Dr. Earl Hess began teaching history at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in 1989 and officially retired in August 2020. During his time at LMU, he published 24 books on the Civil War and co-authored three books on film history with his wife, Dr. Pratibha A. Dabholkar.
Hess received the Lincoln Award for scholarship from LMU several times over his 31 years as a professor in the history department of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and was the Stewart W. McClelland chair in history. Over his long career, Hess has published 27 monographs and hundreds of articles.
His books have won many awards over the years. Here are a few examples: The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat won the first annual U.S. Civil War Center’s Book of the Year Award in 1997; Pickett’s Charge: The Last Attack at Gettysburg won the James I. Robertson Literary Prize and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2002; In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat won the Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award and was a Finalist for the Peter Seaborg Award in 2010; Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness won the Tom Watson Brown Book Award, Society of Civil War Historians and was a Finalist for the Lincoln Prize in 2016; Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy won the Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award in 2017 and was a finalist for the Army Historical Foundation Award in 2016; and Civil War Logistics: A Study of Military Transportation, won the Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies by the New York Military Affairs Symposium in 2017. Information on Dr. Hess’s books can be found here.
“Dr. Earl Hess is a prolific author and honored historian,” said Dr. Martin Sellers, dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “His focus on the Civil War and antebellum America has added to the historical knowledge base that will support history students for many years to come.”
In 1989, Hess was the only full-time history professor, teaching a wide variety of courses, with the help of one adjunct instructor. Now the history department has five full-time professors.
“Helping it to grow from that small size to its current size and significance is one of the highlights of my career at the university,” Hess said. “Another highlight has been my organizing the university archives over two years to make them accessible to researchers around the country. A third highlight was to help students in preparing for their future.”
Hess plans to spend his retirement “doing what I have always done, research and write scholarly historical studies for publication.” He also plans to continue other scholarly work, collaborating with colleagues at other universities, and engaging with the larger scholarly community by serving on journal boards and reviewing manuscripts for academic journals and academic presses. “I will, to some degree, miss the daily environment of a college campus, but then I can always come back for a visit,” he said.
Below are a few comments about Hess from noted scholars:
“To describe Earl Hess as prolific would be an exercise in gross understatement. Hess has established himself as one of the leading historians of the Civil War, one whose productivity is matched by his perceptiveness.” – Richard DiNardo, USMC Command and Staff College, in Journal of Military History.
“Earl J. Hess is one of the most provocative Civil War historians working today. Hess’s books debunk established myths and challenge conventional wisdom in a number of areas.” – Charles R. Bowery, in H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences.
“Earl Hess has become the premier analytical military historian of the American Civil War,” – Samuel Watson, US Military Academy, in Civil War Book Review.
Nikki Lockhart is director of public relations at Lincoln Memorial University