Musters


The First Defenders meet at 6:30 PM on the second Tuesday of each month from September through May. Meetings include dinner and a speaker who may be a guest or a member. Meetings are currently held at The Inn at Reading. A book raffle is held each month with all proceeds donated to battlefield preservation. Guests and new members are welcome. Space is limited in the restaurant, so please contact a board member or the First Defenders by email (see the CONTACTS page).

MEMBERS ONLY! Sign up to attend the upcoming event!

** REMEMBER, these events are for members and their guests only. If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact Dave Sweigert, the Membership Chairman, on the Contact page.

Click hear to download a membership application!

 
  • September
    2016
  • October
    2016
  • November
    2016
  • December
    2016
  • January
    2017
  • February
    2017
  • March
    2017
  • April
    2017
  • May
    2017
The Battle of Rappahannock Station: A Prelude to 1864-1865
 
The autumn campaign in Northern Virginia does not get much attention from historians or in Civil War literature, but Ed Alexander launched the First Defenders' 20th Campaign by explaining why the Battle of Rappahannock Station was an important and somewhat ground-breaking event in military tactics.

On November 7, 1863, two brigades of the Union Sixth Corps defied conventional tactics during their frontal bayonet charge against a like number of Confederates who protected a critical bridgehead on the Rappahannock River. Robert E. Lee had just left the area when the attack was about to open (and possibly avoided an ignominious capture!) convinced the river crossing was secure.  But, in short order, the Yankees executed a pair of flanking maneuvers supported by artillery that left veterans of Lee's Second Corps, "Stonewall" Jackson's old command, bewildered and defeated (and, for many, captured)!.

The action at Rappahannock Station did not loom large in the battles of the Eastern Theatre.  However, the tactics used would be repeated with greater success in May 1864 at Spotsylvania and again several times in front of Petersburg during the War's final year.

Alexander's description of the fall campaign and this battle in particular was another excellent program presented by the "young guns" from the Emerging Civil War stable, and brought this little-studied action to life with color and detail!
Join us for our monthly meeting!

Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Time: 6:30PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610


 
"Mosby's Rangers"
 
No single battalion was more feared during the Civil War than the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry. As one contemporary said, "They had...all the glamour of Robin Hood...all the courage and bravery of the ancient crusaders." Better known as Mosby's Rangers, they were an elite guerilla unit that operated with stunning success in northern Virginia and Maryland from 1863 to the last days of the war.  Jeff Wert, and old friend and popular Round Table speaker, has written an exciting account of what may be the most famous command of the Civil War, and will bring that story to the First Defenders.
 
Jeffry D. Wert is the author of eight previous books on Civil War topics, most recently Cavalryman of the Lost Cause and The Sword of Lincoln. His articles and essays on the Civil War have appeared in many publications, including Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, and Blue and Gray. A former history teacher at Penns Valley High School, he lives in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, slightly more than one hour from the battlefield at Gettysburg.Jeffry D. Wert is the author of eight previous books on Civil War topics, including Cavalryman of the Lost Cause, Gettysburg- Day Three  and The Sword of Lincoln. His articles and essays on the Civil War have appeared in many publications, including Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, and Blue and Gray. A retired history teacher from Penns Valley High School, he lives in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, slightly more than one hour from the battlefield at Gettysburg.
 
 





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Join us for our monthly meeting!

Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Member: Sherri Stull

 

Women Soldiers in The Civil War
 
The story of the woman soldier has been a long, neglected chapter in our nation's Civil War history.  Even today, when thinking back to women of that time period, most individuals envision the woman left behind to tend her husband's farm or business, a laundress following the army, a nurse serving in a hospital, or maybe even the spy gathering intelligence.  Few people think of the fairer sex of the Victorian era as a combatant.  Together, we will explore military history as it relates to these brave women, discover who these women were, where they came from, why they chose to fight, how they were able to pass themselves off as men, and what happened to some when their identity was revealed.  We'll also examine some known, documented cases of women in Civil War combat.   
 



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 Join us for our monthly meeting!

Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Time: 6:30PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

 
"Second Battle of Winchester" featuring author Scott Mingus
 
In the summer of 1863, as Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began its inexorable push northward toward Pennsylvania, only one significant force stood in the way -- Union Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy's division of the Eighth Army Corps in the vicinity of Winchester and Berryville. Believing that the enemy was merely a cavalry raid or feint, the veteran Indiana politician-turned-general chose to stand and fight. His controversial decision put his outnumbered and largely inexperienced men on a path to what most observers considered to be a military fiasco when Milroy lost half his force and routed ingloriously from the final battlefield. Many of the Northern soldiers who fought at Second Winchester, however, believed their three-day, ultimately unwinnable resistance delayed the vaunted Rebels from entering Pennsylvania long enough to buy time for the Army of the Potomac to arrive and defeat Lee at Gettysburg.  Scott Mingus tells the story of these men and the first act of the Gettysburg Campaign.  

Scott Mingus is a scientist and executive in the paper industry, and was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive U.S. postage stamps.  The York, Pa., resident has written fifteen Civil War books. His biography of Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith won the 2013 Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Award as well as the Dr. James I Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize, and was nominated for the Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Scott maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County (www.yorkblog.com/cannonball). His great-great-grandfather was a 15-year-old drummer boy in the 51st Ohio Infantry, and other family members fought in the Army of the Potomac at Antietam and Gettysburg.
 




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Join us for our monthly meeting!

Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 6:30PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Topic:  "The Burning of Chambersburg" featuring First Defender Bob Shuman





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Join us for our monthly meeting!
 

Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Topic: "Simon Cameron" by Paul Kahan

   

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Join us for our monthly meeting!

Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Time: 6:30PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Topic:  "McNeil's Rangers"





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Join us for our monthly meeting!

Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Time: 6:30PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Topic:  "An Evening with Ed" featuring the one and only Ed Bearrs!


 

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Join us for our monthly meeting!


Date: Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Time: 6:30PM
Location: The Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610

Topic:  "Myths of the Lost Cause" featuring author Ed Bonekemper


Click on the sign up button above if you plan on attending the upcoming event. We need to know who is coming to be able to accommodate everyone. Thanks!