U.S. Civil War Presentation Topics
“Chancellorsville, High Point of the Confederacy”
(May 2-6, 1863)
In early May 1863, General Joseph Hooker led the Army of the Potomac to Chancellorsville, a remote Virginia crossroad. There he hesitated and gave Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia an opportunity to destroy the Union Army. Hooker was drawn from the field, leaving his army badly crushed and demoralized. Tragedy, however, quickly followed Stonewall Jackson’s heroic role in this Southern victory as he died from being mistakenly shot as a Union picket. Chancellorsville served to reinforce the perception of Lee’s invincibility that would culminate in a disastrous invasion of the North at Gettysburg.
“Gettysburg: Three Days that Changed America”
(July 1-3, 1863)
In a small Pennsylvania town during three days of 1863, almost 200,000 men met in battle and 50,000 were killed or wounded in what many consider the decisive battle of the American Civil War. Enlivened by his personal visits to this battlefield, Ed Gordon constructs an exciting saga woven from the triumphs and tragedies, luck, pivotal decisions, and diverse personalities of the men who fought in this epic battle.
“Vicksburg: The Key to Victory”
Ulysses S. Grant’s effort to occupy Vicksburg, Mississippi was the pivotal military campaign in the West during the U.S. Civil War. Here is the story of the strategic significance of Vicksburg, the numerous failures of the Union forces to take the town, the profiles of the opposing commanders, and the final battles and siege that resulted in the Union’s final victory on July 4, 1863.
“Sherman’s March from Chattanooga to Victory”
While Grant fought Lee in Virginia, from May 1864 to April 1865 General William T. Sherman, in an often unorthodox campaign, unleashed his forces and destroyed the heart of the Deep South. This is a story punctuated by a host of battles, including Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Columbia, Savannah, and Charleston. Sherman’s much vilified March to Sea across Georgia that devastated crops and other resources helped to sap the South’s determination to continue the war.
“Grant Versus Lee as Military Commanders”
In the annals of the U.S. Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee have garnered plaudits as consummate military commanders. Grant’s successes at Vicksburg, Chattanooga and the 1864 Virginia campaign that ended the war were in themselves masterpieces in grand strategy. Almost equally, Lee’s victories at Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville established his reputation as an innovative tactician responsible for giving the South its greatest victories. In this program Ed Gordon reviews the military prowess of both commanders — their strengths, weaknesses and the final battles that pitted them against each other prior to the Appomattox surrender.