Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, May 13, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is
David Dixon on “Radical Warrior: August Willich’s Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General”
An estimated 200,000 men of German birth enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War, far more than any other contemporary foreign-born population. One of these, Prussian Army officer Johann August Ernst von Willich, led a remarkable life of integrity, commitment to a cause, and interaction with leading lights of the nineteenth century. After resigning from the Prussian Army due to his republican beliefs, Willich led armed insurrections during the revolutions of 1848–49, with Friedrich Engels as his aide-de-camp. Ever committed to the goal of universal human rights, he once dueled a disciple of Karl Marx—whom he thought too conservative. Willich emigrated to the United States in 1853, eventually making his way to Cincinnati, where he served as editor of the daily labor newspaper the Cincinnati Republican.
With exhaustive research in both English and German language sources, author David T. Dixon chronicles the life of this ingenious military leader—a man who could also be stubborn, impulsive, and even foolhardy—risking his life unnecessarily in the face of overwhelming odds.
David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts. His articles appear in numerous scholarly journals and magazines. David Dixon hosts “B-List History,” a website celebrating obscure characters and their amazing stories. www.davidtdixon.com.
Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, June 10, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is
Jeffery William Hunt on “Meade and Lee at Rappahannock Station: The Army of the Potomac’s First Post-Gettysburg Offensive, From Kelly’s Ford to the Rapidan, October 21 to November 20, 1863”
Contrary to popular belief, the Eastern Theater during the late summer and fall of 1863 was anything but inconsequential. Generals George Meade and Robert E. Lee continued where they had left off, boldly maneuvering the chess pieces of war to gain a decisive strategic and tactical advantage. Cavalry actions and pitched battles made it clear to anyone paying attention that the war in Virginia was a long way from having been decided at Gettysburg. This period of the war was the first and only time Meade exercised control of the Army of the Potomac on his own terms, but historians and students alike have all but ignored it.
Pressured by Washington to fight but denied strategic flexibility, Meade launched a risky offensive to carry Lee’s Rappahannock defenses and bring on a decisive battle. The dramatic fighting included a stunning Federal triumph at Rappahannock Station—which destroyed two entire Confederate brigades—that gave Meade the upper hand and the initiative in his deadly duel with Lee, who retreated south to a new position behind the Rapidan River.
Jeffrey William Hunt is Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum, the official museum of the Texas National Guard in Austin, Texas and an adjunct professor of History at Austin Community College, where he has taught since 1988. He had also served for many years as the Curator of Collections and Director of the Living History Program at the Admiral Nimitz National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. Jeff holds a Bachelors Degree in Government and a Masters Degree in History, both from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of several books on the Civil War, including the critically acclaimed and award-winning Meade and Lee After Gettysburg: The Forgotten Final Stage of the Gettysburg Campaign, from Falling Waters to Culpeper Court House, July 14-31, 1863 as well as Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station: The Problems of Command and Strategy after Gettysburg, from Brandy Station to the Buckland Races, August 1 to October 31, 1863.
Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, July 8, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is
Dr. Christian B. Keller on “The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy”
Why were Generals Lee and Jackson so successful in their partnership in trying to win the war for the South? What was it about their styles, friendship, even their faith, that cemented them together into a fighting machine that consistently won despite often overwhelming odds against them?
The Great Partnership has the power to change how we think about Confederate strategic decision-making and the value of personal relationships among senior leaders responsible for organizational survival. Those relationships in the Confederate high command were particularly critical for victory, especially the one that existed between the two great Army of Northern Virginia generals.
It has been over two decades since any author attempted a joint study of the two generals. At the very least, the book will inspire a very lively debate among the thousands of students of Civil War his- tory. At best, it will significantly revise how we evaluate Confederate strategy during the height the war and our understanding of why, in the end, the South lost.
Since 2011, Dr. Christian B. Keller has been Professor of History in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College, Carlisle, PA, where he teaches courses for senior leaders on the theory of war and strategy, national security policy and strategy, and the American Civil War. In 2017 he was named the General Dwight D. Eisenhower Chair of National Security.
Previously, he served as Professor of Military History for five and a half years at the Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Belvoir, VA, and has also taught at numerous civilian institutions, including Shippensburg University, Gettysburg College, Dickinson College, and Washington and Lee University. In 2001-2002, after completing his Ph.D, Dr. Keller was a Fulbright Professor of American History at the University of Jena, Germany.
A native of Carlisle, Dr. Keller lives with his wife, Kelley, in an antebellum house that witnessed the occupation of Carlisle Barracks by Confederate troops at the end of June 1863.
Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, August 12, for an online web conference (no physical meeting). Members will receive ZOOM dial-in instructions via email. This month’s topic is
Neil P. Chatelain on “Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865”
Most studies of the Mississippi River focus on Union campaigns to open and control it, while overlooking Southern attempts to stop them. Neil Chatelain’s Defending the Arteries of Rebellion: Confederate Naval Operations in the Mississippi River Valley, 1861-1865 is the other side of the story—the first modern full-length treatment of inland naval operations from the Confederate perspective.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis realized the value of the Mississippi River and its entire valley, which he described as the “great artery of the Confederacy.” This was the key internal highway that controlled the fledgling nation’s transportation network. Davis and Stephen Mallory, his secretary of the navy, knew these vital logistical paths had to be held, and offered potential highways of invasion for Union warships and armies to stab their way deep into the heart of the Confederacy.
Neil P. Chatelain is an adjunct professor of history at Lone Star College-North Harris and a social studies instructor at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, Texas. The former US Navy Surface Warfare Officer is a graduate of the University of New Orleans, the University of Houston, and the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Neil researches U.S. Naval History with a focus on Confederate naval operations. He is the author of Fought Like Devils: The Confederate Gunboat McRae (2014), and many magazine, journal, and online articles. He lives with his wife Brittany in Humble, Texas.