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June 2003
Brag Bowling, President         Rob Monroe, Editor     
3019 Kensington Ave             2416 Edenbrook Dr.     
Richmond, VA 23221              Richmond, VA 23228-3040

June 2003 PROGRAM Chris M. Calkins "Saving Petersburg's Battlefields" 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 10, 2003, 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. Chris Calkins has been with the National Park Service for 29 years and has served at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, and, since 1981, as an historian and now Chief of Interpretation at Petersburg National Battlefield. He has authored eight publications, numerous articles, and has spoken nationally to many Civil War and battlefield preservation groups. He is the author of the highly acclaimed "Lee's Retreat" driving tour (featured in Life and Southern Living magazines) which is now being used as a successful example for many other regions in the Commonwealth and nationwide. Active in battlefield preservation efforts, he served on the board of directors for eight years with the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, Inc., and helped broker the preservation of seven battle sites around Petersburg and Appomattox during that time. These include portions of: White Oak Road, Five Forks, Reams Station, Hatchers Run, The Sixth Corps Breakthrough (now Pamplin Park), Sailor's Creek and Lee's rearguard position at Appomattox. He is a native of Detroit, Michigan, graduated from Longwood College (now university) in Farmville and is married to the former Miss Sarah Brown from Appomattox. They live in a restored 18th century mansion in Petersburg's Old Towne Historic District. Calkins will present a discussion of the Land Protection Report for the proposed General Management Plan at Petersburg National Battlefield. The talk will cover what battlefields the park hopes to save and how it will do so. Calkins will explain the methodology behind the decisions and how PNB arrived at the proposed 7,000 acre expansion.
Review of the May Program
Ervin L. Jordan, Jr.
Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., presented an informative talk on "History's Heretics: Afro-Confederates and the American Civil War." He began by discussing an Afro-Virginia who fought for the Confederacy at the First Battle of Manassas-John Parker, a slave from King and Queen County. Parker served as a gunner in a battery but hoped for a Union victory. Later he escaped and fled to the North. There he lectured on the causes of the war, charging ten cents admission to his speeches. Parker advertised himself as the only black soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia. Jordan pointed out that this claim was not correct but that a number of blacks served under General Robert E. Lee in various capacities during the war. In 1861, most Southerners thought that their region was united behind the war effort, regardless of race. This was not true, but it is an undeniable fact that Afro-Confederates did voluntarily offer to "live and die in Dixie." Jordan pointed out that this is not politically correct but is historically correct. These Afro-Confederates have largely been ignored by historians. The historians who try to deny this fact claim that any blacks who aided the Confederacy did so only because they were coerced. According to Jordan, however, throughout history oppressed peoples have actively aided their oppressors. Afro-Confederates were motivated by several things, including fear of retribution, loyalty to their masters and their state, and repudiation of their blackness. Many free blacks feared being enslaved in a post-war Confederacy if they did not actively show their loyalty. Early in the war, many Southerners were willing to accept blacks in the army, particularly free blacks, but Confederate governmental policy forbid their enlistment. Jordan said that blacks nevertheless fought at First Manassas, the Peninsula, the Seven Days, Sharpsburg, and Fredericksburg. In particular, blacks acted as sharpshooters for the Confederate army. Jordan cited several instances of men who served as snipers. He pointed out that these men were cheap but effective fighting machines. If they were killed, the loss was insignificant because others were ready to take their place. Jordan stated that body servants were the most loyal Afro-Confederates. Occasionally, they did take up arms and fight, but this was rare. Their motivations varied, some simply enjoying the opportunity to kill whites. Jordan warned that not all anecdotes about black Confederates are credible and said that researchers must be very careful about interpreting the data. One instance he provided was the conversion of a "color bearer" at Gettysburg into a "colored flag bearer." When asked about numbers, Jordan stated that we will never know. He has estimated that ten percent of Virginia's free blacks and twenty-five percent of her slaves probably were loyal to the Confederacy. In war, three things always die-young men, civilians, and the truth. The truth of the existence of Afro-Confederates was quickly forgotten. Jordan said that he want to objectively understand them and their motivations.
Announcements & Events
June 14 The Richmond Battlefields Association will be hosting a talk and tour at Fort Harrison. See the article below. June 14 A ranger from the Petersburg National Battlefield Park will present the "Battle of Old Men and Young Boys" at the Centre Hill Mansion in Petersburg. Talks will be held at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. This event is free. For more information call the park at 804-732-3531. June 14-15 A reenactment of Grant's 1864 crossing of the James River will be held east of Hopewell at Flowerdew Hundred off Route 10. Battles will be featured both days as well as a reconstruction of part of the pontoon bridge that carried the Union army over the river. Activities take place between 9 am and 4 pm both days. Admission is $6. For more information call 804-541-8897.
June 21 A ranger from the Petersburg National Battlefield Park will present "Confederate Recruiting Station" in Olde Town Petersburg. Talks will be held at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Admission is free. For more information call the park at 804-732-3531. June 21-22 The Exchange Hotel Civil War Museum in Gordonsville will feature its popular annual program of medical living history. This reenactment of a Civil War hospital will be held at the hotel that was converted into a wartime medical facility. For more information call the museum at 540-832-2944 or visit its website,
June 26 & 28 Blandford Cemetery will be the focus of two programs being presented by the Petersburg National Battlefield Park. "Stories in Stone: A Tale of Two Cemeteries" and "Every Tombstone is a Biography" will be the topics of discussion on Thursday and Saturday nights respectively. Both events are free and begin at 7 pm at Blandford Church in Petersburg. For information call 804-732-3531.
June 27-29 A special anniversary program and living history will be among the events taking place over the weekend at the Gaines Mill battlefield off Route 156. Activities include walking tours, rifle demonstrations and an encampment of Union infantry. Friday night's program is free and begins at 7 pm. Events take place between 10 am and 5 pm on Saturday and from 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. For more information contact the Richmond National Battlefield Park at 804-226-1861 or log on to
News from the Richmond Battlefields Association The Richmond Battlefields Association (RBA) will hold its annual tour and meeting on Saturday, June 14. Dr. Richard Sommers, author of Richmond Redeemed, will speak and sign books at 1:00 pm at the Varina Episcopal Church on 2835 Mill Road at Route 5. The talk will be followed by a tour of the RBA's newly acquired land at Fort Harrison. Admission is free, donations are appreciated. The association is seeking to raise funds by participating in the Ukrop's Golden Gift Certificate program. Ukrop's mailed certificates to customers in early May. The RBA will collect as many of these certificates as possible. The association will receive a donation by turning these certificates back in to Ukrop's. The amount of the donation is to be determined by the number of certificates collected. You can help support the RBA by bringing your certificates to the June meeting of the RCWRT. You may also mail your certificates to: David West 88 West Square Dr. Richmond, VA 23233 The RBA is a non-profit organization working to preserve local battlefields. Information about the association may be found its website,
Newsletter Deadlines To facilitate the printing and timely distribution of the monthly newsletter, information for it should be submitted to the editors no later than the following dates: July newsletter, June 20 August newsletter, July 25 September newsletter, August 22 October newsletter, September 26 November newsletter, October 24 December newsletter, November 21 Information may be emailed to
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2003
Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Rob Monroe, Editor 2416 Edenbrook Dr. Richmond, VA 23228-3040

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©R.C.W.R.T. 2003