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October 2002
Clark H. Lewis, President         Art & Carol Bergeron, Editors
P. O. Box 1122                    3901 Paces Ferry Road      
Richmond, VA 23218                 Chester, VA 23831-1239   

October 2002 PROGRAM Dr. Gabor S. Boritt "Lincoln's Odd Personality" 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 8, 2002, at the Boulevard United Methodist Church, 321 N. Boulevard, Richmond, VA (corner of Boulevard and Stuart Ave.) Dr. Gabor S. Boritt is the Director of the Civil War Institute, Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lincoln Prizes at Gettysburg College. He was born in Budapest, Hungary, and came to this country after the 1956 Revolution. Boritt attended Yankton College and South Dakota State University, and he received his Ph.D. in American history from Boston University. In Vietnam, he saw service with the United States Air Force. He and his wife, Elizabeth Lincoln Norseen, live on a farm outside of Gettysburg, where they have raised three sons. Besides his duties at Gettysburg College since 1981, Boritt has also taught at Harvard, Darwin College, Cambridge, the University of London, Washington University (St. Louis), Memphis State University, and the University of Michigan. He has also been a research fellow of the American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, and the Social Science Research Council. Recently, Boritt served as an Historical Consultant and played a part in the movie "Gods and Generals." Boritt is the author or editor of more than fifteen books and is an acknowledged scholar on the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. His books include Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream (1978); The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print (1984); Changing the Lincoln Image (1985); The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause (1987); The Historian's Lincoln: Pseudohistory, Psychohistory, and History (1988); Why the Confederacy Lost (1992); Lincoln, the War President: The Gettysburg Lectures (1993); Lincoln's Generals (1994); Why the Civil War Came (1996); and Jefferson Davis's Generals (1999). His most recent publication was The Lincoln Enigma (2001). His presentation will focus on the many quirks that made Lincoln such an interesting and controversial Chief Executive.
Review of the September Program
Gordon Rhea
"I don't know anything about the Civil War," quipped attorney and historian Gordon Rhea before taking questions from the audience. "I just know about the first 32 days of the 1864 Overland Campaign." Rhea peppered his talk with allusions to the "nauseating detail" that listeners could find in one of his four books about those 32 days. The overflow attendance and unprecedented lines to buy his books before and after the talk suggest that the members of the Richmond Civil War Round Table have an insatiable appetite for Gordon Rhea's detailed but engaging battle narratives. Before delving into the battle of Cold Harbor, the topic of his talk, Rhea offered a brief overview of the preceding month of the Overland Campaign. This background is critical to understand a battle that Rhea believes is too often taken out of context. Only by understanding what happened in the weeks before Cold Harbor can students answer one of the two major questions that Rhea probed: what was Gen. U.S. Grant thinking when he attacked the fortified Confederate position at Cold Harbor? According to Rhea, Grant firmly believed that a month of hard campaigning and heavy losses had reduced Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia as an effective fighting force - both on the attack and on the defensive. He deduced this from the failure to "spring the trap" at North Anna, the failure of Gen. Jubal Early's II Corps to defeat an isolated Union corps at Bethesda Church, and especially from the surprising weakness of Confederate forces at Cold Harbor on June 1. Only in hindsight is it clear that the attack on June 3 was a mistake. Grant had every reason to believe that it would succeed. Furthermore, because the Confederate army was only seven miles from Richmond with its flanks secured on two rivers, Grant did not believe that he could continue the campaign of maneuver that had brought the armies from the Rapidan to the Chickahominy. The grand attack on June 3, 1864 failed not because it was doomed, Rhea concluded, but because it was "one of the worst botched affairs in the history of this campaign." After dissecting Grant's thinking, Rhea explored his second major question: what really happened in the battle itself? As with many Civil War battles, Cold Harbor has "taken on a thick crust of myths." One of these myths is that Federal soldiers, anticipating the slaughter, sewed their names into their clothes so that their bodies could be identified. No other sources confirm the story of these "premonitions" told by Grant's aide, Horace Porter. Perhaps the crustiest Cold Harbor myth is the number of Federal casualties, customarily given as 7,000 in a half hour or less. Rhea's analysis finds that Grant's army lost about 3,500 men - making it (only) the fifth bloodiest day in the Overland Campaign. The eyewitness accounts of piles of dead soldiers were not imaginary: the Federal losses were concentrated - more than half of them were suffered by four green units recently transferred from the defenses of Washington and Baltimore. The veteran units fighting along side of them suffered very light casualties. Did the battle cause a "Cold Harbor Syndrome" that made Federal soldiers wary of assaulting enemy earthworks? Veteran soldiers had learned that lesson already, Rhea concluded. Cold Harbor was where the Army of the Potomac's new troops paid a heavy price to learn the same lesson. (The editors wish to thank John Coski for providing the foregoing summary.)
Holiday Shopper's Fair Take advantage of the opportunity to get some of your shopping done early this year by visiting the stores of Richmond Museums - all under one roof! The annual Holiday Shopper's Fair at the Science Museum of Virginia this year will feature a variety of items from Museums around the area. Stop by The Museum of the Confederacy's booth to get the Civil War buff on your list some Civil War memorabilia and neat stocking stuffers. Museum members receive 10% off at the special preview night on Thursday, October 24, from 5-9 p.m. The Fair will be open to the public free of charge on Friday and Saturday, October 25-26, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Annual Christmas Dinner The Richmond Civil War Round Table's annual Christmas dinner will be held on Tuesday, November 12, at the Willow Oaks Country Club. Our speaker will be Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, author of the best-selling book The Real Lincoln. The cost per person is $25.00. The meeting schedule will be as follows: 6:00-7:00 p.m. - Cash Bar 7:00-7:45 p.m. - Dinner 7:45 p.m. - Meeting begins 8:00 p.m. - Speaker All members are urged to attend this Christmas Dinner. Please fill out the form below, clip it out, and send it to Brag Bowling, 3019 Kensington Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221. Make all checks payable to the Richmond Civil War Round Table. Let any interested friends know about the meeting and tell them that they are welcome to attend. If you have any questions about the meeting, call Brag at (804) 359-0382 or contact him by e-mail at ____________________________________________________________________________ Richmond Civil War Round Table Annual Christmas Dinner Reservation Form Name _______________________________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Number of persons attending _____________ Amount of check $___________ ____________________________________________________________________________
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2002
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: October 18 for November November 22 for December
Richmond Civil War Round Table Newsletter Art & Carol Bergeron, Editors 3901 Paces Ferry Road Chester, VA 23831-1239

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