A symposium on technology and the American Civil War will comprise part of the Smithsonian Institution’s contribution to the war’s sesquicentennial commemoration. It will be hosted by the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, and will take place in the Warner Bros. Theater, 9–11 November 2012.
Military technology narrowly defined—weapons, equipment, accoutrements—will form a key part of the symposium. We are particularly interested in the way new or newly improved weapons affected the conduct of war at all levels. But that was only part of the story. Technological changes remote from the battlefield also shaped the conduct of war. Agricultural mechanization permitted larger armies to be fed; growing industries provided them with arms and supplies; steam-powered transport helped deploy and sustain them. The beginnings of mass production in some industries, notably small arms and clothing, made an appearance, as did new techniques of food preservation. So too did photography, telegraphy and various signal devices using flags and lamps, and aerial observation from fixed balloons. Yet here, as with narrower military technology, novelty hardly ruled unchallenged. Horses still mattered more than steam engines and more soldiers still died of disease than wounds.
See the website for information on the program and procedure for registration.http://americanhistory.si.edu/astride-two-ages-technology-and-civil-war-symposium
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