Daily Archives: July 3, 2018

Faraway Places & Kentucky Live Series to End

After more than 200 programs over the past two decades, most held at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, our DLPS Series will be ending this spring.

Peggy Wright and Brian Coutts conceived of an international series following the return of former Kentucky Librarian Nancy Baird from a trip to South Africa.  We launched our first program in September, 2000 and followed with programs on Costa Rica, China, Brazil, England and Germany.  We took our name from a 1948 song “Far Away Places with Strange Sounding Names ”. Since then we’ve visited every continent and places from Alaska and Greenland to Antarctica. Our final program was Soleiman Kiasatpour’s fascinating talk on Morocco in April. 2018

In February, 2003 we launched a companion series “Kentucky Live, southern Culture at Its best!” with a program on Jonesville & Shake Rag: Historic Black Community of Bowling Green from Maxine Ray and Dr. John Long, Department Head of Philosophy & Religion. Programs on photographers, artists, poets, writers, restaurants, historians, bourbon, coal mining,  the Derby and virtually every iconic Kentucky product from the Louisville Slugger to Fruit of the Loom Underwear, and the Corvette followed. Our final program this April was from J.D. Wilkes founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band.  What a great way to end.

None of this would have possible without our genial hosts Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Special thanks to Jennifer Bailey, David Hollifield and before them Natalie Boddeker and David Coverdale and all of your fine staff for setting up all those chairs and ordering all those books and helping us promote these programs.

Thanks also to Dr. Richard Weigel, Professor of History who edits the Book Page for the Bowling Green Daily News for running so many reviews of books from our featured speakers.  The attention you focused on many regional authors was very much appreciated by them and by us.

David Keeling, Michael Trapasso, John Dizgun and Haiwang Yuan, and so any others from around the country and beyond—world travelers all—thanks for so many exciting evenings.

To our sponsors Coca Cola, Trace Die Cast, Integra Bank and the Friends of WKU Libraries—we appreciated your interest and support.

To former Deans of WKU Libraries Mike Binder and Connie Foster—thanks for your interest and support.

Finally—thanks to our series team over two decades—Peggy Wright, Bryan Carson, Haiwang Yuan, Daniel Peach, Eric Fisher, Ryan Dowell, Shaden Melky, Jennifer Wilson, Christopher McConnell and a host of talented DLPS Office Assistants and Students.

Hasta luego,

Brian Coutts, Moderator

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“The End Approacheth”

Portion of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Portion of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

The sun rose on Independence Day, 1863, to find the Confederate States of America reeling from two disastrous engagements at Vicksburg, Mississippi and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

From Pennsylvania, Charles Pennypacker wrote to his cousin Ellen Fort in Todd County, Kentucky, that his fellow citizens had “rallied as one man” to defend the state against General Robert E. Lee’s invading Confederate army.  July 1, the first day of battle at Gettysburg, “was but a repetition of ‘Shiloh,’” and on the next day Lee “hurled columns after columns of troops upon our lines.”  But on July 3, Charles reported proudly, “their whole army was in full retreat” toward Richmond and “we begin to see that ‘the end approacheth.’”

Like many tide-turning battles, Gettysburg left military historians asking “what if?”  In particular, how much blame did Lieutenant General James Longstreet deserve when, on the second day of battle, he delayed executing an early-morning assault that could have given the Confederates the upper hand?  Was Longstreet, who had made clear his disagreement with Lee over tactics, merely tardy, or was he insubordinate or even treasonous?

Confederate veteran J. W. Anderson looked forward to discussing the issue with a former comrade at their 1905 reunion in Louisville, Kentucky.  A defender of Longstreet, who he occasionally saw after the war, Anderson insisted that the relations between General Lee and his subordinate commander were “always of the most cordial manner.”  But a century later, the question still bothered Laban Lacy Rice, a Webster County, Kentucky native, polymath, and former president of Cumberland University.  In 1967, he sought the opinion of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “an expert who knows Gettysburg as I know my back yard.”

Replying from his farm, where he lived in retirement near the battlefield, Eisenhower concluded that Gettysburg had been “a succession of frustrations” for General Lee, and that his decisions could not be adequately examined in a short letter.  Nevertheless, Eisenhower judged Longstreet’s failure to attack early on July 2 as “his worse error of the battle.”  As for Pickett’s Charge, the ill-fated assault on July 3 named after one of Longstreet’s generals, Eisenhower did not think it could have been successful at any time during that day.  As Charles Pennypacker observed, “the end” had approacheth.

Click on the links for finding aids to these materials, part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  For more of our Civil War collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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