Symposium Spotlight: Doug Crenshaw

There is little question of Robert E. Lee’s impact on the Confederate war effort. As we welcome you back to yet another installment of the 2018 Emerging Civil War Symposium Spotlight, preview Doug Crenshaw’s talk The Rise of Lee: Richmond 1862. If you have not purchased your tickets for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium, you can find them, and all information about the symposium, here.

In late May 1862 the Confederacy seemed on the brink of defeat. Numerous strategic setbacks in the West were combined with the loss of most of the North Carolina coast and a significant portion of Virginia. George McClellan’s massive Army of the Potomac was at the very gates of Richmond, and he planned to bring up heavy siege artillery to drive the Confederates from the capital. This would be a catastrophic loss, as Richmond was not only the seat of government, but was also a major manufacturing center. However, in a short span of time McClellan would retreat to the James River and the Confederates would be on the offensive. While this was a major turning point in the war, it was not the only one resulting from the Seven Days Campaign. Come and join Doug Crenshaw as we walk through this amazing period.  

Doug Crenshaw

Doug Crenshaw studied history at Randolph-Macon College and the University of Richmond. A volunteer for the Richmond National Battlefield Park, he is a member of the Richmond Civil War Roundtable, and is a speaker, presenter and tour leader. His book, Fort Harrison and The Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, was nominated in the nonfiction category for a Library of Virginia Literary award. Doug has also written The Battle of Glendale: Robert E. Lee’s Lost Opportunity, and It Shall Not Be Given Up!  a survey and tour of the Seven Days campaign. He is currently working with Drew Gruber on a similar book on the Peninsula Campaign for the Emerging Civil War series.

Symposium Spotlight: Jim Morgan

This week the Symposium Spotlight shines on Jim Morgan. Mr. Morgan’s study of the battle of Ball’s Bluff in the fall of 1861 has been widely recognized as the definitive work on the battle and it’s campaign since its release. Jim, our second speaker on Saturday morning at Fifth Annual ECW Symposium, will looking at a political turning point of the war, the creation of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Mr. Morgan has sent along this tantalizing look at his upcoming presentation.

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War arose from a series of early-war Union defeats, most specifically as a result of the debacle at Ball’s Bluff.  The committee remained in existence for the entire four years of the war and investigated anything which its members chose to acknowledge.  This meant battles, individuals, business practices, army procurement, and navy construction, among other things.

It conducted its hearings in virtual secrecy and denied the subjects of its investigations even the most basic legal protections like the right to counsel and to cross examine those who made accusations against them.  It accomplished some good in terms of exposing fraudulent contacting but was a highly politicized body which seems to have viewed itself mostly as a mechanism for pressuring President Lincoln to conduct war as its members would have it conducted.

A lifelong Civil War enthusiast, Jim is a native of New Orleans, where his family eventually settled after “Morganza,” the family plantation some 40 miles upriver from Baton Rouge, was destroyed during the Civil War. His Civil War ancestors served in the Pointe Coupee Artillery, the 6th Louisiana Battery, and the 41st Mississippi Infantry.

Jim grew up in Pensacola, Florida, lived for 23 years in Loudoun County, Virginia, not far from the Ball’s Bluff battlefield, and recently moved to Charleston, SC. A former Civil War reenactor, he has done both Union and Confederate artillery and infantry impressions.

Jim Morgan

He is a past president of the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable and was a co-founder and chairman of the Friends of Ball’s Bluff. He served on the Loudoun County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee from 2009-15 and on the board of the Mosby Heritage Area Association from 2009-17. During that same period, he was a member of the Thomas Balch History and Genealogy Library advisory board.   

Jim’s tactical study of Ball’s Bluff, A Little Short of Boats: the Battles of Ball’s Bluff and Edwards Ferry, is widely considered to be the definitive work on that fight. He has written on various other Civil War topics for Civil War Times, America’s Civil War, Blue & Gray, and other periodicals. He is a contributing author to The Civil War in Loudoun County: A History of Hard Times and to Turning Points of the Civil War.

Jim retired in 2014 from the State Department where he held a number of positions in Washington and abroad, the last being Acquisitions Librarian for the Office of International Information Programs. He served in the US Marine Corps from 1969-71 and holds master’s degrees in Political Science from the University of West Florida and Library Science from Florida State University.


If you have not purchased your tickets for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium, you can find them, and all information about the symposium, here.

Symposium Spotlight: Gregory Mertz

Welcome to back to our next installment of the ECW Symposium Spotlight. Our first speaker on Saturday morning at the 2018 Emerging Civil War Symposium is Gregory Mertz. Focusing on the events of the battle of Shiloh and its results as a turning point, Greg has shown a “spotlight” on his presentation in this week’s post. You can learn more about this critical turning point in war and our presenter by reading on.

Throughout most of the Civil War, the hopes of Confederate victory rested with the success or failure of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.  With few exceptions, the armies of the Western Theater would only send bad news to Richmond.  The first commander of a department controlling all or portions of seven states between the Appalachian Mountains and the Indian Territory indeed began the war with a disaster.  Under the oversight of General Albert Sidney Johnston, the army defending Fort Donelson, Tennessee under General John B. Floyd surrendered.  All but one member of the Tennessee delegation called upon President Jefferson Davis to remove Johnston from his post.  Understanding that the people had lost confidence in him, Johnston proposed that he retain an administrative role as department commander – as he had done during the Fort Donelson fiasco — allowing General P.G.T. Beauregard to command the army for the next campaign.  Despite possessing a substantial ego, Beauregard declined the offer to be the top soldier on the field of the next battle.

Though Johnston would rely upon Beauregard and General Braxton Bragg as he organized his army and planned the April 6-7, 1862 Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, both of those officers felt that delays in the march and in getting the troops into battle formation surely alerted Union forces of a sizeable Confederate body of troops in their presence.  Beauregard and Bragg counselled that the Confederate army should abandon plans for the battle.  Johnston refused to entertain the proposal to turn around and retreat.  In the face of resistance to his plan, he also decided that he would direct the battle from the front.  Critics of Johnston contend that he abdicated command of the army; supporters assert that Johnston was in position to make sure that the key elements of his plan were carried forward, especially in the face of opposition to that plan by key subordinates.  During the course of the battle, Johnston made critical decisions and importantly demonstrated that he understood how to respond to and motivate the green officers and men making up his army facing the most horrific conditions they had ever experienced in their lives.  Other high-ranking officers Johnston’s army responded illogically when dealing with new volunteer officers still learning their duties.  Johnston fell in mid-afternoon of his first battle as army commander, and with such a short record, it is with uncertainty that we judge the impact of the loss of his life on the Confederacy.  Yet it can be argued that Sidney Johnston displayed a greater degree of skill and achieved more success than any other Confederate on the battlefield of Shiloh, and his death is worthy of being included in the discussion of significant turning points of the Civil War.

Gregory Mertz

Gregory A. Mertz has worked for the National Park Service for 35 years and is currently the supervisory historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Raised in what is now Wildwood, Missouri, he grew up going to the Shiloh battlefield and hiking one of the six trails every spring with his Boy Scout troop.  He has a degree in park administration from the University of Missouri and a master’s in public administration from Shippensburg University. He has written several articles for Blue & Gray Magazine, is the founding president of the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table, and is a former vice president of the Brandy Station Foundation.


If you have not purchased your tickets for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium, you can find them, and all information about the symposium, here.

Symposium Spotlight: Bert Dunkerly

Over the next several weeks we’ll be introducing you to the 2018 ECW Symposium full line-up of speakers. You’ll not only be able to learn a little bit more about the outstanding historians and speakers that will presenting at the symposium, but we have also asked each of them to give us a little preview of their presentation. We begin this week with Robert Dunkerly. He will be exploring our theme for this year’s symposium, Turning Points, as our first speaker Friday evening.

A sweeping presentation on an overview of turning points during the war, Bert writes, “The generation that experienced the Civil War lived though complex and ever-shifting events and trends.  Social, economic, political, and military events were intertwined and each affected the other.  The concept of turning points is appealing as it makes events easy to define and provides clear cut boundaries, the reality is that events unfolded with either gradual changes or lighting fast jolts.  I intend to explore these concepts and suggest ways to interpret the events of the war.”

Robert 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 seven 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.  When not reading or writing, he enjoys hiking, camping, and photography.


If you have not purchased your tickets for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium, you can find them, and all information about the symposium, here.

Final Hours: Early Bird Rate for Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium

Don’t be slow to act like George McClellan. Be aggressive, and seize the initiative like Robert E. Lee for the Early Bird Rate for the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium.

The ball may drop at midnight tonight, but the cost to get your Symposium tickets will go up from $130 at the Early Bird Rate to $155 at the regular rate at midnight.

So, send your funds forward, and seize the initiative and Early Bird Rate in the remaining hours!

You may click here to purchase tickets at the Early Bird Rate.

New Year’s Weekend Coverage of Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium

This Saturday evening, December 30, our friends at C-SPAN will continue their coverage of the Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium. At 7:10 p.m. Eastern, Chris Mackowski’s discussion of Robert E. Lee’s defense at the North Anna River will air on C-SPAN 3.

Speaking of Symposiums, our Early Bird rate for tickets to the Fifth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium will expire on New Year’s Eve. You may click here to purchase tickets.