Speaking Event: Rufus Barringer CWRT on September 19

I’m back out on the road this fall – that is if no hurricanes blow me off course – to speak to several round tables and groups. The first of these is on September 19 at Southern Pines, North Carolina with the Rufus Barringer Civil War Round Table. Details may be found here:

The September meeting of the Rufus Barringer Civil War Round Table will be on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Civic Club on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Ashe Street in Southern Pines. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Refreshments and social activities start at 6:30 p.m.
The special guest speaker will be historian Craig Swain, whose presentation is titled, “Into a Marshy No-Man’s Land: Intelligence and Special Operations on the South Carolina and Georgia Coasts, 1862-65.”
Meetings are open to the public. For more information, contact Matt Farina at 910-246-0452 or mafarina@aol.com.

I gave the “Into a Marshy No-Man’s Land” presentation earlier this year in June to the new Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table. So if you couldn’t attend that event, here’s a second opportunity. Stop in and enjoy the good company at Southern Pines!

“Into a Marshy No-man’s Land” – Fort Sumter Civil War Roundtable

Save the date! As mentioned earlier, I will be speaking at the Fort Sumter Civil War Roundtable on June 10. Here are the particulars:

  • Program: Into a Marshy No-Man’s Land: Intelligence and Special Operations on the South Carolina and Georgia Coasts, 1862-65.
  • Date: June 10, 2019
  • Time: Gather at 6:00 for a bit of socializing; program begins at 6:30.
  • Place: The Citadel, Jenkins Hall

So if you live around Charleston, you have my “special” invite to this discussion of “special” operations in the Civil War.

A little more about the topic:

Through much of the Civil War neither side firmly controlled the marshlands of South Carolina and Georgia. While the Federals established bases on the coast (starting with Port Royal in November 1861), the topography of the low country favored the Confederate defender.  Yet, the Confederates were unable and unwilling to establish permanent garrisons out to the coastline.  Major operations, such as against Fort Pulaski or on Morris Island, were rare with neither side able to gain a firm upper hand. As result, the marshes and coastal estuaries were in effect a no-man’s land in which scouts, spies, raiders, and irregulars operated.  The Confederates, with local knowledge of the terrain, scouted Federal activities; ambushed Yankee patrols; monitored communications; and maintained supply routes skirting the blockade.  The Federals, employing escaped slaves, trained “marsh scouts,” and naval landing parties, sent out raids to disrupt rice and salt production; spied on Confederate operations; interdicted blockade runners; and “hacked” communications lines.  These intelligence gathering activities and special operations continued right up to the end of the Civil War.

Readers are well aware from my blogging missives of my definition of the “Charleston Theater” which includes the South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida coastlines. In that theater, most – if not all – operations were focused toward control of Charleston. And within that broad scope, we tend to focus on operations directly at Charleston – Morris Island, bombardment of Fort Sumter, and blockade operations there. Yet there were many operations conducted along that coast which supported and sustained the campaign which escape attention as we summarize the high points. And those operations often took the color of what we’d characterize today as “special operations.” Not so much Rangers, SEAL teams, Delta Force, and guys with green berets… as such “special” units did not exist at the time. Rather operations that fit the definition of “special” often being conducted by regular forces – infantry detachments or naval landing parties for instance. And at the same time, we also find true “irregular” or at least “unconventional” players operating in those marshes.

With that teaser out there, please mark this on your calendars and plan on attending. The Fort Sumter Roundtable is a new group, with my friend Jim “A Little Short of Boats at Balls Bluff” Morgan a co-founder. They have a lot of interesting programs scheduled for upcoming months.

History and Hops: February

As mentioned earlier, I will be speaking at Dragon Hops Brewing on February 21 as part of the series “History and Hops.” As promised, here are the details:

What could be better? Enjoying a beer as we discuss the Civil War…. the Civil War in Charleston on top of that! Readers well know, this is a favorite focus of my research. We tend to bypass this story, treating Fort Sumter as just the place where the war started. In reality, Fort Sumter was the subject of an ongoing campaign as the Federals attempted to wrestle control of Charleston harbor. This focus on Fort Sumter was, in terms of days, weeks, and months, the longest battle of the war. Oh, and did I say there would be beer?

If you plan to attend, please stop by the event page on Facebook and make your mark. That way the staff knows how many folks to expect. This is an open event, with no tickets or such. Just have to be 21 or older, as there are alcoholic beverages served. Did I mention there would be beer?

So if you are in the area, save the date and make plans to stop by. We’ll warm up the winter with a talk about the warm(er) waters of the South Carolina Low Country. And did I mention the beer?

“Sound of the Guns” on the Road: Upcoming Speaking Events

A trio of upcoming speaking events for “To the Sound of the Guns” as we hit the road for the 2019 season.

First, on February 21, I am speaking at “History and Hops”, at Dragon Hops Brewing. More details to follow. This will be a talk about Charleston and Fort Sumter. So, mark the date, bring a friend and enjoy a beer.

On April 27, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library hosts a Civil War Symposium. The focus is on how Civil War history is related to the public. And my part will focus on the experience of blogging. I’ll post additional details in a bit. Harry Smeltzer, one of the other speakers, has posted the event brochure. Also featured at the venue is the Thomas Espy Room, GAR Post 153, which is among the best preserved GAR collections in the country. So some good talks and exhibits. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, give it a look.

And for those further south, I’ll be speaking to the newly formed Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table on June 10. Likewise, I’ll post more details as we get closer to the date. But in the mean time, let me make a pitch for this group. My good friend Jim Morgan is among those getting this roundtable started. They meet at The Citadel’s Daniel Library Museum Reading Room. Their first speaker, on February 5, is Gordon Rhea. They follow that in March with Frank Johnson, from the Hunley Museum. Then in April, they have Ed Bearss. Not bad for the first three meetings of a new roundtable! If you are in the Charleston area, I encourage you to check them out. Harry also has a flyer up with the details.

I hope to announce a few other events for 2019 here in a few weeks, as those are confirmed. So please keep checking back. And I’ll post full details on these events as the dates near. For now, put these on your calendars!

Twentieth Annual Civil War Seminar at Longwood University

Twenty years and still going strong!

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and Longwood University host their annual Civil War on Saturday, February 9 this year. This program has a reputation for delivering quality speakers. And is open to the public… as in free.

Location is the Jarman Auditorium, on the Longwood University campus. Parking is available on Wheeler Lot, at corner of High Street and Griffin Boulevard.

This year’s speakers and schedule:

  • 8:30 AM – Doors Open. Introduction by Dr. David Coles.
  • 9:00 AM – John Quarstein, “The Ship that Saved the Nation: The Monitor’s Recovery and Conservation”
  • 10:15 AM – Jake Wynn, “Discovering Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office”
  • 11:30 AM – Edwin C. Bearss, “Recovering the USS Cairo from the Yazoo.”
  • 12:30 PM – Lunch break.
  • 1:45 PM – Caroline Janney, “We Were Not Surrendered: Paroling Lee’s Army After Appomattox.”
  • 2:45 PM – Brandon Bies, “Unprecedented Discovery at Manassas National Battlefield Park: Field Hospital Burials Unearthed”

We might conclude from the titles, this year’s theme is “things lost and found.”

I plan on attending, as this is my usual “break out from the winter encampment” event. Hope to see you there. But if not I do plan on tweeting some of the highlights.

Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable 2019 Schedule

Here’s the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable schedule of speakers for the 2019 season, just posted:

Speakers and Topics Scheduled for 2019

  • March 12, 2019—Scott Mingus, Jr. : General JEB Stuart in York County during the Gettysburg Campaign
  • April 9, 2019—Eric Wittenberg : The Battle of Aiken and cavalry operations during the South Carolina campaign
  • May 14, 2019—Chris Army : Mapping Gettysburg – How we know what we know!
  • June 11, 2019—Bob O’Neil : Cavalry Logistics during the Gettysburg Campaign
  • July 9, 2019—Jon F. Willen : The Practice of Medicine during the Civil War
  • August 13, 2019—Eric Mink : The Battle of Alrich Farm (May 15, 1864)
  • September 10, 2019—Michael Schaffer – Experiences of Corporal T. W. Colley, 1st Virginia Cavalry
  • October 8, 2019—Richard Quest : “I Held Lincoln”, A Union Sailor’s Journey Home
  • November 12, 2019—James Rosenbrock : Artillery at Antietam
  • December 10, 2019—TBD : Members Meeting

Note: Meetings are not held in January and February.

Hot off the presses with a “hot” list of speakers!

At the Loudoun Roundtable, we extend a standing open invitation to any and all students and enthusiasts of the Civil War. Feel free to stop in and check us out. If you like us, then join up! Our dues are but $25 a year… so extended over a year less than the proverbial daily cup of coffee.

Unless otherwise noted, we hold meetings at Balch Library,
208 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia, on the second Tuesday of each month (except for January and February). We traditionally hold one summer tour, and I’ll post those details when we have them. Also look for additional event announcements posted on the Roundtable Facebook Page.


Upcoming event: Big Gun Expedition to Bull Run

I have a couple of events, or should I say appearances, to announce. The first of these, as Harry Smeltzer posted last week, is an artillery-focused tour of First Bull Run. Here’s Harry’s pitch:

If big guns are your bag, you won’t want to miss a day at Manassas National Battlefield Park retracing the steps of the Union and Confederate artillerists during the First Battle of Bull Run with widely regarded expert Craig Swain and your humble host, me. Same game plan – no fees, everything is on your own (food, lodging, transportation). We’ll meet up at 9 AM on October 20, 2018 and head out onto the field. Dress appropriately – tour is rain or shine.

Expect to discuss all aspects of artillery: gun manufacture and capabilities, tactics of the day, and the action. We’ll also discuss some of the personalities involved.

This will be the FIRST artillery tour of First Bull Run since Henry Hunt led a staff ride over the field in March of 1864….

NO… I’m making that up.

But I would say the artillerymen have been given less attention than deserved for their actions at First Bull Run.  Much attention is focused on the employment of batteries on Henry House Hill which proved a crucial turn in the battle.  And much has been heaped – wrongly in my opinion – over the notion of “flying batteries” or “artillery charges.”   Though little has been mentioned of the other ten Federal in the campaign… or the more than a dozen Confederate batteries on the field.

When Harry first proposed this tour subject, he promised  a “no holds barred” concept.  Mostly, we’ll consider the nuances of drill and tactics as employed in this “early war” setting.  But be prepared for discussions of the “metallurgical art of cannon making” along with some “practice of battery command” topics.  I promise not to break out the trigonometry tables, however, as we won’t actually be shooting off anything!

If you are interested, Harry has setup a Facebook event page.  Please let us know if you plan to attend, so we can best factor logistics.