Desertion During the Civil War

By: Daniel Franch, Honors College Senior

dannyMy journey of getting a paper published in Explorations started the fall of my junior year here at ECU. HIST 2000 Introduction to History is a class that all history majors have to take as an introduction to the field of history. The class is writing intensive, so I knew that I was going to be writing often in that class. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of taking HIST 2000 with Dr. Dudley, for he conveyed his passion for studying history to most of the students in that class and is a great writer. As part of our writing responsibilities, Dr. Dudley gave all of us a yellow folder in which we would store all of our writing assignments. On the left side of the inside of the folder, we had to write aspects of our writing that we needed to fix. This helped me grow as a writer tremendously, and I learned the evil of using dangling prepositions in a sentence.

For the final research paper in HIST 2000, I chose to research the causes of desertion among Confederate soldiers from North Carolina during the Civil War. Ever since middle school, I have been fascinated by the Civil War for its carnage and drama as family and friends were forced to fight against each other. In reading previous books about the Civil War in North Carolina, I learned that desertion was a serious problem for General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, especially after 1863, and that many of the soldiers who deserted were from North Carolina regiments. This sparked my curiosity for this topic and made me choose it as a research topic for my final paper. With Dr. Dudley’s advice, I narrowed my focus from soldiers across the Confederacy to just soldiers from North Carolina.

As the Civil War progressed, desertion amongst Confederate soldiers infected the Confederate Army like a poisonous cancer. Although North Carolina mustered more troops to fight for the Confederacy than any other Confederate state, North Carolina also had one of the highest rates of desertion. In this paper, I examined the causes behind Confederate desertion of North Carolina soldiers. One main factor that motivated North Carolina soldiers to desert was desperate letters written by wives, sisters, and mothers begging their loved ones to stop fighting and come home amidst food shortages and other hardships. A second main factor was Southern elites’ broken promises to look after soldiers’ families by refusing to grow more food crops instead of the more profitable cotton. Lastly, the inability of the leaders of the Confederate Army and President Jefferson Davis to take substantive measures to punish deserters or prevent others from deserting early in the war allowed desertion to spread with deadly effect as the war continued. While rigorously scrutinizing numerous primary and secondary documents, I argued that appeals from family and friends at home, disdain for Confederate nationalism, Union occupation of large swaths of territory, and the failure of southern elites to keep their promises all drove Confederate soldiers from North Carolina to desert. A complete copy of my paper can be found online in the current issue of Explorations here.

After countless hours of research both from the undergraduate library at UNC Chapel Hill and in the North Carolina and Special Collections in Joyner Library at East Carolina, I discovered a plethora of primary and secondary source documents to use for this paper. The most exciting part of writing this paper was searching through numerous old manuscripts in the Special Collections on the fourth floor of Joyner Library, because never before had I read or held original documents written by soldiers and their family members.

After writing this paper and turning it in for a grade, Dr. Dudley approached me about the possibility of publishing it. I had heard about other undergraduate students publishing manuscripts in journals before, and I had tried to publish a research paper for a class I took my first year at ECU. This time I knew I had written a quality piece of historical research, so the most practical choice was to submit the paper to the reviewers for Explorations, which is the Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities for the State of North Carolina.

The submission process was simple, but I had to revise my draft three times before it was finally deemed publishable. This revision process helped me catch a few grammar and syntax mistakes, and it helped me improve the content of my paper as well. As much as I love history, I know that many people do not understand its significance and value, so getting this paper published was extremely gratifying and the ultimate reward for all of those long hours in the library and staying up countless late nights. I would advise all undergraduate students, especially Honors College students, to submit well-written research papers to Explorations.

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Honors Alumna Stars in Upcoming Indie Film

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

kiss me kate

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Kim Grizzard for The Daily Reflector on May 18, 2015.  The full article can be found here.  Photo from ECU’s production of Kiss Me Kate. 

The spring semester of her senior year, East Carolina University theater arts major Amanda Higgins was given a rare opportunity: a chance to play the lead in an independent film alongside an Oscar-nominated actor. Though she was due to graduate within months, the Fuquay-Varina native knew she had to give it a shot.

But accepting the role in February did not prevent Higgins from accepting her diploma in May. That’s because “Through a Class Darkly” was made on and around campus.

Written and directed by Michael Tierno, the musical features students and faculty members from ECU’s schools of theater and dance, art and design, and communications. In addition to its 12-member cast and 25-member crew, almost all 75 people involved in the production, including extras, have ties to ECU.

Tierno, an assistant professor in cinematic arts and media production, has had success on the festival circuit with films like “Auditions,” which premiered at Tribeca Film Center’s First Look Film series, and “Nocturne,” which premiered at the Breckenridge Film Festival. A writer with two screenplays to be named finalists in the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab, Tierno often spends summers working on film projects in his native New York. But this year, he decided to try filming closer to home.

Full story: Indie film made on ECU campus 

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The International/American Association of Dental Research Conference

By: Rana Abdelsalam, Honors College Senior

ranaI attended the International/American Association on Dental Research (IAADR) conference the weekend of March 13th in Boston, MA. This was my third time attending this conference. Every year it is in a different city around the country. The purpose of the conference is to increase dental knowledge in order to improve oral health. The conference is well attended by dental professors, dental students and dental product representatives from around the world, most of which are there to present their research.

I have been working on my research with Dr. Waldemar de Rijk, Clinical Associate Professor at ECU School of Dental Medicine, since my freshman year. Our research started out with making dental composite specimen and testing their material strengths. It then turned into modeling these specimens via an engineering modeling software, SolidWorks (SW), and applying finite element analysis. The research I presented this year was branched off of my previous work. We tired to import an STL file of a three unit dental bridge into SW in order to do finite element analysis.

Presenting at this conference for three years in a row has been a huge blessing for me. I received so much support and funding from the Engineering and Undergraduate Research Department. I have grown so much as a person and as a presenter. I have had the opportunity to interact with dentists and meet some of the brightest dental professors around. It taught me a lot about dentistry and its really cool to see how dental research evolves every year. I know for a fact that dental school is where I want to be, and I can’t wait to attend this conference again in the future as a dental student.

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Next Steps for the Honors College Class of 2015

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

next stepsAs the second graduating class of the ECU Honors College prepares to walk across the stage in a little over a week, we are reminded of the incredible journey on which these students have embarked and all that they have accomplished.  We are proud to know so many aspiring leaders, researchers, and artists. Below is a glimpse into the post-graduation plans of some of our students:


Ajay Ajmera, B.S. Biology: Pursing an M.D. at the Brody School of Medicine

Layne Barefield, B.S. Engineering (Concentration in Biomedical): Pursuing a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering

Matthew Baucom, B.S. Biochemistry: Pursuing an M.D. at the Brody School of Medicine

Kimberly Paige Bostick, Hispanic Studies major and Biology minor: Pursuing the Physician Assistant Program at East Carolina University

Lindsay Caddell, B.S.N. Nursing: Hired as a nurse at Vidant Medical Center

Rebekah Carbone, B.S.N. Nursing: Hired as an R.N. at Vidant Medical Center

Kari Carr, B.S. Biology and B.A. Anthropology: Pursuing the Anatomy and Cell Biology Program at the Brody School of Medicine

Karina Dierolf, B.S.N. Nursing and Multidisciplinary Studies: Hired as a nurse at Mission Hospital in Asheville

Andrew Geddes, B.S. Exercise Physiology: Pursuing a PhD of Physical Therapy

Georganna Gower, B.S. Exercise Physiology: Pursuing the Physical Therapy Program at East Carolina University

Jordan Griffin, B.S. Exercise Physiology: Pursuing an M.D. at the Brody School of Medicine

Teresa Heavilin, B.S. Biology: Hired as the Summer Residence Hall Director at the University of Portland

Denver Hollingsworth, B.S. Communication: Marketing Firm in Raleigh, NC

Charley Jauss, B.S. Biology and B.A. Health Studies: Pursuing research at Arthrex, an orthopedic medical device company

Katherine Kirk, Economics major and Mathematics minor: Pursuing graduate school at East Carolina University

Sarah Marshall, B.S. Biology: Pursuing a master’s in Chemistry at East Carolina University

Shayna Mooney, B.S. Neuroscience and B.A. International Studies: Pursuing an M.D. at the Brody School of Medicine

Victoria Neff, BFA Theatre Educations and Theatre for Youth: Pursuing a Master of Arts in Educational Theatre

Michael Prunka, Communications (Concentration in Journalism): Hired at Cooke Communications

Brendan Schachle, B.S.B.A. in Marketing: Hired as an Account Coordinator at Strategic Pharma Solutions

Thomas Vaughan, Applied Atmospheric Science: Pursuing a M.S. in Meteorology at Florida State University

Brandon Watson, B.S. Engineering (Concentration in Mechanical): Enlisting in US Navy, Commissioned as an Ensign (O-1)

Allison Wiles, B.S. Hospitality Management (Concentration in Lodging): Hired as a Marriott International Manager

Eva Zeron, B.S. Engineering (Concentration in Industrial & Systems) and Mathematics minor: Hired as a Technical Analyst at Credit Suisse

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These Boots Were Made for Hiking: Appalachian Trail Seminar

By: Amanda Fisher, Honors College Sophomore

amanda fisher(Imagine heavy piano music.) At 5:45 am, my alarm clock went off, and I thought I was going to murder someone. Why is my alarm clock going off at this terrible hour in the morning? Then, I remembered I was going to go hike today on Medoc Mountain! I quickly called my friend Kaitlyn and my boyfriend Will to make sure that they were both awake…and…I rolled over and went back to sleep until my heavy piano music alarm once again woke me up.

I was less than wide awake, but after packing everything and layering my clothes correctly, I was ready to go! I left my apartment, found my friends Kaitlyn and Davis, and filled out some paperwork. And we were off! Not going to lie, I cuddled up next to Will and fell asleep for the entire drive to the state park.  Once there, our tour guide, Brad, gave us a short lesson on where we were going to be hiking, and we were sized for our hiking backpacks. Finally, it was time to start the hike.

app trail

The beginning of the hike was muddy and uphill but not terribly hard. I was so thankful for my hiking boots. They kept my feet dry and warm. Virginia and Will only had tennis shoes, and they were sliding all over the place.

Around noon, we made it to the ‘mountain’.  It was great to stop, rest our feet, use the bathroom (orangutan style), and eat some food. I learned a valuable lesson called “don’t-put-jelly-on-your-sandwich-because-it-will-get-squashed-so-that-the-jelly-goes-everywhere.” Luckily, the bag was zipped, but it was still a lesson learned.

app trail 3After lunch, we learned how to put up our tents. Emma was my tent partner, and it was a good thing because I had no idea what I was doing.  Once all the different style tents were up, we all toured around them. Our tent was a two-person tent with two door entrances. After that, we packed up, made the place look like we had never been there, and hiked back down the mountain. I liked hiking up way better than hiking down!

One of the nice things about the hike was that I bonded with my friends and teachers and had time to reflect on my own thoughts. I had an amazing time on the hike. Everything was perfect: the weather, the people, and the hike. Now, I just cannot wait until the four-day hike on the Appalachian Trail over Easter Break!

To view trips of the class hiking the Appalachian Trail, click here.

app trail 4


Posted in Colloquiums & Seminars, Honors College, Honors Colloquiums & Seminars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment