One of our afternoon speakers for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium is Edward Alexander. Our Symposium Spotlight introduces us to this presenter as well as his topic, Grant Crosses the James.Certainly there were turning points during the war that occurred off the battlefield. Returning to a political turning point, this week’s Symposium Spotlight features Rea Andrew Redd and his preview of the 1864 election. If you still have not purchased your tickets for this year’s Symposium, Aug. 3-5, 2018, they are available to order here. They include Friday night’s reception, speakers, keynote address, and historians’ roundtable; Saturday’s line-up of talks; coffee service and lunch on Saturday; and Sunday’s tour of Stonewall Jackson’s final days.
Confederate resistance brought the Union army’s promising Overland campaign to a bloody stalemate at Cold Harbor in the first week of June 1864. Ulysses S. Grant nevertheless decided to continue his offensive and crossed the mighty James River to focus on Petersburg, even though that meant the unpopular reality of turning his back on the Confederate capital at Richmond. Grant’s stubborn determination forced Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia into a defensive posture where the audacious Confederate commander was stuck. Though poor leadership doomed the initial assaults on Petersburg, Grant’s logistical advantage placed northern forces into positions from which they would ultimately win the war.
Edward Alexander is author of Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg, March 25-April 2, 1865. He has worked at as park ranger and historian at Richmond National Battlefield Park and Pamplin Historical Park and is on the board of the Petersburg Battlefields Foundation. He is a contributor and former board member of Emerging Civil War and is editor and cartographer of the Emerging Civil War Digital Shorts. Edward has a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Illinois and currently resides in Richmond, Virginia.