2015 Archives

Greg Downs’ book challenges Appomatox ending to Civil War

Cites bloody reconstruction in Texas

October 6, 2015

DALLAS (SMU) — When Texans study the history of the Civil War in grade school, they learn it ended when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox on April 8, 1865, and that Texas played a relatively small role in the conflict.

After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of WarHistorian Greg Downs argues these lessons are wrong on both counts in his new book, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War. He will challenge the traditional teachings during a lecture, Q&A and book signing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, in Dallas Hall’s McCord Auditorium on the campus of SMU. The event is free and open to the public.

“Greg Downs wants to challenge the idea the Civil War reached a neat and tidy end in April of 1865,” says SMU History Department Chair Andrew Graybill. “What Greg does well is extend the geographical scope to the West. A big focus of his book is Texas, which was one of the last Confederate states to surrender.”

During Reconstruction, 50,000 Union Army troops were deployed to Texas, which proved the most difficult of the former Confederate states to subdue. At any given time between 1866 and 1870, 40 to 50 percent of the Union troops stationed in the south were garrisoned in Texas.

“People in Texas were still being bought and sold after Appomattox,” Downs says. “Texans still thought slavery would stay. Army officers were imprisoned and murdered in Texas. In some ways, the Civil War was just beginning in Texas as it was ending elsewhere in the South.”

At a Glance

What: Greg Downs, a leading Civil War and Reconstruction historian, will deliver a lecture inspired by his new book, After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War (Harvard University Press, 2015), followed by a Q&A and a book signing.

When: 6–8:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 14

Where: Dallas Hall, McCord Auditorium, 3225 University Boulevard

Media RSVP: Contact Kenny Ryan at khryan@smu.edu or 214-768-7641

Sponsor: The SMU William P. Clements Depart of History

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