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 7                   March 28, 2017

Dr. Ken Rutherford, Ph.D.

“'Land Mines in Our Backyard
The Civil War's Buried History"

Join us for the next meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable at the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre at 7 PM on Tuesday, March 28, 2017
In early May of 1862, after stalling the Union offensive on the lower Peninsula for well over a month, Confederate forces abandoned the defensive works that spanned from Mulberry Island to Yorktown. As the jubilant Yankees entered the abandoned Rebel positions, they were shocked and dismayed to discover the presence of “subterra torpedoes”, buried to retard the advance of the Union soldiers. The presence of these “subterra torpedoes”, which we currently refer to as “landmines”, signaled the first use of this weapon in modern warfare.
In the May 12, 1862 edition of the New York Herald, General George McClellan stated that…"The rebels have been guilty of the most murderous and barbarous conduct in placing torpedoes within the abandoned works near wells and springs, and near flag-staffs, magazines, and telegraphs in carpet bags, barrels of flour, etc.,”.
In spite of initial Confederate bans regarding the utilization of landmines, time and the tides of war led to the re-evaluation of their use by the Southern leadership. Dr. Ken Rutherford’s research and presentation will outline the numerous locations throughout the Confederacy where landmines were utilized during the subsequent years of the conflict. 
Kenneth R. Rutherford, PH.D. is the Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery and Professor of Political Science at James Madison University. In his capacity as Director, he leads fundraising and strategic planning for CISR, which is recognized as a global leader in international efforts to combat the effects of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including the rehabilitation of post-conflict societies. 
Dr. Rutherford is the author or co-editor of four books related to issues related to the modern banning and removal of landmines. He has testified before Congress and the United Nations, and published more than forty articles in numerous academic and policy journals.
Dr. Rutherford co-founded the Landmine Survivors Network, and is a renowned leader in the Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition that spearheaded the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the global movement that led to the 2008 Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty. He has been the recipient of several awards and honors related to his services related to the removal and banning of landmines.
Dr. Rutherford holds his Ph.D. from Georgetown University, and his B.A. and MBA degrees from the University of Colorado.
Last Month
On February 28th, Emmanuel Dabney presented “catching us like sheep in a slaughter pen…United States Colored Troops At The Battle Of The Crater”.
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.

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

  • 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

  • March 23, 2017 - Celebrate preservation of Kernstown Battlefield details
  • March 23-April 4 - Grand Opening of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. “Thirteen Days,
  •  April 2, 2017 @ 2 PM - General A. P. Hill Memorial Commemoration details

  • April 28-30, 2017 - Central Virginia Battlefields Trust annual meeting. details
  • April, July, September, and December 2017 - Prince William County 2017 History Bus Tours details

  • June 3, Aug. 5 and Oct. 7, 2017 - Battle of Smithfield tour at Isle of Wight Museum 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