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2017 2018 Program Year

September 27, 2017

Topic: Robert E. Lee and the Quest for Peace

Speaker: James I. "Bud" Robertson Jr.

Our September program is our first meeting of the 2017-2018 Program Year, which will run from September 2017 through June 2018. Our theme of "Confederate Connections" continues with James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr. Dr. Robertson has made his career teaching thousands of college students in his Civil War and Reconstruction course at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, Virginia, as the Alumni Distinguished Professor in History from 1967 to 2011. He is the founding executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies research and education center. He is considered the preeminent scholar on Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Robertson was the Chief Historical Consultant in the 2003 Warner Brothers film Gods and Generals, which prominently features Stonewall Jackson. Robertson is also a former member of the Board of Trustees at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.

Robertson has authored 18 books including award-winners General A.P. Hill, Soldiers Blue and Gray, and Civil War! America Becomes One Nation. His biography Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend, won eight national awards including the American Library Association's Best Book for Young Readers Award. Robertson also edited an additional 18 books on the Civil War.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy nominated Robertson to serve as the executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, a federal committee that was foundering under the pressures of regional differences and the emerging civil rights movement, unable to organize a dignified commemoration of the war era. Robertson worked effectively with 34 state and 100 local centennial committees to create a successful result. Fifty years later, he was named a charter member of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

In 1963 he worked with David Mearns, director of the Library of Congress, to assist in the planning of Kennedy's funeral by researching the funeral of Abraham Lincoln, after which Kennedy's was patterned. Robertson and Mearns referenced Frank Leslie's Weekly and Harper's Weekly for details of the 1865 funeral that were used to transform the East Room of the White House.

In 2011, Robertson wrote and hosted, with William C. ‘Jack’ Davis, the 3-hour documentary "Virginia in the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance".

Since 2000, Robertson has also sponsored an award in his name honoring scholarship in the field of Confederate history.

John Harris, President

October 18, 2017

Topic: Mosby's Men

Speaker: Eric Buckland

Our 2017-2018 Program Year continues with Eric Buckland's presentation on “Mosby’s Men”. We are thrilled to have Mr. Buckland, the pre-imminent expert on Colonel John S. Mosby and the men he led in the 42nd Virginia Cavalry, as our guest speaker.

Eric Buckland graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in English and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1999 with 22 years military service. Most of his career was in Special Operations (Special Forces, Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs) and included multiple deployments to Panama, Honduras and El Salvador in the 1980's. He believes his military experience gave him a unique understanding of Mosby's Rangers. Eric Buckland has written five books (Mosby Men, Mosby Men II, Mosby Men III, Mosby Men IV, Mosby Men V and Mosby’s Keydet Rangers) and has twice received the United Daughters of the Confederacy's Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal for his writings on Mosby.

John Harris, President

November 15, 2017

Topic: Filming The Civil War with Historical Accuracy: Part II

Speaker: Robert Lee Hodge

Our November program is our third meeting of the 2017-2018 Program Year. Our program continues with Robert Lee Hodge's presentation on “Filming the Civil War with Historical Accuracy: Part II. Mr. Hodge presented the first part of this fascinating talk in November of last year.

For over 45 years Hodge has had a keen interest in what he calls "visual history" – trying to understand what the Civil War looked like. "Thankfully, with the advent of photography, there are hundreds of thousands of photos from the Civil War," said Hodge. "However, our visual understanding is still compromised. For instance, other than photos of the dead and some prisoner photos, there are only several images of Confederate soldiers in the field of operations, which I find odd. There is much mystery as to what the Rebels wore."

For decades Hodge has delved into Civil War photography, period drawings, paintings, sculpture, and original items to understand what the Civil War looked like.

This quest for accuracy led Hodge to look at the authenticity, or lack thereof, in historical movies. "Since I was in elementary school I thought the validation of history through film was important because that was how the masses could learn about a subject in a medium that is very palpable. For example, HBO's WWII drama "Band of Brothers" and its antecedent "Saving Private Ryan" did wonders for the memory of World War II, making it pop-culture, and having a level of visual authenticity that really put the viewer into the story. I would love to see that impact in a Civil War film – but rarely does Hollywood even get close when it comes to almost any historical genre."

Hodge, an Emmy Award winner and Civil War reenactor, will show clips from some of his Civil War films that have been compared to Ken Burns. Hodge said, "Ken Burns rarely uses reenacted scenes because, in part, often reenactors lack believable authenticity. On the other hand, Burns doesn't have a trained eye for the detail of material culture of the soldier from that period, which is typical of most directors of history, regardless of it being a drama or a documentary."

Hodge was also a principal Civil War researcher at Time-Life Books for 5 years where he learned to comb through archives looking for unpublished information mostly related to the soldier experience. "I often have filmed reenactors for scenes but I try to make sure they look the part, not only with authentic clothing and equipment, but including avoiding gray hair and expanding waistlines."

But it was with the 1998 book "Confederates in the Attic" by Tony Horwitz that Hodge became a household name. Being a reenactor extraordinaire, Hodge spent a couple of years taking the Pulitzer prize-winning Horwitz on an eclectic and memorable Civil War tour-de-force of historic sites, and indoctrinating him into the Civil War culture. He became a major subject of the book and a photo of him was even used on the cover. The book rocketed to the top of the New York Times best seller list.

Not only will Hodge show photos, paintings, drawings from the Civil War to illustrate his quest for "what it looked like" he will also have authentic uniforms and equipment for display and discussion. We are excited to have Robert Lee Hodge as our November speaker, which will prove to be entertaining and fascinating.

John Harris, President

January 24, 2018

Topic: Civil War Prisoners of War

Speaker: James R. “Rusty” Neal, Ph.D

Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg member, James R. “Rusty” Neal will present Civil War Prisoners of War and will focus on the prisoners’ conditions and perspectives. He will examine how prisoners reacted when captured and how they related their experiences traversing the enemy’s country to prison. Letters and diaries prisoners wrote while they awaited release can tell us about their prison experiences. He also explores prisoners’ principal hopes for release through a system of prisoner parole and exchange the belligerents established and the less well-known route to freedom that the vast majority of prisoners refused: taking the oath of allegiance to their enemy. Finally, Dr. Neal will talk about the darkest aspects of the prisoner condition: death at the hands of their captors and the grueling conditions that existed in Civil War prisons, which too often deprived prisoners of adequate food, shelter, sanitation, and the most rudimentary necessities for health, resulting in the deaths of at least 56,000 Union and Confederate prisoners through starvation and disease.

Rusty holds a Ph.D. in Nineteenth-Century U.S. history and an M.A. in Medieval history from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). From 2007 through 2013, Dr. Neal taught Humanities courses at Morrison University in Reno, NV as the senior humanities professor. His primary historical research interests include the American Civil War, the German Empire, Medieval Europe, and Sumer. He is currently engaged in ongoing research in these areas as an independent scholar and recently published “‘We Were Surrendered’: Civil War Prisoners and the Trauma of Capture” (2016) in the University of Virginia's Academic Journal, Essays in History. His master’s thesis, “Defining Power in the Mercian Supremacy: An Examination of the Dynamics of Power in the Kingdom of the Borderers” (2008), and doctoral dissertation, "Surrendered: The Prisoner-of-War Condition in the American Civil War" (2015) were both completed at UNR.

Dr. Neal served in the U.S. Army (Infantry) for eleven years including a tour in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), a tour in West Germany guarding Pershing II Nuclear Missiles, and three years in the National Guard. He currently works as a Program Analyst with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., and previously served as a Management Analyst, Training Manager, and Veterans Service Representative at the Reno Regional Office.

Dr. Neal and his wife are founding members of the Fredericksburg-Este Association and he has given numerous lectures to that organization on topics related to Italian literature, culture, and history. In addition, he has presented to the American Revolution Round Table of Fredericksburg on the topic of Revolutionary War Prisoners of War. Dr. Neal is currently working on preparing his dissertation on Civil War Prisoners of War for publication.

Dr. Neal lives in Stafford, VA with his wife, Helen, and their three dogs: Henry (a Golden Retriever/Pekingese mix), Otto (a Brittany Spaniel), and Blue (a Corgi mix).

John Harris, President

February 28, 2018

Topic: Ten-Year-Old Gilbert Van Zandt – Youngest Soldier in the Civil War

Speaker: Clint Van Zandt

Our vice president, Clint Van Zandt will present his ancestor, "Ten-Year-Old Gilbert Van Zandt – Youngest Soldier in the Civil War". Clint Van Zandt was with the FBI for 25 years where he served as a Supervisor with the FBI's internationally respected Behavioral Science or "Silence of the Lambs" Unit. He was also the FBI's Chief Hostage Negotiator and managed the FBI's Major Case/Crisis Management Program. Prior to this he was an Agent with U.S. Army Intelligence and is a Vietnam War veteran. He has been the primary hostage negotiator for numerous national and international kidnap and hostage situations and he has testified before the U.S. Senate. He managed both the FBI's Crisis Management and Major Case Management Programs and has assisted companies across the U.S. and around the globe with their Crisis Management and Violence in the Workplace Programs and regularly consults on these and other matters with such companies.

As an FBI Profiler and Hostage Negotiator, he personally negotiated with Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh in Waco, Texas and he has conducted negotiations that have brought about the release of hostages held by prison rioters, and kidnap victims held by both South American guerrillas and terrorists in the Philippines. He correctly profiled Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh on the day of that fateful bombing and also led the analytical team that helped to identify the "Unabomber."

A well-known author and television and radio commentator concerning crime and human behavior, he has made more television appearances than any other FBI Agent in history, to include over 3,000 national and international TV shows (NBC, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and NPR, etc.) and has appeared many times on programs such as The Today Show, Larry King Live, Dr. Phil, Fox and Friends, Charlie Rose, Inside Edition, Anderson Cooper 360, The NBC Nightly News, The View, Meet the Press, The O'Reilly Factor, Imus in the Morning, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and he has contributed to many print media and radio shows, to include the BBC. He is currently NBC/MSNBC TVs Chief On-air Criminal Analyst. His life and career were profiled in "The New Yorker Magazine" and Court TV aired a biography on his life (The Negotiator.)

Clint Van Zandt's newest book, "Facing down Evil, Life on the Edge as an FBI Hostage Negotiator," is available nationwide and has been published in a number of foreign languages, as a book on tape, and as a Reader's Digest Condensed Book. His book "Dynamic Processes of Crisis Negotiation," was awarded the 1998 Best Book Award by The International Association for Conflict Management. In addition to his weekly and sometimes daily television appearances, he also writes a weekly Internet column for that is read by a half a million viewers each week. Clint is an extremely popular corporate, social, and cruise ship lecturer. He has spoken before many diverse groups such as the U.S. Naval Academy, the American Psychological Association, and the American Society for Industrial Security, and at a number of major US and international institutes of higher education as well large fund raising, yearly corporate and other social events such as Chamber of Commerce, Crime Stoppers meetings and before major lecture organizations. He holds a bachelors, a masters and two doctorate academic degrees.

Clint's seminars, lectures and after dinner speeches are exciting, interesting, dynamic, educational and humorous at appropriate times, and he leaves his audiences with valuable insights and critical information that can help them better understand human behavior, and save their lives!

John Harris, President

March 28, 2018

Topic: War Comes to “Dear Old Ellwood”

Speaker: Carolyn Jones Elstner

Our March program is our sixth meeting of the 2017-2018 Program Year, which runs from September 2017 through June 2018. Carolyn Elstner is presenting "War Comes to Dear Old Ellwood”. Carolyn's undergraduate degree is in music from Sweet Briar College. She holds a master's degree in early childhood education from the University of Virginia. She is married to dentist Tom Elstner. They have two children, Meg (in Virginia) and Peter (in Oregon), and one grandchild. Carolyn has lived all but 14 years of her life in Fredericksburg. Growing up here she had two homes -- one in town and one in the Wilderness. Ellwood was her grandparents' farm. The family owned it from 1907 to 1977.

For 17 years Carolyn was volunteer director of Ellwood for the National Park Service. She oversaw the opening of Ellwood to the public, worked its grounds, trained its interpreters each year, and managed the restoration of the house to its Civil War appearance. Now she is president of the Fredericksburg Ladies' Memorial Association, which owns and maintains the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery. She considers this a natural progression from her Ellwood tenure. It was home to Horace and Betty Lacy for nearly sixty years. The Lacys were founders of the cemetery.

At the March 28th meeting of the CWRT of Fredericksburg, Carolyn will talk about her book,” Dear Old Ellwood”, published in November 2016. She will instruct that Ellwood's Civil War history is far more profound than General "Stonewall" Jackson's amputated left arm!

John Harris, President

April 25, 2018

Topic: Kill Jeff Davis: The Dahlgren-Kilpatrick Raid

Speaker: Bruce Venter

Our April program is our seventh meeting of the 2017-2018 Program Year, which runs from September 2017 through June 2018. Bruce Venter will present “Kill Jeff Davis: The Dahlgren-Kilpatrick Raid”.

Bruce’s major interest is Civil War cavalry with an emphasis on the career of Union general Judson Kilpatrick. He frequently lectures on the cavalry and has led bus tours on the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid, the focus of his book, Kill Jeff Davis. In 2012 he participated in a re-enactment of Dahlgren’s raid thru Goochland County where he rode with over 80 troopers for three days, serving as their historian. He is a past president of the Richmond Civil War Round Table and currently serves as first vice president of the Goochland County Historical Society.

He has published articles in Blue and Gray, Civil War, Patriots of the American Revolution, Goochland County Historical Society Magazine, Washington Times and numerous professional journals. He is also the author of The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America.

Venter spent 36 years in public education before his retirement, mostly as an assistant superintendent in school systems in New York, Virginia and Maryland. He holds a B.A. in history from Manhattan College and a master’s in public administration and doctorate in educational administration from the University at Albany.

Bruce Venter is president of America’s History, LLC, a tour and conference company which he founded in 2010. He lives in Goochland County, Virginia, with his wife Lynne and their beagle “Sally Seddon.”

John Harris, President

May 23, 2018

Topic: War on the Potomac

Speakers: Rob Orrison & Bill Backus

Our May program is our eighth meeting of the 2017-2018 Program Year, which runs from September 2017 through June 2018. Rob Orrison & Bill Backus will present “War on the Potomac”.

Robert Orrison received his Bachelor’s Degree in Historic Preservation at Longwood University and his Master’s Degree in Public History from George Mason University. He currently works as the Historic Site Operations Officer for Prince William County (VA). Rob serves as the Vice President of the Virginia Association of Museums, Treasurer of the Historic House Museum Consortium of Washington, D.C., Board Member of the Mosby Heritage Area Association and is on the Board of Civil War Trails. His two books, both in the Emerging Civil War Series, are “A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign” (2015) and “Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign” (2016).

Bill Backus is a native of Connecticut and graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Historic Preservation. Currently the manager of Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park, Bill has worked for the National Park Service at Vicksburg National Military Park and Petersburg National Battlefield. He currently resides in historic Brentsville, VA, with his wife Paige and their dog Barley.

John Harris, President

June 20, 2018

Topic: The Battle of Portland Harbor

Speakers: Ryan Quint, NPS

June 20th is our final meeting of the 2017-2018 Program Year. This month’s guest speaker, Ryan Quint will give his presentation on “the Battle of Portland Harbor”.

Ryan Quint graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a BA in History. Ryan's senior thesis on Lew Wallace and The Battle of Monocacy won him the History Department’s Joseph C. Vance Award for Excellence in Historical Research. This award is presented to the graduating senior whose thesis is judged to be the best for that year. Ryan lives in Fredericksburg and is currently a National Park Service Historian for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. His Civil War interests focus on the Union armies and Jubal Early’s 1864 invasion of Maryland. Ryan is a docent for the George Washington Foundation and author of the Emerging Civil War Series book "Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy".

John Harris, President
Civil War Round Table or Fredericksburg, Inc.

Civil War Round Table or Fredericksburg, Inc.
Civil War Round Table or Fredericksburg, Inc.
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