UCLA faculty experts advisory: Anniversary of Gettysburg, SoCal's Civil War history
By UCLA Newsroom June 24, 2013 Category: Academics & Faculty
July marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettyburg (July 1–3), as well as the end of the siege of Vicksburg (July 4). These events proved to be a turning point for Union forces in the Civil War, and the latter cemented Ulysses S. Grant's leadership among Union generals. UCLA has experts on the the battles, Grant and the little-known history of the Civil War in Southern California.
Joan Waugh, a professor of history and Civil War expert, is the author of the award-winning 2009 biography "U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth" and is an authority on the ramifications of the Civil War in Southern California. The largest local collection of Civil War graves is at Westwood's National Cemetery, which Waugh routinely visits with undergraduates in her Civil War history courses (see video). Several years ago, the Los Angeles Times wrote about Waugh and the cemetery. In November, Waugh, who will be a fellow at the Huntington Library, will give a public lecture on the Gettysburg Address, which President Lincoln delivered for the dedication of the soldiers' graveyard at the battlefield.
Daniel Lynch, a doctoral candidate in history, is writing his dissertation on Southern California's role in the Civil War, and his research will inform a 2015 Autry National Center exhibition on the Civil War and the West. One of the more interesting Los Angeles–Gettysburg connections, Lynch says, concerns Winfield S. Hancock, a Union general and Gettysburg hero. Hancock, who at the outbreak of the war was in charge of protecting Los Angeles' aresenal, feared that Southern enthusiasts might attempt to seize the arms and launch a regional uprising. He also expressed doubts about the local Latino population, predicting that "if they act, it will most likely be against the government." Los Angeles Latinos had revolted against occupying U.S. forces 14 years earlier during the Mexican–American War, and many came to support the pro-Confederate "Chivalry" faction of the California Democratic Party in the 1850s. Hancock's concerns contributed to the establishment of the Drum Barracks, built in 1862 in Wilmington as the Pacific base for the Union.
David Hayes-Bautista is a historian, professor of medicine and director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture. During research for his 2012 book on the history of the Cinco de Mayo holiday, he discovered that Spanish-language newspapers and Latino groups known as juntas patrioticas in Los Angeles and California were instrumental aligning Mexican immigrants with the Union cause in the Civil War. They did this by portraying the Union and Mexico as democracies under similar siege; in 1863, Mexico's democratically elected President Benito Juarez was battling (unsuccesfully) to overthrow French rule.
More on Los Angeles and the Civil War (experts can comment)
In the summer of 1863, the pro-Confederate Los Angeles Star newspaper announced the "Glorious News!" that Gen. Robert E. Lee had crossed the Potomac, heading for Gettysburg. Strong sectional feelings in town led to a subdued Fourth of July that year. Unionists headed to Drum Barracks in Wilmington to celebrate under the protection of Union soldiers. But the revelers lost some of their timidity when news of the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg trickled in. However, impromptu celebrations of these two victories were met by threats from secessionists. To prevent violence, the Federal Marshal requested that soldiers from Drum Barracks be stationed temporarily in town. They remained until September. Los Angeles, in other words, became an armed camp in the wake of Gettysburg.
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