was too aggressive. Falling easily into neither the pro- nor anti-Lee camp, Audacity Personified challenges long-standing beliefs accepted since Douglas Southall Freeman’s influential biography of Lee was published seventy years ago. These diverse scholarly visions of the great Confederate general move beyond cliché, iluuminating Lee's career with fresh interpretations.

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