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R.Danny Witt, President John M.Coski, editor 5500 Ashton Park Way 1201 E.Clay St. Glen Allen, VA 23059 Richmond, VA 23219 JANUARY 2000 PROGRAM ROBERT SCHNELLER Acting Ensign John W. Grattan, USN and the Experience of Naval Combat in the Civil War 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 11, 2000 Boulevard United Methodist Church 321 N. Boulevard (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.) Enter basement door from Boulevard side. In comparison with the mountain of literature on Civil War land campaigns, little is published about the naval history. To be sure, books abound on commerce raiders, ironclads and a familiar litany of battles: New Orleans, Forts Henry and Donelson, Vicksburg, Mobile Bay, and Fort Fisher. But little has been done on the lives of the common sailors and lower grade officers. Dennis Ringle's new book, Lift iii Mr. Lincoln's Navy (Naval Institute Press, 1998), has begun to redress the imbalance, but there are no naval counterparts to the works by Reid Mitchell, Gerald Linderman, Earl Hess, and other scholars on Civil War soldiers. Our first speaker of the new millennium will share the first fruits of his extensive research into the life of the common sailor. Robert J. Schneller began work in 1996 on the combat experiences of Civil War sailors. As lie sailed through manuscripts at the Library of Congress, he found a memoir written by John W. Grattan, who served as clerk and aide to the commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 1863-1865. Grattan's memoir called out for publication, and Schneller - and John Wiley & Sons - obliged. Under the Blue Pennant appeared in 1999. Schneller's talk to the Richmond Round Table is drawn from Grattan's memoir. Robert J. Schneller received his Ph.D. in military history from Duke University in 199 1. Since then, he has been employed as a historian in the Contemporary History Branch at the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C. He has co-authored a history of the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf War and written A Quest for Glory on the life of John Dahlgren. REVIEW OF NOVEMBER PROGRAM by R. Danny Witt U.S. Naval Academy and later to be buried there. Cushing's life and civil war exploits were the topics for Chris Fonvielle's November program. Appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1857 at the age of 14, Cushilig's frivolous attitude put him at odds with faculty members. Although intelligent, Cushing acquired numerous demerits for larking and visiting with classmates instead of studying, and, by 1861, the Academy had had enough. Just as he decided that the navy was for him, he was asked to resign. As fate would have it, Cushing was able to pull some strings and within a week of leaving the Academy he was appointed an acting master's mate in the expanded wartime U.S. Navy. Cushing entered the war with the determination to either make a name for himself or die trying. Fonvielle noted that the word "commando" was not in use during the Civil War, but Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter insightfullv described Cushing as a "freelance." Most of what Cushing is known for occurred in the months that he served with the blockade fleet off of Wilmington, N.C. and Fort Fisher. After a reconnaissance mission Cushing hoped to lead an invasion to capture Bald Head Island, but was denied the opportunity by his commander. Cushing vowed to have a Confederate officer attend breakfast with him in a few days. Slipping into Smithfield under the cover of darkness, he attempted to capture Brig. Gen. Louis Hebert, but found him away at Wilmington. He instead came away with Hebert's chief engineer, Capt. Patrick Kelly, leaving a note on the genet-al's bed that said "Sorry you were not home when I called." Cushing is best known for his attack of October -18, 1864 on the CSS.41bettiarle at Plymouth, North Carolina, when he and fourteen volunteers successfully detonated a spar torpedo beneath the Confederate ironclad. Cushing alone survived the attack and escaped capture. Often called the "bravest of the brave" or the "darling of the navy," he did not always succeed with his mission, but he always returned. He earned the thanks from the navy five times and the U.S. Congress once during the Civil War. After the war Cushing seemed lost as he was posted in the Pacific, Boston and finally Washington D.C., where his life ended prematurely. At age 31 he was confined in the Government Hospital for the Insane where he died. Thirteen years after leaving, the U.S. Naval Academy, Cushing was buried on a prominent hill with full military honors. REVIEW OF DECEMBER PROGRAM by R. Danny Witt The annual Christmas dinner offered the RCWRT an appropriately prestigious final speaker of its first millennium: William C.(Jack) Davis spoke to a group of about seventy people on the subject of his latest book, Lincoln's Men: How President Lincoln Became a Father to an Army and a Nation. Among President Abraham Lincoln's primary boyhood readings was The Life of' Washington, a book that presented George Washington as a father figure to his troops during the Revolutionary War. Lincoln understood that, like Washington, he had to win the personal loyalty of the Union soldier. His first attempt came early in the war when he greeted the soldiers who arrived by ships and trains in Washington D.C. He was often accompanied by his wife and children and he would do such a simple thing as share a cup or gourd of water with them. Throughout the war, Lincoln reviewed the army and opened the White House a few times a week to meet the public and the soldiers. Often the visitor would come away thinking, "That the most powerful man on the face of the earth was interested in me and what I had to say. Often Lincoln would sit next to the person with a hand on his knee and listen to what he had to say." Our speaker compared this to the biblical laying on of hands. After all, this was "Father Abraham." Further revealing Lincoln's kindness to his citizen soldiers was his intervention in the courts martial that were brought before him. He often spared the lives of condemned soldiers. Lincoln's motto was "fair play is a jewel." He believed in the aphorism that shooting a man never made him a better man. Some of the crises that Lincoln faced during the war were the loss at First Bull Run, the Emancipation Proclamation, the raising of black troops, and conscription act. Through all of these Lincoln always made the soldier feel like he was on his side. After an inter-view In 1 864 one soldier wrote home "I think lie belongs to the common man." "Father Abraham" took care of those that took care of the government by initiating veteran hospitals, programs for care of the disabled, pensions, and orphan homes. By the end of the war, Lincoln had truly become one of the men in blue by inspiring them to come forward and save the Union. H.E.F. "Hef" FERGUSON, 1942-1999 One of our most loyal members died suddenly on November 15. Recognizable by his white mustache, impeccable bow tie, trusty cane, and unflagging good humor, Hef was a fixture among the front row rowdies. A proud graduate of Hargrave Military Academy, a captain in the U.S. Air Force, and a career banker with Crestar Bank, Hef was also active in many civic, patriotic, and historical organizations. He was commander of the James Longstreet Camp, SCV. The front row will not be the same without him. RCWRT Officers for 2000 President: R. Danny Witt 1st Vice President: William S. "Sam" Craghead 2nd Vice President: Clarke Lewis Secretary: Sandy Parker Treasurer: Gus Faeder Newsletter Editor: John Coski Past Presidents on Executive Committee: Jack Ackerly, Scott Mauger, Jerry Netherland IMPORTANT REMINDER: Dues must be paid by January 31, 2000.