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January 2009 Program Dr. Ethan S. Rafuse "The Seven Days of Battle and Their Long Shadow: The Union Perspective on the 1862 Fight for Richmond" 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at the Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard, Richmond, VA (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.) Enter the basement door on the right side under the front steps. The Seven Days Battles were a critical turning point in the Union war effort. The failure to capture Richmond shattered Northern faith in Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's vision that the combination of a lenient policy toward Southern property and a single, decisive campaign against Richmond from the Peninsula would bring a quick end to the Civil War. In the weeks following the Seven Days Battles, Washington avoided both elements of McClellan's strategic vision. The U.S. Congress passed a sweeping Confiscation Act and Abraham Lincoln drafted the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to end a policy of conciliation toward the rebels. At our January meeting, Dr. Ethan Rafuse will look at the Union high command during the Peninsula Campaign and Seven Days Battles and the decisions that shaped its performance. The presentation, the second in our Seven Days Battles series, will focus on the strategic and operational vision that guided McClellan's conduct of operations and how the course and outcome of events affected the Union war effort in 1862 and beyond. Dr. Ethan S. Rafuse has served as a park ranger and taught military history at the U.S. Military Academy. He is currently on the staff of the Department of Military History, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He lectures and conducts tours including field research for staff ride guides, and he is widely published on Civil War topics.
RCWRT Officers for the New Year At the December meeting of the Richmond Civil War Round Table, the 2009 officer slate was approved by the members: Ed Wooldridge (President) Davis Wrinkle (1st Vice President) David Whitehead (2nd Vice President) Sandy Parker (Secretary) Richard Grosse (Treasurer) Gary Cowardin (Webmaster) Rob Monroe (Newsletter Editor) At our January meeting we will be voting for the three members of our executive committee.
Membership Dues for 2009 Though you may find yourself writing "2008" on checks and letters for the next several weeks, a quick glance at the calendar will reveal that it is indeed 2009. With the new year comes the opportunity to renew membership in the Richmond Civil War Round Table. We have an exciting line-up of speakers for 2009 featuring some of America's most respected historians. We hope you will support the RCWRT by renewing your membership at this time. By paying your dues you enable the Round Table to continue to present the enlightening and entertaining programs we've enjoyed in the past. Please select a membership category from the list below. The Sustaining Member category is an entirely voluntary option for those members who choose to increase their support of our organization. As in years past, the Ides of March (March 15) is the deadline for payment of dues. Select one category: > $50 - Sustaining member (voluntary) > $35 - Resident member > $45 - Resident couple > $20 - Non-resident member (50+ miles outside of Richmond) > $25 - Non-resident couple > $20 - Senior member (65 and older with at least 10 years of membership) > $25 - Senior couple > $20 - Student member (age 13-17) You may make your payment at the January meeting or mail your check to: Sandy Parker, RCWRT Secretary P.O. Box 37052 Richmond, VA 23234 Thank you for your continued support of the Richmond Civil War Round Table!
Historians Oppose Walmart at Wilderness Battlefield In a letter to Walmart President and CEO Lee Scott, 253 historians from throughout the country urge the retail giant to reconsider plans to build a 138,000 square-foot supercenter immediately adjacent to the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County. A formal application for the project was filed on December 5. Among the signers are some of the most prominent historians in America, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David M. McCullough; James McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom; Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns; respected Virginia educators and authors William C. Davis, Gary Gallagher and James I. "Bud" Robertson, the authors of dozens of Civil War titles; and Edwin C. Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service. Historians and preservationists fear that if the Walmart is built, it will increase traffic and greatly encourage further development in the region. In the letter to Walmart, the 253 co-signing historians pronounce the Wilderness to be a "unique historical and cultural treasure deserving careful stewardship" before declaring it "an indelible part of our history, its very ground hallowed by the American blood spilled there." The letter concludes with a request for Walmart to "identify a site that would meet its needs without changing the very character of the battlefield" and move the store farther away from the National Military Park. "Civil War battlefields are wonderfully evocative places," noted Gallagher, Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia and the author of numerous books on the subject. "We should preserve and protect these national treasures, including gateway areas that shield historic ground from encroaching development that often degrades the experience of citizens seeking a better understanding of the American past." Gordon Rhea, author of The Battle of the Wilderness and In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee: The Wilderness through Cold Harbor, disputes any claim that the ground Walmart is eying lacks historic significance. "The proposed Walmart site lies near the intersection of the wartime Germanna Plank Road and the Orange Turnpike," he said. "This was the nerve center of the Union army. This land served as the heart of the Union Fifth Corps' encampments and lies within the shadow of Grant's and Meade's headquarters. It is truly hallowed ground." Bearss added, "There are plenty of other places to build a Walmart. The intersection of the old Germanna Plank Road (modern Route 3) and the historic Orange Turnpike is key to understanding the battle and how it developed. The addition of a new Walmart store in an area already served by other branches of the same chain, would lead to a further and irreparable degradation of an historic site of national significance." "The Wilderness Battlefield is the biggest tourist destination in Orange County," remarked Craig Rains of the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield. "A store this large, set amid a nearly pristine rural landscape, threatens to overshadow the experience of the tens of thousands of visitors who come to the battlefield each year. Moving the store, even just a short distance, can prevent that." Although many individual historians have previously voiced opposition to Walmart's Wilderness proposal, such a large and diverse group uniting in this cause demonstrates how important the Wilderness is to our nation's heritage, noted Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History (NCH), one of the eight groups making up the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, which circulated the letter.
Upcoming Events Saturday, January 17 "Picks and Shovels -- Fortifications in the Siege of Petersburg." Explore Civil War fortifications around Richmond and Petersburg during this daylong (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) caravan tour offered by the National Park Service and Petersburg National Battlefield. Discover the military engineering that was involved in creating siege and defense lines. The tour leaves from the battlefield's Eastern Front. For reservations please call Randy Watkins at (804) 732-3531 ext. 205. The deadline for reserving a space is January 15. There is a $5 vehicle entrance fee. Thursday, January 22 "Civil War Richmond in 3-D" at the Museum of the Confederacy. Civil War historian and RCWRT member Mike Gorman will present a new program featuring 3-D images of Richmond in 1865. Thanks to modern technology and the Library of Congress, these images can now be seen as they were originally intended, in three-dimension. Event begins at 7 p.m. and is free to museum members, $5 for non-members. Reservations are required. Non-members, please contact Linda Lipscomb at (804) 649-1861 ext. 32 to pay ahead. Friday, January 30 "Music in Times of Civil Unrest." Inspired by the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, the Richmond Symphony presents an evening of music that has figured prominently in times of war and civil unrest. Compositions of consolation, propaganda, historical interest, anger, and peace have been assembled for this concert as an homage to Lincoln. Begins at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Richmond's Modlin Center for the Arts. Tickets are free but required and may be reserved two weeks before the event by calling (804) 289-8980. Saturday, February 7 "1865 Battles Around Petersburg." This caravan tour begins at the Eastern Front Unit of Petersburg National Battlefield. The focus of the tour will be the sites where the final battles for Petersburg occurred in 1865. The results of these battles would not only lead to the fall of Petersburg but also the fall of Richmond. There is a $5 vehicle entrance fee. For reservations or information contact Grant Gates at (804) 732-3531 ext. 202.
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2009
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Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Rob Monroe, Editor 2416 Edenbrook Dr. Richmond, VA 23228-3040