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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Elizabeth Parnicza to speak on ‘Command Decisions in the Wilderness’

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Scott Boyd, president of the Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg, shares this announcement about the venerable group’s April 23 meeting.

Members of the public are welcome to attend; just register in advance, per the normal rules — and be sure to chat with a Round Table officer at the check-in desk at the University of Mary Washington’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center, 1119 Hanover Street, which occupies a significant spot on the Fredericksburg battlefield.

Commanders Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.

Commanders Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.

Boyd said: Our meeting this month … will continue our look at the Battle of the Wilderness. Here is a preview of the talk by our speaker, Beth Parnicza:

Command Decisions in the Wilderness

Virginia’s unusually dry spring of 1864 witnessed the first clash of military giants Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. Each a legend in his own right, they finally met on the field of battle in the tangled woods of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania County, 70 square miles of dense, second-growth forest.

They were well-matched in several qualities: both possessed intense stubbornness and aggressive military instincts. Both faced the challenge of subordinate officers who fell short of their commander’s expectations.

Grant maneuvered an awkward command structure, with Army of the Potomac commander George Meade leading his army directly, but answering to Grant. Eastern subordinates were not used to Grant’s bulldog tenacity, and Grant balked at what he viewed as unnecessary caution.

Lee struggled with the lack of trustworthy subordinates and faced an army twice the size of his own. Though he was able to coax Grant into battle in woods that cut down the disparity of numbers, Lee finally confronted a commander who would not back down or offer the kind of opportunities Lee was famous for exploiting.

In dusty crossroads, small farm clearings, and tangled woods, these titans grappled for the slightest advantage or hint of weakness. Their decisions and reactions set the tone for the Overland Campaign and ultimately determined the course of the war.

Please make your reservations by noon, Monday, April 21, by calling (540) 361-2105 or emailing

If you subsequently find that you cannot attend, please be sure to cancel your reservation at this same phone number. It will save the club money.

–Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg

And I’ll add these particulars: Coat and tie; equivalent for ladies. Buffet dinner $32 for members, $37 others, by cash or check at door. Bar opens at 5:45 p.m. Social begins at 6 p.m. Dinner at 6:45 p.m. Program starts around 7:30 p.m.; Q&A afterward.