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Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg

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National Museum of the United States Army Symposium

October 8-10, 2020 National Museum of the United States Army History Symposium Join leading...
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2019 2020 Program Year

September 25, 2019

Topic: Confederate Defense of the Sunken Road

Speaker: Kevin Pawlak

Kevin seeks to answer questions about the Confederates in Antietam's Sunken Road, such as: was it actually a good defensive position?; why did the Confederate position fall?; did its fall mark a missed opportunity for the Army of the Potomac?; and what did the Confederates do to seal the hole in their line? In order to answer these questions, he looks at the topic from the perspectives of terrain, tactics, and the commanders and their personalities. Kevin also urges people to remember that this fight did not happen in a vacuum, and the field of action for the Sunken Road extends much farther beyond the road itself.

Kevin Pawlak is a Historic Site Manager for Prince William County's Historic Preservation Division and serves as a Certified Battlefield Guide at Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. He graduated from Shepherd University in 2014, majoring in History with a concentration in Civil War and 19th Century America and minoring in Historic Preservation. Kevin previously worked at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. He is on the Board of Directors for the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. He is also a regular contributor to the Emerging Civil War online blog. Kevin is currently working on a study of George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland Campaign. He is the author of three books, including To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862.

October 23, 2019

Topic: Memory of Self and Comrades Thomas Colley’s Recollections

Speaker: Michael K. Shaffer

Thomas W. Colley served in one of the most active and famous units in the Civil War, the 1st Virginia Cavalry, which fought in battles from First Manassas / Bull Run to the defense of Petersburg. In May 1861, along with the other members of the Washington Mounted Rifles, Colley left his home in Washington, Virginia and reported to camp in Richmond. During the war, he received wounds on three different occasions: first at Waterloo Bridge in 1862, again at Kelly’s Ford in 1863, and finally at Haw’s Shop in 1864. The wound received at Haw’s Shop resulted in the amputation of his left foot, thereby ending his wartime service.

Michael K. Shaffer is a Civil War Historian, instructor, lecturer, newspaper columnist, and author. He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and Georgia Writers Association. Shaffer teaches Civil War Courses at Kennesaw State University’s College of Professional Education and at Emory University. He frequently lectures to various groups across the country.

November 20, 2019

Topic: Becoming Lincoln

Speaker: Dr. William Freehling

Previous biographies of Abraham Lincoln―universally acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents―have typically focused on his experiences in the White House. In Becoming Lincoln, renowned historian Dr. William Freehling instead emphasizes the prewar years, revealing how Lincoln came to be the extraordinary leader who would guide the nation through its most bitter chapter.

Dr. Freehling focuses anew on Lincoln’s journey. He highlights Lincoln’s difficult family life, first with his father and later with his wife. We learn about the staggering number of setbacks and recoveries Lincoln experienced as well as his famous embodiment of the self-made man (although he sought and received critical help from others).

Dr. Freehling traces Lincoln from his tough childhood through incarnations as a bankrupt with few prospects, a superb lawyer, a canny two-party politician, a great orator, a failed state legislator, and a losing senatorial candidate, to a winning presidential contender and a besieged six weeks as a pre-war president. As Lincoln’s individual life unfolds, so does the American nineteenth century. Few great Americans have endured such pain but been rewarded with such success. Few lives have seen so much color and drama. Few mirror so uncannily the great themes of their own society. No one so well illustrates the emergence of our national economy and the causes of the Civil War.

January 22, 2020

Topic: U.S.Grant and the Battle of the Wilderness

Speaker: Ryan Longfellow

Often historians of the 19th and 20th centuries portrayed U.S. Grant as an unimaginative general who overcame his adversary by sheer force of numbers. Ryan Longfellow challenges that view. The focus of his talk will be to examine the Battle of the Wilderness, not as a battle of attrition, but instead as U.S. Grant's attempt to decisively defeat the Confederate army. We will look at the role he played in creating the overall plan, his insertion into the tactical operations of the battle, and the decisions he made that shaped the remainder of the Overland Campaign.

Ryan Longfellow works as a history teacher and chairs the social studies department at Spotsylvania (Virginia) Middle School. In 2015 he was chosen as the Spotsylvania County mentor teacher of the year and the 2019 Spotsylvania Middle School teacher of the year. For more than fifteen years, Ryan worked as a park guide at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, interpreting the battlefields of central Virginia, including the Wilderness.


February 26, 2020

Topic: Call Out the Cadets The Battle of New Market

Speaker: Sarah Kay Bierle

The Battle of New Market, fought May 15, 1864, was the only time in American military history when college student body fought as a independent unit in a full battle. For the young men from Virginia Military Institute (VMI), life would never be the same after their participation in a decisive victory for Confederate General John Breckinridge's gathered army in the Shenandoah Valley. But what happened to the cadets after the battle? This presentation traces the lives and experiences of several cadets through their days at VMI to the battlefield, and to their later careers as successful citizens who moved to California.

Sarah Kay Bierle serves on staff at Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, is the managing editor for Emerging Civil War’s blog, and hosts an annual Civil War conference in California. A graduate from Thomas Edison State University with a B.A. in History, she has spent the last few years researching, writing, and speaking about the American Civil War. Her fourth book "Call Out The Cadets" - a nonfiction study on the Battle of New Market released in Spring 2019. Sarah is currently pursuing research on Confederate artillery officers, Civil War civilians, and the Union II Corps.


March 25, 2020

Topic: Burying the Dead but not the Past- The Ladies Memorial Association"

Speaker: Dr. Caroline Janney

One hundred and forty years after the close of the Civil War, reminders of the Confederacy can be seen and in many ways felt in nearly every southern community. Rare is the southern town or city that cannot boast of a Confederate cemetery or, at the very least, a marble statue dedicated to its Confederate soldiers standing guard over the town square or courthouse lawn. Along with these physical reminders of the South’s history, numerous southern communities continue to observe many of the traditions put in place by the Ladies’ Memorial Associations (LMAS) in the 1860s.

Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor of the American Civil War and Director of the John L. Nau Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she worked as a historian for the National Park Service and taught at Purdue University.  An active public lecturer, she has given presentations at locations across the globe. She is a speaker with the Organization of American Historians’ Distinguished Lectureship program and a recipient of the Kenneth T. Kofmehl Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award from Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. She serves as a co-editor of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America Series and is the past president of the Society of Civil War Historians. She has published five books, most recently Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation and Petersburg to Appomattox: The End of the War in Virginia (both University of North Carolina Press).

Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg

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