Home

Meeting Highlights

WHEN COTTON WASN’T KING –CIVIL WAR DIPLOMACY

Speaker: Dr. Max Williams

WAS CONFEDERATE DEFEAT INEVITABLE????

Speaker: William C. Davis 

WILLIAM BARKER CUSHING---NAVY SEAL #1

Speaker Dr. Chris Fonvielle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN THE CIVIL WAR

Speaker: Marvin Nicholson

February 2012 Speaker Highlights

 A DAY OF DECISION APRIL 2, 1865, AT PETERSBURG

 

Boil A. Wilson Greene down to half a page? NOT. It takes that long just to chronicle what a good person he is. Go to his core. There you will find an unquenchable love of the Civil War and those who have rown to embrace it – YOU. Researching correctly for you is his pinnacle. How did we get to that one day in history? Will reminds us the campaign was now 292 days old. He gives us a warp speed run-up mentioning some of the things we remember. How big a Crater does 8000 pounds of dynamite make? Oh, those names we keep hearing at this Day of Decision. A.P.Hill watches his star go lower. Phil Sheridan joins Grant in this Overland Campaign. Pickett has his day ruined by the arrival of whom? Custer! You just had to be there to hear Will “fillet” the famous Pickett “Fish Fry Debacle.”  “Even George C.Patton could not have changed The Battle of Five Forks,” quotes Will! Will, you tore at our hearts when you quoted from soldiers at the Fort Gregg Battle. It was truly “The Alamo” of the Confederacy. 

Your treatment of this suicide mission (Douglass Freeman calls it “one of the most dramatic incidents of an overwhelming day.”) gives credence to that brave handful of Confederate Soldiers and their desperate last stand. You also reminded us that 14 Union Soldiers received the Medal of Honor at this battle. One can only wish the Confederate Soldiers could be so honored. Their sacrifice only bought a little time to re-enforce Richmond. Don’t think of them as a rag tag beaten people. They had lots of fight. Will restates what everyone knew. Get over the James River and the War is over. His exacting research points to  common sense advantages for the North. Grant had good March weather allowing him to build his pontoon bridge and dry roads to travel. He has firepower in a seven shot repeater rifle generously deployed. Grant shuts down the last supply line to Richmond – The Wilmington/Weldon RR. Now Lee must use The Boydton Plank Road which Josh Chamberlin captures for Grant on March 30. Grant and his staff brilliantly use darkness to their advantage on April 1. He has that plucky Vermonter, Charlie Gould, who knows how to make a swamp his advantage. (Twenty will fight with him to claim FIRST thru the line but Will credits Charlie). Most important— Grant has 14,000 Sixth Corp Army opposing just 2800 fiercely determined Confederates. He punches a huge hole in Lee’s outer line Southwest of Petersburg (a rail hub of 18,000 people). His COMPLETE breakthrough gives him Richmond and the War. 

Appomattox is seven days later. There is a way, Will, for us to honor those brave soldiers, both North and South, who served at The Petersburg Breakthrough. Go. Learn. Honor them by visiting Will Greene at Pamplin Park –the most recently declared National Historic Landmark of the Breakthrough Battlefield. Will, we join many others who embrace your love of all things Civil War, in a LOUD request: Stop the research and write your book! We can’t wait to read it!

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.:  A challenge. There is a mouse in the Bronze Sculpture at Pamplin.  Can you find it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2012 Speaker Highlights

 A TROUBLED PARTNERSHIP

 

I am in clear view of Fort Sumter – the start of it all.  There is room for you, my reader, to join me on this bench in Battery Park. What if Ed Bearss also sat with us???  Would he implore us to chew slowly this great Southern City named Charles town?  Should we also soak in the history? The smells of a town sometimes called “the city of hooves and sneakers.”  With his pointed punctuation, Ed would tone down any connection of nearby McClellanville to that “troubled Partnership” between “Father” Abraham Lincoln and George Brinton McClellan.

 

Ed would tell of many comparisons and contrasts feeding this most “uncomfortable relationship.”  McClellan was successfully organizing, expanding and serving The Illinois Central Railroad as its President.  In this position he dealt with many corporate lawyers.  Lincoln, a very successful corporate lawyer, was serving in the Blackhawk Wars.  He entered as a Captain and finished as a private.  He kills only mosquitoes.

 

Lincoln leaves the military and follows a path to the Presidency.  McClellan joins the military and organizes huge numbers of Ohio Volunteers for “Father” Abraham.  His stock goes up like a sky rocket. He is a master of organization and over trains an Army that grows to love him.  He is so ambitious, so disciplined, so focused that he crosses that red line in government never to be forgotten.  The President IS ALWAYS Commander-in-Chief! He emulates P. G. T. Beauregard, a noted expert at psychological warfare. McClellan has “GRANDILOQUENTLY” annihilated three great armies at First Manassas completely unaware there will be a Second Manassas.  

 

Ed can’t believe the arrogance of this man.  Lincoln tries to go for the good in McClellan saying: “I will hold his hat if he gives us a victory.” On one occasion, Lincoln visits the McClellan Home in an attempt to avoid another lateral arabesque (moving side to side without doing anything).  McClellan makes him wait then rebukes him by simply “going to bed.” Even after the Cabinet votes seven to nothing, Lincoln refuses to fire him recognizing that he molded the Army into a “band of brothers” who love him. His wife, Ellen Mary Marcy McClellan also loves him – or at least his successes.  She rebukes his proposal of marriage while he is a young soldier but says “yes” to the President of the Railroad!

 

Ed wants you to reread McClellan’s many letters to Ellen Mary Marcy as a window to the inner thoughts and beliefs of that man who is first to call Washington a “Sink of Iniquity.” We watch McClellan slowly, very slowly,  skid to a stop as the “Rise of Giants” happens.  Lincoln says of U.S. (unconditional surrender) Grant, “He fights.” If it helps, he offers to provide Grant’s brand of whiskey to all around him who continue that fight.

 

Ed, we, your band of Civil War Brothers and Sisters admire you far beyond my simple words.  Our numbers show our deep respect for you and your knowledge.  You are a Civil War Giant.  Not only are you a National Treasure but also, by your commitment, a genuine friend of History.  May you live long, continue to “speak loudly”, and hold us accountable to know our history or be doomed to relive it. 

We love you, Ed, as we know you love history and us.  

December 2011 Speaker Highlights

E. PORTER ALEXANDER
 

What do the “Big Mouse” and E. Porter Alexander have in common? They both adapt well to Walt  Disney’s “Storyboard Style” (Google it) of organization if allowed to “grow” in the hands of master  storytellers. “Col. Black Jack“ Travis is superb at this art form. He arranges E. Porter Alexander’s life  with a punctilious attention to detail.
 
 Readers, will you agree with me that you lost mountains of carefully researched information if not in  attendance? “Ya just had to be there.” Think! Where were YOU at age 21? E. Porter Alexander was  graduating third in his class from WestPoint. By age 25 or so, his experiences put him in charge of 65  guns at Gettysburg. Jack Travis lays some facts about Southern gunpowder and a could, would, or should situation that might have changed that day in history for all of us. The “Pickle man”, Major General Richardson, soured Alexander’s day.
 
 We asked, as they unfolded, where did you find some of those great pictures, Jack? Not only some of  those pictures but also some “first” accomplishments of Alexander were shared. Superb at espionage,  E. Porter worked clandestinely with that spy, Rose Greenhow, to tunnel information toward General  Beauregard. A real snoop, E. Porter Alexander, became known as “That cuss with the Spy Glass.” With  said spy glass in hand, he became the first to send signals from a balloon. He and the balloon took a bath in the James River. We think he must have kept the spy glass dry. That spy glass also turned the battle of First Manassas. His famous statement, signaled to Beauregard, said: “Look to your left, you are being turned!!!!” Certain defeat was turned to victory of a sort.
 
 True to his beloved Southern roots, he refused countless pleadings to stay in the Union. Had he  acquiesced, Jack Travis would not have had such a colorful (he owned 100 slaves) heartwarming,  punctilious and downright enjoyable story to put on the board for us. Jack, we can’t wait to see which  Civil War personage becomes the mouse or the cheese in your next book. “Right on!”