Ed Ayers organizes Civil War conference ahead of 150th anniversary





North and South, black and white, history buffs like the Doyles and educators - some 2,000 people in all - are expected to attend the daylong gathering at the University of Richmond, where the leading Civil War historians won't exactly rewrite history. But they do promise new scrutiny of a war whose causes have long since been reduced to bumper sticker slogans.

Conference organizers said overwhelming public interest in the conference underscores a national hunger to better grasp the reasons why 620,000 neighbors, family and friends fought and died during the Civil War.

Edward L. Ayers, a pre-eminent Civil War historian who organized the inaugural conference, said the goal is "to put people in the moment" and set aside preconceived notions. He said voices overlooked in past war narratives are being welcomed and future conferences will probe the role of African-Americans, the home front and even a global view of the conflict.

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