First Vice President: Rob Monroe, Editor
Richard Forrester 2416 Edenbrook Dr.
Second Vice President: Richmond, VA 23228-3040
Shep Parsons RMonroe500@comcast.net
March 2005 PROGRAM
Stephen W. Sears
8:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2005, 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.
Stephen W. Sears worked for American Heritage Publishing
for 24 years, most of that time as a book editor. He has
written or edited a dozen books on the Civil War, including
a biography of General George McClellan (George B.
McClellan: The Young Napoleon) and an edition of his papers
(The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan: Selected
Correspondence, 1860-1865); and campaign histories of the
Peninsula (To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula
Campaign); Antietam/Sharpsburg (Landscape Turned Red: The
Battle of Antietam); Chancellorsville; and most recently,
Praised by the New York Times Book Review as "arguably the
preeminent living historian of the war's eastern theater,"
Mr. Sears has won numerous awards including three Fletcher
Pratt Awards from the New York Civil War Round Table (for
Chancellorsville, Antietam and Gettysburg). He makes his
home in Connecticut.
March 15th is the final deadline to pay your Richmond Civil
War Round Table dues for 2005. If you have not already done
so, please come prepared to pay your dues at the March
meeting. Thank you!
A great crowd turned out in Feburary meeting to hear 'Bud" speak!
Summary of the February Meeting
At the February meeting of the Richmond Civil War Round
Table, Shep Parsons introduced our speaker, Dr. James I.
"Bud" Robertson, as "a gentleman, scholar and legend." The
popular Virginia Tech professor, historian and award-winning
author drew a great laugh from his audience by stating that
Shep's introduction "makes me feel old." Later, Robertson
admitted he is now teaching some of the children of his
former students at Tech. Even so, he has no plans of giving
up the classroom. "If I stop teaching, I'll get old," he
Turning his attention to the Civil War, Robertson observed,
"Soldiers stepped forward because politicians failed." He
praised the gallantry shown by the men in battle. Of those
fortunate enough to come home, some 1.5 million were
crippled from the war. Men without arms and legs became
familiar sites in the towns of America. Deaths resulting
from the Civil War necessitated the creation of 79 national
cemeteries. The war's casualties consumed a staggering
percentage of the population. By today's numbers, it would
be equal to the loss of about 11 million Americans.
Robertson lamented the loss of great gifts of art and
scientific discoveries that could have been made by those
who died in the war, as well as the contributions of their
unborn children and grandchildren.
By the time of Appomattox, the war had spawned around 3,000
new songs, including "Taps." In addition to new weapons,
such as hand grenades, the war was mother to inventions we
now take for granted, like canned foods and can openers.
Women employed by factories -taking positions left vacant by
men off at war -- began wearing slacks when hoop skirts
proved to be impractical for their jobs. The Civil War saw
the first clothes labeled with sizes and the first pairs of
shoes - one shoe designed specifically for the left foot and
one for the right.
The war saw the creation of the Congressional Medal of Honor
and the establishment of Thanksgiving and Memorial Day as
national holidays. The first paper currency was issued in
1862. The first postal money orders and nationally
chartered banks were established to allow an easier flow of
funds between soldiers at the front and families back home.
The words "In God We Trust" first began to appear on
Robertson described himself as a "social historian" as
opposed to a "military historian." Before the Civil War,
explained Robertson, the federal government touched people's
lives in one way - it delivered their mail to the local post
office. During the war, home delivery of the mail was
established after local postmasters complained about the
scenes of hysteria and grief that occurred at their offices
when families received letters notifying them of the death
of a loved one.
A person can never understand the United States until he or
she understands the Civil War, insisted Robertson. Before
the war, 11 of the 12 amendments to the Constitution limited
the power of government. After the Civil War, amendments
began to empower the federal government. Robertson forbids
his students from using the term "United States" when
referring to the nation before the war. If we had indeed
been united states, he said, we would never have fought the
Robertson wrapped up his remarks to the RCWRT with a
statement he makes to his students each semester. "This is
your country. Never forget who gave it to you."
Bookseller Offers Discount to RCWRT Members
History Out-of-Print, a business specializing in military
history books and biographies, is offering a 10% discount to
members of the Richmond Civil War Round Table. In addition
to out-of-print books, the business buys and sells rare and
antiquarian books. History Out-of-Print offers hundreds of
books on the Civil War and features a free, no obligation
130-C John Morrow Pkwy, #105
Gainesville, GA 30501
Saturday, April 2.
The Friends of Petersburg Battlefield will host a Pig
Roast-Cookout in memory of veterans on the 140th Anniversary
of the Fall of Petersburg. The public is invited for the
event being held from noon to dusk at Robert E. Lee Park in
Petersburg. Free tours of the battlefield area will be
conducted throughout the afternoon. Donations will be
accepted towards the placement of Virginia Civil War Trail
signs along the Flank and Defense Roads. The Friends of
Petersburg Battlefield is a grass roots, non-profit
organization determined to restore some glory and, at a
minimum, identification to forts that are "dormant" and
neglected. Info: Cheryl Moody (804) 895-1070,
Thursday, April 7.
"When War Came This Way: Women's Experiences During the
Civil War in Virginia," lecture by retired Brig. Gen. John
W. Mountcastle. In every Virginia community, women endured
anxiety and heartbreak, trauma and quiet privation. Their
varied experiences and reactions are the subject of this
lecture by RCWRT member Jack Mountcastle. A 32-year veteran
of the U.S. Army, he taught at the U.S. Military Academy
at West Point and later commanded the Army Center of
Military History in Washington. Lecture begins at noon at
the Virginia Historical Society on Boulevard in Richmond.
Info: www.vahistorical.org or (804) 358-4901.
Saturday, April 9.
Historian and RCWRT member Dr. John Coski will sign copies
of his new book, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most
Embattled Emblem, at the Museum of the Confederacy on E.
Clay St. in downtown Richmond. Book signing from noon to
5pm, talk at 3pm.
Info: www.moc.org or (804) 649-1861.
Chesterfield County Site Included on
List of Most Endangered Battlefields
At a February 24 news conference broadcast live by C-Span,
the Civil War Preservation Trust presented its list of the
ten most endangered battlefields in America. Included on
the list are battlefields at Franklin, TN; Raymond, MS;
Mansfield, LA; Kennesaw Mountain, GA; Wilson's Creek, MO;
Morris Island, SC; and Knoxville, TN. Three Virginia sites
made the list including the battlefields at Spotsylvania,
Manassas and Bermuda Hundred in Chesterfield County.
Bermuda Hundred was never intended to be a battlefield.
Instead, this peninsula jutting into the James River was
supposed to be the starting point for a victorious Union
effort to seize control of Richmond. Unfortunately for the
Union cause, cautiousness and mediocrity conspired to
transform the Bermuda Hundred Campaign into a series of
bloody but inconclusive battles that eventually developed
into grim trench warfare.
Today, the fate of the Bermuda Hundred battlefields seems
equally grim. Most of the siege lines and battlefields have
already succumbed to sprawl. Chesterfield County has
protected 122 acres of hallowed ground associated with the
Bermuda Hundred Campaign, creating a chain of small parks
that protect isolated parts of the battlefields. The
National Park Service has protected some additional land at
Parker's Battery and nearby Drewry's Bluff (Fort Darling).
However, much more work needs to be done. Ware Bottom
Church, the site of fighting on May 20, 1864, is considered
the most threatened. Commercial development along Route 10
is also having an adverse effect on the remaining Bermuda
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2005
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Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter
Rob Monroe, Editor
2416 Edenbrook Dr.
Richmond, VA 23228-3040