Monday, April 9, 2018

Gordon’s Flank Attack: Lost Opportunity in the Wilderness

Announcing Our 528th Meeting
Date: Saturday, April 14

Gordon’s Flank Attack: Lost Opportunity in the Wilderness

         Presented by Greg Mertz

We welcome back Greg Mertz, who serves as the supervisory historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  He has been our guide on several of our field trips to eastern battlefields and has spoken at our meetings before as well.  Greg Mertz was born and raised near St. Louis, Missouri.  His interest in the Civil War began and grew out of annual hiking and camping trips the scout troop made to the Shiloh, Tennessee battlefield every spring.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a master’s from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.  His 37 year career with the National Park Service began with four years at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site followed by 33 years at Fredericksburg.  He has written four feature articles for Blue and Gray Magazine on the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House and has an upcoming book in the Emerging Civil War Series titled Attack at Daylight and Whip Them: The Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862.

       Gordon’s Flank Attack: Lost Opportunity in the Wilderness

The final attack during the May 5-6, 1864 Battle of the Wilderness, was not simply a small portion of the first showdown between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.  For Confederate General John B. Gordon, of whom the attack is named, the dusk attack was a lost opportunity – and one of several such chances blown by the Confederates that he observed during the course of the war.   Gordon felt that the situation in the Wilderness was similar to a missed opportunity he had experienced at Gettysburg, as well as a pair of other prime chances the Confederates had during subsequent battles later in 1864.  In addition to observing similarities among the several lost opportunities, Gordon also noticed parallels in the decision-making process for the attacks that failed to accomplish all that Gordon felt the Confederates could have achieved.  Some combination of Generals Gordon, Richard S. Ewell and Jubal A. Early were involved in the discussions regarding lost opportunities, and Gordon blamed these superiors for failing to make attacks that did not reach their potential.  We will examine how Gordon’s Flank Attack in the Wilderness tells us about more than just a sliver of the battle, but illuminates our understanding of the inner workings of a key portion of the Army of Northern Virginia.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

American Civil War Monuments
Abraham Lincoln
Richmond, Knoxville and Vicksburg

Only 3 statues of Abraham Lincoln are to be found in the 11 states which made up the Confederacy.

 Photos and text courtesy of LCWRT Member Charlie Moore

This statue of Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad is located at the Tredegar Iron Works, National Historic Landmark in Richmond, Virginia.  Tredegar was the largest provider of armaments for the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Protests against the monument took place during its dedication April 4, 2003.

This statue of Lincoln stands at the entrance to Lincoln Memorial University which is located in Harrogate, Tennessee.  The school is located 80 miles north of Knoxville in the Cumberland Gap area.  The university was chartered by the State of Tennessee on February 12, 1897.

The third statue is located at the Vicksburg National Military Park and was covered on this blog on 2/15/2018: 
"The Kentucky Memorial was dedicated October 20, 2001, and features bronze statues of United States President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis who were both native Kentuckians.  The memorial symbolizes the division within Kentucky during the Civil War as well as the reunification of the state and country afterward. " 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Announcing Our 527th Meeting
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2018

C.S.A. Gen. Ben Hardin Helm and Emilie Todd Helm
Presented by Stuart W. Sanders

Stuart W. Sanders will speak about the remarkable lives of Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm and his wife, Emilie Todd Helm. After General Helm was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga, Emilie—the sister of Mary Todd Lincoln—visited the White House where she grieved the loss of her husband with the Union commander-in-chief. Sanders will discuss these two Kentuckians and the controversy of Emilie—a rebel widow—visiting Washington, DC.  Sanders is the author of the e-book, Lincoln’s Confederate Little Sister: Emilie Todd Helm. He has also written an essay about General Helm that just appeared in volume four of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, published by the University of Tennessee Press.

Stuart W. Sanders is the former executive director of the Perryville Battlefield Preservation Association. As director, he worked for nearly 10 years to preserve and interpret Kentucky’s largest Civil War battleground before coming to the Kentucky Historical Society. He oversees community field services and as History Advocate, Stuart brings his experiences as a preservationist, interpreter, outreach specialist, author and speaker to his current duties, communicating the relevance, value and significance of Kentucky’s history. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and completed Developing History Leaders @SHA.  

Stuart W. Sanders is the author of three books, including Perryville Under Fire: The Aftermath of Kentucky’s Largest Civil War Battle, The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky, and Maney’s Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville. He has also contributed essays to the books Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State, multiple volumes of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, and multiple volumes of the forthcoming Confederate Generals in the Trans Mississippi. He has written essays and articles for publications, including Civil War Times Illustrated, America’s Civil War, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Hallowed Ground, Blue and Gray, Kentucky Humanities, Kentucky Ancestors, The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Encyclopedia Virginia, and more.

Monday, February 19, 2018

American Civil War Monuments
Kentucky Memorialization at Vicksburg
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg, Mississippi

 Photos and text courtesy of LCWRT Member Charlie Moore

The Kentucky Memorial was dedicated October 20, 2001, and features bronze statues of United States President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis who were both native Kentuckians.  The memorial symbolizes the division within Kentucky during the Civil War as well as the reunification of the state and country afterward.  After Kentucky erected this state monument, the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Kentucky decided they needed to erect a monument to only the Confederate forces from the state who served at Vicksburg.  It was dedicated May 8, 2010.


The Lincoln/Davis Statue was done by Gary Casteel who also did the Longstreet equestrian statue at Gettysburg, which may be seen on the October 25, 2016 blog.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Announcing Our 526th Meeting
DATE: Saturday, February 10
PROGRAM: 8:00 P.M.

The Battle and Legacy of Missionary Ridge
Presented by Christopher L. Kolakowski

We welcome back former member and LCWRT President Chris Kolakowski to our February meeting.  Chris was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. He received his BA in History and Mass Communications from Emory & Henry College, and his MA in Public History from the State University of New York at Albany.  

Chris has spent his career interpreting and preserving American military history with the National Park Service, New York State government, the Rensselaer County (NY) Historical Society, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Kentucky State Parks, and the U.S. Army. He has written and spoken on various aspects of military history from 1775 to the present. He has published two books with the History Press: The Civil War at Perryville: Battling For the Bluegrass and The Stones River and Tullahoma Campaign: This Army Does Not Retreat. In September 2016, the U.S. Army published his volume on the 1862 Virginia Campaigns as part of its sesquicentennial series on the Civil War. He is a contributor to the Emerging Civil War Blog, and his study of the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign titled Last Stand on Bataan was released by McFarland in late February 2016. He is currently working on a book about the 1944 India-Burma Campaigns scheduled for release in 2020.
Chris came to Norfolk having served as Director of the General George Patton Museum and Center of Leadership in Fort Knox, KY from 2009 to 2013. He became the MacArthur Memorial Director on September 16, 2013 where he currently serves.

The Battle and Legacy of Missionary Ridge

The capture of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863 was a turning point in the Civil War, and capped a series of battles that left the Union in undisputed control of the key city of Chattanooga. The actions of an 18-year-old lieutenant in the 24th Wisconsin, Arthur MacArthur, at this battle would reverberate far beyond southeastern Tennessee. In some ways, the foundation of the MacArthur military dynasty occurred on the slopes of Missionary Ridge. Other echoes of the battle can be heard even today. The talk will discuss the battle, its impact on the Civil War, and its enduring legacies.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Announcing Our 525th Meeting
The Twenty-Second Annual Frank G. Rankin Memorial Lecture
DATE: Saturday, January 20                       
PROGRAM: 8:00 P.M.

  “Barren Victory: Who Won the Battle of Chickamauga?”

Presented by David A. Powell

As the sun rose over the battlefield of Chickamauga on September 21, 1863, the Confederate Army of Tennessee discovered that it had won a great – if costly – victory. It was the first such clear-cut success ever achieved by that army, after the bitter disappointments of Shiloh, Perryville, and Murfreesboro. But as the days passed, that triumph appeared less and less substantial.  And, despite having left the field to their foe, the Union Army of the Cumberland did not feel they had lost. Despite tactical disaster, they still held the objective of the campaign: Chattanooga. So who were the real winners and losers of Chickamauga? 

Historian and author David A. Powell returns to the Round Table and just in time to speak on the Battle of Chickamauga, our 2018 Spring Field Trip destination. David Powell is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (1983) with a BA in history. He has published numerous articles in various magazines, and more than fifteen historical simulations of different battles.

For the past decade, David’s focus has been on the epic battle of Chickamauga, and he is nationally recognized for his tours of that important battlefield. The result of that study are the volumes, The Maps of Chickamauga (2009), Failure in the Saddle (2010), and the three volumes of a Chickamauga trilogy. The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle was published in 2014, The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave appeared in 2015; and the final volume, The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory, was published in 2016.  He is also a contributor to the Emerging Civil War blog.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

American Civil War Battlefields
Burnside Bridge
Antietam National Battlefield
Sharpsburg, MD

Photo Courtesy of LCWRT Member Paul Fridell

One of the serenest spots today on a Civil War Battlefield, Burnside Bridge built in 1836, was originally known as Lower Bridge or Rohrbach's Bridge.  Sept. 17, 1862, Antietam Creek was the site where Maj. General Ambrose Burnside’s Union Ninth Corps attempted to move forward across the creek, where the difficulties of the terrain and a small but dedicated Confederate force offset Burnside's numerical advantage. It took 3 hours to capture the crossing and another 2 hours to cross and begin the last attack on the Confederate right flank Confederate reinforcements arrived and counter attacked. 

Unions casualties were more than 500 Union troops had been killed or wounded.