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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, but advance registration is required as an account is needed to submit questions or comments to the presenter.
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Upcoming lectures:

Ironclads Strike: Lifting the Charleston Blockade

Friday, January 15 at 12 p.m. (EST)
Presented by John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of USS Monitor Center

Join us for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein when he presents on the only two Confederate ironclads to be put to the open sea and engage superior elements of a blockading fleet. Viewers are welcome to send Quarstein any comments or questions during the presentation, and he will answer following his talk.

About this presentation:
The ironclads CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora were built in 1862 in Charleston, South Carolina, to help defend the harbor from Union assault. The army commander of the defenses of South Carolina and Georgia, General Pierre Gustave Toutant (P.G.T.) Beauregard, pushed the Confederate navy to attempt to break the federal blockade. On the early misty morning of January 31, 1863, the two ironclads attacked the Union fleet. Palmetto State was able to damage two blockaders, USS Mercedita and Keystone State. The Confederate ironclads returned to Charleston on the next tide. Beauregard proclaimed that the blockade had been broken; however, the Union ships came back on station and Charleston’s value as a blockade runner’s haven continued to diminish.

Image credit: Confederate ironclads Chicora and Palmetto State. Nineteenth-century photograph of painting by Conrad Wise Chapman. Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command # NH 55237.

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.

Online Registration – Coming Soon

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!



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!