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William “Extra Billy” Smith, the oldest and one of the most controversial Confederate generals on the field at Gettysburg, was also one of the most colorful and charismatic characters of the Civil War and the antebellum Old South. Known nationally as “Extra Billy” because of his prewar penchant for finding loopholes in government postal contracts to gain extra money for his stagecoach lines, Smith served as Virginia’s governor during both the War with Mexico and the Civil War, served five terms in the U.S. Congress, and was one of Virginia’s leading spokesmen for slavery and States’ Rights. Extra Billy’s extra-long speeches and wry sense of humor were legendary among his peers. A lawyer during the heady Gold Rush days, Smith made a fortune in California and, like his income earned from stagecoaches, quickly lost it.Find out more »
Scott Schroeder, Monroe County CWRT: The Find of the War: Lee’s Lost Order, the 27th Indiana, and the Road to Antietam
It was the single bloodiest day in American history. This lecture discusses the people and places associated with the lost order as well as explores the questions: “Who lost the order – or was it lost?”, “Who found the order?”, and “What were the cascade of events that occurred as a result of the lost order being found?” among others.Find out more »
This presentation covers the genesis, the preparation, the promulgation, the interpretations and the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation, perhaps the strangest document in American history. Discussed are the moral imperatives that inspired the war measure as well as the more concrete motives of preventing foreign intervention in the war and depleting Southern manpower—the engine that drove the Southern economy—and, the opposite side of the same coin, increasing Northern manpower, especially in Union armies. Also discussed are the Thirteenth Amendment and how the two documents were viewed by later generations of African-Americans.Find out more »
The May meeting of the Round Table welcomed back to the podium Wayne Motts, chief executive officer of the National Civil War Museum. Wayne and his colleague, James A. Hessler, have written a new battlefield guide Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg: A Guide to the Most Famous Attack in American History. Wayne was prepared to tell us everything we wanted to know, and in some cases to disabuse us of things we thought we knew, about that singular event. It is…Find out more »
The timing could not have been better for a 23 year old military man to write his name into the history books. On June 29, 1863, George Custer was promoted to Brigadier General and placed in command of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. Without doubt Custer took advantage of that opportunity before, during, and after the Battle of Gettysburg. Within sixteen days of almost continual fighting Custer's Wolverine brigade would fight at Hanover, Hunterstown, East Cavalry Field, Monterey Pass, Hagerstown, Williamsport, and Falling Waters. This presentation explores not only the numerous engagements of the brigade, but also the reactions of Michigan Cavalry troopers to their youthful and newly appointed young commander.Find out more »
The USS Isaac P. Smith was a Union gunboat ambushed by Confederate shore batteries and captured on the Stono River near Charleston on January 30, 1863. Although the US Navy lost other ships due to battle and capture during the war, the Smith was the only one captured by Confederate field batteries and used against the Union. This presentation tells the story of the battle and the history of the Smith leading up to its capture, offers an account of the crew’s captivity, and describes the lives of its Executive Officer and Paymaster before and after the war.Find out more »
Wayne K. Durrill, University of Cincinnati: War of Another Kind: A Southern Community in the Great Rebellion
This talk will describe in graphic detail the disintegration, during the Civil War, of Southern plantation society in a North Carolina coastal county. He will detail the struggles among planters, slaves, yeoman farmers, and landless white laborers, as well as a guerrilla war and a clash between two armies that, in the end, destroyed all that remained of the county's social structure. He will examine the failure of a planter-yeoman alliance, and discusses how yeoman farmers and landless white laborers allied themselves against planters, but to no avail. He will also show how slaves, when refugeed upcountry, tried unsuccessfully to reestablish their prerogatives--a subsistence, as well as protection from violence--owed them as a minimal condition of their servitude.Find out more »
Civil War sailors and officers operated in a much different environment than soldiers, living for months at a time in claustrophobic conditions on ships. Ocean going sailors flirted with acrophobia when setting sails on 150 foot masts. Unlike the Army, the Navy had been integrated since the 1830’s and gave African-Americans equal pay and equal justice. This talk will explore how courage and leadership were recognized. The efforts of 17 Midwestern naval personnel were recognized by naming ships for them to inspire future generations of sailors. Their WWII namesakes performed deeds of valor in combat. Come to learn the differences and the contributions of sailors to Civil War results.Find out more »
Ted Savas, El Dorado Hills, CA: Topic: The War Outside my Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Gresham, 1860-1865
An in-depth discussion about how one of the most important Civil War Diaries was found, how it came to be published, the genius of the young teenager who wrote it, and the amazing insights we gain from it. LeRoy Wiley Gresham was born in 1847 to an affluent slave-holding family in Macon, Georgia. After a horrific leg injury left him an invalid, the educated, inquisitive, perceptive, and exceptionally witty 12-year-old began keeping a diary in 1860--just as secession and the Civil War began tearing the country and his world apart. He continued to write even as his health deteriorated until both the war and his life ended in 1865. The War Outside My Window captures the spirit and the character of a young privileged white teenager witnessing the demise of his world even as his own body slowly failed him.Find out more »
A string of battlefield victories through 1862 had culminated in the spring of 1863 with Lee’s greatest victory yet: the battle of Chancellorsville. Propelled by the momentum of that supreme moment, confident in the abilities of his men, Lee decided to once more take the fight to the Yankees and launched this army on another invasion of the North. An appointment with destiny awaited in the little Pennsylvania college town of Gettysburg.
Historian Dan Welch follows in the footsteps of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac as the two foes cat-and-mouse their way northward, ultimately clashing in the costliest battle in North American history.
Based on the Gettysburg Civil War Trails, and packed with dozens of lesser-known sites related to the Gettysburg Campaign, The Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign offers the ultimate Civil War road trip.Find out more »