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.

Current Newsletter and Archives

Williamsburg Civil War



  Meeting Place:


Williamsburg Regional Library Theatre


Volume XLI Number 6                   February 28, 2017

Emmanuel Dabney

“'catching us like sheep in a slaughter'...
United States Colored Troops At
The Battle Of The Crater

Join us for the next meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable at the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre at 7 PM on Tuesday February 28, 2017
In mid-June 1864, Union troops assaulted Petersburg, Virginia for four days; however, a staunch Confederate defense by General Pierre Beauregard and the arrival of General Robert E. Lee’s army forced Lt. General Ulysses Grant to have his troops dig in. Days later, a young officer hatched a plan for digging a mine and blowing up a Confederate battery outside the city. In early July 1864, Major General Ambrose Burnside decided that he wished to use his division of United States Colored Troops in the advance of an assault to be made following the explosion of gunpowder beneath the Confederate earthworks outside Petersburg. Despite his intentions, the black soldiers were the last to advance. These troops had a strong desire to be used in their own efforts to secure emancipation and to be considered citizens. The resulting battle of the Crater turned into a fiasco for the Union in what became one of the best-known battles of the Petersburg Campaign.
In “‘catching us like sheep in a slaughter pen…’: United States Colored Troops at the Battle of the Crater” Emmanuel Dabney will highlight personal stories of privates, non-commissioned officers, and officers who participated in the battle. He will also address the myth of all the United States Colored Troops being trained for the battle ahead of time. The talk will also uncover some of the fates of those men who became casualties as a result of the fighting.
Emmanuel Dabney has worked at Petersburg National Battlefield since 2001. After completing high school in Dinwiddie, Emmanuel graduated magna cum laude with an Associates of Arts from Richard Bland College, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and completed a Master’s degree in Public History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 
Emmanuel has given many programs on the issues facing African-Americans in antebellum, wartime, and immediate post-war America as well as how to portray these experiences within professional museum settings. He believes his love of history is embedded in his DNA; having on his maternal grandfather’s line, ancestors who were slaveholders and free blacks; on his maternal grandmother’s line there are enslaved people and non-slaveholding whites; and on his paternal line more enslaved people.
Last Month

On January 24, 2016 for Dr. White’s presented “Lincoln and Civil Liberties”. In the spring of 1861, Union military authorities arrested Maryland farmer John Merryman on charges of treason against the United States for burning railroad bridges around Baltimore in an effort to prevent northern soldiers from reaching the federal capital. From his prison cell at Fort McHenry, Merryman petitioned the Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney for release through a writ of habeas corpus. Chief Justice Taney issued the writ, but President Lincoln ignored it. In mid-July Merryman was released, only to be indicted for treason a Baltimore federal court. His case, however, never went to trial and federal prosecutors finally dismissed the charges in 1867. 
In "Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War", Jonathan W. White reveals how the arrest and prosecution of this little-known Baltimore farmer had a lasting impact on the Lincoln administration and Congress as they struggled to develop policies to deal with both northern traitors and southern rebels. His work exposes several perennially controversial legal and constitutional issues in American history, including the nature and extent of presidential war powers, the development of national policies for dealing with disloyalty and treason, and the protection of civil liberties in wartime.

Jonathan W. White, Ph. D. is an Associate Professor and Senior Fellow in the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. He admits a particular interest in Abraham Lincoln and U. S. constitutional history. In addition to teaching courses in American Studies at CNU, he also serves as the university’s Prelaw Advisor. Jonathan has authored several books, including “Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War”, and “Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln”, as well as numerous scholarly papers and articles. Dr. White is an undergraduate of Penn State, and completed his graduate studies at the University of Maryland.

Dues for 2016-2017 are due. Dues for the year are $30 for an individual and $35 for a family. Please make checks payable to WCWRT. Registration form

2016-2017 Officers of WCWRT:
President: Teri Teopke               Vice-President: Gene Danko
Secretary:                                 Treasurer:  John Hale

The Executive Committee consists of the elected officers, the immediate past president and other members appointed by the incoming president. Those members include Tom Lamb, Bill Miller, and J. Michael Moore.

Upcoming Meetings and Speakers

  • March 28, 2017 - Dr. Kenneth Rutherford “Landmines in Our Backyard: The Civil War’s Buried History”
  • April 25, 2017 - Ernie Price - "Marching Out of Formation - Confederates Going Home After Appomattox"
  • May 23, 2017 - Chris Kolakowski - "The Battle of Missionary Ridge"
  • September 22, 2017 - TBA
  • October 24, 2017 - Dennis Frye - Did McClellan out-think Lee during the first Confederate invasion?
  • December 19, 2017 - Brian Steele Wills - Gone with the glory (The Civil War in Cinema)
  • April 24, 2018 - Eric Wittenberg - John Buford

Special Events

February 18, 2017 - 18th Civil War Seminar "LEADERSHIP IN THE CIVIL WAR". Free seminar at Jarman Auditorium Longwood University Farmville, Virginia details

February 25, 2017 - 2017 Symposium- Lightning Rods for Controversy: Civil War Monuments Past, Present, & Future Sponsored by The American Civil War Museum details

March 4 & 5, 2017 – The Battle of Hampton Roads at the Mariner’s Museum. Join us for a weekend full of family-friendly, interactive activities to commemorate the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads. The weekend will celebrate the theme "Minorities in the Civil War." details

March, April, July, September, and December 2017 - Prince William County 2017 History Bus Tours details

2017 $1000 SCV Essay Contest - Enter the 2017 Lt. Colonel James Harvey Allen Memorial Scholarship Contest (co-sponsored by WCWRT) details

Visit the Williamsburg Battlefield Association
(http://www.williamsburgbattlefieldassociation.org/) (https://www.facebook.com/WilliamsburgBattlefieldAssociation)
WEBSITE: Be sure to frequently visit the site for newsletter info, announcements, future and past speakers, and an up to date calendar of events in the Civil War world.  It’s available anytime you need the info. http://www.wcwrt.org.

To access the newsletter archives, 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017