Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable

The purpose of this organization shall be to promote discussion and study of the Civil War and to further stimulate interest in all aspects and phases of the Civil War period.

Meeting Dates

The organization meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month September through May. Meetings are held in the Williamsburg Regional Library Theatre located at 515 Scotland St in Williamsburg, VA, unless otherwise posted. The meetings begin at 7 PM. Membership is open to the  general public.

This Month's Speaker

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 7 PM
Steven T. Phan
"The Capital Can't Be Taken!
The Civil War Defense of Washington"

On January 26, 2021 at 7PM Steve Phan will present, via a Zoom Session, "The capital can't be taken!" The Civil War Defenses of Washington".
Fortress Washington was under siege. Three years of extensive construction, expansion, and training—all at the expenditure of exorbitant resources—had come down to a race. The Confederate Army of the Valley District commanded by Lt. Gen. Jubal Early, advanced south along the Rockville-Georgetown Pike on the morning of 10 July 1864. The day was hot and humid, and dust covered the road as the exhausted rebel force aimed to complete their campaign by seizing the Federal capital. General Robert E. Lee’s “Bald Old Man” was running out of time. The previous day, Early’s infantry and cavalry columns unexpectedly ran into heavy Federal opposition along the Monocacy River on the outskirts of Frederick, Maryland. Token Resistance was expected, however. Elements of the Federal Middle Department (8th Army Corps) commanded by Major General Lew Wallace operated in the area for several days. Wallace cobbled together a hodgepodge mix of rear-echelon, garrison, and part-time troops to engage Early long enough for reinforcements to arrive on the field, and most importantly, to secure Baltimore and Washington. Support appeared on the waterways. The Federal high command outside Petersburg, Virginia at last responded to ominous reports of a large Confederate force operating in the Shenandoah Valley and advanced north into Maryland Wallace’s prospect of delaying Early improved dramatically with the arrival of veterans from the Army of the Potomac. Brigadier General James B. Rickett’s 3rd Division 6th Corps led the vanguard of reinforcements dispatched from the trenches of Petersburg. It was Rickett’s division that Early’s collided with on the morning of 9 July, turning a minor action into a major pitched battle. The blue-clad defenders outgunned and undermanned—a rare occasion for Civil War battles—retreated in disorder toward Maryland after an 8-hour fight. As a result, recalled one of Early’s division commanders, Major General James B. Gordon: “The way lay open to Washington.”
Awaiting the Confederate army was one of the most heavily fortified cities in the world. By summer 1864, the elaborate defensive system encircling Washington D.C. comprised 60 forts, 93 detached batteries, 5 blockhouses, fortified bridges, over 30 miles of military roads, and armament massing 800 cannons. Supplementing the defenses was a garrison of over 30,000 men. The capital defenders comprised heavy artillerist—expertly trained to operate the large caliber artillery pieces mounted in the forts—together with a mix of infantry and cavalry regiments. Nominally, such a heavy force entrenched in fortified positions made an enemy advance on Washington D.C. foolhardy and desperate. But 1864 called for desperate measures by both the Union and Confederacy.
Steve T. Phan is a Park Ranger and Historian at the Civil War Defenses of Washington. He has worked at Richmond National Battlefield Park, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Stones River National Battlefield, Rock Creek Park, and Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. A military history scholar of the Civil War era, Phan’s research focuses on military occupation, operational command, and fortifications during the Civil War. He is the author of articles about Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Civil War and the Defenses of Washington for numerous publications. He was nominated for the National Park Service Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation (2019). He holds a master’s degree in American History from Middle Tennessee State University.

American Civil War Museum newsletter (with register by Feb 1st for virtual symposium ) view

February 6, 2021 - Longwood presents - "Experiencing Aspects Of The Civil War Virtually " details

Previous Zoom Meeting Presentations

September 21, 2020 - Kevin Pawlak presented "Robert E. Lee Defends the Confederate High Water Mark at Sharpsburg" (view presentation - 73 minutes)
Kevin can be reached at https://antietamguides.com/antietam-guides/antietam-battlefield-guides/kevin-pawlak/

November 24, 2020 - Scott Mingus presented "Flames Beyond  Gettysburg - The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River - June 1863
(View presentation - 85 minutes)

December 8, 2020 - Ken Rutherford presented "America's Buried History - Landmines in The Civil War". View presentation -  66 minutes

Visit the American Battlefield Trust site to view animated Peninsula Campaign map

Visit the Williamsburg Battlefield Association (view newsletter)

Membership to the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable Mailing List For Newsletters and Meeting Notices

You can subscribe to, or unsubscribe from, the Roundtable mailing list members@wcwrt.org.
Yes, I want to become a member of the mailing list members@wcwrt.org.
Please remove me from mailing list members@wcwrt.org.
Enter your e-mail address:

Please confirm your e-mail address: