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War in the Balance

Central Virginia Battlefields Trust

2024 Spring Seminar

The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust will host its inaugural Spring Seminar on Saturday, March 9, 2024, at the historic Wilderness Baptist Church’s fellowship hall from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The seminar is focused on the often ignored but historically important events in central and northern Virginia that occurred between the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 and the Battle of the Wilderness a year later.


Speakers include noted historians and authors Mike Block, Dan Davis, John Hennessy, Kevin Pawlak and Ted Savas.

Interesting and rare Civil War relics will be on hand for viewing and discussion courtesy of CVBT Board member Paul Scott!

Select authors will have books for sale.


Lunch is included in the $40 registration fee. 


Featured Speakers and Topics

Battle of Brandy Station

"All Were Conspicuous: The Reserve Brigade at Brandy Station"

Early on the morning of June 9, 1863 Union cavalry under Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton rode across Beverly's Ford on the Rappahannock and opened what became the largest cavalry battle ever fought in North America. Through the course of the day the Reserve Brigade, three U.S. Regular and one Pennsylvania cavalry regiment engaged the Confederates across the open fields and hills of Culpeper County. At St. James Church, Richard Cunningham's farm and along the Yew Hills, the brigade added a bloody chapter to its illustrious history.

Rappahannock Station
Battle of Bristoe Station
Harper's Weekly 1-2-64 battle-mine-run
Army of the Potomac - LOC

"Only One Shout, Then a Terrible Silence." As the Army of the Potomac’s commander Gen. George Meade received continued pressure to inflict some damage on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia into the fall of 1863, portions of the two great foes battled along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad on November 7, 1863, at Rappahannock Station and nearby Kelly’s Ford. The aggressive nature of Meade’s twin attacks, the timing of the assault, and the weather conspired to take Lee by surprise and cost him the bulk of three brigades in the course of a few hours. Although the battles of Rappahannock Station and Kelly’s Ford ultimately resulted in missed opportunities for both armies, these often-overlooked engagements helped set the stage for the later Mine Run and Overland Campaigns. 

“A Campaign of Cat and Mouse: The Bristoe Station Campaign,
October 9-19, 1863”
: The fall of 1863 is an often-overlooked period of the Civil War in Virginia. Sandwiched between the battles of Gettysburg and the Wilderness, it has mostly been glossed over and forgotten, largely because there was no major battle that occurred during the campaign. In October 1863, Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia underwent an offensive campaign to defeat George Meade and his Army of the Potomac. This campaign was more one of maneuver rather than battle, though it ended poorly for Lee's army, which failed to achieve its objectives. This campaign was the last time Lee himself oversaw an offensive campaign during the Civil War.

"Saving the Payne's Farm Battlefield, the Gem of the Mine Run Campaign." Traces the outline of the overall campaign, the fighting at Payne's Farm, and how the field was improperly located on maps until primary sources and a dedicated effort was made to find it, map it, and preserve it.

John Henessey's presentation is titled, "Ready to 'Make Richmond Howl': The Army of the Potomac on the Eve of the Overland Campaign."  This talk will look at the army as it stood during and after the long winter encampment in Culpeper and nearly three years of war--how it had changed and the stakes that confronted it as it prepared to cross the Rapidan into the Wilderness, accompanied by Grant. 

CVBT Spring Seminar Refund Policy


Before February 1 - 100% minus a $10 service fee

February 1-15 - 50%

After February 15 - No refunds

Detailed Seminar Schedule

Saturday - March 9th - 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Join us at the Wilderness Baptist Church, on the Chancellorsville battlefield for a full day of presentations.

Noted historians and authors will spend the day discussing some of the battles and events that took place in Virginia between Chancellorsville and the beginning of the Overland Campaign.

CVBT board member Paul Scott will also bring some of his personal civil war relic collection for attendees to view and talk about with him.

Box lunches will be provided and select authors will have books for sale.

* Presenter lineup is subject to change.

Our Seminar Historians

Dan Davis

Dan Davis is a graduate of Longwood University with a B.A. in Public History. He has worked as a seasonal living history interpreter and ranger at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles on the Civil War. Dan is the Senior Education Manager with the American Battlefield Trust.

Kevin Pawlak

Kevin Pawlak is a Historic Site Manager for the Prince William Office of Historic Preservation, where he manages Ben Lomond Historic Site and Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park.
Kevin is also a licensed battlefield guide at Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. He is the author of seven books on the American Civil War, including Such a Clash of Arms: The Maryland Campaign, September 1862.

Headshot tea party
Theodore P. Savas

Michael Block is a former board member of the Brandy Station Foundation and the Cedar Mountain Foundation. He was a member of the Culpeper and Fauquier county’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committees. Mike has been published in Blue & Gray and North and South Magazines as well as Hallowed Ground. His first book, “The Carnage was Fearful: The Battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862” was published by Savis Beatie in 2022. He is currently working on his next book project on the battle of Rappahannock Station. He is married to best-selling paranormal romance author Caryn Moya Block and have two married sons and three grand-daughters.

Theodore P. Savas graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1986 (With Distinction), practiced law in Silicon Valley for many years, and taught business and history classes at the college level for 20 years. He has been in the publishing industry since 1990 and with the late Russel H. Beatie founded Savas Beatie in January 2004. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books (published in six languages), including A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution (with J. David Dameron), Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-Boat War in the Atlantic, Silent Hunters: German U-boat Commanders of World War II and many others, as well as scores of articles in a variety of journals, magazines, and newspapers. His hobbies include scuba diving, smoking good cigars, drinking quality gin, and playing bass in the hard rock band Arminius. 

JJH at Saratoga

John Hennessy recently retired as the Chief Historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he worked for the final 26 years of his NPS career. He is the author of four books, most notably, Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas, published by Simon & Schuster and once the Main Selection of the History Book Club. His books and dozens of articles and essays have appeared under the imprint of Simon & Schuster, Cambridge University Press, Stackpole Books, LSU Press, the University of North Carolina Press, and another dozen publications. He is presently at work on several projects, including a history of the Fredericksburg region before, during, and after the Civil War, and a book exploring the sometimes-tenuous relationship between the Army of the Potomac and the government it served. He lives in Fredericksburg. 

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