Civil War authors and experts will illuminate our nation’s pivotal history during talks that are part of the Manassas Sesquicentennial commemoration on Saturday, August 25.
Renowned experts John Hennessy, Glenn LeBoeuf and ZSun-nee Matema will present free talks at The Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory, 9419 Battle Street in Manassas.
Glenn LeBoeuf will speak at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. LeBoeuf has lectured extensively on President Abraham and Mary Lincoln, and diverse Civil War topics. He will speak about the rivalry between General Ulysses Grant and General Robert E. Lee at 10 a.m. and about President Lincoln at 1 p.m.
LeBoeuf, a life-long New Jersey resident, taught Social Studies, was active in Civil War Reenacting, and was one of the Reenactor Coordinators for the largest Civil War reenactment ever held, with over 23,000 reenactors near Gettysburg in 1998. Glenn participated in films such as Glory (1990) and Gettysburg (1993) and is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Association. For over 25 years, Glenn has given talks for historical societies, R.O.T.C. classes, adult schools, colleges, library associations and civic groups. He recently spoke at the prestigious Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
Matema, an acclaimed living historian and actress, will present a program on Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress Elizabeth Keckley. The program, Madame Elizabeth Gives Lessons on Practical Matters, will explore Keckley’s rise from slavery to the White House. Matema’s talk will begin at 11 a.m.
Born a slave in Virginia, Elizabeth Keckley (1818–1907) purchased her freedom in 1855 and supported herself as a seamstress, first in St. Louis and then in Washington, D.C. Her skills brought her to the attention of Mary Todd Lincoln, who hired Keckley in 1861. She became Mary Lincoln’s favorite dressmaker and later her personal companion, confidante, and traveling companion. It was a remarkable friendship between two very different women, but it ended with the publication of Keckley’s memoir in 1868, when Mrs. Lincoln felt betrayed by the woman she described as “my best living friend.”
Matema has appeared in productions with several Washington-area theater companies including Arena Stage, and has written and produced three plays. She has also received cable directing and writing awards, and interpreted African-American historical figures at sites such as Mount Vernon.
John J. Hennessy, author of the nationally acclaimed Return to Bull Run, The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas, will speak at 2 p.m. His talk is titled Bacchanalia, Battle, and Escape: Jackson at Second Manassas.
Hennessy, a former historian at Manassas National Battlefield Park, and now the Chief Historian (Chief of Interpretation) at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, has written extensively on Civil War battles. Return to Bull Run, The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas, his best known work, was named a Civil War 100 classic book by Civil War magazine.
Hennessy’s exhaustive six year study of the battle, and his resulting book, filled a scholarly gap in Civil War literature. Much has been written about the 1861 First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run, and about the later battle at Antietam, but the August, 1862 Second Battle of Manassas/Bull Run was largely overlooked.
The author made an effort not only to describe military strategies, but to include the stories of individual soldiers in his narrative, winning the praise of several prominent Civil War historians.
James M. McPherson, one of the country’s most respected historians, says of the book: “This thorough, elegant study eclipses all other accounts of the Second Battle of Manassas. It not only recounts what happened in this battle and why, but also places it in the larger context of a war that was changing radically in character during that fateful summer of 1862. Anyone who wishes to understand the first Confederate decision to invade the north must read this book.”
Also on Saturday, August 25, authors Paula Kirby and William S. Connery will talk about their recent books while appearing at an author’s tent in The Manassas Museum courtyard. The author’s tent is open free. The Manassas Museum is also open free from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. August 24-26.
Kirby’s book, A Yankee Roams at Dusk, focuses on paranormal activities connected with the Civil War. The spirit or ghost that is central to the story is a member of the 5th New York Zouave Regiment and was sighted on the Second Manassas (Bull Run) Battlefield.
William S. Connery’s book, The Civil War In Northern Virginia, explores the impact of war on the northern Virginia region. In the mid-nineteenth century, Connery notes, Arlington was an eleven-hundred-acre estate managed by U.S. Colonel and Mrs. Robert E. Lee; and Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties consisted of rolling farmland and tiny villages. The “invasion” of Northern Virginia on May 24, 1861, created a no-man’s land between Yankee and Rebel armies.
Both authors will have their books available for purchase at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store.
The lectures are part of an extensive three day series of events in Manassas commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Second Battle of Manassas or Bull Run.
Events will be staged at the 1825 Liberia Plantation, which will be the military headquarters of Union General Irvin McDowell. Tours, historical interpretations, military reenactments, and children’s activities will be offered at the house at 8601 Portner Avenue in Manassas from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. August 24 and 25, and from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. on August 26.
In Old Town Manassas, the HistoryMobile traveling exhibit will be open free, the Manassas Museum will host special exhibits, the museum lawn will host reenactors, authors and an interfaith service, The Harris Pavilion and Battle Street LIVE! will host special musical performances, Baldwin School will host Civil War baseball on August 25, Twilight cemetery tours will be offered at the Manassas City Cemetery August 24 and 25, and the streets of Old Town will host a reenactor parade August 25. The commemoration will conclude with events that remember the burning of rail cars at Manassas Junction just before the Battle of Second Manassas/Bull Run. A barbecue and bourbon tasting, bonfire, and presentation by the National Park Service will begin at 4 p.m. on August 26.by