Regular Meeting Schedule

BCWRT meets on the first Tuesday of the month September through June Registration opens at 6:30 Program starts at 7:00 Hatch Auditorium, Baptist Assembly, Caswell Beach


"Reflections on the Civil War," Ed Bearss

Jan 9 2019 - 7:00pm

Short of Lee, Grant, Jackson and Sherman, few names in the study of the Civil War echo as loudly as Bearss. With his booming voice and encyclopedic knowledge of military history, Edwin Cole Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, has been called a “living national treasure” by the Smithsonian, and has received virtually every award in the field of historical study. It is this great man, now 95 years young, who will once again take center stage at Hatch Auditorium on Caswell Beach on Wednesday evening, January 9th for the Brunswick Civil War Round Table’s first monthly meeting of the New Year.

Appearing for the eighth time, Ed’s presentation title this year is, “Reflections on the Civil War.” Since Ed undoubtedly knows more about the Civil War than any man alive, this will give him the opportunity to discuss Civil War-era persons, places, and events of his choosing. Over many decades, he has tramped and studied hundreds of Civil War battlefields. He knows what happened at each one, when it happened, how it happened, and can recite the names, ranks, and battlegrounds of the Confederates and Union army that affected the outcome of each battle, and the war, without the benefit of a single note or script. The curiosity for those attending will be what Ed decides will best captivate and interest his audience. His dynamic presentation will also include questions from the audience about issues or circumstances they would like answered by this celebrated historian.

As background, Ed began studying the Civil War as a boy. His personal involvement with military history began when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942, and served with the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands, and the 1st Marine Division in New Britain. In 1944, Ed was severely wounded by Japanese machine gun fire and spent 26 months recovering in various hospitals. He left the Corps with a permanently disabled left arm and became a military historian. After the war, he earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a masters in history degree from Indiana University. After a brief stint with the Defense Department’s Office of Military History, he joined the Park Service and became the historian at the Vicksburg (Miss,) National Military Park. It was here that be began walking and intimately studying Civil War battlefields. According to Ed, the Civil War “had a tremendous impact on our country socially, politically and economically. It formed the nation we are today.”

Given his vast knowledge of the Civil War, he also formed opinions, especially about some of the war’s most colorful personalities like Phil Sheridan (“a mean little son of a bitch”), Nathan Bedford Forrest (“a very tough fighter”), and Jeb Stuart and Custer (“foppy guys who made serious mistakes”). He has enormous respect for the generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, and to a lesser extent, Robert E. Lee. “If Grant had been in command of the Union army early in the war, he might have ended the war in 1862,” Bearss alleged. “Grant was the model general of the war, a master of maneuver and a great strategist.”  Lee, in contrast, had great charisma, Bearss said, “but Lee’s generalship was based on a bygone era that wasn’t suited to the Civil War’s murderous weaponry.”

His far-reaching historical research led him and two friends in 1960 to discover the long-lost Union gunboat, the U.S.S. Cairo, which sank in the Yazoo River in Mississippi in1862. The discovery was clearly a defining moment in his illustrious career as Civil War historian. This was the topic of Ed’s visit to the Round Table in January, 2017. Also, as a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Sea Research Society, Ed was instrumental in their efforts in 1995 to raise the wreck of the Confederate submarine H.L.Hunley which sank off Charleston, South Carolina in August, 1863.  

Ed is the author of 19 Civil War books and treatises, in addition to collaborating, editing and contributing to an additional 9 others. As his reputation grew over the years, so did the number of requests for his battlefield tours, not only about the Civil War, but historic World War II battlefields worldwide. He still does about 25 Civil War tours a year for the Smithsonian Institute and another 15 for scholars and Civil War buffs.

In 1981, Ed was named Chief Historian of the National Park Service which he held until 1994. After his retirement in 1995, he received the title of Chief Historian Emeritus, which he holds to this day. Around that time, a Congresswoman during a Congressional Committee hearing asked Ed if his extensive knowledge of military history could be confirmed at the National Archives, to which Ed replied, “Madam, I am the National Archives.” As Chief Historian Emeritus, the Smithsonian recognized him in 2005 as one of 35 people, who along with Bill Gates, Stephen Spielberg and Wynton Marsalis, have “immeasurably enriched lives in the past 25 years.” 

Over the years Ed has amassed a countless number of awards and honors in the field of history and preservation, including the Harry S. Truman Award for Meritorious Service in the field of Civil War History, and the Department of the Interior Distinguished Service Award.  He received the 2017 Founder’s Literature Award last year. And this year, the American Battlefield Trust re-dedicated its Lifetime Achievement Award to Ed for his “many decades dedicated to researching and relating the nation’s past to millions of people, as well as his advocacy for battlefield preservation.”

Ed’s accomplishments never cease. He has provided television commentary for the “The Civil War Journal” on the A&E Network, “Civil War Combat” on the History Channel, “Smithsonian’s Great Battles of the Civil War” on the TLC Channel, and was a featured commentator in the Ken Burns documentary, “The Civil War.”


Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate this incredible man and his lifelong devotion to Civil War history and preservation. Since his first visit to the Round Table in January, 2011, Ed’s reputation and admiration has always drawn huge audiences. And, his attendance over the years has generated more new Round Table member sign-ups than any other speaker. He is a significant reason the Brunswick Civil War Round Table has grown to become the largest Civil War Round Table in the country with almost 1,200 members.

NOTE:  the date for Ed Bearrs presentation has been changed from the 1st Tuesday of January to the 2nd Wednesday due to Mr. Bearrs schedule and New Years Day. 

"A Post War Confederate Sailor: Finding H.S. Lebby, Blockade Runner and Privateer," Lori Sanderlin

Feb 5 2019 - 7:00pm

Speaker Lori Sanderlin, mangaer of the NC Maritime Museum at Southport, will present "Finding Post-War Confederate Sailor H.S. Lebby, Blockade Runner and Privateer."  Sanderlin has lectured at the Conference for American Maritime Museums, The North American Society of Oceanic History and the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies.  Research from admission logs from a retired sailor's home reveals Lebby was not the merchant marine he claimed to be, so who is the "real" Captain Lebby?

"The Lost Gettysburg Address: Charles Anderson's Civil War Odyssey," David Dixon

Mar 5 2019 - 7:00pm

David Dixon, author and publisher of numerous articles in scholarly journals and magazines primarily focusing on black history and Union sympathizers in the Civil War South, will discuss "The Lost Gettysburg Address: Charles Anderson's Civil War Odyssey." The back sotry is the sage of Anderson himself, a slaveholder who sacrificed nearly everything to help Lincoln save the Union. 

"Banners in the Breeze," Greg Biggs

Apr 2 2019 - 7:00pm

Greg Biggs, military history student for over 45 years and award-winning historian, will present "Banners in the Breeze." Biggs, a former Associate Editor of Blue & Gray Magazine, is primarily focused on Civil War flags and has written essays and articles, as well as served as a flag research consultant to Civil War authors and museums. 

"Fake News - Civil War Style: Lincoln, Davis and the Press," Harold Holzer

May 7 2019 - 7:00pm

Speaker Harold Holzer, winner of The 2015 Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln prize, will focus on "Fake News- Civil War Style: Lincoln, Davis and the Press." Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, a prolific writer and lecturer, and a frequent guest on television who also received several appointments by Presidents Bush and Clinton. 

To be Announced

Jun 4 2019 - 7:00pm