Our 136th meeting on a special different night
Clarksville, TN – The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Gateway Medical Center. This is just off Dunlop Lane and Holiday Drive and only a few minutes east of Governor’s Square mall.
The meeting begins at 7:00pm and is always open to the public. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.
Topic: “The Battle of Seven Pines, May/June 1862”One of the overlooked battles of the war, Seven Pines was the largest battle in the east up to that time. It was also the first attack launched by the Army of Northern Virginia.
Taking place between May 31st and June 1st, 1862, this fight, also known as Fair Oaks, was the first Confederate attempt to strike back at George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac as they advanced slowly up the Virginia peninsula from Fortress Monroe.
After fighting at Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg, the Confederates abandoned their defenses of the lower Peninsula and fell back on the Confederate capitol of Richmond.
In doing so, they lost the pivotal navy yard at Gosport/Norfolk which led to the destruction of the ironclad CSS Virginia as its draft was too deep to be withdrawn up the James River. The Confederate government grew concerned about this and wondered when the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, Gen. Joseph Johnston, would strike back.
At Seven Pines he took his best shot. With McClellan’s army split by the Chickahominy River, Johnston grabbed his chance and massed his smaller army to attack the two Union corps that had crossed. On May 31st, despite a tactically complex plan and some Confederate forces taking the wrong road, one Union corps was badly damaged.
Reinforcements arrived in time to stabilize the line and the rest of the attacks became slaughter pens in nature. Some 11,000 casualties were the result of the two days of fighting that also saw the wounding of Confederate commander Johnston.
For a day, his second in command, G.W. Smith, lead the army and he was replaced a day later by Robert. E. Lee who would lead this army into American military legend. Within the month, Lee would smash McClellan back from Richmond in the Seven Days battles.
This month’s program offers the twists and turns that complicated an easy plan. The army was relatively new and not firing on all cylinders (similar problems would plague Lee as well in the Seven Days) but Seven Pines served up an interesting educational experience for the South’s major army.
Teaching us this month is National park Service ranger Robert Dunkerly. On the staff of the Richmond National Battlefield park in Virginia, he has led tours of Seven Pines sites over the years.
His research includes archaeology, colonial life, military history, and historic commemoration. He is currently President of the Richmond Civil War Round Table, and serves on the Preservation Commission for the American Revolution Round Table-Richmond. He has taught courses at Central Virginia Community College, the University of Richmond, and the Virginia Historical Society.
Dunkerly is currently a Park Ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park. He has visited over 400 battlefields and over 900 historic sites worldwide. When not reading or writing, he enjoys hiking, camping, and photography.
We hope that you will join us for a wonderful program.