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.

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Williamsburg Civil War



  Meeting Place:


Williamsburg Regional Library Theatre


Volume XLII Number 8                 April 24, 2018

Eric Wittenberg

"The Devil's to Pay -
John Buford At Gettysburg

Join us for the next meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable at the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre at 7 PM on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, Eric Wittenberg will present “The Devil’d to Pay” - John Buford at Gettysburg, is based upon the research that he conducted in conjunction with the publishing of his book by the same title. Eric will outline the role that Brig. General John Buford and his First Cavalry Division troops played up to and through the Battle of Gettysburg. His presentation will focus upon the actions of Buford and his horse soldiers on the first day of the battle when they mounted a stiff resistance to impede the progress of the advance of overwhelming numbers of Confederate infantry until the arrival of the Union First Corps and Eleventh Corps units. Eric will also discuss the actions that Buford’s troopers undertook to shepherd and save the shattered remnants of those two Union infantry corps at the end of the first day of the battle.

The Roundtable has collaborated with the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to engage Eric Wittenberg for back-to-back presentations in Williamsburg. He will speak to the SCV organization on Wednesday evening (April 25) at the Colonial Heritage Clubhouse, located at 6500 Arthur Hills Drive. The topic of his presentation will be “The Battle of Brandy Station”. The event is a dinner meeting, and the cost of the meal is $17. There are approximately eight slots available for guests, to be filled on a first come basis. The SCV is offering WCWRT members the opportunity to attend the event in order to hear a second presentation from Eric . The SCV has to guarantee the number of diners to the Clubhouse so those interested in attending must make reservations and payment in advance. Please contact Ken Parsons (telephone 757-876-6967 or Email kparsons320@gmail.com) if you are interested in attending.
Eric J. Wittenberg is a native of Southeastern Pennsylvania. He is an award-winning Civil War historian whose primary focus has been cavalry operations in the Eastern Theater and on the Gettysburg Campaign. He is the author of 21 published books on the Civil War and dozens of magazine articles. He has won the Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award, the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable’s Book Award, and the United States Army Heritage Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award. He is deeply involved in battlefield preservation work, and often works with the Civil War Trust on preservation efforts. He is a former president and program chairman of the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable, and served on the Governor of Ohio’s Commission on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. He runs a popular blog, Rantings of a Civil War Historian, and often travels the country lecturing on the Civil War and leading tours. He is an attorney in private practice, where he manages his firm’s litigation practice. He, his wife Susan, and their four golden retrievers live in Columbus, Ohio.

Last Month

On Tuesday, March 27, 2018 Peggy Vogtsberger presented “Major General Patrick Cleburne”. Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, C.S.A. was born in County Cork, Ireland, the son of a country doctor, on March 16, 1828.  He trained to be a druggist, but his inability to pass the Latin part of his examinations led him to join the British Army as a private.  In 1849, he paid to get out of his enlistment and emigrated to the United States.

Patrick first settled in Cincinnati, but soon learned of a job opportunity as a druggist in the store of Dr. Charles Nash and Dr. Hector Grant in Helena, Arkansas. Cleburne accepted the position and moved to Helena in 1850. His ambition led him to become part owner of the store. Eventually, he quit to study law and was an attorney when the war broke out in 1861. He also dabbled into local politics. Cleburne's political views shifted. He had been a conservative Whig in 1850, but by 1861 he was an ardent States Rights Democrat.

Cleburne enlisted in the Yell Rifles as a private, then became Captain of the militia unit. He was elected Colonel of the regiment, the 1st (later 15th) Arkansas. Serving under General William J. Hardee, he was promoted brigadier general and rose to the rank of major general. As a division commander, Cleburne's reputation was that of a fierce and aggressive fighter on the offense, but he also proved to be very skilful on the defense. Cleburne believed in constant drilling and training, and he was fortunate to have talented and able subordinates. With their distinctive battle flag, the presence of Cleburne's Division on the battlefield was noted by friend and foe

In January 1864 Cleburne presented a proposal in writing and in a meeting of the general leadership of the Army of Tennessee calling for freedom of Southern slaves if they joined the Confederate army. The proposal, while supported by some, generally met with sharp disagreement and even outrage.

Cleburne was ordered by the highest authority to suppress and destroy his proposal. It never became public knowledge until decades after the war.

General Cleburne was killed, while leading a frontal assault upon the Federal entrenchments near the Carter Gin House, at the battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864. He was 36 years old and had recently become engaged to be married. His loss was mourned by the army and his legend in death grew to almost iconic status.

Miss Vogtsberger answered several questions: Why did Cleburne, an Irish immigrant and a non-slaveowner, become so enamoured of the Southern cause? What did his proposal about slavery really say? She will go into some detail into the language of the proposal. Did he expect the fierce opposition to his proposal? Did his advocacy of the proposal cost him promotion to higher rank, as many believe? Her talk will only speak of the highlights of his military career.

Miss Vogtsberger was former president and editor of the Williamsburg CWRT. She founded the John Pelham Historical Association in 1982, and a few years ago she started a Facebook group, The Society of the Army of the Cumberland. In 1995 she edited the letters of Colonel Richard H. Dulany of the 7th Virginia Cavalry, published as The Dulanys of Welbourne: A Family in Mosby's Confederacy. Her interest in General Cleburne began decades ago, when she read the book, Cleburne and His Command, written by Cleburne's A.A.G., Captain Irving A. Buck.

Dues for September 2017 - May 2018 are due. Dues are $30 for an individual and $35 for a family. Please make checks payable to WCWRT. Registration form

2017-2018 Officers of WCWRT:
President: Bill Miller               Vice-President: Lee Underwood
Secretary: Gene Danko         Treasurer:  George Callis

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, Terri Teopke, and Debbie Bedosti.

Upcoming Meetings and Speakers

  • May 22, 2018 - Dr. James I. Robertson - "The Four-Legged Soldiers"

Special Events

  • April – May 2018 - The Return of History Happy Hours at the American Civil War Museum. For details and other museum events click here.
  • April 2018 - American Civil War Museum newsletter click
  • April 25, 2018- - Chris McDaid, archaeologist for Fort Eustis is forming a chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia for the Williamsburg Area at an organization meeting at the Library Theater from 7 to 9 PM.
  • April – October 2018 - Chambersburg civil war tours details
  • May 4-5, 2018 - Colonial Heritage John Wilkes Booth tour details
  • May 26, 2018 - Emerging Civil War’s first-ever “Pop-Up” Tour! Join ECW’s Kevin Pawlak and Dan Welch for a special trip across part of Antietam National Battlefield. 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 / 2018