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November 2005
Richard Forrester, President           Rob Monroe, Editor       
8008 Spottswood Road                   2416 Edenbrook Dr.       
Richmond, VA 23229                     Richmond, VA 23228-3040          

November 2005 PROGRAM Jeff Johnston "Recovery and Restoration of the Monitor" 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 8, 2005, 24th floor of the SunTrust Building 919 E. Main St., Downtown Richmond 6:00 Social 7:00 Dinner 8:00 Featured Program You may park for free by using the Cary Street entrance into SunTrust's parking garage below the building. Come to the lobby and take the elevator to the 24th floor. There will be a cash bar. Jeff Johnston is a Program Specialist and Historian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 1995 he has been a part of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, working for NOAA in their recovery and restoration of the famous Union ironclad. He has provided topside support for recordkeeping, as well as historical and other information on the wreck site and the vessel's design and construction. Johnston has more than 20 years' experience in the field of maritime history. He is an expert on the navies of the American Civil War, and has taught people of all ages about such subjects as the lives of sailors in the 18th and 19th centuries and the experimental weapons used by the Union and Confederate navies. He has also designed educational and interpretive programs for museums and state and national parks. If you have not signed up to attend this year's dinner, it may not be too late. Please contact Shep Parsons as soon as possible at 288-6816.
Summary of October Meeting A frequent guest of the Richmond Civil War Round Table, Gordon Rhea returned to the Capital City to speak at the RCWRT's October meeting. As entertaining and informative as ever, Rhea compared and contrasted Phil Sheridan and J.E.B. Stuart and highlighted the events before, during and after the Battle of Yellow Tavern. In the spring of 1864 serious questions surrounded the Union cavalry. Phil Sheridan seemed an odd choice for commander. Many in the Union army confused him with Sherman. As the Overland Campaign began, Sheridan knew virtually nothing about his subordinates. He had little cavalry experience but had impressed U.S. Grant with his success at Missionary Ridge. "A more bizarre figure is hard to imagine," Rhea noted. Sheridan stood a mere 5'2" and weighed only 115 pounds. Lincoln commented that Sheridan didn't have neck enough to strangle and the Union cavalryman could scratch his ankles without bending over. The son of Irish immigrants, Sheridan always insisted he had been born in New York. There is speculation that this claim was false but made by Sheridan so that he might one day run for president. Rhea joked that Sheridan had as much chance of being elected president as Arnold Schwarzennegger. By contrast, Stuart was a "very known quality" by the spring of 1864. A snappy dresser, 5'11" and 175 pounds, Stuart was quite the opposite of Sheridan. He was widely known as the eyes and ears of the Confederacy and possessed the "spirit" of a Southerner. As the two armies moved toward Spotsylvania Court House, the skilled fighting of Stuart and Fitz Lee enabled the Confederate cavalry to control the roads. Stuart's men threw up barricades, fought behind them, and then abandoned them. Never a man to do things on a small scale, Sheridan took his entire cavalry and moved south toward Richmond on May 9. He successfully cut the Confederate supply line at Beaverdam Station in Hanover County, and liberated a large number of Union POWs in the process. Stuart left 4,000 of his men with Robert E. Lee, and with his remaining 4,000, rode off to Yellow Tavern to meet Sheridan's 12,000. Stuart split his force yet again, sending half of his men to harass the rear of the Union cavalry. It was Stuart's personality that led him to try such audacious tactics, Rhea surmised. Stuart positioned himself on a ridge above Telegraph Road. To lead the Union attack, Sheridan selected George Custer. In the ensuing battle, Stuart was shot in the abdomen. Despite the efforts of Fitz Lee, the Confederate line crumbled. The mortally wounded Stuart was brought to a friend's home on Grace Street in Richmond. In his final hours, Stuart's wife arrived and Jefferson Davis came to visit. Stuart asked for "Rock of Ages" to be played and he died soon afterward. The Union cavalry continued to move toward Richmond until the advance stalled near Meadow Bridge. They were nearly trapped until Custer fought his way out. Robert E. Lee did not name a successor to Stuart until much later when Wade Hampton was selected. Answering the inevitable "what if" question, Rhea asserted that Stuart would have been a credible infantry commander had he succeeded Stonewall Jackson.
Museum of the Confederacy Makes Appeal to Supporters In a recent letter to supporters of the Museum of the Confederacy (MOC), Executive Director S. Waite Rawls III expresses grave concerns about the institution's future. In the letter, dated October 12, Rawls writes, "It is no exaggeration to say that the museum has not faced steeper financial challenges since its founding, nor has it needed your mass rallying-cry to be stronger." Rather than asking for money, the MOC is imploring its supporters to contact Virginia state legislators in order to encourage them to provide financial support for the museum. In recent years, the expansion of the neighboring Virginia Commonwealth University hospital has put the museum in the center of a vast construction zone. The museum has remained open during this time but its accessibility has been greatly limited. Attendance at the museum has declined sharply since VCU's expansion began. On a daily basis, MOC staff members find themselves apologizing to visitors who voice their frustrations about the difficulties they encountered getting to the museum. Continued VCU expansion in the coming years threatens further impede the MOC's accessibility and cause the museum's visitation numbers to continue to dwindle. Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to study the museum's situation and location. That subcommittee has held three of its four meetings with the final meeting scheduled for Monday, November 21. The subcommittee will then pass a resolution with a recommendation for the MOC's Board of Trustees. "This recommendation will have a profound impact on any state legislation," writes Rawls. "It is imperative that this recommendation be a unanimous acknowledgement of the current difficulties, the state's culpability in the matter, and an agreement that the state help save the museum financially during its 2006 General Assembly session. "If you want the Museum of the Confederacy to survive," Rawls continues, "please contact General Assembly MOC subcommittee members before Nov. 21. Do not think for a minute that I am overstating the seriousness of our situation." Rawls believes the previous subcommittee hearings have been productive, "with the result that the state now realizes what a dire situation the museum is in, due in large part to the state's ignoring the effect of the continuing expansion" of the VCU hospital. "The legislators also realize the seriously detrimental impact of doing nothing. I believe the state subcommittee legislators are prepared to help the museum in some way, but have gotten conflicting messages from some in the general public, whose only issue is the potential relocation of the White House. "Whether you support or do not support the museum moving from its current location, the main message the legislators must hear from museum supporters is that it is imperative that the state support and save this public treasure." The names, phone numbers and addresses of the General Assembly MOC subcommittee members can be found on the Museum of the Confederacy's website at or by calling the museum at (804) 649-1861.
RCWRT Members Invited on Tour of Seven Days Battles The Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia has graciously invited RCWRT members on a day-long tour of the Seven Days Battlefields. Titled "Lee Takes Command," this bus tour will be held on Saturday, November 12. Marc Thompson of the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table will be the tour guide. He is a retired Air Force colonel, a past president of the Omaha CWRT, and for the last nine years has worked as a volunteer tour guide and historian with the National Park Service at the Chancellorsville battlefield. Cost of the tour is $60 per person and participants are urged to bring a bag lunch. Beverages will be provided on the bus. The 12-stop tour will leave from Northern Virginia at 7am but the CWRT of DC has offered to meet any Richmond area participants at a predetermined location. To register for the tour, please contact John Restall at (703) 578-1942 or by email, You'll need to act quickly. The CWRT of DC asks that you please contact Mr. Restall no later than November 5.
Once again, the Richmond Civil War Round Table is proud to offer Outer Banks brand golf shirts with an embroidered RCWRT logo. More details on these handsome shirts coming soon.
RCWRT Monthly Speakers for 2005
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To facilitate the printing and timely distribution of the monthly newsletter, information for it should be submitted to the editor no later than the following dates: December newsletter, December 3 Information may be emailed to or 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. 2005