Presentation to Sarasota Civil War Roundtable

Tomorrow night I will be making a presentation on my Confederacy at Flood Tide book to the Sarasota, Florida Civil War Roundtable as detailed below

Presentation: The Confederacy at Flood Tide
Audience:        Civil War Roundtable
Date:                 December 13, 2016
Time:                7:00 PM
Adult Education Building
Grace Church
8000 Bee Ridge Road
Sarasota, Florida 34241


The first six months of 1862 provided a string of Federal victories in the West at Mill Springs, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island Number 10 and Shiloh. In May, New Orleans fell, and Union General George McClellan’s army was so close to the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, that the troops could set their watches by the city’s church bells. Washington anticipated an imminent Confederate collapse. But then the unexpected happened.

In June, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia pushed McClellan’s larger army back to the James River. In Europe, Confederate diplomats sought international recognition for the Confederate States of America, which was became increasingly attractive as a growing shortage of cotton made the powerful textile interests anxious to end the war. Further tipping the balance, in July, the Confederacy secretly ordered two of the latest ironclad ships from England’s famous Laird Shipyard—the same yard that built the commerce raider Alabama. These steam-powered ironclads would be superior to anything in the Federal navy.

While the “high tide” of the Confederacy is often identified as Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, the most opportune time for the Confederacy vanished seven months earlier, coinciding with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 and the failure of the secessionist states to be recognized as a sovereign nation.

On every battlefront and in the governmental halls of Europe, the Confederate effort reached its furthest extent during the second half of 1862. But with the president’s proclamation, battlefield reverses, Europe’s decision to reject Confederate diplomatic overtures and Britain’s decision to halt the sale of the ironclads, the opportunity for Confederate success ended. The Confederacy would recede, and the great battles of 1863 and 1864 only marked the Southerners’ tenacity and stubborn belief in a lost cause.

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