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August 2008
John Coski, President                  Rob Monroe, Editor       
5028 King William Road                 2416 Edenbrook Dr.       
Richmond, VA 23225                     Richmond, VA 23228-3040            

August 2008 PROGRAM John V. Quarstein "Ben Butler and the Contrabands" In May 1861, Union Brigadier General Benjamin F. Butler made a controversial decision that helped frame the American Civil War as more than a conflict between the states, but, rather, one about freedom for slaves. When three slaves escaped to Butler's lines at Fort Monroe, Virginia, Butler refused to return them to their owner, who demanded this action under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Act. Instead, Butler labeled the escapees "contraband of war" and put them to work in his camp. This action was not the only way in which Butler left his mark on the American Civil War. His 100-day command at Fort Wool saw the conflict's first land battle, the first mass destruction of civilian property and the first balloon flight from a ship's deck. Butler's influence on the war will be the topic of our August speaker John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the Virginia War Museum and the historian for the City of Hampton. Quarstein is the author of nine books and has written, narrated, and produced several award-winning films documenting Hampton Roads history for his local Public Broadcasting Service affiliate. Additionally, he is an active historical preservationist. During his 32-year career, he created and revitalized 16 museums and preserved nine historical sites, earning Quarstein national recognition from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Society and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
ACWC and NPS Offering Several Programs in August The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the National Park Service's Richmond National Battlefield Park are partnering for several events this month that will highlight Richmond's Civil War history. Women played leading roles during the war as spies, nurses, surgeons, and abolitionists. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 9, the American Civil War Center (ACWC) will present "Women's Roles in Civil War History." This 30-minute tour through the Center's In the Cause of Liberty exhibit will explore the lives of eight women who impacted history. Following the ACWC program, the National Park Service (NPS) will continue its weekly series of downtown talks, tours, and tales with a guided tour highlighting the industrial workforce of the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Richmond's industrial economy grew dependent on women, African Americans and the foreign-born. These civilians contributed to the Confederate war effort on the home front by casting cannons and small arms, transporting supplies from the west on the canal and handling munitions at the Confederate States Laboratory. Ranger Susie Sernaker will lead a walk along Richmond's riverfront with stops at the Tredegar Iron Works, Browns' Island and sites related to the James River and Kanawha Canal and the former Armory complex. The hour-long tour will focus on the contributions of the female, black and immigrant workers in the industrial heart of the city of Richmond during the Civil War. The tour will begin at 2 p.m. at the National Park Service visitor center at the historic Tredegar Iron Works, located at 470 Tredegar Street. Thousands of Union soldiers were imprisoned in Richmond camps during the Civil War. On Saturday, August 16, the ACWC will present a program offering an in-depth look at the city's prisons during the conflict. "Richmond's Civil War Prisons" will tell the stories of the men who were held captive at Belle Isle, Libby Prison, Castle Thunder, Castle Godwin, and McDaniel's Negro Jail. Following this program, Richmond National Battlefield Park Ranger (and RCWRT member) Mike Gorman will present "Prisoners of War: A Soldier's Fate at Belle Isle Prison." This is a walking tour of the island in the James River that was a notorious camp for Union prisoners of war. On Saturday, August 23, the ACWC will host the "Men of Iron Walking Tour." This program will explore the lives of Tredegar's multicultural workers. The 25-minute outdoor guided tour will highlight the hidden secrets that lie below the 1861 Gun Foundry. Attendees will visit the furnaces and investigate how iron goods were made. The program will explain how workers labored and lived under the leadership of Tredegar owner Joseph Reid Anderson. This tour begins in front of the ACWC museum. This event will be followed by "Arming the Confederacy," a walking tour of the historic iron works at Tredegar. Richmond National Battlefield Park Ranger Randy Cleaver will lead this program that will focus on the men and machines that manufactured weapons for the Confederate army. All ACWC programs begin at 1 p.m. The fee is $10 for each or free with paid admission or ACWC membership. NPS events are free and begin at 2 p.m. Parking is available at the Tredegar site for $3 per hour. More information may be found on the ACWC and NPS websites, and
Upcoming Events Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24 "Gen. Grant's Fourth Offensive." This two-hour caravan tour of will focus on the Battles of Weldon Railroad and Reams Station. The drive will begin at Poplar Grove National Cemetery. For more information, contact Tracy Chernault at (804) 265-8244. Friday through Sunday, August 29-31 "Meet Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant" at the Grant's Headquarters at City Point unit of Petersburg National Battlefield. Learn about the military strategies and personality of the famous Union General. Mrs. Julia Grant will discuss the challenges and rewards of being married to the General as well as talk about 19th century fashions. For more information contact Ann Blumenschine at (804) 732-3531 ext. 203 or go online, Saturday, September 6 "Basic Genealogy for the Novice" from 10 a.m. to noon at Petersburg National Battlefield's Eastern Front. Program provides tips to those beginning work on their family tree including Civil War ancestors. Reservations are required. Contact Betsy Dinger at (804) 732-3531 ext. 200. Saturday and Sunday, September 6 & 7 "Totopotomoy Creek Program," a free event hosted by Richmond National Battlefield Park. House tours, battlefield walks and living history encampment on the grounds of Rural Plains. For more information, contact Mike Andrus at (804) 226-1981 ext. 30
Excuses, Excuses "So what happened with my July newsletter?" Many of you who receive this communique via U.S. Mail may have asked this question last month. Suffice it to say, the circumstances surrounding the printing of the July newsletter did nothing to disprove Murphy's Law. The company we use to print our bulletins is normally very reliable. Unfortunately, on the afternoon that our newsletters were to be produced, there was a major mechanical failure with the printing press. This equipment malfunction necessitated ordering a replacement part that would take days to arrive from out of town. The timing could not have been worse - just before the 4th of July holiday and the weekend. This left us with a dilemma: Should we go ahead and print the newsletter and deliver it late (after our monthly meeting) or should we cancel the order, save the Round Table some money and resume regular mailings in August. Ultimately the decision was made to do the latter. We apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused.
Film Series to Screen Civil War-Related Movies The Civil War has set the scene for many a Hollywood production. In August, the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the National Park Service (NPS) are partnering to offer "Civil War in the Cinema," a series of both classic and obscure films depicting the era. Historians and film critics will be on hand to offer their perspectives. Films scheduled to be shown (subject to availability): Sunday, August 10, 2-4 p.m. "Shenandoah" (1965): Jimmy Stewart is a Virginia farmer pulled into a war of which he wants no part. NPS Theater at Tredegar. Sunday, August 17, 2-4 p.m. "Glory" (1989): Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman front a fine presentation -- about the all-African American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. NPS Theater. Sunday, August 24, 2-4 p.m. (Double feature) "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (1962), a short film that made its way onto The Twilight Zone television program in 1962, for reasons that will be obvious; "Red Badge of Courage" (1951), John Huston and World War II hero Audie Murphy team up in an adaptation of the Stephen Crane novel. NPS Theater. Sunday, August 31 (Labor Day eve), 6:30-9:15 p.m. (Double feature) "Granddad" (1913), melodrama of an old Civil War veteran made at a time when there were plenty of old veterans still around; and "The General" (1927), Buster Keaton protects his locomotive in a silent film classic loosely based on an actual event. These films will be shown in the American Civil War Center's Bluestone Courtyard. Attendees are invited to bring and enjoy a picnic dinner from 6:30-7:30 p.m. with a concert of period music provided.
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2008
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Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Rob Monroe, Editor 2416 Edenbrook Dr. Richmond, VA 23228-3040

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