Storytelling: Civil War

Motlow history professor Dr. Michael R. Bradley will discuss a range of topics centered on the Civil War. Admission is free.

Dr. Michael R. Bradley

Biographical Information

Photo of Dr. BradleyMichael R. Bradley is a native of the Tennessee-Alabama state line region near Fayetteville, Tennessee. He attended Samford University for his B. A., took a Masters of Divinity at New Orleans Seminary, and a M. A. and the Ph. D. from Vanderbilt University, graduating there in 1970.

For thirty six years Dr. Bradley taught United States History at Motlow College, a Tennessee Board of Regents junior college near Tullahoma. He retired in May 2006.

During his teaching career Dr. Bradley received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and a National Sciences Foundation Grant. He also was made a Fellow of Johns Hopkins University.

He has been pastor of two Presbyterian churches in Middle Tennessee, LaVergne Presbyterian from 1968 to 1976 and Clifton Presbyterian from 1977 to 2006. He served as Interim Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Manchester from January 2007 until June 2008.

In 2006 Dr. Bradley was elected Commander of the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He is a Life Member of that organization.

Dr. Bradley is the author of several books on the War Between the States period including “Mysteries and Myths of the Civil War”; “Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign”; “With Blood and Fire: Behind Union Lines in Middle Tennessee; Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort & Staff in War and Peace”; “It Happened in the Civil War”; and Home Fires in the Line of Fire, published as part of an anthology titled Sister States/Enemy States about the war in Tennessee and Kentucky. Two recent articles have been published in North & South magazine; “Death Lists in Middle Tennessee,” and “In the Crosshairs: Confederate Civilians Targeted for Death by the United States Army.” He also writes on other topics including the Revolutionary War, the Great Smoky Mountains, and historical stories. Dr. Bradley has written for various reference works, including The Civil Rights Encyclopedia and The Tennessee Encyclopedia, and Sports Encyclopedia.

Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign for the Control of Middle Tennessee (Nov 1999) –
The results of the Tullahoma campaign were strategically more important than Gettysburg and tactically on a par with Vicksburg. The Tullahoma campaign of 1863 is often overlooked, overshadowed by the simultaneous events at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. However, the strategic results of the campaign were enormous: the Confederacy lost the human, agricultural, and industrial capacity of middle Tennessee; Chattanooga came under fire; and the Union Army of the Cumberland took a large step forward in the campaign to divide the Confederacy.

With Blood and Fire: Life Behind Union Lines in Middle Tennessee, 1863-65 (Feb 1, 2003) – Ideological cleansing. Military and paramilitary units committing mass murder. Bodies left unburied. Ethnic and racial conflict. Prisoners executed without trial. Civilian dwellings destroyed for political purposes. Mass deportations. Civilian informers touching off military raids. Rape. Torture. Looting. Is the scene of these crimes East Timor-1999? Kosovo-1998? Bosnia-1995? Viet Nam-1973? No, this was Middle Tennessee, 1863-1865. The same scenes were being enacted in all those parts of the South that were under Union military occupation during the years of the Civil War.

“Mysteries and Myths of the Civil War”, Dr. Bradley looks at how true stories from the war-era have become distorted with time and retelling so that, instead of informing us about history, they create mysteries and myths. Among the popular, but distorted, myths Dr. Bradley will discuss is the love of “Stonewall Jackson” for lemons and the supposed fondness of Ulysses S. Grant for the bottle. This book was released on April 12, 2011, the 150th anniversary of the first shot of the Civil War. It is appropriate that Dr. Bradley signed the contract for the book on January 19, 2009, the birthday of Robert E. Lee.

Forrest’s Fighting Preacher: David Campbell Kelley of Tennessee (Aug 15, 2011) –
Every leader needs a trusted confidant. For Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the Civil War’s greatest military minds, that man was David Campbell Kelley. Kelley began adulthood in the clergy, serving for two years as a missionary in China and returning home just a year before the Civil War. He then raised a company of cavalry from his family’s large congregation that became part of Forrest’s original regiment. Kelley quickly became Forrest’s second in command, assisting in some of his most daring engagements, offering support in key decisions and serving as his unofficial chaplain. Following the war, Kelley returned to preaching, helped establish Vanderbilt University and launched a campaign for governor of Tennessee. Now, for the first time, author Michael R. Bradley brings Kelley’s dynamic life to the fore.

“They Rode With Forrest” – (Jun 26, 2012) – A true account of all of the units that rode with famed Civil War leader Nathan Bedford Forrest is presented in this thoroughly researched work. Fascinating character sketches of important commanders and soldiers along with an in-depth timeline tying their actions to major events are offered, having been pulled from both primary and secondary sources. Filled with intimate details including battlefield conversations, each section provides a revealing picture of Forrest’s impact and reach both during and after the war. Separate chapters cover troops from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Included are state, cavalry, and regular army units as well as an account of Forrest’s own military career. Essential reading for any true Civil War aficionado is the meticulously researched and annotated bibliography that provides a detailed account of source materials used.

Professor Michael R. Bradley lives in Tullahoma, Tennessee, on the former picket line of a Civil War fort. In addition to authoring five other books on the Civil War and many articles and papers, he is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Southern Historical Association, American Association of University Professors, and the Society for Military History.

Dr. Bradley continues to research and write on Civil War history. His current projects are a biography of David C. Kelley, a prominent Methodist minister who was a Colonel under Bedford Forrest, and a proposed volume which will give a short history of each regiment and artillery battery which served under Bedford Forrest.

Dr. Bradley is married to Martha Rae Dobbins Bradley. They are the parents of two adult children, Nancy Todd Bradley Warren and Michael Lee Bradley. Dr. and Mrs. Bradley have two grandsons, William Andrew Warren and Michael Alexander Warren.

Cowan Center for the Arts Theater
301 Montgomery St., Cowan, TN, 37318

Date(s) - 10/11/2009
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm