Stratford Hall is proud to announce the third in a series of lectures, offered free to the public, featuring noted authors discussing their books on the life and military achievements of Robert E. Lee. This year join author and historian Dr. Peter Carmichael at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia, from 7 – 9 p.m. for Robert E. Lee’s Search for a Victory of Annihilation in 1864, a program exploring the military consequences of General Robert E. Lee’s decision during the Overland Campaign.
In the lecture, Peter Carmichael rejects the argument that Lee possessed an innate aggressiveness that led him to bleed the South to death. His offensive campaigns made sense in 1862 and in 1863, but the general needed to adjust his thinking in the spring of 1864 when the Confederacy’s strategic realities had radically changed. To the detriment of his army and his national cause, Lee failed to appreciate that a complete victory on the battlefield was virtually unachievable because Civil War armies were virtually indestructible. Nonetheless, he kept searching for that elusive victory of annihilation over his enemy. He also misread popular opinion, as the Southern people, exhausted from reading long casualty lists, desired a more defensive approach, but Lee kept attacking when he should have assumed a more defensive posture during the final stage of the war.
About the speaker:
Peter S. Carmichael is the Fluhrer Professor of History and the Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. After completing his doctorate at Penn State University under Dr. Gary Gallagher, Professor Carmichael went on to teach at Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and West Virginia University. He is the author and editor of four books, including The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005. He has also published a number of articles for both scholarly and popular journals, and he speaks frequently to general and scholarly audiences. Every June, Professor Carmichael directs the Civil War Institute’s Summer Conference, which draws more than 300 attendees from across the country. More recently, he has appeared on the PBS Robert E. Lee documentary for The American Experience series and his lectures have been covered by C-Span. Dr. Carmichael is currently finishing a book titled The War for the Common Soldier.
The Reading Lee Lecture Series is made possible through the generous support of the Lee-Jackson Educational Foundation.