FORT CASWELL — On Tuesday, Feb. 7, beginning at 6 p.m., attendees at the Brunswick Civil War Round Table meeting will be in for a rare treat. The evening begins with John Bennett and his band, Masonboro Parlor, playing Civil War-period songs until 6:45 p.m. This will be followed at 7 p.m. by the incomparable Civil War historian and guest speaker, William C. (Jack) Davis, returning to the Round Table for the second time. The topic of his presentation is, “An Honorable Defeat: The End of the War in Richmond.”
The early 6 p.m. starting time for this special meeting features the music of John Bennett, retired award-winning UNCW professor of health and applied human sciences, and a favorite professor among his thousands of students over the years. He and his band now devote their time and musical talent at various Civil War-related clubs and organizations around the country playing period music, some of which will surely be familiar to every audience.
Following the music, the featured guest speaker, Jack Davis, is an American historian who was a Professor of History at Virginia Tech and the former director of programs at the school’s Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. Specializing in the American Civil War, he has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (for “Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol and Battle at Bull Run”).
He has written more than 40 books on the American Civil War and other aspects of early southern U.S. history. He is the only three-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Prize for Confederate history, and was awarded the Jules F. Landry Award for Southern history.
Jack’s presentation will be largely based on his award-winning book, “An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government,” a skillfully rendered account of the closing days of the Civil War. In those final days, when defeat loomed for the South, Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckenridge believed that the North was so tired of waging war that it could be persuaded to come to a settlement, one that might even allow the Southerners to retain their slaves and political power.
He could not convince Jefferson Davis, and warned, “This has been a magnificent epic. In God’s name, let it not terminate in a farce.” To be sure there were plenty of farcical moments, even pathetic ones, as the Confederate government breathed its last.
President Jefferson Davis fled capture but was ultimately apprehended in disguise; he was wearing his wife’s clothing. Union soldiers detected his “distinctly unfeminine cavalry boots and spurs” and arrested him. Then there was “the last official act of the Confederate government itself” – Breckinridge giving a commission in jest to a soldier who had already surrendered because the man wanted to outrank one of his fellows.
As a reminder, the Tuesday, Feb. 7 meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Hatch Auditorium on Caswell Beach. Everyone is invited to attend. Registration and refreshments will begin at 5:30 p.m. The guest admission fee is $10, and can be applied toward the $25 annual membership dues. The Round Table continues to grow with each its monthly meetings (except during July and August), and currently has well over 1,100 members, making it the largest Civil War Round Table in the country.
For more information about the Round Table or the upcoming meeting, contact president Mike Powell at (910) 278-3545, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The organization’s website is brunswickcivilwarroundtable.com. You are also invited to visit the group’s Facebook page for interesting Round Table developments and announcements.
-Content provided by the Brunswick Civil War Round Table
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