Williamsburg Civil War Roundtable

The purpose of this organization shall be to promote discussion and study of the Civil War and to further stimulate interest in all aspects and phases of the Civil War period.

Past Speakers

January 2017 - On Tuesday evening, January 24, 2017, Dr. White’s presented “Lincoln and Civil Liberties”. In the spring of 1861, Union military authorities arrested Maryland farmer John Merryman on charges of treason against the United States for burning railroad bridges around Baltimore in an effort to prevent northern soldiers from reaching the federal capital. From his prison cell at Fort McHenry, Merryman petitioned the Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney for release through a writ of habeas corpus. Chief Justice Taney issued the writ, but President Lincoln ignored it. In mid-July Merryman was released, only to be indicted for treason a Baltimore federal court. His case, however, never went to trial and federal prosecutors finally dismissed the charges in 1867. 
In "Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War", Jonathan W. White reveals how the arrest and prosecution of this little-known Baltimore farmer had a lasting impact on the Lincoln administration and Congress as they struggled to develop policies to deal with both northern traitors and southern rebels.

Jonathan W. White, Ph. D. is an Associate Professor and Senior Fellow in the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. He admits a particular interest in Abraham Lincoln and U. S. constitutional history. In addition to teaching courses in American Studies at CNU, he also serves as the university’s Prelaw Advisor. Jonathan has authored several books, including “Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War”, and “Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln”, as well as numerous scholarly papers and articles. Dr. White is an undergraduate of Penn State, and completed his graduate studies at the University of Maryland

February 2017 - Emmanuel Dabney presented “’catching us like sheep in a slaughter pen’…
United States Colored Troops At  The Battle Of The Crater”. In mid-June 1864, Union troops assaulted Petersburg, Virginia for four days; however, a staunch Confederate defense by General Pierre Beauregard and the arrival of General Robert E. Lee’s army forced Lt. General Ulysses Grant to have his troops dig in. Days later, a young officer hatched a plan for digging a mine and blowing up a Confederate battery outside the city. In early July 1864, Major General Ambrose Burnside decided that he wished to use his division of United States Colored Troops in the advance of an assault to be made following the explosion of gunpowder beneath the Confederate earthworks outside Petersburg.
In “‘catching us like sheep in a slaughter pen…’: United States Colored Troops at the Battle of the Crater” Emmanuel Dabney will highlight personal stories of privates, non-commissioned officers, and officers who participated in the battle. He will also address the myth of all the United States Colored Troops being trained for the battle ahead of time. The talk will also uncover some of the fates of those men who became casualties as a result of the fighting.
Emmanuel Dabney has worked at Petersburg National Battlefield since 2001. After completing high school in Dinwiddie, Emmanuel graduated magna cum laude with an Associates of Arts from Richard Bland College, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and completed a Master’s degree in Public History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

March 2017 - Dr. Ken Rutherford, Ph.D. presented “Landmines in Our Backyard The Civil War’s Buried History”. In early May of 1862, after stalling the Union offensive on the lower Peninsula for well over a month, Confederate forces abandoned the defensive works that spanned from Mulberry Island to Yorktown. As the jubilant Yankees entered the abandoned Rebel positions, they were shocked and dismayed to discover the presence of “subterra torpedoes”, buried to retard the advance of the Union soldiers. The presence of these “subterra torpedoes”, which we currently refer to as “landmines”, signaled the first use of this weapon in modern warfare.
In spite of initial Confederate bans regarding the utilization of landmines, time and the tides of war led to the re-evaluation of their use by the Southern leadership. Dr. Ken Rutherford’s research and presentation will outline the numerous locations throughout the Confederacy where landmines were utilized during the subsequent years of the conflict. 
Kenneth R. Rutherford, PH.D. is the Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery and Professor of Political Science at James Madison University. In his capacity as Director, he leads fundraising and strategic planning for CISR, which is recognized as a global leader in international efforts to combat the effects of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including the rehabilitation of post-conflict societies. 
Dr. Rutherford is the author or co-editor of four books related to issues related to the modern banning and removal of landmines. He has testified before Congress and the United Nations, and published more than forty articles in numerous academic and policy journals.
Dr. Rutherford co-founded the Landmine Survivors Network, and is a renowned leader in the Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition that spearheaded the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the global movement that led to the 2008 Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty.

April 2017 - Ernie Price presented “Marching Out Of Formation:Confederates Going Home After Appomattox”. After surrendering their arms on April 12, the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia began their individual journeys home with their paroles and little more than the remembrance of General Lee’s poignant farewell address.
Ernie Price will tell the rest of the story about the journey of the soldiers as they left Appomattox. (Keep in mind, as you read this announcement and when you attend the meeting on April 25, that the many if not most of the soldiers were still making their way home on these particular dates 152 years ago.) Ernie Price is the Chief of Visitor Services and Education at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. After earning an undergraduate degree in history at Longwood College and a Masters of education at Lynchburg College, Ernie joined the National Park service in 1997. He has been at the Appomattox location since 2008.




To view speaker listing prior to current year, click here.