Perhaps the perfect Confederate defense in Virginia materialized overnight from May 23 to 24, 1864, along the south bank of the North Anna River. That “Great Defense” will be Chris Mackowski’s topic at the Fourth Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge, Aug. 4-6, 2017.
“After three weeks of slugging it out, the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac found themselves along the banks of the North Anna River, more than thirty miles away from where they started their fight,” Chris explains. “Confederates created arguably their most perfect defensive position, laying a trap that the Federals blundered into. But at the moment of crisis, as Robert E. Lee called for subordinates to ‘Strike them a blow,’ he had no one he could depend on to execute his plan.”
Ulysses S. Grant’s war of attrition had taken a dreadful toll not only on the armies, but on the commanders themselves. “Up to this point, the Overland Campaign had been about slugging it out and trying to outmaneuver each other,” Chris adds, “but as it shifts into the North Anna phase, the campaign gets really psychological as the commanders second-guess themselves and each other, even while they’re both mentally exhausted. That’s why I find it so fascinating—that, and because the Confederate defensive fortifications that still remain on the battlefield are amazing!”
Chris’s talk, “Strike Them a Blow: Battle Along the North Anna River,” is based on his Emerging Civil War Series book of the same name.
Chris is editor-in-chief of Emerging Civil War and author of a dozen books, including Strike Them a Blow. A professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University, he is also historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge.
Tickets for this year’s Symposium, Aug. 4-6, 2017, are available for $125 (order here). They include Friday night’s reception, speakers, keynote address, and historians’ roundtable; Saturday’s line-up of talks; coffee service and lunch on Saturday; and Sunday’s tour of the Brandy Station battlefield.