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Civil War Lectures

John Quarstein

John Quarstein, renowned historian and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

Join us for a FREE virtual Lecture

Select Fridays at 12 p.m. (EST)

Join John Quarstein, renowned historian and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, as he presents on the intriguing maritime history of the Civil War. This long-running series explores the ships, personalities, technologies, and battles that would shape our nation for the next 150 years.

Civil War lectures are FREE, and hosted through Zoom. Advance registration is required to submit questions or comments to the presenter.

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Upcoming lectures:

Fall of Forts Henry and Donelson

Friday, February 5, 2021 at 12 p.m. (EST)
Presented by John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of USS Monitor Center

About this presentation:
At the Civil War’s beginning, Union and Confederate leaders alike recognized that control of the rivers leading southward from the north were critical to the control of states like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Major General Henry Halleck ordered Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant to capture Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. With the support of Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote’s fleet of ironclads and tinclads, Fort Henry quickly fell on February 6, 1862. The next target was Fort Donelson. Foote’s ironclads proved not to be  shot-proof and the badly damaged Union squadron retreated. Grant surrounded the fort; however, the Confederates attempted to break out. After making a partial breakthrough, they retreated and their commanders, Major General John Floyd and Major General Gideon Pillow, escaped. This left Grant’s old friend, Major General Simon Buckner, in command of the fort. Buckner asked for surrender terms to which Grant merely said there were no terms, but unconditional surrender. That day, February 16, 1862, the Federals opened a pathway into Middle Tennessee and Grant became a legend.

Image credit: Bombardment and Capture of Fort Henry, Tenn. Lithograph. Currier & Ives, ca. 1862. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

African American Medal of Honor Recipients during the Civil War

Friday, February 19, 2021 at 12 p.m. (EST)
Presented by John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of USS Monitor Center

About the presentation:
Their brave service beyond the call of duty helped to propel the Union to victory during this bloody conflict. Each of the 25 African American Medal of Honor recipients performed heroic deeds as they fought  to free the rest of their people still held in bondage. Black sailors, like Ordinary Seaman Joachim Pease, proved his mettle when serving as a loader on the USS Hartford’s gun No. 2 during the Battle of Mobile Bay. He was highly lauded for his gallantry under fire, thus earning the Medal of Honor. His motivation, along with that of the others awarded the Medal of Honor distinction, helped change the course of American history.
Image credit:  Ordinary Seaman Joachim Pease. Inset from An August Morning with Farragut: The Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864, ca. 1863. William Overend, artist. Public domain.

Check out our complete listing of the programs this month that recognize the rich history and culture of Blacks, Africans, and African Americans who helped to shape the world!

Pre-registration is required. All virtual programs are hosted through Zoom.

This short video guide shows you how to sign up for and join any of our online programs.

For more information, contact: or call (757) 596-2222.


Programming Video Archives:

Great news! You can access any of the live lectures, programs and workshops missed, and view at your convenience. We hope you learn something new while watching these videos!