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October 2000
R.Danny Witt, President         Art & Carol Bergeron, Editors
5500 Ashton Park Way             3901 Paces Ferry Road     
Glen Allen, VA 23059                Chester, VA 23831-1239    

October 2000 PROGRAM

Richard R. Duncan

"Lee's Endangered Left"

8:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 10, 2000
Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard,
Richmond, VA (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.)
Enter basement door from Boulevard side.

Dr.  Richard  R.   Duncan  is  a  Professor  of  History  at
Georgetown  University,  where  he has taught since 1967.  A
native of Winchester, Virginia, he holds degrees  from  Ohio
University  and a Ph.D.  from Ohio State University.  He has
taught at  Kent  State  University  and  the  University  of
Richmond.   Dr.   Duncan  has  published  Dissertations  and
Theses on Virginia History (1988) and Alexander Neil and the
Last  Valley Campaign (1996).  His most recent book is Lee's
Endangered Left: The Civil War in Western Virginia Spring of
1864, published by LSU Press in 1999.                       

Ulysses  S.   Grant,  in  devising  a  strategy of concerted
movements against the  Confederacy  in  1864,  made  western
Virginia an integral part of his plan.  High on his priority
list was the region's transportation system, salt  and  lead
mines,   and   Robert   E.   Lee's  important  granary,  the
Shenandoah Valley.  If  Grant  could  deprive  the  Army  of
Northern Virginia from receiving provisions, then Lee's army
would be forced to retreat into North Carolina.             

Initially  using  pincer  movements,  General  George  Crook
succeeded  in  severely  damaging the Virginia and Tennessee
Railroad in southwestern Virginia, but the defeat of General
Franz  Sigel's second column at New Market temporarily ended
the Federal threat  in  the  area.   The  need  for  a  more
competent general as head of the Department of West Virginia
brought about the appointment of a new commander and a shift
of  focus  to  the  Shenandoah  Valley.   A changed military
equation there allowed General David  Hunter  to  seize  the
initiative.    After  shattering  General  "Grumble"  Jones'
makeshift army at Piedmont, Federal  forces  for  the  first
time captured Staunton.  Consolidating his army with Crook's
men, Hunter now struck at Lynchburg.                        

The Army of West  Virginia,  cutting  itself  off  from  its
supply  base, proceeded to live off the countryside and as a
consequence brought a new destructive dimension  of  warfare
to  the  civilian  population  in  western  Virginia.  Badly
flawed, Hunter's drive faltered at Lynchburg.  General Jubal
Early  now  seized the initiative, and "Stonewall" Jackson's
old  Second  Corps  moved  down  the  Valley   to   threaten

Review of the September Program William J. Miller presented a different look at Stonewall Jackson's famous Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1862. His talk was an analysis of the campaign from a Federal perspective, discussing John C. Fremont, Nathaniel P. Banks, Abraham Lincoln, Edwin Stanton, and George B. McClellan and what they were attempting to do in western Virginia in the spring of that year. Traditionally, Jackson has been seen as a brilliant strategist who defeated in detail several Union armies. An argument that he succeeded due only to the bumbling incompetence of his opponents is illogical, Miller said. Such a view also tends to denigrate Jackson's achievements. Miller argued that historians have largely looked at the campaign primarily from the Southern perspective, which limits our understanding of the fighting. In his talk, Miller presented answers to four questions. First, what were the Federal goals in western Virginia? Second, were the Union generals really that incompetent? Third, who was the architect of Federal defeat? Fourth, did Jackson win the campaign, or did the Federals lose it? Miller emphasized that to the Union high command (President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton) operations in the area were always secondary to McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. Instructions issued to Banks in February 1862 called for him to secure the lower Shenandoah Valley and detach half his force (Shields' Division) to cooperate with the drive on Richmond. Banks' forces were simply to defend and observe-a corps of observation. After Jackson attacked at Kernstown, McClellan revised the orders to Banks. Now he was to drive Jackson past Mt. Jackson and resume the movement of troops to Manassas. Once Little Mac began his march on Richmond, Banks was to advance to his support. Though Banks did move up the Valley, he faced severe supply problems and was forced to stop and spread out his command. This allowed Jackson to receive reinforcements, attack the scattered Union troops, and drive them across the Potomac River. Fremont received command of the Mountain Department in March 1862. He came up with a scheme to move his army against Knoxville, Tennessee. His men began an advance up the Potomac River valley, but they ground to a halt near Franklin. Fremont, like Banks, faced an almost impossible logistical situation. Jackson attacked Robert Milroy's detachment at McDowell but failed to crush it. Despite this move, Fremont did not become concerned about Jackson and his Confederates. His focus remained on supplying his army so that he could continue toward Knoxville. Lincoln shared Fremont's unconcern about Jackson at this point. He ordered Fremont to march to Newbern and cut the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. Once Jackson had routed Banks' army at Front Royal and Winchester, Lincoln ordered the return of Shields' Division to the Valley to hit Jackson's flank. He also instructed Fremont to march against Harrisonburg and cut Jackson's supply line there. Fremont did not think his animals could sustain such a march and fell back to Moorefield. From there, he would send troops against Strasburg. The Confederates, under Jackson's brilliant leadership, escaped this trap. They had the advantage of using the Valley Turnpike, while the Union soldiers had to struggle over bad roads and terrain. Jackson defeated them at Cross Keys and Port Republic. According the Miller, the Union defeat was the responsibility of Lincoln and Stanton. They had their generals operating at cross-purposes and with virtually no coordination. Those generals had several unconnected goals and had no integrated command. Lincoln needed a general to do much with little, but only Stonewall Jackson was able to accomplish that goal.
50th Anniversary Project
To celebrate the Richmond Civil War Roundtable's anniversary (early in 2001), we are reprinting the memoirs of prominent Richmond preservationist and Roundtable member J. Ambler Johnston. Late in his life, Mr. Johnston reminisced about the early history of the area battlefields and the personalities associated with Civil War Richmond in the early 20th century. The book includes a short account by longtime Roundtable member Bill Mallory about the formation of our group in 1951. Our reprint of this volume will include an index, a listing of the past presidents, and an expanded section chronicling all of our previous speakers and their subjects. Mr. Johnston's original driving tour of the area battlefields has been updated by Sam Craghead to reflect modern alterations to the route, and that will be in an appendix as well. Although the exact price of the volume is not yet certain, it will be less than $20 for the hardcover reprint and should be available to members by mid-November.
One of Virginia's "Hidden" Civil War Gems
The White Oak Museum in Stafford County contains an outstanding and unique collection of Union and Confederate artifacts gathered from nearby camps and battlefields. Located on Route 218, approximately six miles east of Fredericksburg, the museum was established to remember and honor the men on both sides who fought, marched, and died in the area. Owned by D. P. Newton, the facility allows visitors to take a step back to the winter of 1862-1863 when the men of the Union Army of the Potomac established their huts and tents in the county after the Battle of Fredericksburg. Most of the artifacts came from the hut sites and were either lost or discarded during that long winter encampment. The items displayed include tens of thousands of Minie balls and other small arms projectiles, dozens of belt and cartridge box plates, artillery projectiles, bayonets, buttons, shoulder scales, heel plates, bottles, canteens, cooking utensils, cutlery, and even original hardtack. Some of the rarest artifacts in the exhibits are soldiers' identification tags, including one from a Virginia Confederate. Newton has meticulously documented on hand-drawn maps where the artifacts were found. Thus, he was able to pinpoint the locations not only of the camps but of latrines and ranges where the soldiers took target practice. Plans call for other recreated cabins on the museum grounds. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $1.50 for children 13-17, $1.00 for children 7-12, $1.50 for senior citizens, and free for children 6 and under. Groups are welcome. For more information, call (540) 371-4234.
J. E. B. Stuart SCV Camp Fall Field Trip. This trip will be held on November 11, 2000. The group will depart at 6:30 a. m. from the Lowe's parking lot at Parham Road and Brooke Road and will return by 6:00 p. m. The cost per person is $20.00. Please bring a lunch and drink. This tour will visit sites of Stonewall Jackson's 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, including First Winchester, Port Republic, Cross Keys, Turner Ashby's wounding site, and Banks' Fort. Guides will be Rich Kleese and John Heatwole. To register or for more information, contact Bragg Bowling at 804-359-0382 or email him at
Upcoming Symposium. Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, near Petersburg, will hold its Fourth Annual Civil War Symposium on October 21-22. The theme this year is "Cavalry Raiders and Guerrillas." Speakers and their topics are: Stephen Davis, "Civil War Cavalry Raids: Just What Did They Achieve?" Edwin C. Bearss, "Wilson's Alabama Raid" Jeffry D. Wert, "Mosby's Rangers" James A. Ramage, "John Hunt Morgan" Brian Steel Wills, "Nathan Bedford Forrest" In addition to these fine talks, the symposium will include a tour of Jeb Stuart's famous "Ride Around McClellan" in the Spring of 1862. For a registration form or more information, call Pamplin Historical Park at 861-2408.
Richmond Civil War Round Table in Cyberspace. The Round Table's Web site has been available for several months. It includes the monthly newsletter, CW book reports, photographs of previous meetings, and a list of all forthcoming speakers. The URL or Web address is: (The - between g-co is an underscore )
*Important Notice* December Meeting The December meeting will be December 12, 2000, at the Holiday Inn-Crossroads, 2000 Staples Mill Road. Social hour will begin at 6 p.m., with dinner following at 7 p.m. The speaker is Ed Bearss who will speak on "The Raising of the Cairo," which will include information about the history of the Union ironclad. The cost for this program is $25.50 per person. Seating is limited, so please get your reservations in early. Send your name, address, and phone number, along with the number of persons for whom you are making reservations to Sam Craghead. Make your check out to the Richmond Civil War Round Table. Sam Craghead 4361F Lakefield Mews Richmond, VA 23231 PLEASE NOTE: This is a new address for Sam. If you have any questions, call Sam at 222-0503.
Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Art & Carol Bergeron, Editors 3901 Paces Ferry Road Chester, VA 23831-1239

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