SPRINGFIELD -- The Third Annual John Holtz Memorial Lecture at the University of Illinois at Springfield -- "Andy Smith's Civil War: The role of leadership and tactics on the Civil War battlefield" -- will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, in classroom 141A, lower level of Brookens Library on the UIS campus. The lecture and a reception immediately following are free and open to the public.
The featured speaker will be Dr. Sharon MacDonald, faculty emerita at Illinois State University, who will focus on the Battle of Honey Hill in general and the actions of one soldier – Andy Smith – in particular.
Honey Hill was fought November 30, 1864, in South Carolina. Although it was a small engagement involving only a few thousand troops, it nevertheless mirrors the strategic and tactical considerations of the war's larger engagements. A study of Honey Hill clearly identifies the typical tactical progression of Civil War battles as well as the command failures that so frequently compromised offensive operations and led individual soldiers such as Andy Smith to exhibit extraordinary courage in tactically hopeless situations.
Andrew Jackson Smith (1843-1932) escaped slavery in Kentucky and joined the Union Army in January 1862, accompanying the 41st Illinois Volunteer Infantry to Forts Henry and Donelson, and then to Shiloh. Smith later enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and served in Union operations against Charleston.
At Honey Hill, Smith saved the American flag, as well as his regimental flag, from falling into enemy hands, an action for which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. Though he was nominated in 1916, Smith's medal was not presented until January 2001, several years after MacDonald and high school teacher Rob Beckman joined Smith's descendents in the effort to gather evidence necessary to pursue a posthumous award.
MacDonald and Beckman are collaborating on a book tentatively titled Color Sergeant: The Life and Times of Medal of Honor Recipient Andrew Jackson Smith.
MacDonald taught at Illinois State University for over 30 years until her retirement in 2005. Her primary area of research is Civil War military history, in particular the history of battles and tactics.
John Holtz was an associate professor of Library Instructional Services at UIS from 1989 until his death in January 2004.
For more information, contact Jane Treadwell, university librarian and dean of library instructional services at UIS, at 206-6597.