This single-session class, taught by Brig. Gen. John W. Mountcastle (USA, Ret.), will take place on Thursday, March 26.
This class concludes the Civil War Sesquicentennial Series of See You in Class lectures. As Virginians endured the fourth winter of the war, the Confederacy began to disintegrate. The Union naval blockade reached its height of effectiveness, the South's railroads were on the brink of complete failure, and Confederate money was nearly worthless. Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, were in Union hands and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy," was a wasteland.
Robert E. Lee's soldiers stood in the snow and mud of the Petersburg trenches in 1865, subsisting on the meager rations and reading letters from their loved ones that spoke of desperate circumstances in the Old Dominion and throughout the Confederacy. Nevertheless, millions of southerners held on to the faint hope that their fledgling nation would somehow prevail.
This year's class will focus upon a number of key chapters. Principal among them will be the military developments, especially General Lee's desperate attempt in April to join other Confederate forces in North Carolina; an effort that ended at Appomattox Court House. The class will also cover other issues that played out in this great American saga: the increasingly important roles filled by southern women, the full impact of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the destruction of much of Richmond, and the uncertain future faced by Confederate leaders and the general populace in the South following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Jack Mountcastle, a 1965 VMI graduate, began serving as an U.S. Army officer in 1966. During his Army career, he commanded tank units at all levels from platoon through armored brigade. While on active duty, Mountcastle earned the MA and PhD in history from Duke University and taught military history at West Point. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1994, he assumed the duties of the Army's Chief of Military History in Washington, D.C. Currently, he teaches Civil War history courses at the University of Richmond. He has served as the historian accompanying several VHS tours and has previously conducted four See You in Class lectures on the American Civil War.