Insights into the Overland Campaign of 1864
One Day Virtual Lecture Series
February 18, 2023
Welcome to our virtual lecture series focused on the Overland Campaign of 1864. The event will be 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. via Zoom on February 18. Eric Wittenberg will moderate the program with the following speakers & talks:
John Hennessy: “War to Utter Submission…” The Overland Campaign and the Transformation of a Nation
Steward T. Henderson: The United States Colored Troops in the Overland Campaign
Kristopher White: The Ides of May: Confederate Command Crisis in May of 1864
Dan Davis: Hurricane from the Heavens: The Battle of Cold Harbor
Greg Mertz: A New Way of Fighting: Upton’s May 10, 1864 Assault at Spotsylvania
Chris Mackowski: Strike Them a Blow: Missed Opportunities Along the North Anna
*Please note talks will be recorded and available to view after the program.
Conference held virtually via Zoom. Registered guests receive the Zoom link to watch the conference prior to the event.
Speakers will be available LIVE to give their presentations and answer questions
Each participant will receive a downloadable packet of digital maps & program.
$10 from every registration will be donated to Battlefield Preservation.
The conference will be recorded and available to view afterward to those registered in advance.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18
9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. via Zoom I Break 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. I Q&A follows each talk
9:30 a.m. “War to Utter Submission…” The Overland Campaign and the Transformation of a Nation by John Hennessy
This talk will look at how the 1864 campaign in Virginia, commencing at the Wilderness, came to embody what the Civil War had become, the immense stakes, and the profound sense of moment the nation felt as the armies fought their way through Spotsylvania County in May 1864.
10:30 a.m. The United States Colored Troops in the Overland Campaign by Steward T. Henderson
This presentation is about the United States Colored Troops (USCT) mainly in the 4th Division of the IX Corps and their participation in the Overland Campaign. Near the end of the campaign, before it became a siege, African American soldiers from the Army of the James will participate in the Battle of Petersburg on June 15, 1864. I will talk about their origins and then their battle actions. This includes the first skirmishes on May 15 and May 19, 1864 for the IX Corps and the battles on May 24 and June 15 for the black soldiers in the Army of the James. Briefly, I will mention how black divisions from the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James formed the XXV Corps in the Army of the James, the largest grouping of black men in the Civil War, in December 1864.
11:30 a.m. The Ides of May: Confederate Command Crisis in May of 1864 by Kristopher White
The Overland Campaign of 1864 was a grueling contest that pitted the two principal commanders in the North and South—Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee— against one another for the first time. Although Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia stood toe-to-toe with Grant’s forces, a major command crisis bubbled underneath the surface of Lee’s vaunted army. Illness, fallen leaders, and frayed interpersonal relationships threatened to tear apart Lee’s army at nearly every turn. Join Kristopher D. White as he walks the highwire with Lee and his subordinates and unpacks some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the first month of the Overland Campaign from the perspective of the Confederate high command.
Break 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
1:30 - 2 p.m. Meet & Greet in Breakout Sessions led by Logistics (cameras on please!)
2 p.m. Hurricane from the Heavens: The Battle of Cold Harbor by Dan Davis
Throughout May 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. Robert E. Lee slugged it out across central Virginia. Stalled along the North Anna River, Grant decided to turn Lee’s right flank and head for the Pamunkey River. Lee countered and as May faded into June, the two armies clashed at Haw’s Shop, Totopotomoy Creek, Bethesda Church and Matadequin Creek, all the while on a collision course for a dusty road junction east of Richmond. On May 31, 1864, a cavalry clash erupted near a crossroads east of the Confederate capitol, Cold Harbor. The fighting drew the attention of both commanders and soon each were rushing reinforcements to take control of the junction which resulted in some of the most famous combat of the American Civil War.
3 p.m. A New Way of Fighting: Upton’s May 10, 1864 Assault at Spotsylvania by Greg Mertz
One week into the Overland Campaign, as both armies had become soundly entrenched for a second time in the operation, the Federal army tried a different tactic to break a hole in the Confederate line. Rather than use the traditional method of open field fighting by attacking in long lines of battle, walking toward the enemy, searching for a weakness in the opposing lines that would be further exploited by reserves, some Federal officers concluded that the presence of impressive earthworks in the field called for a new way of fighting. A young colonel named Emory Upton was assigned to lead a column of men, who would jog rather than walk, and who would rely upon the bayonet as the initial weapon. The tactic proved to be successful, but other aspects of the broader plan fell apart and the attack was eventually thrown back. The idea to attack in such a matter was not dead, however. The Federal army would attempt it again two days later, on a larger scale that would result in some of the most desperate fighting of the entire war at Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle.
4 p.m. Strike Them a Blow: Missed Opportunities Along the North Anna by Chris Mackowski
Lost between the fires of the Wilderness, the bloodletting at Spotsylvania, and the forlorn charges of Cold Harbor is the forgotten encounter along the North Anna River—a period of tantalizing possibilities and lost opportunities. The armies were as numerically close as they would ever be, yet physical exhaustion ravaged the men and psychological exhaustion bedeviled the commanders. Find out why it’s worth taking a closer look at this most overlooked phase of the Overland Campaign.
Conference Cost: $75/members and $80/non-members
Includes downloadable packet of digital maps & program
$10 from every registration donated to Battlefield Preservation
Talks will be recorded and available to view after the event.
Cancellation Policy: -Virtual conference registrations cancelled up two weeks before the scheduled event are subject to a $20 per person administrative fee; cancellations received within two weeks of the event will not be refunded.
► We reserve the right to make changes in the tours where necessary, due to unforeseen circumstances. We do not like to cancel tours but if we must cancel due to insufficient participation or other circumstances, our total obligation will be to refund all monies paid to us for the specific event.
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Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours is an affiliate of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of this partnership is to drive awareness about our local military heritage and support local businesses.