The Passage of the Armies: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Enslaved in the Civil War and Reconstruction

October 12-14, 2023

Call For Papers


The Center for Civil War Research and the History Department at the University of Mississippi seek papers for the 2023 Conference on the Civil War, to be held October 12-14, 2023 in Oxford, MS.

The conference features a keynote address by William Blair (Penn State) and a special roundtable with Amy Murrell Taylor (University of Kentucky),  Andrew Lang (Mississippi State), and Barton Myers (Washington and Lee). Papers will be considered for inclusion in an edited volume.

As Civil War armies traversed the American landscape, they set millions of people in motion and onto collision courses with one another. Regular units, irregular forces, and civilians (both enslaved and free) encountered each other in a context literally and figuratively transformed by war. Their interactions reshaped social and political relationships of all kinds. As armies entered new areas, they displaced white and enslaved refugees, policed civilian loyalty, and disrupted communities along lines of conflict that blurred the boundaries between combatants and noncombatants. Occupying forces imposed conflicting conceptions of order and justice, challenged existing hierarchies, and imposed visions of society on conquered regions. These conflicts continued into the postwar period, in vigorous debates questioning the role of the army in the aftermath of war in both the south and in the west. Interactions between soldiers and civilians of all kinds provoked wide-ranging questions (both theoretical and practical) that would prove the Civil War era’s defining aspect for many Americans.

We welcome papers that consider interactions between soldiers, civilians, and enslaved people broadly defined, during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
military occupation and its challenges
dissent and the policing of loyalty in both the Union and the Confederacy
freedpeople and the army
contraband camps
the experience of emancipation
enlistment and desertion
the Civil War homefront
the gendered experience of occupation
guerrilla and irregular warfare
legal and political battles over occupation and martial law
the aftermath of occupation
the military in the west
Native Americans and the army

Interested participants should submit a paper title, 250-word abstract, and one-page CV to by Monday, May 15. The Center for Civil War Research offers stipends to offset travel costs for presenters lacking institutional support.


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