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


"Closing Down the Kingdom: The Wilmington Campaign," Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.

Mar 1 2022 - 7:00pm

“Closing Down the Kingdom: The Wilmington Campaign” is the title of popular local historian Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.’s presentation at the Tuesday, March 1st meeting of the Brunswick Civil War Round Table. The meeting will be held at Hatch Auditorium on Caswell Beach. Registration begins at 6:15PM, and the program starts at 7:00PM. All St. James residents are invited. The visitor fee is $10, and can be applied toward the $25 annual membership dues, which can include a spouse.

Chris will give a presentation on Union military operations to capture, and Confederate efforts to defend, Wilmington, NC, the South’s last major Atlantic port stronghold by late 1864. He will discuss the battles for Fort Fisher at Christmas1864 and mid-January 1865, in what turned out to be the largest U.S. Navy bombardments of the Civil War. He will then examine why the Federals were so interested in taking, not just Fort Fisher, but Wilmington in the winter of 1865.

At the First Battle of Fort Fisher, the Union tried to capture the fort guarding Wilmington. It lasted from December 23 – 27, 1864. The Union navy first attempted to detonate a ship filled with powder in order to demolish the fort’s walls, but this failed. The navy then launched a two-day bombardment in order to demolish the fort and compel surrender. On the second day, the Union army started landing troops in order to begin the siege, but got word that enemy reinforcements were approaching, and with worsening weather conditions, the operation was aborted.

The second Battle of Fort Fisher was a successful assault by the Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. The fort was sometimes referred to as the “Gibraltar of the South” because it was the last stronghold of the Confederacy. It had tremendous strategic value during the war, providing a port for blockade runners supplying the Army of Northern Virginia.

Wilmington was not captured by Union forces until February 22, 1865, approximately one month after the fall of Fort Fisher. Located just 30 miles from the mouth of the Cape Fear River, it was among the Confederacy’s more important cities with a population of 9,553, nearly the same size as Atlanta, Georgia. Its port traded cotton and tobacco in exchange for foreign goods such as munitions, clothing and foodstuffs. These cargoes arrived via blockade runners which had to avoid the Union’s imposed maritime barricade. Cargoes were then transferred to railroad cars and sent from Wilmington throughout the Confederacy. By capturing Wilmington, and with the port closed, the Union blockade was complete, and it gave Union General Sherman’s forces a base of supply and a supply route to the sea.

These are some of the highlights and facts surrounding the closing months of the war. There is no better fact checker and storyteller about this period than historian Chris Fonvielle, professor emeritus in the Dept. of History at UNCW. He is a native of Wilmington with a lifelong interest in American Civil War, North Carolina, and Cape Fear history. His in-depth research focuses on coastal operations and defenses, and blockade running in southeastern North Carolina during the Civil War. He has written and published books and articles including The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope; Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear: An Illustrated History; and, Fort Fisher 1865: The Photographs of T.H. O’Sullivan.

“…the Duty of the Prisoner to Escape…: POWs’ Escape Attempts, Plots, and Ideological Flight”, Dr. Angela Zombek

Apr 5 2022 - 7:00pm

General Order No. 100 (the Lieber Code, 1863) did not consider POW escape attempts to be a crime, but prisoners’ thoughts of escape more often led to psychological comfort than actual freedom from military prisons. This lecture will cover POW escapes in all forms: contemplated, attempted, pulled off, and punished. 

Bio: Angie Zombek (PhD University of Florida) is an historian of the Civil War Era and teaches at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is the author of Penitentiaries, Punishment, and Military Prisons: Familiar Responses to an Extraordinary Crisis during the America Civil War (Kent State University Press). Her current book project, Stronghold of the Union: Key West Under Martial Law, is under contract with The University Press of Florida.

Dr. Zombek’s published articles include: “The Power of the Press: Defining Disloyalty at Old Capitol Prison,” “Catholics in Captivity: Priests, Prisoners, and the Living Faith in Civil War Military Prisons,” and “Citizenship – Compulsory or Convenient: Federal Officials, Confederate Prisoners, and the Oath of Allegiance.” She serves as managing editor of Kent State University Press’s book series “Interpreting the Civil War: Texts and Contexts.”

"R. E. Lee’s Quest for a Decisive Victory,” Joanna McDonald

May 3 2022 - 7:00pm

Critiquing one of his most strategically unsound campaigns: Maryland


Bio: Joanna McDonald is a historian, writer, and public speaker. She earned a Ph.D. in History with a focus in strategic studies and strategic leadership from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Zombek has worked.as  military historian for the History Channel’s acclaimed documentaries, Vietnam in HD and World War II in HD; civilian Marine Education Director with the U.S. Marine Corps; test procedure manager for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems—Predator program; civilian Army Archivist at the Military History Institute, Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA; and, Research Historian for the State of Pennsylvania, where she shared the history of the 390 PA Civil War flags. An author of eleven books on the Civil War and WWII, as well as numerous journal and newsletter articles regarding U.S. Marine Corps history, JoAnna’s next book is R. E. Lee’s Grand Strategy & Strategic Leadership: Caught in a Paradoxical Paradigm.