Sam Craghead, President Art & Carol Bergeron, Editors 4361F Lakefield Mews 3901 Paces Ferry Road Richmond, VA 23231 Chester, VA 23831-1239 April 2001 PROGRAM Ernest B. Furgurson "The Battle of Cold Harbor, 1864" 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 10, 2001, at the Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard, Richmond, VA (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.) Ernest B. "Pat" Furgurson is a native of Virginia who lives now in Washington, D. C. He is a descendant of Confederate soldiers, one of whom was laying wounded in Jackson Hospital when Richmond fell in 1865 and was captured by Union troops. Furgurson was on the staff of the Richmond News Leader before he began a long career as Washington and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. He is the author of Chancellorsville 1863 and Ashes of Glory. He was written biographies of two controversial Southerners-General William C. Westmoreland and Senator Jesse Helms. Furgurson's latest Civil War book is Not War But Murder: Cold Harbor 1864, published by Alfred A. Knopf last year. Edwin C. Bearss has described this book as "a blockbuster" and rates it as "far superior to previous books on this too often ignored campaign." The Overland Campaign against Richmond came to a climax on the morning of June 3, 1864, when Generals Ulysses S. Grant and George G. Meade ordered Union troops to assault General Robert E. Lee's entrenched army at Cold Harbor, less than ten miles from the Confederate capital. This tragic battle resulted in a slaughter for the Federals and Lee's last great victory. Bruce Catton called the battle "one of the hard and terrible names of the Civil War, perhaps the most terrible one of all." Furgurson will tell the story of this important engagement in his presentation. He will focus not only on the generals who led both armies but also on the men who bled and died that day. According to Furgurson, Cold Harbor was the most uselessly bloody, one-sided battle of the war. Its terrible human cost is captured in an entry in a Union soldier's diary: "June 3, Cold Harbor. I was killed."
Review of the March Program
Dr. Joseph L. Harsh of George Mason University presented an informative talk on Robert E. Lee and the Maryland Campaign of 1862. According to Harsh, Lee was a realist who knew that chances for Confederate success in the war were very slender because of the imbalance of resources and the unlikelihood of European intervention. The one hope that he saw was that the North might tire of the conflict and quit. His strategy from the first was aimed at hastening that outcome. In Lee's mind, the Maryland Campaign was his best shot at winning the war. Historians have debated whether the campaign should be called an invasion or a raid. Harsh said it was neither. From the time that he had taken command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee had conducted turning movements to force the Federals to give up their plans. The Maryland Campaign would be the fifth turning movement Lee attempted. His goal was to make the Union army leave Washington before it was ready and fight the Confederates on terms and ground favorable to them. Harsh then focused on four questions relating to Lee's strategy. Why did Lee move his army into Maryland? Lee faced a dilemma after the Battle of Chantilly. What could he do next? He rejected a move eastward toward Washington. If he marched west or south, it would be an admission of defeat and would surrender the initiative. Lee at first actually thought his army was too weak to go northward, but that was the direction he chose. He decided on a turning movement into Maryland. The goal was to force McClellan's army to march out of Washington before it had recovered. Lee would draw it west of the mountains where he could maneuver and, hopefully, fight another Second Manassas. Why did Lee remain in Frederick for four days? The position at that town was intended to keep pressure on the Federals. Once they advanced, Lee would fall back to the west. He was worried about his line of communications and wanted to move it to the Shenandoah Valley. Lee then made two mistakes-he underestimated the strength of Union garrisons in the Valley and thought the Army of the Potomac was moving more slowly than was the case. Everything began to go wrong. Harsh argued that the Union discovery of Special Orders No. 191 was not a great intelligence coup. It contained dated information. Of all of Lee's divisions, only McLaws' was in any danger. All of the rest could easily have retreated into Virginia and avoided Union attack. After the battles at the gaps, Lee decided to retreat to Keedysville. Then he moved the army to the heights around Sharpsburg. Why stay for nearly four days at Sharpsburg? Lee had several reasons to keep his army near the town. The primary reason was desperation. He hoped that he would be able to recommence the campaign. That did not happen, and the Army of Northern Virginia was almost destroyed on September 17. Lee did not order a retreat that afternoon because he did not want to be chased from Maryland, and he knew that the army could not completely cross the Potomac River before morning. What was Lee trying to accomplish once he began a retreat? His intent was to recross the upper Potomac near Williamsport and get into McClellan's rear. This changed with the Battle of Shepherdstown. Lee ordered the whole army to march back toward the battlefield to repulse the Union attack. Only Powell Hill's division could make it. The army was simply worn out. Lee reluctantly ended the campaign. He had fought almost with a bloodlust at Sharpsburg hoping for a victory, but it had eluded him.
Confederate Heritage Day On Saturday, April 28, Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier near Petersburg will sponsor Confederate Heritage Day. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy will memorialize and honor soldiers who served in the Southern armies with a wreath laying ceremony. Professor Edward Smith of American University will speak on the role of blacks in the Confederacy and what the legacy of the Confederacy means to African-Americans today. Dr. Brian Steel Wills of University of Virginia-Wise will give a presentation on Nathan Bedford Forrest in which he will discuss the evolving image of that Confederate general. Signature Theater of Arlington, Virginia, will present a one-man play "The Road to Appomattox." In it, Robert E. Lee is seen on the eve of his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant and reflects on the events of the Civil War. For more information, call Pamplin Historical Park at 861-2408.
Fredericksburg National Cemetery Program On May 26, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County National Military Park will sponsor a luminaria at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will place a luminaria at each of the 15,300 graves. The candles are lit at sunset, and a military bugler plays "Taps" every thirty minutes throughout the program, which runs from 8 p. m. to 11 p. m. Throughout the night, visitors are encouraged to stop at six different points of interest in the cemetery. At each stop, volunteers give a short, two-minute presentation about a certain aspect of the cemetery's history. This year, for the first time, Civil War Round Tables from the area are being invited to take part in the program. Participants, as a group, will man one of the stops on the tour. To be a participant in the program, volunteers must be at least 16 years old, have strong voices, and be comfortable talking to large groups. Speakers will have to memorize information that they will be presenting to the public. The National Park Service will provide a short, one-page fact sheet to each group for that purpose. Volunteers should memorize the content of the sheet and present the information in their own words. They should not read the information on the night of the event except in instances where there is a quote. Anyone interested in being a participant should contact Sam Craghead at or before the April meeting and get full details.
Member Asks for Assistance Bobby Krick is seeking a tape recording of the talk given to the Round Table by Andrew Lytle in November 1983. Anyone who has or knows of such a recording should call Bobby during the day at 226-1981.
Ukrop's Gift Certificates Once again, Round Table members are encouraged to save your Ukrop's Golden Gift Certificates to aid battlefield preservation. This year your efforts will go to help the newly formed Richmond Battlefields Association (RBA). In future newsletters, there will be additional information on this effort and on the RBA.
Books We'd Like to See The Civil War is the most documented and written about period of American history. With that in mind, there are still a few titles remaining to be written. (Shameless stolen from the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table Newsletter.) Joseph E. Johnston's Guide to Retreating My Guide to the Best Bourbons (in two volumes), by James Ledlie Stashing Your Headquarters in Your Hindquarters, by John Pope Whipping Bobby Lee: A New Comedy in Three Acts, by George B. McClellan Sherman: A Passion for Pyro Joe Hooker's Guide to Washington Nightspots, in 3 volumes Albert S. Johnston's Guide to Simple First Aid Elephant Hunting in Virginia, by John Sedgwick
Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Art & Carol Bergeron, Editors 3901 Paces Ferry Road Chester, VA 23831-1239