Powhatan Civil War Round Table
Powhatan Civil War Round Table
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Powhatan Civil War Round Table
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Powhatan Civil War Round Table

DISPATCHES FROM THE POWHATAN CIVIL WAR ROUNDTABLE NEWSLETTER

FEBRUARY 2018

Edward S. Alexander

The Dawn of Victory – Petersburg, April 2, 1865

By April 2, 1865 the Civil War had been raging for four years, plunging the country into disarray, and ravaging much of the South.  The city of Petersburg had endured ten months of siege, when the final assault on the Confederate defenses surrounding the city fell during the battle known as The Breakthrough.

This Union victory saw the loss of more than 7000 men both Union and Confederate, including Confederate General A.P. Hill, and would lead to the fall of Petersburg, the start of Lee’s retreat, the evacuation of Richmond, and eventually, the end of the war. 

This month we welcome Edward S. Alexander is a park ranger and historian at Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War soldier in Petersburg, Virginia, where he is responsible for managing the park library, developing and delivering battlefield and campaign tours, and constructing interpretive walking trails for the park and Civil War Trust-preserved sites in the county.

A 2009 graduate of the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in History, Edward has previously worked with Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Edward is the author of the forthcoming Emerging Civil War Series book Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg.

NEXT MONTH

Thursday, March 15, 2018, Speaker and topic TBA

IMPORTANT NOTE

January’s meeting on Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow was postponed due to inclement weather, and will be rescheduled.

NEW MENU OPTIONS

The County Seat offers our members and guests a main course, or the soup and salad bar.  Please specify your dining preference (main course or soup and salad bar) when you submit your pre-paid reservation, which is due the Tuesday prior to each meeting.  This month reservations must be received by February 13th.

REMINDER: 2017 ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES

Your Membership Dues for 2017 are now due. With no increase in price to PCWRT Membership, we hope you will encourage friends and neighbors to also join.  All dues must be received by March 31, 2017 to insure continuation of your membership

  • Individual Membership - $25.00
  • Family Membership    -    $35.00     

Membership includes 12 newsletters per year and entitles you to membership rates at our monthly dinner meetings. 

REMINDER

2018 marks the 200 anniversary of the John Brockenbrough Mansion in Richmond.  Over the years, it has served many roles, most famously that of Executive Mansion of Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861-1865. While those four years cemented the house's importance in history, it also was a private residence (1818-1861), a headquarters of Union occupying forces during Reconstruction (1865-1870), the Richmond Central School (1871- 1894), home to The Confederate Museum (1896- 1976), and the fully restored White House of the Confederacy (1988-present). It was one of the first places designated as a National Historic Landmark.

 The American Civil War Museum will mark this bicentennial with a series of monthly programs that focus on the broad sweep of the house’s history and the people who made it. The programs will feature a variety of formats, from panel discussions to interactive tours to “eyewitness” storytelling sessions. The bicentennial programs will be held within the house itself at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. They are free to Museum members and $10 for the general public (includes museum admission). A series subscription for the year is available for $100. All proceeds go directly to the White House of the Confederacy.

See our website, and click on the links below for more information:

PCWRT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

If you have an interest in becoming more involved with the PCWRT, or have a special skill to offer, why not consider volunteering? New ideas and new people are the life-blood of any organization, and the PCWRT is no different. We need new volunteers with new ideas to move forward into our second decade. To get involved, please see one of our Leadership Committee members at our next meeting.

CIVIL WAR QUOTES

“Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also.”

~ Ulysses S. Grant to General Meade, April 9, 1864 ~

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

See our website’s FAQ page for a list of our most frequently asked questions. Don’t see your question addressed there? E-mail us at PowhatanCWRT@gmail.com  

THIS MONTH IN THE CIVIL WAR 1864 - Courtesy History Learning Site

February 1, 1864 - President Lincoln ordered another 500,000 men to be drafted to serve for three years or for the duration of the war.

February 3, 1864 - Life in the Confederacy became more difficult when on this day Jefferson Davis suspended habeas corpus for those accused of spying, desertion or association with the enemy. Such a move increased Davis’ unpopularity. Sherman started his march to destroy the Mobile/Ohio railway. His army consisted of 20,000 men. Sherman had by now decided to destroy as much Southern property as he could. When the war started any deliberate attack on civilians was all but unheard of. Now it was to form a specific part of Sherman’s tactics in the South. He believed that by inducing fear and terror, he could bring the war to a swift end. Confronting Sherman’s army was a Confederate force that also numbered 20,000. But they were demoralized, poorly equipped and poorly fed.

February 5, 1864 - Sherman’s army reached Jackson, Mississippi. His final target was Meridian.

February 6, 1864 - The South banned the import of all luxury goods.

February 9, 1864 - 109 Union officers escaped from Libby Jail in Richmond. It was the largest escape of its kind during the war. 59 made it back to Union lines, 48 were recaptured and 2 men drowned.

February 14, 1864 - Sherman’s army entered Meridian and started to systematically destroy it. Hotels, hospitals and storehouses (once what was in them was removed) were set alight.

February 16, 1864 - The Confederates under General Polk made a half-hearted attempt to confront Sherman. However, Sherman was so confident of success that he left half his men – 10,000 – in Meridian to complete their destructive work.

February 17, 1864 - Conscription in the South is extended to all white 17 to 50 year olds. Opposition to this was widespread and included the Confederacy’s Vice-President!

February 20, 1864 - A Union force of 5,500 men confronted a similar number of Southern troops at Olustree, Florida. The Confederates were successful as the Union troops (many of whom were ‘substitutes’) turned and fled. Many of the Union troops were armed with the new Spencer rifle and nearly 1,600 of these were left behind.

February 24, 1864 - Congress agreed to reinstate the rank of lieutenant general. Grant is given this rank and became the supreme military commander of the army, though still answering to the commander-in-chief – Lincoln. The president also agreed to a plan to compensate farmers to the tune of $300 for every slave they allowed to go free and who enlisted in the Union Army. Jefferson Davis appointed his friend, General Bragg, to have full control of all the South’s military operations. Many senior Confederate officers expressed their opposition to this appointment.

February 27, 1864 - Union prisoners started to arrive at the stockade at Andersonville, Georgia. Conditions and treatment there meant that by the end of the war, this prison was to have a notorious reputation.

February 28, 1864 - The North launched a cavalry attack against Richmond. The idea was to free Union prisoners held at Belle Isle and race back to Union lines. Lincoln considered that such a raid would have enormous propaganda value if it succeeded. It was to go wrong from the start.

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JANUARY 2018 Postponed due to weather

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN STRINGFELLOW

SPY FOR JEB STUART, AND UNSUNG HERO OF THE CIVIL WAR

Born on June 18, 1840, Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow volunteered to fight for the Confederacy, but was turned down due to his slight build.  At five foot eight, and 100 pounds, Stringfellow endeavored to prove his value by reconnoitering the Powhatan Troop, Company E of the Fourth Virginia Cavalry.  The seemingly frail 21 year old captured three guards at gunpoint and marched them to the Company Commander’s tent. Persuaded that the young man had some skills to offer, he was sworn in on May 28, 1861.

Coming to the attention of J.E.B. Stuart, who referred to Stringfellow as “A young man of extraordinary merit,” he was asked to become Stuart’s personal scout, and proceeded to spend the war gathering intelligence in imaginative ways.  By posing as a dentist, and hiding under the petticoats of an Alexandria woman to escape Union troops, his espionage exploits became the stuff of legends.  Crossing the enemy’s lines multiple times, he eventually drew attention to himself by refusing to drink to Lincoln’s health.  Stringfellow was captured, exchanged, and captured again.  Escaping near the end of the war, Frank Stringfellow was 25 years old, penniless, with a $10,000 price on his head. When the war was over, he made his way to Canada to try to start anew.

To begin the New Year, we are excited to present Charles Wissinger is the Director of Operations at Richmond Discoveries, a non-profit organization, founded in 1985 to provide educational and historical tours, and Richmond's oldest educational tour company. 

Charles is a professional actor who loves history. A graduate of Ferrum College with a BA in Theatrical and Performing Arts, he has worked on stage, in films, television, and commercials. Our speaker has combined his love for acting with his love for history by researching and creating an interpretation of historical figures, from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the War of 1812 and World War II, that played significant roles in the development of the United States of America.

Charles started working in living history as a Re-enactor recreating the Second Virginia Convention where Patrick Henry gave his famous 'Liberty or Death' speech. Since then Wissinger has expanded his repertoire to include portraying James Madison, writer of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the Revolution; Major John Andre, the British officer who convinced Benedict Arnold to change sides; Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner; Edgar Allan Poe, author, poet, editor, literary critic; Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow, spy for J.E.B. Stuart and unsung hero of the Civil War; and Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II.

Click here for more information on Charles and Richmond Discoveries.  We eagerly anticipate this presentation, and look forward to kicking off 2018 with a bang.  Join us!

NEXT MONTH

Thursday, February 15, 2018, Speaker and topic TBA

NEW MENU OPTIONS

The County Seat offers our members and guests a main course, or the soup and salad bar.  Please specify your dining preference (main course or soup and salad bar) when you submit your pre-paid reservation, which is due the Tuesday prior to each meeting.  This month reservations must be received by January 16th.

EVENTS OF INTEREST

2018 marks the 200 anniversary of the John Brockenbrough Mansion in Richmond.  Over the years, it has served many roles, most famously that of Executive Mansion of Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861-1865. While those four years cemented the house's importance in history, it also was a private residence (1818-1861), a headquarters of Union occupying forces during Reconstruction (1865-1870), the Richmond Central School (1871- 1894), home to The Confederate Museum (1896- 1976), and the fully restored White House of the Confederacy (1988-present). It was one of the first places designated as a National Historic Landmark.

 The American Civil War Museum will mark this bicentennial with a series of monthly programs that focus on the broad sweep of the house’s history and the people who made it. The programs will feature a variety of formats, from panel discussions to interactive tours to “eyewitness” storytelling sessions. The bicentennial programs will be held within the house itself at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. They are free to Museum members and $10 for the general public (includes museum admission). A series subscription for the year is available for $100. All proceeds go directly to the White House of the Confederacy.

Cick on the links below for more information:

PCWRT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

If you have an interest in becoming more involved with the PCWRT, or have a special skill to offer, why not consider volunteering? New ideas and new people are the life-blood of any organization, and the PCWRT is no different. We need new volunteers with new ideas to move forward into our second decade. To get involved, please see one of our Leadership Committee members at our next meeting.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

See our website’s FAQ page for a list of our most frequently asked questions. Don’t see your question addressed there? E-mail us at PowhatanCWRT@gmail.com  

THIS MONTH IN THE CIVIL WAR 1864 - Courtesy History Learning Site

January 1, 1864 - The weather greatly hindered nearly all forms of military activity. Sub-zero temperatures occurred as far south as Memphis, Tennessee.

January 2, 1864 - General Banks led his campaign against Galveston by moving along the Texan coast.

 January 3, 1864 - Chronic inflation hit the South especially hard. Basic foodstuff was 28 times more expensive in the South than in 1861. During the same time, wages only went up by 3 to 4 times.

January 4, 1864 - Lee was given permission by Jefferson Davis to commandeer food in Virginia. Such a measure may have helped his troops but not the people of the state.

January 5, 1864 - General Banks was encouraged by General Halleck to be more aggressive during his offensive. Halleck envisaged Union troops in Galveston by the spring.

January 7, 1864 - Lincoln commuted the death sentence imposed on a Union deserter. His move, as commander-in-chief, was not well received by the Union’s military hierarchy who felt that it would undermine discipline. Union desertion was at an all-time high, especially in the Army of the Potomac. Often, men were paid a bounty to enlist, only to desert, and enlist again to collect another bounty. Others paid $300.00 to avoid the draft, or hired substitutes when drafted. Big cities saw a boom in “substitute brokers” who, for a fee, would find a substitute for those unwilling to serve.

January 8, 1864 - David O Dodd, convicted of being a Confederate spy, was hanged in Little Rock, Arkansas.

January 10, 1864 - The Confederacy responded to its economic plight by printing more money. Foreign governments were unwilling to lend money, and only accepted gold for the payment of weapons. The North made matters worse for the South by printing counterfeit Confederate notes, which made confusion endemic.

January 11, 1864 - Senator John Henderson (Missouri) proposed within the Senate that slavery should be abolished throughout the USA.

January 18, 1864 - Protest meetings were held in North Carolina regarding the conscription policy of the Confederacy. All white males between 18 and 45 were required to enlist – shortly to increase to all males between 17 and 60.

January 19, 1864 - Pro-Union supporters met at Little Rock, Arkansas.

January 21, 1864 - Pro-Union supporters met in Nashville, Tennessee.

January 23, 1864 - Lincoln approved a plan that allowed plantation owners to hire those who had previously worked as slaves on their plantations.

January 26, 1864 - Lincoln commuted another 9 planned executions, as he did not want to “add to the butchering business”. On the same day he approved a plan to improve trade between the Union and those parts of the Confederacy now under Union control.

January 31, 1864 - Lincoln stated that he hoped all former slaves who wanted to fight for the Union would swear the oath but that it was not an absolute requirement. The same was true for those men who had been in Confederate ranks – swearing loyalty to the Union was preferred but was not absolute.

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