Profiles

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"All Is Well:" The Life of M.F.Maury

 

Speaker: Keith Gibson

 

Early on the morning of May 2nd, 1863 "Stonewall" Jackson was rapidly moving his troops along a narrow dirt road in order to turn the Union right flank engaged in the Battle of Chancellorsville. It is almost certain he did not notice the old brick farmhouse to the right of the road as he passed by. If it had been pointed out to him that he was passing the birthplace of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Jackson - VMI Professor of Natural Philosophy - would have immediately recognized the name as one of the leading men of science of his time. I first discovered the location years ago while following the route of Jackson's famous flank march. As I stood there, reflecting on the periwinkle covered brick ruins, I thought how close the course of these two great lives came, but never crossed--here along a dirt road in Spotsylvania County, or in the Physics lecture room of VMI.

 

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"The Mail Will Get Through"

 

By Eileen Church

 

Webmaster Note: Eileen's updated text below appeared in Crossfire No. 96 August 2011 as 'The Adventures of a Confederate Mail Runner''

 

On 27th May 1861 the Federal Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair, issued his Suspension Order and from that date no mail could officially cross the lines. The only exception being Flag of Truce mail which could be used by civilians (but under stringent rules) but was mostly used for Prisoner of War Mail. In times of peace the organization and delivery of mail is a prosaic activity but should war disrupt the postal service it assumes a vital importance.

 

 

 

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"What was happening outside America 1861-1865?”

 

Counter-Attack of the (Danish) 8th Brigade at the Battle of Dybbøl, April 1864

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Speaker Jeremy Mindell


In his wide-ranging presentation at the National Army museum in December 2007 Jeremy Mindell argued that wars rarely happen in a vacuum and that the American Civil War was no exception. To understand why the South lost, he argued, one had to look at events in Europe as well as Southern war strategy.

 

 

 

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“Ridiculous failure” - George McClellan and the Delafield Commission

 

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By John Laskey

 

Autumn 2006 sees the 150th anniversary of the end of the Crimean War, the conflict that to a large extent pre-figured the experiences of the American Civil War. The staging of this major European conflict did not go unnoticed by the United States government, which was keen to understand its lessons and to learn from them. Surprisingly however (and with hindsight) many of the major lessons of that earlier war were simply misunderstood or overlooked by the US authorities.

 

Those familiar with the cast of characters from the Civil War may find some irony in the key players involved in America’s quest for European military knowledge and also of its failure to grasp the deadly practical difficulties of the Crimean experience.

 

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Admiral Du Pont

 

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Speaker: Kevin Weddle

 

Highly entertaining - not Greg's effort to make the computer and projector work, but the May talk by Kevin Weddle on the life and career of Admiral Du Pont.

 

Kevin started off by giving us an overview of the early life and career of Du Pont. A member of the famous and rich Du Pont family, Du Pont entered naval service in 1817 and would serve continuously on active duty for the next forty-eight years, nineteen of them at sea. Promotion at that time was slow and often was made through age of service. Like the army, rising through the ranks was slow and based on longevity of service not merit.

 

 

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