R.Danny Witt, President John M.Coski, editor 5500 Ashton Park Way 1201 E.Clay St. Glen Allen, VA 23059 Richmond, VA 23219 MARCH 2000 PROGRAM Steven H. Newton Defending Richmond: Joseph E. Johnston and the Last Ditch 8:00 p.m., Tuesdav, March 14, 2000 Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.) Enter basement door from Boulevard side. Dr. Steven Newton is a career NCO in the Virginia Army National Guard, as well as professor of history at Delaware State University. He received his B.A. in history at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina, his M.A. in history from James Madison University, and his Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary. His doctoral dissertation on Joseph E. Johnston and the defense of Richmond was published last year by the University of Kansas Press. He also wrote the volume on the battle of Seven Pines in the H. E. Howard campaigns and battles series. He is finishing a new book concerning the Confederate army in 1864. His article, "'Formidable only in Flight?': Casualties, Attrition, and Morale in Georgia," which continues his review of Joseph Johnston's generalship, appears in the current issue of North & South magazine. In addition to his work on the Civil War, he has written several books and articles on the Russian front during World War II. Review of February Program By Sam Craghead Mark Ragan, author of Union and Confederate Submarine Warfare in the Civil War is one of the divers working on raising the H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship during a war, and has dived on the Hunley's victim, the U.S.S. Housatonic. Although the story of Hunley is reasonably well known, there is an almost unknown story of all of the other submarines and their use by both the Union and Confederate forces during the war. This is the story Mark Ragan has to tell. The Alligator was the first commissioned submarine in the U.S. Navy, and was built for the purpose of attacking the C.S.S. Virginia. She was towed to Hampton Roads in June, 1862 -- after the threat of the Virginia no longer existed -to be used to clear obstructions in the James River, especially at Drewry's Bluff, and to operate against the bridge over the Appomattox River, which was important for the Confederate forces to receive supplies. The federal submarine never had the chance to attack the bridge or obstructions because the Seven Days Battles kept the Union navy employed helping McClellan's Army of the Potomac. The Alligator was taken back north and placed under the command of Lt. Thomas O. Selfridge. Lt. Selfridge conducted trials with the submarine, initiating many improvements on the vessel. Ironically, Lt. Selfridge was transferred to the west and placed in command of the U.S.S. Cairo, which later became the first union warship to be sunk by a Confederate torpedo (mine). Although various plans and vessels were submitted to the U.S. Navy during the war, no evidence exists that the federal navy employed other submarines in action. On the other hand, because of the encouragement of the far-sighted navy secretary, Stephen Mallory, the Confederates turned to the submarine as a means to lift the blockade of southern ports. Besides the Hunley, Confederates may have built as many as two-dozen of the underwater vessels. They were operating all along the southern coast as well as two being built at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, which may have seen action in Hampton roads. Richmond was also the location of the Triton Company, which was engaged in building submarines for the Confederacy. Another group of Southerners encouraged to experiment with submarine technology was the Singer Secret Service Corps. Edward Singer's group also supported the work of H. L. Hunley and the group of engineers building submarines. The Hunley was actually the third submarine built by Hunley, James McClintock, and Baxter Watson. The Pioneer was built in New Orleans but did not see action before the city was surrendered to federal forces. The group then moved operations to Mobile, where they built the Pioneer II, which sunk in Mobile Bay, possibly while attempting to make an attack against union ships. There were numerous fascinating ideas in conjunction with the submarine construction by both governments. These included a means to purify air, periscopes, the ability to leave a submerged vessel using "submarine armor," and "submarine cannon." No summary can do justice to this talk and the subject. I refer everyone in the Round Table to the books that Mr. Ragan has written on the subject. Ragan's story is an unfolding one. He will be one of the divers present when the Hunley is raised later this year, and he is also conducting more extensive research on Civil War submarines for the Hunley Commission. Announcements _____________ Round Table members have rediscovered the announcements page, and it looks like it is going to be a busy spring. __________________________ Celebrate South Ball. There are (as of March 1) still tickets left for The Museum of the Confederacy's popular annual fund-raising ball, which this year honors Robert E. Lee. The ball is Saturday, March 18, and tickets are $79 per person. For details about the ball and other events of the weekend, call Sarah Meadows Brown at (804) 649-1861, Ext 43. __________________________ Douglas Southall Freeman Lectures. The University of Richmond's annual Freeman chair public lectures will be held on Thursdays, March 16 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Keller Hall. Dr. William J. Cooper, of Louisiana State University, whose biography of Jefferson Davis will be published by Knopf later this year, will speak on "Jefferson Davis and the Politics of Secession" and "Jefferson Davis and the Politics of Confederate Command." __________________________ Bud Robertson speaks! The Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association is hosting a dinner forum featuring James I. "Bud" Robertson, Jr., speaking on "Why the Civil War Still Lives." The event will be on Thursday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Koger Center. Tickets are $25 per person and include dinner. Reservations are required. Call Marissa Erpelding at (804) 786-8111 no later than March 23. __________________________ Pamplin Historical Park Anniversary Weekend. Commemorating the events of the Petersburg breakthrough, Pamplin Park is featuring a weekend of infantry and artillery demonstrations, soldier and civilian living history, live Civil War music, lectures, and guided tours of the battlefield and antebellum home on April 1-2. Call (804) 861-2408 or (toll free) 1-877-PAMPLIN. __________________________ Lectures on Robert E. Lee. The Museum of the Confederacy's annual Evening Series Lectures will explore the life and career of Robert E. Lee. The first lecture (April 5) is a panel discussion on Lee's generalship featuring Bevin Alexander, Gary Gallagher, Joseph Harsh, and Alan Nolan; the second (April 12) is R.E.L. Krick speaking on Lee's military staff; the third (April 19) is Emory M. Thomas on "the burdens of the Lee biographer." Each lecture will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Library of Virginia auditorium, 800 E. Broad St. and costs $5 per person (Museum members are free). Reservations are necessary. Call (804) 649-1861, x10. __________________________ Appomattox Court House National Historical Park anniversary commemoration. The 135th anniversary of the Appomattox surrender appropriately falls on a Sunday, and the national park has a full weekend of programs on April 8-9. The events include talks and tours by Park historians Ron Wilson and Chris Calkins, living history presentations, and book signings by Chris Calkins and Patrick Schroeder (author of several books on the myths of the surrender). All programs will begin at the park visitor center. For more information call (804) 352-8987, ext. 26, for details. __________________________ Appomattox / Civil War seminar at Longwood College. Also in commemoration of the Appomattox anniversary, the Appomattox park and Longwood College are sponsoring a free full day seminar on Saturday, April 15 featuring James I. "Bud" Robertson, Brian Steele Wills, William Marvel, William C. "Jack" Davis, and David Coles. The seminar will be held in Wygal Hall, on Pine Street (parking is available at the Winn Building) on the Longwood campus. While seminar is free, seating is limited to the first 195 people. __________________________ Lee's Retreat bus tour. Chris Calkins, of the Petersburg National Battlefield, and Ron Wilson, of Appomattox National Historical Site, will lead a tour of sites associated with Lee's retreat, including Sailor's Creek, Farmville, Cumberland Church, and Appomattox Court House, on Saturday, May 13. The tour costs $40, which includes a lunch and two guide books. For information and reservations, call Dana at (804) 352-2136. __________________________ Wilson's Wharf / Fort Pocahontas battle reenactment. Sherwood Forest Plantation is holding the third annual reenactment of the battle of Wilson's Wharf on the weekend of May 20-21. The event commemorates the largest Civil War battle on Charles City County soil and features tours of a pristine, little-known field fortification. The events include (on Saturday) tactical demonstrations and battle reenactment, a pig roast on the banks of the James, an evening lantern tour, and final artillery fire; and (on Sunday) more military demonstrations and a battle reenactment. The fee for Saturday is $8 per adult, $5 per student; pig roast is $10 per person plus tax; lantern tour is $5/$4; fee for entire day is $20 per adult, plus tax. Call Kay Tyler at (804) 829-5377 for details.