Annual Conference 2018
Rob Shenk / American Battlefield Trust

History Talks & Lectures

Annual Conference: May 30–June 3, 2018

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We have a group of elite historians lined up to give History Talks and Lectures on Thursday, May 31, at the Annual Conference. These do not require reservations.

Thursday Morning (8:30 am – 12:15 pm)

8:30 – 9:15 am   Richard Sommers, Founding Fathers: Renowned Revolutionary War Relatives of Significant Civil War Soldiers and Statesmen

Civil War Trust's long-standing devotion to the Civil War and its more recent commitment to the Revolutionary War come together in this presentation, which identifies close family ties between leaders of the two wars.  Everyone knows that Robert E. Lee was the son of "Light Horse Harry" Lee, but their kinship was far from unique.  Our speaker has identified 62 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Signers of the U.S. Constitution, Generals and senior military officers of the Revolutionary War, and other "Founding Fathers" of the 1770s-1780s who were literally the fathers, uncles, grandfathers, or other close relatives of 98 Generals, Admirals, and Statesmen of the Civil War.  Our presentation will focus on 20 of those 160 family bonds, which united the "greatest generations" of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

9:30 – 10:15 am   J. Michael Moore, The Civil War on the Lower Peninsula

In April 1862, Major General George B. McClellan launched the Peninsula Campaign from Fort Monroe and Newport News Point with the ultimate goal of capturing the Confederate capital at Richmond and ending Civil War.  Join Newport News native J.  Michael Moore for a lively discussion of the Young Napoleon and the ever-colorful “Prince John” Magruder.  This lecture also covers the Peninsula Campaign’s effects on the common soldiers and the free and enslaved residents.  Moreover, the April 5 – May 3, 1862 Siege of the Warwick-Yorktown Line played out on a landscape that held memories of the American Revolution.escription coming soon...

10:30 – 11:15 am   Jon Stull, The Furious Fall of '75: Actions Leding to the Battle of Great Bridge and Establishment of Virginian Independence 

When people think of the American Revolution their minds likely go directly north to Lexington and Concord and the “shot heard round the world.” If asked about the Revolution in Virginia most all focus on the decisive battle at Yorktown, the last land battle in Virginia: the omega. So, in Virginia if Yorktown is the omega what’s the alpha? On May 31st, Jon Stull, a docent from the Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways History Foundation, will share with us his thoughts on why the Battle of Great Bridge of December 1775 should be considered the alpha. His account will focus on answering three questions: 1) Why would colonists of a very prosperous British colony fire on His Majesty's troops?; 2) Why would Virginia's first land battle of the American Revolution take place at Great Bridge?; and 3) Why did this make a difference to our area, Virginia, and the broader Revolutionary War effort?         

11:30 am – 12:15 pm   Brian Wills, The War Hits Home: Suffolk

Direct warfare came to the small Tidewater Virginia community of Suffolk in April 1863, when veteran troops under the command of Confederate general James Longstreet approached the heavily fortified town to confront the Union defenders there, and obtain food and forage from the surrounding region.  Yet, in many ways, the conflict had already registered a profound impact on the local residents and would continue to affect their lives in ways that left indelible impressions upon them.

Thursday Afternoon (2:45 – 5:45 pm)

2:45 – 3:30 pm   Kristopher White, “A Hero, a Traitor, and a Rogue: The Revolutionary War on Virginia's Peninsula"

While the British surrender at Yorktown capped the major fighting of the Revolutionary War, there is far more to the story. Join Kristopher White for an introduction to all of the comings and goings of the British and the Patriots on Virginia’s Peninsula. Learn how and why the two sides decided on Yorktown, as we follow three of the wars notable personalities to the climactic conclusion of America’s War for Independence; and we examine the long-term impact it had on the area.

3:40 – 4:20 pm   Garry Adelman, Civil War Comes to the Peninsula (again)

Join Garry Adelman for a short and fast-paced summary of the numerous campaigns, battles, skirmishes, successes and failures on the Virginia Peninsula that will help prepare conference attendees for the tours and programs ahead.  Through Magruder, Butler, McClellan, Johnston, Lee, Stuart, Porter, Meade, Grant and others, we’ll disentangle who did what where, why and in what order and, also. separate fact from fiction, myth and legend.

4:30 – 5:00 pm   Katherine Gruber, James Lafayette: Invisible Spy

Learn about the newly-uncovered information about James Lafayette, the Virginia slave who left his master to serve the Marquis de Lafayette on the eve of the Siege of Yorktown. The presentation will explore James’ possible exploits as a spy, his special relationship with the Marquis de Lafayette, and James’ own battle for individual liberty after helping to secure the liberty of a nation.

5:10 – 5:45 pm   Christopher Kolakowski, By Land and Sea: The Military History of the Hampton Roads Area

Southeastern Virginia and Hampton Roads have always been tied to the sea. The ports and geography here also have made the region militarily important throughout American history. The region was a battlefield in several of America’s largest wars, and today hosts several critical installations, including the world’s largest naval base at Naval Station Norfolk. This talk will broadly survey the region’s military history from 1775 to the present day.