I thought my presentation was well received by the audience. It was a chance to share the overall theme of the book, but I also added more recent research on white Union soldiers and their reaction to serving alongside USCTs. I expand on the subject of white Union soldiers at the Crater in an essay that will appear in an edited volume slated for release some time in 2015. Hopefully, I will be able to share more about this exciting project in the very near future, but for now let’s just say that many of you will be very pleased to hear of the resurrection of this particular edited series.
The best part of the talk by far was the Q&A. The audience asked some incredibly thoughtful questions that touched on a number of topics not discussed in my talk. I do want to say a quick word about the final comment by Reverend Powell of Gillfield Baptist Church. The morning of my talk I attended a panel discussion that took place at the church. Rev. Powell hosted the event and as part of his opening remarks shared his interest in the history of Petersburg. One of the events that he touched on was a civil rights protest that took place at Petersburg’s Public Library in February 1960 – formerly the home of William Mahone. Before leaving I approached Rev. Powell to let him know that I would be discussing the protest in my talk and that I thought he might enjoy it. Well, he did attend and his remarks at the very end left me speechless. There is an awkward silence because I didn’t want to lose the moment. Thankfully, Chris Bryce stepped in to bring the night to a close.
I will post a link on this post once the video is archived and here as well. I want to thank everyone who attended and especially to the National Park Service for the invitation to take part in this important commemorative event.