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.

Past Speakers

January 2019 - Matt Atkinson presented “Vicksburg – A Campaign for the ages.” The Campaign for Vicksburg is one of the most well recognized but understudied events during the Civil War.  The campaign to capture the Hill City encompassed over a year in time. Matt's presentation titled “Vicksburg: A Campaign for the Ages” will focus on the final campaign of 1863.  Grant's subsequent offensive featured five battles in three weeks, and a forty-seven-day siege.  The result is the capture of an entire Confederate army, the opening of the Mississippi River to Union control, and the cementing of Ulysses S. Grant's career.  This is a lot of information for an hour program so grab a chair and strap on your seat belts!  Matt promises a whirlwind program.  
 
Matt Atkinson hails from Houston, Mississippi.  (Grierson’s Raid came through his town.)  He attended Ole Miss and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in History.  In 2016, Matt earned a Master of Arts in History at the University of Louisiana – Monroe.  His thesis is on the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou or, as he would like to call it – “Dead Yankees in a Swamp.” 
Matt grew up in Mississippi loving the Civil War.  His parents took him to local battlefields such as Vicksburg and Shiloh.   Matt always asked, Dad, did we win here?” and Dad always responded, “No, not here.”  At age seven, Matt and his parents made a trip to Washington, D. C.  On the way, they stopped at the Manassas Battlefield.  Finally!  A victory!  Alas, his mother was sick though and the family had to move on.  It would take another 20 years for Matt to return and he still has yet to forgive his mother. 
Matt currently resides in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with his twin girls, Emma and Aubrey, and his son Benjamin Lee.  He is employed by Gettysburg National Military Park and enjoys listening to sad country songs.

February 2019 - On Tuesday February 26, Dr, Jonathon White presented “Abraham Lincoln – Early Life”. His talk will explore Abraham Lincoln's early life, from his birth in a log cabin in Kentucky through his young adulthood.  It will examine various aspects of his experiences as a child and young adult, including his education, work, travel, family, and romance.  By exploring who Lincoln was as a young man, we can better understand how he became a president who led the Union through the Civil War.

Jonathan W. White is associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, where he has taught since 2009.  He is the author or editor of eight books, including Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman (2011), and 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 has published more than one hundred articles, essays and reviews, and is the winner of the 2005 John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article in Civil War History, the 2010 Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize, and the 2012 Thomas Jefferson Prize for his Guide to Research in Federal Judicial History (2010). He serves as vice chair of the Lincoln Forum, president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, and on the boards of the Abraham Lincoln Association and the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia. He also serves on the Ford’s Theatre Advisory Council and the editorial board of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. In 2017, C-SPAN invited him to participate in its survey of presidential leadership.  His most recent books include Lincoln on Law, Leadership and Life (2015); 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 2019 he will publish College Life During the Civil War (Kent State University Press) with his student, Daniel Glenn.

March 2019 - Ryan Quint presented “Determined to Stand and Fight – The Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864”. In early July 1864, a quickly patched together force of outnumbered Union soldiers under the command of Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace prepared for a last-ditch defense along the banks of the Monocacy River. Behind them, barely fifty miles away, lay the capital of the United States, open to attack. Facing Wallace’s men were Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederates. In just under a month, they had cleared the Shenandoah Valley of Union soldiers and crossed the Potomac River, invading the north for the third time in the war. The veterans in Early’s force could almost imagine their flags flying above the White House. A Confederate victory near Washington could be all the pro-peace platforms in the north needed to defeat Abraham Lincoln in the upcoming election.
 
What followed, the Battle of Monocacy, came to be known as “The Battle that Saved Washington.” Ryan Quint will tell the story of the fight through the words of those who lived it, using contemporary accounts and photographs to reveal the determined fighting that took place through the hot hours of July 9, 1864.
 Ryan Quint graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in history. He worked as a seasonal park guide at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park before moving to work at as an interpreter for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. His first book Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864, was published in 2017 by Savas Beatie as part of their award-winning Emerging Civil War Series. He is currently at work on a second book about the Battle of Dranesville.

April 2019 - Edward Alexander presented “Breaking Through to the Other Side – Petersburg, April 2, 1865”. ‘The breaking of Robert E. Lee's army at Petersburg was achieved through a bayonet charge by the Union VI Corps on the morning of April 2, 1865. Failed assaults at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and Franklin seemed to prove the futility of frontal attacks, but this particular Union corps demonstrated a recurring ability to punch through fortified positions during the Civil War. This presentation discusses the criteria necessary for their string of successful attacks, the context of the final offensive at Petersburg, and the dramatic story of the very first Union soldiers to reach the top of the Confederate fortifications on the last day of the Petersburg campaign. This decisive day of the American Civil War is brought to life using modern and historic images of the battlefield landscape, compelling primary source material from its participants, and animated topographic maps of the campaign.
 
Edward Alexander is author of Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg. He has previously worked as a park ranger and historian at Pamplin Historical Park and Richmond National Battlefield Park. He is currently in civil engineering & construction but continues his public history work as a freelance mapmaker and a contributing member of the Emerging Civil War organization. Edward is a graduate of the University of Illinois and currently resides in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

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