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 XLIII Number 1                 September 25, 2018

John V. Quarstein

"Wake-Up Call - The Battle of Big Bethel"

Join us for the next meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable at the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre at 7 PM on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

On September 25, 2018 John Quarstein will present “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.

Mr. Quarstein lives in the National Register of Historic Places property known as the 1757 Herbert House. This outstanding example of brick Georgian architecture is located near Blackbeard’s Point on the Hampton River in Hampton, Virginia.

John Quarstein in turret of USS Monitor
John Quarstein in turret of USS Monitor
Courtesy of The Mariners' Museum and Park

Last Meeting

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, Dr. Bud Robertson will present “The Four-Legged Soldiers”. The Civil War could not have occurred without horses. They were the primary means of transportation for soldiers as well as all the equipment needed to wage battle.  More of these animals would die than did humans in the nation-making struggle.  At the same time, thousands of troops found solace in a wide variety of animals who served as regimental mascots. They played a vital role in sustaining morale in a time of suffering and loneliness.  Such "four-legged soldiers" have a little-known but valuable story to tell.

One of the most distinguished names in Civil War history, Dr. Robertson served as Executive Director of the U. S. Civil War Centennial Commission in the 1960’s and worked with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He then taught 44 years at Virginia Tech, where his upper division course on the Civil War era attracted 300 or more students per semester and made it the largest class of its kind in the nation. He received every teaching award given by Virginia Tech.  At his retirement in 2011, the University named him Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History.

The Danville Virginia native is the author or editor of more than 40 books, including biographies of Generals Robert E. Lee and A. P. Hill, several works on the common soldiers, and three studies written for young readers. His massive biography of General “Stonewall” Jackson won eight national awards and was used as the basis for the Ted Turner/Warner Brothers mega-movie, “Gods and Generals”. Dr. Robertson was the chief historical consultant for the film.

The recipient of every major award given in Civil War history, and a lecturer of national acclaim, Dr. Robertson is probably more in demand as a speaker than anyone else in the Civil War field.

He holds a Ph D degree from Emory University and honorary doctorates from Randolph Macon College and Shenandoah University.

Dr. Robertson is a charter member, by Senate appointment, of Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and was actively engaged in the Commonwealth’s sesquicentennial observances.

He is the Father of the new traditional state song, “Our Great Virginia”, approved by the General Assembly in March 2015.

Dr. Robertson’s recent publications include “After The Civil War”, published by the National Geographic Society, and his annotated edition of John B. Jones’ “A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary”.

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

  • October 23, 2018 - Dr. Curt Fields, a/k/a General Ulysses S. Grant: “The Battle of Shiloh”
  • November 27, 2018 - Peggy Vogtsberger: “The Battle of Dam #1”
  • December 18, 2018 - Dr. Charles Ross: “Creative Science and Technology in the Civil War”
  • January 22, 2019 - TBA
  • February 26, 2019 - TBA
  • 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

  • September 6, 2018 - At Pamlin Park, Dr. Bud Robertson will present “How the Civil War Still Lives”. details
  • September – October 2018 - Chambersburg civil war tours details
  • September 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.

To access the newsletter archives, 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018