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Civil War Conference Highlights Tennessee's Difficult Transition To Post-war Peace

Library of Congress

Hundreds of Civil War experts from around the country are in Knoxville this week to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war's end.   The four-day conference features speeches, tours, music and all forms of historical discussion, specifically relating to the end of the Civil War and Tennessee's transition to peace time.

The city these experts will discover this weekend is vastly different than the one that  found itself struggling for a post-war identity in April of 1865.   For years, East Tennessee's loyalties were passionately divided between the Union and the Confederacy and at separate times during the war, both armies controlled Knoxville.  As a result, the prospect of peace in this region was approached with apprehension, uncertainty and in some cases, rage.  "Four years of animosity has boiled over," says Joan Markel, Civil War curator for the University of Tennessee's McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, "and people just don't forgive and forget."