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 XLII Number 6                 February 27, 2018

Ralph Peters

"Civil War Leadership and its Challenges"

Join us for the next meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable at the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre at 7 PM on Tuesday, February 27, 2018.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2018 – Ralph Peters will present "Civil War Leadership and its Challenges”. Ralph will discuss well-known commanders and others half-forgotten, how their characters and backgrounds shaped their successes and failures, and how the dynamic times in which they lived--an age of technical and political revolutions--made a war that began under the influence of Napoleon and Frederick the Great end as the first truly modern war, with the first modern staffs; the first industrial war machine; and a new age of mass slaughter.

Ralph Peters is a writer, strategist, media commentator and retired military officer. He is the author of 33 books and over 1,000 columns, articles, essays and reviews. Uniformed service, personal interests and research have taken him to more than 70 countries and six continents. He served in the U.S. Army for 22 years, first as an enlisted man, then as an officer, retiring shortly after his promotion to lieutenant-colonel to write.

As a soldier, Ralph served in Infantry and Military Intelligence units before becoming a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Russia and surrounding states. Special assignments took him to Southeast and Central Asia, to the Caucasus, to the Kremlin, to Pakistan and Burma, to the Andean Ridge and the southwest border of the United States. He has traveled extensively in the Muslim world, as well as studying India, sub-Saharan Africa, and Indonesia. In addition to assignments to the Pentagon and the Executive Office of the President, he served and lived in Europe for over ten years. He has reported from various conflict zones, including Iraq, Israel and sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2017, he was inducted into the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.

Ralph has published seven books on strategy and military affairs: Endless War, Wars of Blood and Faith, Never Quit the Fight, Beyond Baghdad, Beyond Terror, Fighting for the Future, and New Glory. Lines of Fire, a collection of his most-enduring writings of the past two decades was published in September 2011.

Looking for Trouble, a memoir of his adventures in remote corners of the world while still in uniform, appeared in 2008. Additionally, the Marine Corps has published a compendium of his research reports from Africa written between 2003 and 2006.

Also, a novelist, under his own name and as Owen Parry, he has written a number of bestsellers with international settings, as well as critically praised historical novels about the Civil War. His New York Times bestseller Cain at Gettysburg won the 2013 American Library Association’s W.Y. Boyd Award for Literary Excellence in Military Fiction, after which his follow-up novels Hell or Richmond and Valley of the Shadow also won the Boyd Award, making him the first three-time winner in the award’s history. The Damned of Petersburg, the fourth novel in his Civil War cycle, appeared in 2016 and the capstone book, Judgment at Appomattox, was published in 2017. His “by Owen Parry” Civil War mysteries won the Hammett Prize and the Herodotus Award. In 2015, he received the Goodpaster Award as that year’s distinguished American soldier-scholar.

Ralph’s commentaries, essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Herald, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Newsweek, Harpers, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Washington Monthly, Wired, Parameters, Armed Forces Journal, Joint Force Quarterly, Strategic Review, Armchair General, Military Review and a range of other domestic and foreign publications. He has appeared on every major American television and cable-news network, as well as on many radio programs and in the international media. From 2008 to 2018, he has been Fox News’ Strategic Analyst.

Last Month

On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, Chris Bryce presented Grant’s crossing of the James River and the defense of Petersburg June-July 1864.
On June 12, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant, secretly withdrew the Army of the Potomac from its position's in front of Cold Harbor. From there he and over 100,000 men of the army would embark on one of the more impressive turning movements of the war. Two days later after some hard marching and superb logistical work, the Federals began crossing the James River. Once across the river Grant set his sights on the vital transportation hub of Petersburg. Defended by roughly 4,600 Confederate troops under the command of General P.G.T. Beauregard, could Petersburg hold out until reinforcements arrived from General Robert E. Lee who was in the dark about the whereabouts of Grant's army?

For three days, June 15-18 Grant’s forces pressed the Confederate defenders to the point of breaking, but the southern troops held on and inflicted staggering losses upon the Union attackers with one regiment suffering the highest regimental single battle loss of the entire war.   By the end of June with an infusion of Lee’s forces from Richmond the battle lines around Petersburg began to stabilize.
In an effort to break the Confederate line Union troops from Pennsylvania devised a plan to tunnel underneath the Petersburg defenses and pack the tunnel with explosives to rupture Lee’s line and enter Petersburg.  Would this plan lead to the capture of Petersburg in July 1864 or would it be another example of “Wasted Valor” that had been witnessed in front of Petersburg before?
Chris Bryce, is the Assistant to the Superintendent/Public Affairs, Petersburg National Battlefield.
Chris Bryce began his National Park Service Career in 1987 as a seasonal park ranger at Manassas National Battlefield Park. He became a permanent employee in 1988 as an interpretive park ranger at Independence National Historical Park.
In 1992 he returned to Manassas NBP serving as an interpretive park ranger. In 1999 he became an interpretive park ranger at Colonial National Historical Park/Yorktown Battlefield.  In 2008 he became the supervisory park ranger for the Historic Jamestowne unit of Colonial National Historical Park. Where he oversaw the visitor services operations of the site.  In 2010 he became the Chief of Interpretation for Petersburg National Battlefield. He is currently serving as the assistant to the park superintendent and the public affairs officer for the Petersburg National Battlefield.
Chris holds a bachelors degree in History with a concentration in 18th and 19th American military history and 20th century European military history from East Tennessee State University.  He resides with his family in Williamsburg, VA.

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 and Terri Teopke.

Upcoming Meetings and Speakers

  • March 27, 2018 - Peggy Vogstberger – “Patrick Cleburne”
  • April 24, 2018 - Eric Wittenberg - John Buford
  • May 22, 2018 - Dr. James I. Robertson - "The Four-Legged Soldiers"

Special Events

  • February – May, 2018 - The Return of History Happy Hours at the American Civil War Museum. For details and other museum events click here.

  • February 3, 2018 - Nineteenth Annual Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and Longwood University Free Civil War Seminar details

  • February 24, 2018 - The American Civil War Museum presents its 2018 Symposium at the Library of Virginia from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm. Five renowned Civil War scholars will explore the impact of the war on diverse groups of people and narrate the stories of ordinary individuals who navigated the challenges and opportunities of war. Details at  Symposium page

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