Meeting of October 30, 2012

Death and The Civil War, Part 1

From acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns, based on Drew Faust’s groundbreaking book, This Republic of Suffering, this film tracks the increasingly lethal arc of the war from its opening, through the chaos of Shiloh, and the following major battles which left an American landscape littered with the bodies of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, many unburied, most unidentified. The staggering casualties brought death to the American experience as never before—permanently altering the character of the republic, the psyche of the American people, and posing challenges for which there were no ready answers when the war began.

Meeting Minutes October 2012

Meeting of August 25, 2012

Hal Jespersen on the “Seven Days Battles”


Seven Days Battles

In the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan landed his Army of the Potomac at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and slowly advanced up the Virginia Peninsula in an attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. At the indecisive Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), the Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was severely wounded and soon replaced with Gen. Robert E. Lee. In late June, Lee launched a series of attacks against McClellan that have come to be known as the Seven Days Battles, including the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines’s Mill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, and a few other (comparatively) minor engagements. Some historians describe the Seven Days as a campaign, others as a lengthy battle with daily engagements. If you subscribe to the latter view, the Seven Days ranks behind Gettysburg as the second bloodiest battle of the war, with approximately 36,000 casualties. Hal gave a brief overview of the initial movements and battles in the Peninsula Campaign, and then described each of the Seven Days in detail. He discussed the strategic importance of the campaign and gave his opinions on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the two opposing commanders. Continue reading