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



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Williamsburg Regional Library Theatre


Volume XLII Number 7                 March 27, 2018

Peggy Vogtsberger

"Major General Patrick Cleburne"

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, March 27, 2018 Peggy Vogtsberger will present “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 will try to answer some 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.

Last Month

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.

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

  • April 24, 2018 - Eric Wittenberg - John Buford
  • May 22, 2018 - Dr. James I. Robertson - "The Four-Legged Soldiers"

Special Events

  • March – May, 2018 - The Return of History Happy Hours at the American Civil War Museum. For details and other museum events click here.
  • April – October 2018 - Chambersburg civil war tours details

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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.

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