2015-16 SPEAKERS REVISITED
MAY 12, 2016. Timothy B. Smith will discuss Difficult and Broken Ground: The Terrain Factor at Shiloh. Many factors combined to produce the major Union victory there. Timing, numbers, and leadership were critical, but perhaps the most dominant factor was the terrain. Drawing on his award-winning book Shiloh: Conquer or Perish (Modern War Studies), Dr. Smith will walk us through a detailed examination of the terrain factor at Shiloh, explaining how the ground, often described as a trap for the Union forces, was actually shaped perfectly for Union victory and Confederate defeat. Little-known features will be examined in order to understand more fully how the battle was funneled in certain directions, leading to a major advantage for the Federal forces. Albert Sidney Johnston famously proclaimed that he must conquer or perish that day, and he, and perhaps his Confederacy, perished at Shiloh largely because of the terrain and its effect on the fighting. An Instructor in History at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Dr. Smith is the author of a dozen books and dozens of chapters, articles, and entries.
APRIL 14, 2016. Richard Sommers will discuss Richmond Redeemed: Enduring Lessons in Strategic Leadership from the Siege of Petersburg. Analyzing the generalship of senior Federal and Confederate commanders, he will assess how Southern commanders were able to prolong the life of their army, their capital, and their country for so long, and how Union commanders eventually succeeded in not only capturing Petersburg and Richmond but also in destroying the Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederacy itself. Retired Senior Historian of the U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Dr. Sommers is the author of the landmark work, Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg, The Battles of Chaffin's Bluff and Poplar Spring Church, September 29 - October 2, 1864, and more than 100 chapters, articles, entries and reviews.
MARCH 10, 2016. Dick Miller will discuss The Gentleman and the Roughs: Colonel John Potts Slough and the 1st Colorado Volunteer Infantry. Based on research for his biography of Slough, Colonel of the 1st Colorado Infantry, Dick will be talking about Slough's efforts to organize, train and lead the hard-drinking and free-spirited Colorado volunteers through their victory at Glorieta Pass in March 1862. Shortly after the battle, Slough abruptly resigned his command, claiming that he feared for his life from his own men. Dick will discuss Slough's disastrous relationship with his officers and men, why it was so strained (especially in the context of the qualities Civil War officers needed to exhibit to win the respect of their men), and whether his concern about being assassinated was his real reason for resigning. Dick is a Past-President of the Round Table.
FEBRUARY 11, 2016. Rick Solomon will discuss all four “Lee to the Rear” incidents. May 1864 was a desperate time for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In addition to the famous “Lee to the Rear” incident early on the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness, memorialized in a poem, there were three more “Lee to the Rear” incidents a week later during the Battle of Spotsylvania. Did these incidents reflect a death wish by “Marse Robert”? A longtime Round Table member, Rick has been president and newsletter editor.
JANUARY 14, 2016. Eva Abram will discuss FROM JAMESTOWN TO NICODEMUS — The Making of American Racism. She will discuss America's race relations leading up to the Civil War and beyond, and how our past shapes our present. Why did a country that started with high ideals of freedom from tyranny descend into Civil War that pitted brother against brother? What were the two sides fighting for? Against? Can we study the Civil War without taking into account the slavery that preceded it and the failed Reconstruction and the racial legacy that followed it? How can we come to terms with the past and move forward to work against the subtle and lasting practice of institutional racism that results in poverty and inequality? An actor, public speaker, and lover of history, Ms. Abram has spoken to schools, theaters, and history museums throughout the northwest. This presentation is courtesy of the Washington Humanities Speakers Bureau.
DECEMBER 10, 2015. John Hough will discuss the 1864 Confederate attack on the Union gunboat USS Underwriter, anchored off New Bern, North Carolina. General George Pickett led the overall Confederate effort to retake the coastal town of New Bern, occupied by the Federals since 1862 and defended by stout earthworks. To support Pickett’s attack, naval Commander John Tayler Wood, a nephew of Jefferson Davis, led a Confederate small-boat raid meant to capture the Underwriter and use its guns to support Pickett’s attack. Pickett failed to retake New Bern, but Wood’s capture and destruction of the Underwriter cheered a war-weary South. A retired lawyer, former Marine Corps captain, and President of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Mr. Hough has published many articles on Pacific Northwest Maritime History, and is working on a biography of Jefferson Davis Howell, a West Coast steamer captain and brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis; Howell was a midshipman on the raid against the Underwriter. Mr. Hough’s article on the Underwriter raid has been accepted for publication by Sea History, journal of the U.S. Naval Institute.
NOVEMBER 12, 2015. Frank “Rusty” Starr will discuss Medicine in the Civil War, from the pre-war years through 1865, emphasizing how the war revolutionized medicine in America, in a presentation that will include period medical instruments and artifacts. Mr. Starr is a Research Scientist in the medical field, with years of experience at Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington.
OCTOBER 8, 2015. Clair Ferris will discuss Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral and the national outpouring of grief, including the extensive plans, the railroad cortege from Washington to Springfield, the procession at Springfield, and the burial at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Mr. Ferris is the owner and operator of Funeral Alternatives of Washington in Thurston County, and is an officer or board member of many civic organizations.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2015. Richard Wightman Fox will discuss What We've Forgotten about Lincoln's Body, and What We've Never Known. This illustrated lecture shows how Lincoln's body mattered to him and his fellow citizens during his life, and how it was remembered after his death. Americans have never forgotten what happened “to” Lincoln's body at Ford's Theatre in 1865, but in the twentieth century they did forget what he had done “with” his body, from the 1840s to the 1860s, to make his mark as a republican leader. A Professor of History at the University of Southern California, Dr. Fox is the author of Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History and several other books.