Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Secret Missions and the Uncivil War: Civil War Seminar

I was fortunate enough to attend the 10th Annual Civil War Seminar at Longwood University this past Saturday, February 28, 2009. I say fortunate because despite the hour-long drive in the horrible weather conditions this proved to be quite an impressive FREE seminar.

The topic of the conference is what initally peaked my interest and I was further conviced to attend by a personal friend who had attended in past years. Although I arrived on time the auditorium in the Hull Building was full to capacity and I had to sit on a roll-in desk chair. Not to worry it was comfortable. I understand that next year the event will be moved to a larger venue. Here, here!

Tonia Smith was the first speaker. Her topic about an episode in Middle Tennessee that involved the hanging of two Confederates who claimed to the end that they were not spies was a captivating account.

James Blankenship, a Ranger with Petersburg National Battlefield was up next. He discussed the warf explosion incident at City Point, Virginia in August of 1864. Although I had read about this incident, his gruesome and vivid contemporary newspaper accounts brought the event to life.

Another Petersburg Ranger, Tracy Chernault spoke next about the missions of Sheridan's Scouts and their importance in obtaining information for the Army of the Potomac. If you haven't heard about Maj. H.H. Young, take the time to find out more about this man and his exploits that as Chernault explains, "may or may not have actually happened."

Dr. David Long from East Carolina University spoke after lunch about the Dahlgren Raid on Richmond. His contention is that Lincoln was fully aware of this incident and most likely ordered the attempt in effort to end the war sooner. Again, if you don't know much about the topic, it is has a fantastic plot.

The last speaker of the day was Robert Mackey who explained the "how" of John S. Mosby's success. Mackey is the author of Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865, a book I plan to obtain as soon as possible.

As I mentioned earlier, this seminar was the 10th Annual, and if I have any chance possible I will be attending the 11th Annual. It was certainly an entertaining and educational day.

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