Wheeling WV – Oct. 18, 2016

24 05 2016
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Cadet H. J. Kilpatrick

I will be presenting Kilpatrick Family Ties at the Ohio County Public Library, Fifty-two 16th St, Wheeling, WV, on October 18, 2016. This is part of their Lunch with Books series, and start time is at noon. This is a fun program, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. Hope to see some of you there!

www.ohiocountylibrary.org
www.facebook.com/lunchwithbooks
www.twitter.com/lunchwithbooks
www.archivingwheeling.org





Carnegie Library, Carnegie, PA 1/9/2016

11 01 2016

12507567_10153921327127962_979802319226606305_nI had a great time presenting Kilpartick Family Ties to a nice crowd of about seventy-five at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, PA this past Saturday. It’s always a boost to see the venue scramble for additional seating before a talk begins. Diane Klinefleter, the curator of the Library’s Civil War Room, puts on great events there known as the Second Saturday Lecture Series. If you’re local, or even if you’re not, you should check it out.

A lot of what was included in the program has been covered here in some fashion in the past, but a good bit has not. If your group is interested in hearing this program, let me know.

Thanks to everyone who showed up, including Seton LaSalle High School history teacher Mr. K., who assigned the lecture to his AP students as extra credit and had about eighteen turn up. Just doing my part to help turn Bs into As.

The room itself displays original prints of one hundred of the known photographs of Abraham Lincoln. And an adjacent room is a fully restored Grand Army of the Potomac post. Follow the links and check them out.





Saturday, January 9, 2016

4 01 2016

 

 

From the Carnegie Library website:

Harry Smeltzer, Kilpatrick’s Family Ties

Saturday, January 9, 2016, 1:00 pm

Harry Smeltzer, host and blogger of “Bull Runnings” a digital history project on the First Battle of Bull Run, will talk on Hugh Judson Kilpatrick. “Kill Cavalry” as he was so nicknamed for his ruthless tactics was the first United States Army officer to be wounded in the Civil War.

Harry’s talk “Kilpatrick’s Family Ties” is a mix of Civil War history and family genealogy. To quote Harry,

“Let’s just say this one has a little bit of everything. Love, infidelity, murder, royalty, ragtime, madness, natural disaster, TV stars, tight blue jeans, World War I flying aces, you name it. Fun talk for all ages and genders.”

Light refreshments served. Registration not required. Free and open to the public. 2nd Saturday Lecture Series made possible by the Massey Charitable Trust.

Come one, come all. The Steelers don’t play until 8:30. Plus, see original prints of 100 photos of Abraham Lincoln, and the restored Espy GAR post!

Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall

300 Beechwood Avenue

Carnegie, PA 15106

See more at their website here.





2016 Speaking Dates

8 12 2015

Your host will be speaking twice in 2016.

January 9 – Second Saturday Lecture Series, Carnegie Library, Carnegie, PA. Promoted as a talk on Hugh Judson Kilpatrick. He is in fact the straw that stirs the drink, but don’t expect an examination of his career. Let’s just say this one has a little bit of everything. Love, infidelity, murder, royalty, ragtime, madness, natural disaster, TV stars, tight blue jeans, World War I flying aces, you name it. Fun talk for all ages and genders.

July 14 – California University of PA Civil War Roundtable, California, PA, Kara Alumni House. This will be the first time I’ve ever given an overview of the campaign. Gotta figure a way to fit it into the allotted time.





McDowell’s Real Plan

1 05 2014

Sorry this has taken so long.

The good folks at the Central Ohio Civil War Round Table – they’re in the Columbus area – invited me out to speak to them on the topic of my choice this past March 12. They invited me, jeez, must have been at least 18 months ago. They get really good speakers out there so the schedule is set many months in advance. This is the second time I’ve spoken to the group. I really like being invited back to a group, as I rightly or wrongly interpret that to mean they like what I do. Regardless, I’m to the point now where I won’t speak to any group unless they say “Hey, you want to speak to our group?”

My wife actually accompanied me on this trip; she’s never seen me speak before, and only once did she even attend a class I taught – because our soon to be son was due any day and she hoped discomfort and boredom would help spur things along. So this was an unusual trip right from the start, and continued on the unusual path when we got a flat tire very near our hotel. I changed the tire and we made it over to the hotel where our host Mike Peters (the historian of the COCWRT and the talent-booker) was waiting to take us to dinner.

After a nice meal we headed over to the venue in Westerville – a cool room in an old building at Otterbein University where veterans held meetings post-war. I renewed a couple of old acquaintances and made some new ones, and finally got to meet Phil Spaugy, with whom I’ve been “friends” on Facebook for awhile, and his posse from Dayton. Check out Phil’s blog here.

Towers Hall, Otterbein University

Towers Hall, Otterbein University

Meeting Room, COCWRT, Towers Hall, Otterbein University

Meeting Room, COCWRT, Towers Hall, Otterbein University

I was told by Mike that I had about 30 to 45 minutes for my presentation. I went over by about half an hour, but only one of the 20 or so in attendance left before the end (he is a lawyer, and I heard a siren going off only minutes before he left – coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.)

The gist of the presentation in a nutshell – my opinion, which I hope I supported adequately:

McDowell’s plan for the First Bull Run campaign was not a quick, tactical flank attack meant to overwhelm his outnumbered opponent and defeat him in the field. It was a deliberate, strategic turning maneuver, meant to compel a superior opponent to abandon his carefully chosen position, allowing McDowell to cut his line of communications. It did not fail because of slow movement, a complex plan, or the arrival of last minute Confederate reinforcements. It failed because McDowell was unable to establish his own line across Bull Run and move on the rail line at Groveton, and was instead drawn into a series of frontal assaults against a larger force occupying a superior position.

Sacrilege, I know. Of course, I had more to say than these four sentences, and that’s the fun part. You can read a recap of my talk here. I can quibble with a few things, but I’m not sure if the misunderstanding was due to a failure on my part to be clear. For now let’s just say that not all the details jive with what I meant to say. I really like this bit, though:

[Harry Smeltzer] reacts to consensus like a bull to the matador’s cape. Charge! And he lays waste to conventional wisdom. He doesn’t trust accepted “facts” and easy generalizations about battles, strategies, troop movements, and other assumptions that have been passed down as gospel over generations.

Yep, that’s me. I’m a loner. A rebel.

Afterwards we took a chilly walk to a nearby college pub where a few of us quaffed ales and had a generally ribald time. The next day, Mike and I went on a little field trip to nearby Lancaster, OH, while the wife made some sales calls and got the flat fixed. But that’s another story…





The Long and the Short of My Columbus Presentation

14 03 2014

More to follow.





Presenting in Ohio Next Month

20 02 2014

Just a reminder that I’ll be making a presentation to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable on March 12. Here’s a summary:

Irvin McDowell’s Plan and Other Bull Run Misconceptions. This program will explore what the presenter feels are popular misconceptions surrounding the First Bull Run campaign, with primary focus on the Union army commander’s intentions up to the early hours of July 21, 1861. We will discuss how we have come to know the story of Bull Run as we know it, various primary sources and secondary accounts of the campaign, treatments by historians and institutions, the general interest (or lack thereof) of Civil War enthusiasts in the details of the campaign, and other related – or even unrelated – topics. As always, the audience will likely play no small role in the content of the program as it progresses.

I’m looking forward to this. It will be the first time I talk about my thoughts on what McDowell really intended when he set out from Washington for Manassas. It’s not what you think. Just gotta figure out how to set it down on paper and slides. You see, this is a very complicated case. You know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, a lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Oh man, my thinking about this case has become very uptight. Let’s just hope I can get things straight by then.

Check out the details at the COCWRT website.








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