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17th November 2012 - From Calais to Cairo - Confederate Navy Veterans in Egypt


Nearly 50 veterans of the American Civil War (half of them - including five generals - former Confederates) served in the Egyptian Army of Khedive Ismail from 1869 to 1878. Their motives for joining the Khedive’s service were as varied as the men themselves, with love of adventure, lack of opportunity at home and financial pressures predominating. Many of them brought their families with them. Once in Egypt, they performed a wide range of tasks, from training troops to building coastal fortifications, commanding naval vessels, preparing maps and exploring and opening up new territories, and several of their number took part in the disastrous 1876 campaign against Emperor John of Abyssinia. After a brief explanation of the reasons for the presence of these Civil War veterans in Egypt and a general overview of their life there, the talk will focus on the very different experiences of three representative Americans, all former officers in the Confederate Navy who had spent some months of the Civil War in enforced idleness in France – William P. A. Campbell, Charles Iverson Graves and James Morris Morgan.




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18 January 2014 - Florida and the Civil War


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The contribution of Florida to the southern cause during the civil war would appear to have been quite minimal. The least populous state to secede, the military resources it was able to commit were tiny in comparison to that of the other southern states. Florida had no strategically significant waterways, railways or cities. No major battles were fought in the state during the course of the four years of war.





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19th January 2013 - Contrasting Fortunes? Irish Federals and Confederates in 1863


Speaker: Dr David T Gleeson




The year 1863 is often seen as a major turning point in the Civil War, with the Union side finally getting an upper hand in the conflict with its important victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. The story of the Irish who fought on both sides, however, was a stark contrast. Irish Federals became increasingly disillusioned with their side while Irish Confederates drew closer to theirs. This paper examines the reasons for this contrast through examination of the military exploits of the Irish on both sides through 1863 as well as native reactions to their participation in the respective causes. It complicates our notions of the connections between military service and citizenship in Civil War era.


Image: 'Irish Brigade Bummer Forage Cap': acknowledgements to Simply Civil War - see our links page


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1st March 2014 - Gettysburg Day 3: A Reconsideration


Speaker: Charles Rees


For a great many people the 3rd day at Gettysburg is Pickett’s charge. It has become the iconic moment of the Civil War, the high watermark, the beginning of the end. Shelby Foote described it as the price the South paid for Robert E Lee, and maybe he was right. The fact that Pickett had only 3 Brigades out of the 9, and that only 9 out of 43 Brigades were used, and Ewell fought for 7 hours, and much more is forgotten. And what was Stuart doing?


I hope to introduce a number of concepts, either little known, or ignored, about the conflict. I hope to introduce some of the aspects of topography at Gettysburg, which had an impact on the battle but have been overlooked. I hope to explain why the 3rd day had to happen. And I hope to explain how what did happen, eventually overwhelmed any thoughts of what was meant to happen.


For those who believe that R E Lee, arguably the finest Civil War commander on both sides, just had a bad day at the office after a domestic with James Longstreet, this should be a revelation! My intention is to spend the first part of the afternoon explaining how we got to the evening of July 2nd and the second part explaining what was meant to happen on July 3rd and why it did not.


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1st September 2012- The Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War


In the spring of 1862, Major General Lew Wallace was a Union military hero. At the age of 35, he was the youngest major general in the Union Army, rising to that rank from colonel in 11 short months. Devoted to the Union, he was also a romantic about war, pursuing honour, fame and glory in combat.


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