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 LIV Number 3              November 28, 2023

November 28, 2023 at 6:30 PM

Frank A. O'Reilly
“William Barksdale and the Changing Face of War
at Fredericksburg”

Please join us on Tuesday, November 28th for the meeting of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable, commencing at 6:30 PM in the Williamsburg Regional Library Theatre. The library is located at 515 Scotland Street in Williamsburg.

The program will also be presented online via a Zoom link for our members and friends near and far. The details for the Zoom link will be provided by a follow-up announcement several days prior to meeting date.

Frank O'ReillyOn November 28th Frank O’Reilly will present “William Barksdale and the Changing Face of War at Fredericksburg”.
William Barksdale and his Mississippi brigade initiated the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 11, 1862—and changed the face of war for American soldiers.  Barksdale’s Mississippians staged an unprecedented defense of the town’s riverfront, fighting as individuals to slow Federal engineers attempting to bridge the Rappahannock River.  Their stand provoked a massive bombardment of a large populous area, the first American riverine assault under fire, the first beach head established under fire in American military history, and the first urban combat in North America.  According to Confederate leaders, Barksdale won the Battle of Fredericksburg—and everything that followed December 11 was a foregone conclusion.  We will look at the innovations used at Fredericksburg and see how they changed the course of American military history.
Mr. O’Reilly’s latest book, The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock, received a 2003 nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters.  Released by LSU Press in December, 2002, it has won the 2002 Capital District (Albany, NY) Book Award; the 2003 James I. Robertson, Jr. Book Award; the 2004 Daniel Laney Book Award; and the 2004 Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award.

Mr. O’Reilly received both his BA and MA in American History with a concentration in Early American Military History and Civil War Studies.  He did undergraduate work at Washington & Lee University before joining the National Park Service at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.  Mr. O’Reilly worked briefly at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and then returned to Fredericksburg as an historian in 1990. I have been an historian for the battlefields for 35 of my 36 years of service.   Mr. O’Reilly has written numerous articles on the Civil War and Mexican War for national and international journals; and introductions to quite a few books.  Mr. O’Reilly released his first book on the Fredericksburg Campaign titled, Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg, in 1993.  I have appeared in quite a few documentaries, on CSPAN, and have lectured extensively on military history to audiences around the world, from the Pentagon to numerous conferences with the American Civil War Round Table of the United Kingdom.   Mr. O’Reilly is currently writing a book on the 1862 Battle of Malvern Hill and the Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond.

Last Month
On October 24th Dr. Jonathan White presented “Lincoln Destroys the Slave Trade: The Extraordinary Unknown Story of Appleton Oaksmith”
Dr. White's talk explored the extraordinary lengths the Lincoln Administration went to destroy the illegal transatlantic slave trade during the Civil War. Using the unknown story of a nineteenth-century sailor named Appleton Oaksmith as a lens, Jonathan W. White will show the various (and heretofore unknown) steps that Abraham Lincoln and his secretary of state, William H. Seward, took to forever stop illegal slavers—including using the suspension of habeas corpus, the use of civil courts, and an international kidnapping scheme.

Jonathan W. White is associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He is the author or editor of thirteen books, including Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln (2014), which was a finalist for both the Lincoln Prize and Jefferson Davis Prize, a “best book” in Civil War Monitor, and the winner of the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. He serves as vice chair of The Lincoln Forum, and on the boards of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Abraham Lincoln Institute, and the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, as well as the Ford’s Theatre Advisory Council. His most recent books include Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War (2017), which was selected as a “best book” by Civil War Monitor; and “Our Little Monitor”: The Greatest Invention of the Civil War (2018), which he co-authored with Anna Gibson Holloway. In October he published To Address You As My Friend: African Americans’ Letters to Abraham Lincoln with the University of North Carolina Press, and in November he will publish My Work Among the Freedmen: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of Harriet M. Buss with UVA Press. In 2022 he published A House Built By Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House. Dr. White was named a joint recipient of the 2023 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for his recently published book A House Built By Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House.

Offcers of WCWRT
President: Bill Miller               Vice-President: Lee Underwood
Secretary                               Treasurer: 

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

  • December 19, 2023:   Drew Gruber:   “John Bell Hood and the Battle at Eltham’s Landing”
  • January 23, 2024:   Bruce Littell:   “The Submarine H. L. Hunley:  Concept, Development, Deployment, Recovery, & Conservation”
  • February 27, 2024:   Scott Mingus:   “Confederate Calamity:  JEB Stuart’s Cavalry Ride through York County, PA”
  • March 26, 2024:   Jonathan Jones:   “Opium Slavery:  Drug Dependency Among Civil War Veterans”
  • April 23, 2024:  Rob Orrison:  “Twice Baptized: Misconceptions & Unique Stories from the Manassas Battlefields
  • May 28, 2024:  Patrick Schroeder:  “Forgotten Friday: The April 7, 1865 Actions in Cumberland County, VA”

Special Events

Other Notes:  

Support our Book Raffle:  This is an important secondary source of revenue to support our programming. It’s a wonderful way to supplement your Civil War library with great books at bargain basement prices.

Help our effort increase our membership:  The best method of recruitment is by word of mouth. Help our effort to grow your Roundtable by inviting your friends and neighbors to accompany you to our meeting.

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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