Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Saturday forum to kick off Fredericksburg battle’s 150th anniversary

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Fredericksburg Baptist Church, which served as a hospital for wounded during the American Civil War. (CITY OF HOSPITALS/UMW)

‘Years of Anguish:  Struggle at Fredericksburg’

A Speaker’s Forum: Nov. 17, 2012, at Fredericksburg Baptist Church

Inaugural Event of the Battle of Fredericksburg’s 150th anniversary

Tomorrow afternoon, Nov. 17, the National Park Service, the Fredericksburg Area Museum and the University of Mary Washington will hold the fourth of the region’s highly popular “Years of Anguish” speakers forums exploring the Civil War during its sesquincetennial.

“Years of Anguish: Struggle at Fredericksburg” will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. in the sanctuary of historic Fredericksburg Baptist Church—used as a field hospital during the December 1862 battle.  The program is free.  No registration or tickets are required.

A book signing and reception will follow in the Fredericksburg Area Museum’s historic Town Hall (907 Princess Anne Street), in the museum’s Sesquicentennial exhibit, “We Can Never Go Back.”

“Years of Anguish: Struggle at Fredericksburg” features three of the world’s premier historians of the battle:

Susannah J. Ural of the University of Southern Mississippi is the author of “The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865 ” (NYU Press, 2006). She will present ”A Shroud Over Us All: The Irish Brigade and Fredericksburg.”

Ural will explore the Irish Brigade’s experience at Fredericksburg and what it meant to the brigade and the nation–how it helped shape’s the Northern public’s view of the broader Union disaster.

George C. Rable is the Charles Summersell Professor of Southern History at the University of Alabama.  His 2002 book “Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!”–which won the 2003 Lincoln Prize excellence in Civil War scholarship–takes a unique look at the battle as it was viewed by civilians, participants, the press, the public, and politicians. It is widely regarded as one of the great campaign studies ever done.

Dr. Rable will present “Fredericksburg: The Battle and Beyond,” and will look at how the Battle of Fredericksburg reverberated across the landscape, North and South–through the press, through homes, through the halls of Congress.

Frank O’Reilly of the National Park Service is considered the greatest authority on the Battle of Fredericksburg.  His book, “The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock,” has reshaped our understanding of the clash on the fields west and south of Fredericksburg.

O’Reilly will present “Commanders at War: Success and Failure at Fredericksburg,” which will examine the decisions and decision-makers who left their imprint on Fredericksburg; and on whom Fredericksburg in turn left its imprint.

The program will be moderated by Dr. Jeffrey McClurken, associate professor of history at the University of Mary Washington, and author of “Take Care of the Living: Reconstructing the Confederate Veteran Family in Virginia” (University of Virginia Press, 2009).

Fredericksburg Baptist Church is at 1019 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg, VA, 22401.

For more information, please contact Tramia Jackson at, Jeff McClurken at or John Hennessy at