Presentations

 

Below is a listing of many of my presentations. I am always happy to customize a program for your venue or event.

The Civil War Generals: Comrades, Peers, Rivals in their Own Words

     A study of the opinions that Civil War generals of both sides expressed about their friends, enemies and rivals.      

Chicago's Memory of the Civil War

     A discussion about the Windy City's portrayal of the Civil War in its public art, parks and cemeteries and how the memory and significance of these has changed over time.

Chicago Fights the Civil War

     An overview of Chicago's role during the Civil War, including leaders, military units, and local activities and events.

The Rise and Fall of the Grand Army of the Republic in Chicago

     The Grand Army of the Republic was the largest veterans' organization after the Civil War. The G.A.R. was especially important in Chicago. The legacy of these veterans is with us today, but public awareness has faded with time. This is the story of this legacy.

The Changing Memory of the Civil War

     The Civil War was the most important era in United States History. A divided Union fought a fratricidal war that had unending consequences. The human toll exacted left all sides with a quest for meaning and a need to memorialize the huge sacrifice and heroic service. As the nation bound its wounds, reconciliation was facilitated by memorializing leaders of both sides. Over time, the meaning has been lost, as modern thinking refuses to understand the relevance of some monuments, and advocated their removal.

The Murder of Major General William "Bull" Nelson

     In September, 1862, Union General Jefferson c. Davis shot his superior, General William Nelson in cold blood and in front of numerous witnesses. Davis was arrested, but ultimately was not prosecuted. This is the story of how this occurred. Robert's insights into the investigation are based on is 25 years as a Chicago Homicide Detective.

Gouverneur K. Warren's Last Battle; The General and the Historians

     Gouverneur K. Warren is remembered as the Savior of Little Round Top. He was highly regarded for his education and competence, but also accused of being too cautious by the generals who removed him from command. His record belies this however. But Warren has suffered in the history book because of the long reach of his enemies. Here, the facts are reevaluated with some unpleasant revelations. 

 

Civil War Artifacts

     A discussion of the various items used by soldiers in the Civil War, including uniforms, equipment and weapons. Artifacts and reproduction items are used to illustrate this presentation, which is designed to promote audience participation.

The Life of a Common Soldier in the Civil War

     Designed as an interactive presentation suitable for school classes in both middle and high school. The talk is also appropriate for older audiences. A discussion of the life and experiences of Civil War soldiers and the transition from civilian to military life. Using artifacts and reproduction items, covering a variety of topics including food, medicine and military drill.

Civil War Corps Command

     The American Civil War brought forth armies larger than anything previous in our history. No generals were prepared to handle armies of the scale needed to prosecute the war. This is an examination of how the corps structure came into effect and how some generals performed within the scope of their new responsibilities.

The Engineers at Fredericksburg

     The Battle of Fredericksburg, December 1862 was a disaster for the Federal army. But it needn't have been. The army's engineers were late in arriving with the necessary bridging equipment to cross the Rappahannock River. An all day effort under fire ultimately succeeded, but not without dire results. This is a study of how and why this occurred.

Civil War Engineers

     Most students of the Civil War are drawn to the massive battles, tactics and personalities of the great conflict. Less well known is the role of the support services. Here, the role  and many vital responsibilities of engineers in the war is discussed.

Railroad Defense in the Atlanta Campaign

     In May of 1864, William T. Sherman advanced upon the city of Atlanta. His campaign forced him to rely upon a vulnerable 473 miles supply line along the route of the railroads. this is an in depth examination of the means Sherman used to protect his communications deep within enemy lines.

Illinois Fights the Civil War

     An overview of the role Illinois played in the Civil War. Although no battles were fought in the state, it played a decisive role in the outcome of the war.

    

The Midwest Fights the Civil War

     An overview of the contributions of six states in the Union heartland during the Civil War.

Gettysburg

     An overview of the battle of Gettysburg, illustrated with the artwork of Keith Rocco.

Rank Discord

     A discussion of how leaders of the North and South allowed their own personality conflicts to interfere with the operation of the war's progress.

The Union High Command at Chancellorsville

     A study of the high command in the Army of the Potomac in the period between the Battle of Fredericksburg and the battle of Chancellorsville.

 

Success and Failure in the Heartland: Leadership at Forts Henry and Donelson

     An examination of the effects of Union and Confederate leadership on this decisive campaign in 1862, highlighting both the mistakes and right decisions that were made.

Abraham Lincoln's Doctor's Dog

     An irreverent look at some of the bizarre, unorthodox and ridiculous events of the Civil War.

The Soldier's View

     The experiences of Union and Confederate soldiers in the Civil War in their own words, and illustrated with the paintings of noted artist, Keith Rocco.

Illinois at Andersonville

     Almost 900 Illinois soldiers died while imprisoned in the infamous P.O.W. camp in south central Georgia. here is the story of their experience and the effort to erect a monument to them.

Illinois' Civil War Prisons

     This is the story of the four prisoner of war camps in Illinois during the Civil War resulting in the deaths of more than 10,000 Confederate soldiers.

William Passmore Carlin, the Fighting General

     A study of this Illinois general. Carlin was highly regarded for his competence on the battlefield, but his combative nature caused him trouble with some of his superiors.

The Little Giant and the Big War: Stephen A. Douglas and the Civil War

     Senator Stephen A. Douglas was Abraham Lincoln's staunchest political rival. This is a look at how this man affected the Civil War, despite his death on June 3, 1861, before the worst of the war had begun.

Dark Horse: The 1860 Republican Convention and the Nomination of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago

     Abraham Lincoln was a dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination, but a variety of circumstances made it possible. Not the least of the reasons was the location--Chicago. 

Leonidas Polk and the Fate of Kentucky in 1861

     The State of Kentucky attempted to remain neutral in the opening days of the Civil War, but the strategic city of Columbus demanded attention from both sides. Confederate General Leonidas Polk occupied the city in September, 1861, an act which cemented Kentucky for the Union cause.

What I Saw of Shiloh

     A first person account of the battle of Shiloh. In the words and events of the battle, a wounded soldier describes the experiences of the battle from his perspective in the 12th Illinois Infantry.

The Real War Will Never Get in the Books

     An evaluation of the accuracy and veracity in many of the widely consulted primary sources of the Civil War.

Shadow Over Chicago: Al Capone and the Windy City

     A look at how Al Capone and his reputation is remembered in Chicago.