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Civil War Trust

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Anyone is welcome to register for the Annual Conference; feel free to invite friends & family to attend.

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    • If you have questions, please contact Bonnie Repasi at 800-298-7878 ext. 7229 or brepasi@civilwar.org

Historian Bios

Annual Conference

Nashville, Tennessee

A group of elite historians will be joining us at the Annual Conference, leading Tours and History Tallks. You will also have the chance to meet and speak with many of these historians and authors on Thursday afternoon. See schedule for more details.

« Annual Conference Main | Tour Descriptions | History Talks

 Garry Adelman

A graduate of Michigan State University and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Garry Adelman is the award-winning author, co-author or editor of 20 books and 30 articles on the Civil War. He is the vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography and has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for 19 years. He has appeared on numerous productions shown on the BBC, C-Span, Pennsylvania Cable Network and on HISTORY. He works full time as Director of History and Education at the Civil War Trust.

 Edwin C. Bearss

Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, director’s special assistant for military sites and former chief historian at the National Park Service, Bearss is the winner of multiple history and preservation awards, including the T. Harry Williams Award, the Bruce Catton Award, the Bell I. Wiley Award and the Harry S. Truman Award for Meritorious Service in the Field of Civil War History. In addition to being the preeminent guide to battlefields nationwide, he is the author of several Civil War histories, among them, The Vicksburg Campaign: Vicksburg is the Key and Battle of Five Forks.

 Greg Biggs

Greg Biggs has been a student of military history from the Spartans through modern times for over 45 years. His Civil War articles have been published in Blue & Gray magazine, Civil War Regiments journal, North-South Trader, Citizen's Companion and local publications. He also has an essay in the recent book on the Tullahoma Campaign and is working on first person accounts of that campaign as well as a unit history of the 83rd Illinois Infantry.  Greg is also a Civil War flags historian and has consulted with a number of museums and authors and has presented flags programs to the Museum of the Confederacy and the National Civil War Museum among others. He has also assisted the Civil War Trust in securing flags for their web site.  Greg has also lectured across the country on Civil War topics primarily on flags and the Western Theater as well as the Revolutionary War. Greg leads tours of the Fort Donelson Campaign, the Tullahoma Campaign, the Atlanta Campaign and Where The River Campaigns Began: Cairo, IL to Columbus/Belmont, KY for Civil War groups, individuals and U.S. Army Staff Rides. He is the president of the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable and an officer of the Nashville CWRT. He lives in Clarksville, Tennessee with his wife Karel, a 7th Grade science teacher, and their four cats named for Confederate cavalrymen.

 Michael R. Bradley

Michael R. Bradley is a native of the Tennessee-Alabama state line region near Fayetteville, Tennessee. He attended Samford University for his B. A., took a Masters of Divinity at New Orleans Seminary, and a M. A. and the Ph. D. from Vanderbilt University, graduating there in 1970.

For thirty six years Dr. Bradley taught United States History at Motlow College, a Tennessee Board of Regents junior college near Tullahoma. He retired in May 2006.

He has been pastor of two Presbyterian churches in Middle Tennessee, LaVergne Presbyterian from 1968 to 1976 and Clifton Presbyterian from 1977 to 2006. He served as Interim Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Manchester from January 2007 until June 2008, and became Interim Pastor of Tullahoma's First Presbyterian Church in May 2012.

During his teaching career Dr. Bradley received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and a National Sciences Foundation Grant. He also was made a Fellow of Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Bradley is the author of several books on the War Between the States period including Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign; With Blood and Fire: Behind Union Lines in Middle Tennessee; Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort & Staff in War and Peace; It Happened in the Civil War, a second edition of which appeared in 2010; and Home Fires in the Line of Fire, published as part of an anthology titled Sister States/Enemy States about the war in Tennessee and Kentucky. Two recent articles have been published in North & South magazine; “Death Lists in Middle Tennessee,” and “In the Crosshairs: Confederate Civilians Targeted for Death by the United States Army.” “Tullahoma: The Wrongly Forgotten Campaign” was published in Blue & Gray magazine in 2010. He also writes on other topics including the Revolutionary War, the Great Smoky Mountains, and historical stories. Dr. Bradley has written for various reference works, including The Civil Rights Encyclopedia and The Tennessee Encyclopedia, and Sports Encyclopedia. Dr. Bradley continues to research and write on Civil War history. A biography of David C. Kelley, a prominent Methodist minister who was a Colonel under Bedford Forrest,was published as Forrest's Fighting Preacher in 2011. Another book for general readers, Mysteries and Legends of the Civil War, was released in April 2011.Murfreesboro in the Civil War was published in 2012. The latest book is They Rode With Forrest was published by Pelican Press in June 2012.

In 2006 Dr. Bradley was elected Commander of the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He is a Life Member of that organization.

In February 2010 Dr. Bradley was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

 Thomas Cartwright

Thomas Y. Cartwright is known as one of the leading authorities on the Civil War and the Battle of Franklin. He recently joined in partnership with the Lotz House, a Civil War house museum, to take guests on guided tours of the battlefield. Prior to this entrepreneurial effort, Cartwright was Director of the Carter House from 1997 until 2008. He joined the Carter House in 1989 and was Military Curator and Historian until he was promoted to Director. Thomas Cartwright frequently appears on various documentaries for the History Channel, A&E, Travel Channel, CNN, Discovery, and Preservation Channel. For many years, he has lectured throughout most of the United States for Civil War Round Tables, corporations, preservation groups and heritage organizations. Cartwright is a supporter of the Civil War Trust, and many other local and national organizations. For the last 20 years, he has guided groups throughout most the Western Theater battlefields. In addition, Cartwright authored several articles and essays published in Tennessee Celebrate South Museum of the Confederacy, A Meteor Shining Brightly Essays on Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, Black Southerners in Gray, The Encyclopedia of the Irish in America, Civil War Times and Around the State: A Publication of Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association. He is currently authoring two books: Mascots in the Civil War and Battle of Thompson's Station. Cartwright began visiting battlefields as a young boy, and his interest was encouraged by listening to stories about his great-grandfather, who was in the war, the Civil War Centennial, and many great historians including the late Stanley Horn.

 Thomas Flagel

Thomas Flagel is an assistant professor of History at Columbia State Community College in Tennessee. He holds degrees from: Loras College (B.A., History); Kansas State University (M.A., European History); Creighton University, (M.A., International Relations); and has studied at the University of Vienna. He is currently a doctoral student at Middle Tennessee State University in Public History.

Author of four books, Flagel also serves on the Battle of Franklin Trust board of directors, the Carter House board of directors, the Franklin Battlefield Preservation Commission, Franklin’s Charge board of directors, and works with many other preservation groups, including the Civil War Trust.

He is also the writer and narrator of “Sesquicentennial Stories” on WAKM Radio, a series that was nominated for the Peabody Award in 2011.

Flagel currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee.

 Derek Frisby

Derek W. Frisby is the faculty coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts and Office of International Affairs at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), while also teaching courses in the History Department and Global Studies Program. Previously, he served as an Associate Professor of History at MTSU teaching Tennessee, US, and military history. He is Middle Tennessee native, MTSU alum, and US Marine Corps Desert Shield/Desert Storm veteran whose research interests deal with military occupation and reconstruction strategies. Frisby received his doctoral degree from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and has authored numerous articles and essays on warfare and public memory, including MTSU's association with Nathan Bedford Forrest’s image as controversy again swirled over proposals to rename Forrest Hall, the university’s ROTC building, for the university’s book, MTSU: A Centennial Legacy. He is completing his first book dealing with West Tennesseans who remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War and their role in the region’s occupation and restoration.

Dr. Frisby was a 2003 military history fellow at the US Military Academy at West Point, was coordinating director of the Society for Military History’s 2009 annual conference in Murfreesboro, TN, and edited the West Tennessee Historical Society Papers (one of three academic state historical journals) for six years. He serves a historical consultant to the staffs of regional ROTC programs (including MTSU), Fort Campbell, and Fort Knox, frequently leading battlefield tours, conducting “staff rides,” and teaching military history courses. Dr. Frisby frequently leads students overseas to explore and study warfare, culture, and public memory. Recent destinations have included Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, a "Band of Brothers" tour of western Europe for WWI and WWII battlefields, and Vietnam. Frisby is also actively involved in various campus initiatives as a member of the MTSU Veterans Memorial Committee that established a monument plaza to MTSU veterans and chairs the MTSU Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. He was a member of the MTSU Centennial Celebration Executive Committee in 2011-12 and is an officer in the Blue Raider Athletic Association. Dr. Frisby was also honored with the 2009 MTSU Outstanding Teaching Award and a 2009 Daily News Journal Ruthie Award for “Favorite MTSU professor.” He recently appeared on the NatGeo Channel’s Civil War series, “Civil Warriors: Episode 3: Hard War” detailing the perilous conditions in Union occupied Middle Tennessee. 

 Jim Hoobler

Historian Bio: The tour leader will be James Hoobler, Senior Curator, Art & Architecture at the Tennessee State Museum, and a commissioner on the Metro Historical Commission. He put together this tour and the accompanying illustrated brochure, and tour signage. He is the author of: Cities Under The Gun: Images of Occupied Nashville and Chattanooga, Historic Photos of Chickamauga Chattanooga, A Guide to Historic Nashville, Tennessee and more.

 Eric Jacobson

Eric A. Jacobson has been studying the American Civil War for nearly 25 years. A Minnesota native, Eric lived in Arizona for over a decade. While there he, along with two other principals, started and ran a small business, which grew to over 150 employees by 2003. Eric left Arizona to pursue other interests and relocated to Middle Tennessee in 2005. He is the author of For Cause & For Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin, a project which encompassed nearly 10 years. The book was published in March 2006 and is considered by some to be one of the most important books ever written about the 1864 Tennessee Campaign.

Eric’s second book, The McGavock Confederate Cemetery, was published in April 2007. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Historian for the Battle of Franklin Trust, which manages the Carter House and Carnton. His third book, entitled Baptism of Fire, which details the roles of three Federal regiments at the Battle of Franklin, was released in September 2011. He is currently working on his fourth book.

Eric lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife, Nancy, and their two daughters.

Conference Events: Tour »  |  History Talk »

 Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis has been a Park Ranger with the National Park Service since 1991. Since 1997, he has been a fixture at Stones River National Battlefield, serving as a park ranger, curator, and de-facto historian there. Jim has researched and presented dozens of interpretitive programs at Stones River National Battlefield and across the country on a variety of Civil War topics. He has also produced numerous interpretive publications and exhibits for the National Park Service.

In September 2012, Blue and Gray Magazine featured "Lincoln's Hard Earned Victory," a full issue article by Ranger Lewis that provides a concise analysis of the Stones River Campaign and its military, political, and social consequences.

Born in Burlington, Vermont and raised in New Jersey, Jim is a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. in History) and has been a student of Civil War history since his late teens. He lives in Murfreesboro with his wife Beth and son James. He serves on the advisory board of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association. He is also a founding member of the Middle Tennessee Civil War Round Table and a reenactor in Company B of the Ninth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, U.S.

 Rep. Steve McDaniel

Steve credits the beginning of his intense interest in the American Civil War to, at the age of seven, his discovery of a cap and ball pistol near the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield. Over the years, his interest has grown beyond the preservation of his home battlefield at Parkers Crossroads. He has worked with other historic preservationists to save hallowed grounds across the state of Tennessee. As a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, he promotes historic preservation among his legislative colleagues, as well as the Executive Branch. Rep. McDaniel was the House sponsor of legislation creating the Tennessee Wars Commission. He currently serves on the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association’s advisory board, and he chairs the Tennessee State Museum Commission. In addition, Steve is the historian of the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association and is the recipient of numerous preservation awards.

 Lawrence Peterson

Larry Peterson graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a B.S. and obtained an M.B.A. from the University of Alaska. After brief careers as a National Park Service ranger and as a United States Air Force communications officer, he entered aviation. After serving in many capacities as a pilot, chief pilot and chief flight instructor, he was hired by United Airlines and retired as a Boeing 757/767 Standards Captain. 

A student of the Civil War since grade school, he utilized this interest to research, over some 18 years, his great-great-grandfather’s role in the war, culminating in the publishing of his biography Confederate Combat Commander, the Remarkable Life of Brigadier General Alfred Jefferson Vaughan, Jr., by the University of Tennessee Press in October, 2013. Along with his good friend and noted Civil War author Matt Spruill, he is collaborating on a series of books of critical decisions of the various campaigns and battles of that war, including his books to come on the Atlanta Campaign and the Kentucky Campaign of 1862. He is a long time resident of Evergreen, Colorado, along with his wife Kathleen, and both are proud long term Brigade Color Bearers, befitting General Vaughan. 

 Jeff Shaara

Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in 1952 in New Brunswick, New Jersey (“Shaara” was originally spelled “Sciarra”). He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University in 1974, with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business, first out of his home, then in a retail store. In 1974, he moved to Tampa, Florida, and eventually, Jeff became one of the most widely known coin and precious-metals dealers in Florida. In 1988, Jeff's father, the writer Michael Shaara, died, and Jeff made the decision to sell his business, and take over the management of his father’s estate.

In 1993, the film Gettysburg was released, which was based on his father’s classic novel, The Killer Angels. After the critical and commercial success of the film, Jeff was approached about the possibility of continuing the story, finding someone to write a prequel and sequel to The Killer Angels. After some considerable soul-searching, Jeff decided to try to tackle the project himself. The decision was difficult in many ways, but most challenging because Jeff had no previous experience as a writer.

In 1996, Ballantine Books published Jeff’s first novel, Gods and Generals, the prequel to his father’s great work. Gods and Generals leapt onto the New York Times Bestseller List and remained there for fifteen weeks. Critics nationwide praised the book and Jeff's writing ability, and the book was awarded the American Library Association's William Young Boyd Award. No one was more surprised than Jeff himself. In 1998, the sequel, The Last Full Measure, was published with the same result: thirteen weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List and universal praise from critics and fans nationwide. Two years later, Jeff published his third novel, Gone for Soldiers, which followed many of the familiar Civil War characters back to their experiences in the Mexican-American War of the 1840’s. Received with much critical acclaim, the book became Jeff's third nationwide bestseller.

Leaving the Civil War era behind, Jeff’s next two novels, Rise To Rebellion and The Glorious Cause, took readers back to the extraordinary characters of the American Revolution. Both were, again, bestsellers. Moving forward, Jeff then tackled the First World War. To The Last Man, released in 2004, was not only Jeff’s sixth bestseller, but also received extraordinary praise from notable figures such as General Tommy Franks, Steve Forbes and General Wesley Clark. In addition, To The Last Man was awarded the American Library Association’s William Young Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, Jeff’s second such award. In February, 2003, the major motion picture Gods and Generals, based on Jeff’s first book, was released by Warner Brothers. Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields, Jeff's only non-fiction work, was published in April, 2006, and is a unique and personal tour across ten of this country's most valuable pieces of hallowed ground. In 2007, Jeff was named to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Civil War Preservation Trust.

Jeff's eighth book, The Rising Tide, was published in November 2006. The story is the first of what became a series following an extraordinary cast of characters through the European theater of the Second World War. The Rising Tide was again a New York Times bestseller. The Steel Wave, which follows key participants through the Normandy invasion was a New York Times bestseller in 2008. No Less Than Victory, the conclusion of the trilogy, which portrays the European war’s last act, was published in November 2009 and was also an instant New York Times bestseller. The last novel in the series, The Final Storm, portrayed the pacific theatre of World War II, and was also a New York Times bestseller. In late 2011, Jeff's alma mater, Florida State University, honored him by bestowing their first of what will become an annual "Distinguished Writer's Award."

In 2012, Jeff launched a new Civil War series, beginning with A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh, which debuted on the NYT bestseller list. The following installment, A Chain of Thunder: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg, was likewise a bestseller.

 Sam Smith

Sam Smith is the Education Manager for the Civil War Trust. A native of Nashville, Tennessee and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Sam’s educational background embraces American history, pedagogy, and experimental theater. After working in the Chapel Hill public schools, he is now focused on exploring new methods of learning history through active participation, decision making, role playing, and simulation. He oversees the manifold K-12 educational programs provided by the Civil War Trust. An award-winning board game designer, Sam has also written or co-written more than thirty articles on Civil War subjects and is a frequent lecturer at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. In addition, Sam is a frequent lecturer at Civil War Trust events.

 James Vaughan

Jim Vaughan, Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. Army (Retired) Commissioned in the United States Army in 1968 from the University of Tennessee at Martin, he served in armor units in the United States, Germany and Vietnam. He was also a detailed Inspector General and held instructional positions at the U.S. Army Field Artillery and U.S. Army Armor Schools. In 1983 while at U. S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KA, he participated in the first Staff Ride to Chickamauga with Dr. Glenn Robertson. After having served as Chief of Staff of the 194th Armor Brigade (Separate) at Fort Knox, KY, his final active duty assignment was the Professor of Military Science at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. While there, he conducted numerous staff rides and battlefield tours at Shiloh National Military Park. Retiring from the Army in 1990, he held several administrative positions at Murray State University until retiring again in 2008. Currently, he serves as a part-time volunteer battlefield tour guide and staff ride facilitator at Fort Donelson National Battlefield. Since then, he has guided over 1,700 visitors and contributed over 3,7000 volunteer hours. He resides in Murray, Kentucky with his wife, Marcia.

 Gregory L Wade

Gregory L Wade has been active for years active in furthering local Civil War preservation and educational efforts in Middle Tennessee. As a board member of the battlefield reclamation group, Franklin’s Charge, he has worked to help save over 115 acres of prime Franklin battleground. He has also served as president and board member of Save the Franklin Battlefield.  In 2008 Wade started a Civil War study group which has evolved into the Franklin Civil War Round Table and now boasts about one hundred twenty five memberships. The Franklin Civil War Round Table regularly presents well known authors and scholars as well as special tours and other events.

Wade has written for several publications including Sea Classics, North South Trader, the Civil War News, and this spring is releasing a novel on life behind the lines in a remote East Tennessee valley. He has conducted numerous book reviews for entities such as Michigan State University and currently writes a monthly column about the Civil War in Middle Tennessee for a local on line newspaper, The Franklin Home Page. Wade has participated in reenactments across the southeast and assisted the City of Franklin in recovering and cataloging historical artifacts on city properties.

Wade has spoken to many Civil War Round Tables, school groups and veterans groups about various Civil War topics pertaining to Middle Tennessee. He lives in Franklin with his wife Beth.

 Brian S. Wills, Ph.D.

Brian Steel Wills is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, after a long tenure at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. He is the author of numerous works relating to the American Civil War, including a new volume, The River Was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow. His other titles include A Battle From the Start: The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest, reprinted as The Confederacy's Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest. This work was chosen as both a History Book Club selection and a Book of the Month Club selection. He also authored The War in Southeastern Virginia, released in October, 2001, and No Ordinary College: A History of The University of Virginia's College at Wise, (2004), both by the University Press of Virginia. Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema appeared in 2006. An updated edition of the James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., Civil War Sites in Virginia (Virginia, 2011) arrived just in time for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. In 2012 and 2013, Brian authored George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel and Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory.

In 2000, Dr. Wills received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the state of Virginia, one of eleven recipients from all faculty members at public and private institutions across the state. He was named Kenneth Asbury Professor of History and won both the Teaching award and the Research and Publication award from UVA-Wise.

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