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 XLIII Number 2                 October 23, 2018

Dr. E. C. (Curt) Fields, Jr.

As General Grant discusses "Shiloh"

Join us for the next meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable at the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre at 7 PM on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.

On October 23, 2018 Dr. Curt Fields (as General Grant) will present "Shiloh"

Grant had been released from house arrest (he lamented that they didn't even have a guard posted for him, so he must not be very important) at Fort Donelson and restored to command of the Army of the Tennessee on March 13th of '62. He arrived at the Cherry Mansion in Savannah, Tenn., on March 17th, to take command of the Army of the Tennessee from Charles Ferguson Smith (his commandant of cadets when he was a student at the USMA and whom he now outranked). Smith was laid up abed with a scraped injury to his leg that eventually killed him a few days after the battle.
Grant immediately set about to train his raw army of some 33,000 men at Pittsburg Landing, with another 5,000 soldiers with General Lew Wallace five miles north of Pittsburg Landing at Crump's Landing, as he waited for General Buell to arrive from Middle Tennessee, with 37,000 men in the army of the Ohio. Together they would march on Corinth, Mississippi (some 20 miles to the south of the camp at Pittsburg landing, Tennessee) to capture the railroad crossroads in Corinth.
However, General Albert Sydney Johnston of the CSA had a different agenda regarding the Federal forces at Pittsburg Landing and their intent to march on Corinth and the crossroads of the Mobile and Ohio and the Memphis and Charleston railroads. Rather than wait for the combined force of more than 75,000 men to attack his entrenched position in Corinth at the crossroads, he determined to give Grant battle at Pittsburg Landing and push him into the Tennessee river.
It has long and loudly been asserted that Grant (and Sherman) was surprised by the Confederate attack at Pittsburg Landing. He has been severely criticized about not having built breastworks or dug trenches. He was held responsible by the Northern press for the appalling loss of life at Pittsburg landing (23,746 killed/wounded), and his dismissal was demanded even unto the President in the Executive Mansion; the President being urged to sack Grant and save himself politically.
Was Grant surprised? Was it a failure of Leadership not to build or dig breastworks/trenches? Was he responsible for the staggering loss of life?
Grant stated: "The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, has been perhaps less understood, or, to state the case more accurately, more persistently misunderstood, than any other engagement between National and Confederate troops during the entire rebellion. Shiloh was the severest battle fought at the West during the war, and but few in the East equaled it for hard, determined fighting.” (excerpt from "The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant")

Dr. E. C. (Curt) Fields, Jr., has been an avid and lifelong student of the American Civil War. His interest in portraying General Ulysses S. Grant was driven by that study and his deep respect and admiration for General Grant.

Curt Fields as General GrantDr. Fields is the same height and body style as General Grant and, therefore, presents a convincing, true-to-life image of the man as he really looked. He researches and reads extensively about General Grant in order to deliver an accurate persona of the General.  His presentations are in first person, quoting from General Grant’s Memoirs; articles and letters the General wrote, statements he made in interviews or wrote himself, and first-person accounts of people who knew the General or were with him and witnessed him during events. Dr. Fields holds a Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Education from the University of Memphis. He later earned a Master’s degree in Secondary Education and Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Curriculum from Michigan State University. He is a career educator having taught for eight years at the Junior and Senior high school levels; then served for 25 years as a high school administrator. He teaches as an adjunct Sociology Professor at the University of Memphis and in Education for Belhaven University, Memphis campus. Dr. Fields maintains a website entitled generalgrantbyhimself.com which provides more complete biographical information.)

Last Month 
On September 25, 2018 John Quarstein presented “Wake-Up Call – The Battle of Big Bethel”. Noted as the first land battle of the Civil War, Big Bethel was a mere skirmish soon overlooked by bloodier battles that would follow. Nevertheless, Big Bethel was a baptism of fire for a nation newly involved in civil war. The soldiers that served at Bethel would never forget the rude awakening of shells bursting among the smartly clad Federal Zouaves or how Henry Lawson Wyatt's body of the 1st North Carolina laid lifeless on the field. They all knew that the war would not just be filled with parades, and it would not be over by Christmas. Instead, the soldiers realized that it would be a bloody desperate affair. The Union defeat at Big Bethel would establish the battle lines in Hampton Roads for the next 10 months awaiting the grand events of Spring 1862.

John V. Quarstein is an award-winning historian, preservationist, and author. He is director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. The author of 17 books, his titles include HILTON VILLAGE: AMERICA’S FIRST PUBLIC PLANNED COMMUNITY; A HISTORY OF IRONCLADS:  THE POWER OF IRON OVER WOOD; CSS VIRGINIA: SINK BEFORE SURRENDER; and THE MONITOR BOYS: THE CREW OF THE UNION’S FIRST IRONCLAD, winner of the 2012 Henry Adams Prize for excellence in historical literature. Quarstein has also produced, narrated and written several PBS documentaries including the film series, CIVIL WAR IN HAMPTON ROADS, a Silver Telly Award winner.   Mr. Quarstein is the recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s President’s Award for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Society’s Preservation Award, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Gold Historians Medal.

Dues for September 2018 - May 2019 are due. Dues are $30 for an individual and $35 for a family. Please make checks payable to WCWRT. Registration form

2018-2019 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 Debbie Bedosti,.Tom Lamb, and Terri Teopke.

Upcoming Meetings and Speakers

  • November 27, 2018 - Mr. J. Michael Moore "The Civil War Comes to the Lower Peninsula "
  • December 18, 2018 - Dr. Charles Ross: “Creative Science and Technology in the Civil War”
  • January 22, 2019 - Matt Atkinson "Vicksburg"
  • February 26, 2019 - Dr. Jonathan White "Abraham Lincln - Early Life"
  • March 26, 2019 - Ryan Quint: “Determined to Stand and Fight – The Battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864”
  • April 23, 2019 - Edward Alexander: “Breaking Through to the Other Side – Petersburg, April 2, 1865”
  • May 28, 2019 - Bert Dunkerly: “To the Bitter End: The Surrenders of the Confederacy”

Special Events

  • October 2018 - Chambersburg civil war tours details
  • October 2018 - January 5, 2019 - American Revolution Museum at Yorktown presents 'Artillery in the War of Independence'  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.

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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