Annual Conference 2018
Rob Shenk / American Battlefield Trust

Speakers & Historians

Annual Conference: May 30–June 3, 2018

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Learn about the Historic Triangle from some of the nation’s elite historians

Participating Historians

Garry Adelman, J. Michael Cobb, Robert Dunkerly, A. Wilson Greene, Drew Gruber, Katherine Gruber, Christopher Kolakowski, J. Michael Moore, Kirby T. Smith, Robbie Smith, Richard Sommers, Jon Stull, Kristopher D. White, Brian Steele Wills. 


Garry Adelman

Director of History and Education for the Civil War Trust, Garry Adelman earned his B.A. in business from Michigan State University and his M.A. in history at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. He is the award-winning author, co-author or editor of Gettysburg in 3-D (2013) Antietam in 3-D (2012), Manassas Battlefields Then & Now (2011), The Civil War 150 (2011) Antietam: Then & Now (2005), The Myth of Little Round Top (2003), The Early Gettysburg Battlefield (2001), Little Round Top: A Detailed Tour Guide (2000), and the award-winning Devil's Den: A History and Guide (1997) as well as nine Civil War image booklets. He has published articles in Civil War Times, Civil War Monitor, Gettysburg Magazine, Civil War News, Hallowed Ground and others. He has conceived and drafted the text for wayside exhibits at eight battlefields, has given thousands of battlefield tours at more than 50 sites and has lectured at hundreds of locations across the country including the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. He has appeared as a speaker on the BBC, C-Span, Pennsylvania Cable Network, American Heroes Channel, and on HISTORY where he was a chief consultant and talking head on the Emmy Award-winning show Gettysburg (2011) and Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color (2015). He is a founder and longtime vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography and is a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg.

J. Michael Cobb

J. Michael Cobb is the Curator Emeritus of the Hampton History Museum. He is presently the director of historic Fort Wool. Cobb is a graduate of the American Studies Program at the College of William and Mary. He is a popular lecturer on the American South and the Civil War. Cobb is the author of ‘’Fort Wool: Star Spangled Banner Rising’’ and co-author of ''The Battle of Big Bethel: Crucial Clash in Early Civil War Virginia.’’ The United Daughter's of the Confederacy awarded him the Jefferson Davis Gold Medal.

Robert M. "Bert" Dunkerly

Robert M. Dunkerly is a historian, award-winning author, and speaker who is actively involved in historic preservation and research.  He holds a degree in History from St. Vincent College and a Masters in Historic Preservation from Middle Tennessee State University.  He has worked at nine historic sites, written eleven books and over twenty articles.  His research includes archaeology, colonial life, military history, and historic commemoration.  Dunkerly is currently a Park Ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park.  He has visited over 400 battlefields and over 1,000 historic sites worldwide.   He has worked at Kings Mountain and assisted with special events at Cowpens, two of his favorite battlefields. 

A. Wilson "Will" Greene

A. Wilson Greene Recently retired as executive director of Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier following a 17-year tenure; Will Greene is also the former president and CEO of one of the Trust’s predecessor organizations, the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.  He served sixteen years with the National Park Service at a variety of historic sites and holds degrees in history from Florida State University and Louisiana State University. Greene is a frequent lecturer and study leader for the Smithsonian Institution, the Blue and Gray Education Society and he has spoken to more than 100 Civil War Round Tables and provided more than 50 tours to special interest history groups. He has completed more than 30 Civil War and Southern history publications and is currently under contract with the University of North Carolina Press to write a three-volume history of the Petersburg Campaign.  Volume One, A Campaign of Giants: The Battle of Petersburg from the Crossing of the James through the Battle of the Crater, will be published less than a week before our conference."

Drew Gruber 

Drew Gruber lives in Williamsburg with his wife Kate and their two cats. He is the Executive Director of Civil War Trails, Inc. overseeing everything from the nuts and bolts to the marketing and development of the five-state program. He served as a member of the Board of Historic Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia and is the acting director of the Williamsburg Battlefield Association. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to records, reading, and drinking bourbon—preferably all three at the same time.

Katherine E. "Kate" Gruber

Kate Egner Gruber graduated from the College of William and Mary with an M.A. in American History and holds a B.A. in Historic Preservation and Classics from the University of Mary Washington. Gruber has experience in historical archaeology, architecture, and quantitative and digital history. A member of the State Historical Records Advisory Board and the Virginia Association of Museums, she is the special exhibition curator for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Christopher L. Kolakowski

Christopher L. Kolakowski is Director of the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Va. He received his BA in History and Mass Communications from Emory & Henry College, and his MA in Public History from the State University of New York at Albany.  Chris has spent his career interpreting and preserving American military history with the National Park Service, New York State government, the Rensselaer County (NY) Historical Society, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Kentucky State Parks, and the U.S. Army. He has written and spoken on various aspects of military history from 1775 to the present. He has published two books with the History Press: The Civil War at Perryville: Battling For the Bluegrass and The Stones River and Tullahoma Campaigns: This Army Does Not Retreat. In September 2016, the U.S. Army published his volume on the 1862 Virginia Campaigns as part of its sesquicentennial series on the Civil War. He is a contributor to the Emerging Civil War Blog, and his study of the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign titled Last Stand on Bataan was released by McFarland in late February 2016. He is currently working on a book about the 1944 India-Burma Campaigns scheduled for release in 2020.

J. Michael Moore

J. Michael Moore is employed by the City of Newport News as the curator for Lee Hall Mansion and Endview Plantation.  Mr. Moore received a bachelor of arts in history from Christopher Newport University and a master of arts in history from Old Dominion University.  During his tenure with the City, Moore has curated exhibits at several local historic sites and led battlefield tours in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Moreover, he is a popular lecturer for CNU’s LifeLong Learning Society.  Moore has also co-authored two books – The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: A Military Analysis in 2005 and Yorktown’s Civil War Siege: Drums Along the Warwick in 2012.  In addition, Michael has served as the editor and photographic editor for eleven books and written articles for Virginia Cavalcade, North & South, Military Collector & Historian, and Mulberry Island Notes.  In recognition of his work in public history, the Governor of Kentucky commissioned Moore a Kentucky Colonel in 2014.  He is a Newport News native and resides in Historic Yorktown.

Richard J. "Dick" Sommers

Richard J. Sommers served for more than 43 years at the U.S. Army Military History Institute/U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. Even after nominally “retiring” as the Senior Historian of the Center in January of 2014, he continues teaching at the U.S. Army War College, writing about the Civil War, and speaking to Civil War groups across the nation. He has published over 100 books, articles, chapters, entries, and reviews on the Civil War. His newest book -- Challenges of Command in the Civil War: Generalship, Leadership, and Strategy at Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Beyond -- is hot off the press this spring. Our conference is the first Civil War gathering at which it will be available.  Also available is his expanded, revised, 150th Anniversary edition of Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg. The Army Historical Foundation honored that earlier book with a Distinguished Writing Award as the best-expanded reprint book of 2014. In May of 2015, he was designated a Distinguished Fellow of the U.S. Army War College, an honor accorded to only 1 percent of the approximately 3,400 faculty who have taught at that institution since 1950. A graduate of Carleton College with a doctorate from Rice University, he was born and raised in suburban Chicagoland. He and his wife, Tracy, reside in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Robbie Smith

Ranger Robbie Smith is currently serving in the interpretation division at the Yorktown Battlefield unit of Colonial National Historical Park.  She earned a BA in History and Economics from Goucher College in Towson, Md. and later graduated from Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va. Ranger Smith began her career with the National Park Service in 1999 at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and subsequently worked at Manassas National Battlefield, Vicksburg National Military Park and the Yorktown Battlefield unit of Colonial National Historical Park. She provides tours of Yorktown Battlefield to the visiting public on a regular basis.  In addition, she has conducted staff rides and battlefield walks for military units, DoD agencies and visiting foreign diplomats, as well as international fellows through the National Defense University.

Jon Stull

Jon Stull has been a resident of Chesapeake for the last 26 years. After completing a 30-year career as a Marine, Jon and his family decided to stay in Chesapeake. Following his active duty, Jon continued to teach mid- to senior-grade officers at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk as his wife, Sharon, taught dental hygiene in the College of Health Sciences at Old Dominion University. Jon retired from full-time employment in 2013 and until this last Spring was adjunct faculty assisting in teaching a Naval War College seminar in the Norfolk area. Now fully retired Jon intends to focus his efforts as a docent assisting the Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways History Foundation. He has presented the story of the Battle of Great Bridge and its significance to groups of all kinds from primary school to graduate-level students with primary emphasis being placed on the intermediate school students. Hundreds of Chesapeake Public School students visit the park annually or have presentations at their schools. Jon as well as several other docents from Chesapeake has been one of the primary contributors in that effort.

Kristopher D. White

Kristopher D. White is the Education Manager at the Civil War Trust. White is a graduate of Norwich University with an M.A. in Military History, as well as a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in History. For nearly five years he served as a staff military historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is the co-founder of Emerging Civil War and is a frequent lecturer on the museum and Civil War roundtable circuit. Kris is the author, co-author, or editor of nearly two dozen books related to various Civil War topics, and has co-authored numerous articles which have appeared in America’s Civil War, Blue & Gray Magazine, Hallowed Ground Magazine, and Civil War Times.

Brian Steel Wills

Brian Steel Wills is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.  He is the author of numerous works relating to the American Civil War.  His latest publication is Inglorious Passages: Noncombat Deaths in the American Civil War (Kansas, 2017) and has just be named as the 2018 Richard Barksdale Harwell Award winner for the best book on a Civil War topic for the year 2017 presented by the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta.

His biography of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Battle From the Start: The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest (HarperCollins) is currently in reprint as The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest (Kansas).  This work was chosen as both a History Book Club selection and a Book of the Month Club selection.

His other titles include The River was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow (Oklahoma, 2014); Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory (Louisiana State University, 2013); George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel (Kansas, 2012), which was the recipient of the 2013 Harwell Award; Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema (Rowman and Littlefield, 2006); The War Hits Home: The Civil War in Southeastern Virginia, (Virginia, 2001) and an updated edition of the James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., Civil War Sites in Virginia (Virginia, 2011).

In 2000, Dr. Wills received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of eleven recipients from all faculty members at public and private institutions across the state.