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June 2006
Sheppard Parsons, President            Rob Monroe, Editor       
107 Rose Hill Road                     2416 Edenbrook Dr.       
Richmond, VA 23229                     Richmond, VA 23228-3040       

June 2006 PROGRAM Dr. Gary Gallagher "The Seven Days Battles As A Major Civil War Turning Point" 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 13, 2006, 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. Gary W. Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia. A native of Los Angeles, he received his B.A. from Adams State College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He has written, co-authored, or edited some twenty books on the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and has published more than one hundred articles in scholarly journals and popular history magazines. Most recently he was editor and co-author of The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864. Dr. Gallagher is active in historic preservation and is currently writing a book exploring how the Civil War has been presented in films and artworks. The Confederacy experienced a series of major setbacks in the first year of the war. They lost control of many of the western rivers routes, saw the closing of many Atlantic and Gulf ports, and suffered the loss of several key cities (Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk). Defeats at Mill Springs, Pea Ridge, Glorieta Pass, and Shiloh had thwarted Confederate offensives. In the spring of 1862, the Army of the Potomac, under Gen. George McClellan, had marched up the Peninsula to the very gates of Richmond. With the wounding of Gen. Joseph Johnston on June 1, Gen. Robert E. Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia. In less than a month, from June 25 to July 1, Lee's army drove the Federals away from Richmond and into a retreat down the Virginia Peninsula. Professor Gallagher will discuss the significance of these events and the Seven Days Battles.
Summary of the May Meeting Dr. Charles Cooke, a Richmond area physician, made a return visit to the Richmond Civil War Round Table in May. An expert on Civil War medicine and diseases, Cooke last spoke to the RCWRT in March 2004, giving an excellent presentation on Chimborazo Hospital. Last month Cooke enlightened Round Table members with a lively discussion of the development of the Union Ambulance Corps during the Civil War. Much of the success of this unit is due to Surgeon Jonathan Letterman who headed up medical services in the Army of the Potomac. There were 94 surgeons in the U.S. Army in 1860. Even that relatively small number may be over inflated, Cooke explained. At the time, there was a much looser interpretation of the term "surgeon," and the title didn't necessarily mean that a doctor had ever performed surgery. Letterman went to great lengths to ensure operations were done by the most experienced surgeons. Prior to the Civil War, the U.S. Army owned only 51 ambulances. Often they were commandeered to haul personal belongings. Most ambulances were two-wheeled wagons with no springs. A soldier with a bone fracture would be in excruciating pain in one of these wagons when it traversed a corduroy road. Later in the war, the Ambulance Corps went to four-wheel wagons with springs, cabinets for supplies and curtains for bad weather. Railroad cars were outfitted to move as many as 50 men at a time. Letterman enjoyed a good relationship with George McClellan. For all his faults as a battlefield tactician, the Union general put a high priority on the Ambulance Corps having witnessed firsthand the medical disasters of the Crimean War. Letterman insisted his men excercise daily and bathe at least once a week. They were trained to properly pick up wounded men in battle. Letterman would discipline men by sending them to the morgue. In the days before refridgeration, the morgue was an especially unpleasant place to pass the time. The efficiency of medical services greatly improved as the war progressed. At First Manassas some men went 72 hours without medical attention. An open wound is considered infected, Cooke pointed out, after only six hours. At Fredericksburg, about 9,000 men were in hospitals within 24 hours of the battle. Later at Gettysburg, over 14,000 men were transported to hospitals within a day. Confederates copied some of Letterman's ideas but lacked the resources to do as much.
Powhatan Round Table Makes Sizable Donation to RBA A tip of the kepi goes to our friends in the Powhatan Civil War Round Table. At its April meeting the group raised $3,600 for the Richmond Battlefields Association (RBA)! That's an amazing amount for a relatively young Round Table (less than a decade old). The RBA will use the money to help preserve the battlefield at Frayser's Farm.
RCWRT Members Invited to Tour Civil War Center All members of the Richmond Civil War Round Table are invited to an inside tour of what's coming this fall at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. Come see a newly updated presentation on the new exhibit being designed for the Tredegar Gun Foundry. Called In the Cause of Liberty, it will weave together Confederate, Union, and African American stories and will show how their interaction shaped the course of American history. We'll also go inside the Foundry and see the nearly completed construction. We can meet in the courtyard at Tredegar at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 17 or June 24, whichever is more convenient for the membership.
Pamplin Park to Host Civil War Weekend This month Pamplin Historical Park & the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier is promising the biggest Civil War event in the attraction's history. On June 24 and 25, the park outside Petersburg will be packed with reenactors entertaining visitors with battlefield demonstrations and encampments. The tenth annual Civil War Weekend will feature special guided tours and programs on Civil War medicine and music. The park will also be opening a new exhibit, "Many Thousands Go: African Americans and the Civil War." Comprised of artifacts from the Gladstone African American collection, this new exhibit will tell the story of African Americans and their role in the American Civil War, both North and South. A special exhibit opening reception for Pamplin Historical Park Members will be held on June 16. For more information, go to or phone (804) 861-2408 or toll free 1-877-PAMPLIN.
Programs to Commemorate Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill Battles The Richmond National Battlefield Park will commemorate the battles of Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill with a pair of anniversary programs. On June 24 and 25 the Gaines Mill program will feature walking tours, rifle firing demonstrations and a living history encampment throughout the weekend. On July 8 and 9 the Malvern Hill program will include park ranger guided walking tours and demonstrations of Confederate infantry and Union artillery. Both programs are from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. For more information, call the Civil War Visitor Center at (804) 771-2145.
Tour Highlights Petersburg Area Cemeteries A special bus tour to some of the Petersburg area's most historic cemeteries is scheduled for June 17, 2006. Departing at 10am from the Petersburg National Battlefield Visitor Center parking lot, stops will include City Point National Cemetery in Hopewell, Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Dinwiddie County, and the Memorial Hill section of the Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg. The bus will return to the Petersburg National Battlefield Visitor Center at 3:00pm. In 1866 The Ladies Memorial Association was created to ensure that Confederate soldiers who died during the 292 day siege of Petersburg would receive proper burials at the Blandford Cemetery. That same year the federal government established the national cemeteries at City Point and Poplar Grove to provide proper burials for Union soldiers who died during the siege. The history of each cemetery as well as its points of interest will be highlighted at each stop. Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras as each of the cemeteries has a unique beauty and wealth of photo opportunities. Participants may bring a light lunch or snack if they wish. Light refreshments will be provided after the tour of Poplar Grove National Cemetery. The cost of the tour is $15 per person and reservations are required. For reservations, please call the City of Petersburg's visitor center at (804) 733-2400.
RBA Offers Special Malvern Hill Tour on June 10 The Richmond Battlefields Association (RBA), a local non-profit Civil War battlefield preservation organization, will hold its annual meeting on Saturday, June 10, at the Malvern Hill battlefield. Noted historian and author Frank O'Reilly will lead a walking tour of seldom seen portions of the site. The program begins at 10am, is free to the public, and should last about three hours. Tour location is on the west side of Willis Church Road (Route 156) between the Parsonage and Willis Church. Parking is limited so carpool if possible. For more information, visit the RBA's website, or call 272-8888. Please note the early date for this event: June 10, the Saturday before the RCWRT's June meeting.
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RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2006
Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Rob Monroe, Editor 2416 Edenbrook Dr. Richmond, VA 23228-3040

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