Student Explores Battle of Saltville

Posted by Brent Treash

Emory & Henry College student Emma Grace Thompson is looking to the past to build a future career as an historian.

The history and mass communications double-major from Tellico Plains, Tenn. is researching the American Civil War in Southwest Virginia with a primary focus on African-American solders. For the past two years, Thompson has compiled information about the war and an incident, which took place in 1864, known as “the Saltville Massacre,” during which African-American Union soldiers were intentionally killed in the original Wiley Hall structure on the Emory & Henry College campus.

Thompson conducted much of her research at the E&H Kelly Library with the assistance of professor Matthew Shannon. She combed through numerous resources and historical documents at the library and discovered a letter from William Williams Stringfield, who was a witness to the Saltville Massacre. During the Civil War, Stringfield served in various Confederate units. He eventually joined the Thomas Legion, under the command of William Holland Thomas, as a captain. Stringfield served with the Legion in Virginia and western North Carolina

“For many, even in this region, this tragedy is often forgotten,” Thompson said. “I hope that my research and presentation brought it to the forefront.”

Earlier this month, Thompson presented her research as part of a series of events held by the College in celebration of Black History Month.

Watch the Facebook Live Recording of the Event

Thompson said her research allowed her to use the knowledge that she has obtained from both of her majors for this Ampersand project – projects that connect the classroom to passions and the world of work.

“I want to be a professional historian, but during my research I found I used my mass communications expertise frequently,” Thompson said. “Mass Communications has taught me how to present clearly and in a visually appealing manner.”

After her graduation in the spring of 2018, Thompson hopes to work as a museum curator and share her expertise with other educators and students.

  • Emma Grace Thompson presents her research a lyceum event in the Board of Visitors Lounge.
    Emma Grace Thompson presents her research a lyceum event in the Board of Visitors Lounge.
I want to be a professional historian, but during my research I found I used my mass communications expertise frequently. Mass Communications has taught me how to present clearly and in a visually appealing manner.
- Emma Grace Thompson on combining her two passions

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