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 2016 - Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.  presented "That Furious Struggle - Chancellorsville and the High Tide of the Confederacy”. Chris is a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University. He also works as a historian at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he gives tours at four major Civil War battlefields (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania), as well as at the building where Stonewall Jackson died. With Kris White, he is co-founder of Emerging Civil War. Together, they have co-authored Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House; Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg; The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson; Grant’s Last Battle: The Story Behind the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant; and Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front: The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church. He’s also written books on the battles of Wilderness and Chancellorsville. Mackowski and White have written for Civil War.

February 2016 - Peggy Vogtsberger presented  "The 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry, an all-German regiment".  This regiment consisted of German immigrants, many who fled Germany as a result of the failed Revolution of 1848.  Most had been in this country slightly more than a decade when the Civil War began.  Peggy will discuss what motivated these men to endure three years of hardship and death to fight for a country not their own.  She will discuss how they perceived their experiences as soldiers differently than those of  "the Americans."  The regiment, enlisted for three years, was part of the Army of the Ohio and later the Army of the Cumberland.  They  fought at Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and in the Atlanta campaign.   She was fortunate to discover paintings and drawings of the regiment as well as published personal letters, some which she will share with us during her program.  About fifteen years ago, Peggy discovered she had a personal connection to this regiment--Private Frederick Vogtsberger served in Company H.

Miss Vogtsberger has served as past editor and president of the Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable.  She is the author of The Dulanys of Welbourne: A Family in Mosby's Confederacy (Rockbridge Publishing, 1995).  She has long had an interest in Major John Pelham and wrote an introduction to the reprint of Pelham's biography, The Life of the Gallant Pelham by Philip Mercer.   In October 2014 she began a Facebook group, The Society of the Army of the Cumberland, which now has over 100 members, including (besides herself) five published authors.  She is a frequent speaker to the Round Table.  She is always reading and researching and hopes to develop a future program on General Patrick Cleburne and his proposal to emancipate slaves during the Civil War.

March 2016 - Dr. Matthew Laird presented “Searching for Slabtown: The Archaeology of Hampton’s Grand Contraband Camp”.   In the summer of 2014, the James River Institute for Archaeology, Inc. (JRIA) conducted an archaeological investigation on behalf of the City of Hampton to identify and document a portion of the Grand Contraband Camp, a large settlement of recently enslaved African Americans who came to the Union-controlled area around Fort Monroe seeking to begin new lives in freedom. JRIA’s targeted testing revealed a dense concentration of intact features evidently associated with the Grand Contraband Camp, and the subsequent occupation of African American families who purchased lots on the property in the early 1870s.

April 2016 -   Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (Dr. Curt Fields) is still in command of all forces of the U.S. Army. Demobilization of the Army’s volunteer units is underway, and the General is finally able to spend a few moments to reflect upon the momentous events that have taken place since his elevation to overall command.   The General, escorting Mrs. Grant, discussed his recollections of the major offensive that took place in Virginia during the late spring of 1864. He identifies his remarks as “The Overland Campaign – Forty Days in Hell”.  

May 2016 - John Quarstein presented “The Battle of Mobile Bay”. John described the dramatic naval action which featured the confrontation between the Union’s Rear Admiral David G. Farragut and Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan. This battle is remembered for Admiral Farragut’s famous order…”damn the torpedoes…!

September 2016 - Robert Krick presented “Frayser’s Farm / Glendale: The Penultimate Fight of the Seven Days Campaign, and a Battle Known by Six Different Names”. The Seven Days Campaign outside Richmond in 1862, so sweeping in its scope and complex in its details, remains imperfectly understood.  Today the battle is best known as a failed opportunity for the Confederate army, which had the Army of the Potomac in an awkward and vulnerable situation on that June 30 afternoon.

Robert Krick has lived or worked on Civil War battlefields almost continuously since 1972.  He grew up on the Chancellorsville battlefield near Fredericksburg and has worked in various historical capacities at several battlefields, including Custer Battlefield in Montana, and Manassas Battlefield.  Since 1991 he has been an historian on the staff at the battlefield park in Richmond. 

October 2016Robert Orrison presented “The Bristoe Campaign”. Most people skip from Gettysburg to the Wilderness when studying the Civil War in the east. But in doing so they are skipping over a very combative fall between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac, in which Robert E Lee proved that the Confederate army was not as wounded as most believed. The events in October 1863 led the Army of Northern Virginia back to the doorstep of Washington, DC and left a frustrated Lincoln looking for new military leadership.

Historian Rob Orrison is a
native Virginian, Rob received his B.A. in Historic Preservation at Longwood College and his M.A. in Public History from George Mason University. He now serves as the Historic Site Operations Supervisor for Prince William County. He also leads tours with Civil War Excursion Tours, which he co-founded, and he’s co-author of A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign (Savas Beatie, 2015) and A Long Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign (Savas Beatie, 2016).

November 2016 - Scott Mingus presented “William ‘Extra Billy’ Smith”. Extra Billy Smith, the oldest and one of the most controversial Confederate generals on the field at Gettysburg, was also one of the most colorful and charismatic characters of the Civil War and the antebellum Old South. Known nationally as “Extra Billy” because of his prewar penchant for finding loopholes in government postal contracts to gain extra money for his stagecoach lines, Smith served as Virginia’s governor during both the War with Mexico and the Civil War, served five terms in the U.S. Congress, and was one of Virginia’s leading spokesmen for slavery and States’ Rights. Extra Billy’s extra-long speeches and wry sense of humor were legendary among his peers. A lawyer during the heady Gold Rush days, Smith made a fortune in California and, like his income earned from stagecoaches, quickly lost it.
Scott Mingus is a scientist and executive in the paper industry, and holds patents in self-adhesive postage stamps and bar code labels. The York, Pa., resident has written fifteen Civil War books. His biography of Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith won the 2013 Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Award as well as the Dr. James I Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize, and was nominated for the Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

December 2016 - Sue Boardman presented a program that cover the history of Cyclorama paintings along with the technical issues of painting an event on a canvas measuring approximately 380 feet in circumference, 40 plus feet in height, and weighing approximately 4 tons. She will outline the history of the Gettysburg Cyclorama paintings, (...there were several versions made and exhibited in major northern cities…) and focus on the Phillippoteaux painting that is displayed at Gettysburg. Her presentation will outline the efforts to produce the painting in the 1880’s, and then fast forward to the restoration efforts and reinstallation in the new Visitor Center in the early 2000 time period. In addition, Sue will point out numerous individuals and features on the restored canvas to enhance the interests of the viewing audience. 
Sue Boardman, A Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide since 2000, is a two-time recipient of the Superintendent’s Award for Excellence as a Battlefield Guide. She is a recognized expert of not only the Battle of Gettysburg, but also an expert of the early history of the National Park and the National Cemetery. In 2004, Sue served as the historical consultant for the Gettysburg Foundation during the construction of the new Visitor Center Museum as well as the principal consultant for the massive undertaking to conserve and restore the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting which was removed from the 1960’s era Visitor Center and subsequently installed in the new Visitor Center. The conservation and restoration experience led her to author a book on the history of the painting entitled “The Gettysburg Cyclorama: A History and Guide” in 2008. She currently adds the title of Leadership Program Director of the Gettysburg Foundation to her Licensed Battlefield Guide duties.


To view speaker listing prior to current year, click here.