Professor appointed to state Civil War commission

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 4, 2006 – The Virginia Senate has appointed James I. Robertson Jr., of Blacksburg, Va., Alumni Distinguished Professor of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech and executive director of the university’s Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, as a charter member of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

The commission will organize the commonwealth’s observance of the 150th anniversary of the war.

“It is an honor to receive this appointment and to have Virginia Tech’s name in the forefront of planned activities,” Robertson said.

Robertson is a well-known figure in the field of Civil War history. He appears regularly in Civil War programs on the Arts & Entertainment Network, the History Channel, and public radio and television and has written a number of books about the Civil War period that have garnered national acclaim and numerous awards. His book Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend is considered the definitive biography of the famous general and served as the basis for the portrayal of Jackson in the movie “Gods and Generals.”

The commission work will not be the first time Robertson has worked on Civil War commemorations. The noted historian was tapped by President John F. Kennedy to head the nation’s centennial commemoration of the Civil War in the early 1960s.

Robertson said that considering Virginia’s expansive role in the war, he is aware of the work that will be involved with the commission. “Although the Old Dominion seceded with the greatest reluctance of any of the 11 states, it became the principal battleground for that costliest of American wars,” he said. “Virginia suffered more destruction in the 1861-1865 period than has any other comparable area in the Western Hemisphere. The war removed secession from our political framework and slavery from our language. It created the modern United States in fact as well in name. To overlook the commemoration would be to ignore our common past.”

Robertson, who received his bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon, and his masters and doctorate degrees from Emory University, will serve a four-year appointment on the commission.

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