GEORGE F. FRANKS, III

speaks on




to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on September 13, 2016, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.

Questions and answers follow the presentation.

A copy of the PowerPoint to his presentation is available HERE (http://files.cwrtdc.org/FranksPP9-13-2016.pdf)

About the Topic:
The Gettysburg Campaign has recently received increased attention from historians. The study of the battle on July 1-3, 1863 in and around the small crossroads town in Pennsylvania is not complete, however, without also looking into the movement of the Army of Northern Virginia to and from Gettysburg, and the pursuit by the Army of the Potomac after the battle. Many historians agree the Gettysburg Campaign concluded with the July 14, 1863 Battle of Falling Waters, which occurred on the banks of the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The battle is also called the Battle of Williamsport or the Battle of Hagerstown.

Lee's bloodied army began to retreat from Gettysburg in torrential rain beginning the night of July 4. It moved southwest across South Mountain on the Fairfield Road toward Hagerstown and Williamsport. The Union army cautiously followed. On July 7, Confederate cavalry successfully prevented Union cavalry from occupying Williamsport and destroying the Confederate trains there. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia reached the Potomac River on July 11 to find its pontoon bridge destroyed. Unable to cross the rain-swollen river, Lee entrenched to protect the river crossings at Williamsport and waited for Meade’s army to attack. Meade arrived on July 12 and immediately probed the Confederate line. Heavy skirmishing took place on July 13 as Meade prepared for a full-on attack. Luckily for Lee and his men, the river fell enough to allow them to construct a new bridge and Lee began crossing after dark on the 13th. On the morning of  July14, Union cavalry launched a blistering attack on Lee’s rearguard, which was on the Maryland bank waiting to cross. More than 500 Confederates were taken prisoner and Confederate Brig. Gen. James Pettigrew was mortally wounded in the fight.


Although not the climactic battle of the war desired by President Lincoln, the Gettysburg Campaign remains a story of miscalculation, bravery, larger-than-life personalities, tragedy and a cover-up. The story does not end with the battle, either. The events include an intriguing tale about veterans of the Battle of Falling Waters decades after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s rearguard clashed with Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s cavalry. Our speaker, George Franks, will discuss this critical battle.


About Our Speaker:
George F. Franks, III is the author of Battle of Falling Waters 1863: Custer, Pettigrew and the End of the Gettysburg Campaign, which makes extensive use of first-hand accounts, detailed maps, period drawings and photographs to breathe life into the crucial yet little remembered end of the Gettysburg Campaign. The book includes as well a detailed description of the battlefield today and efforts to preserve portions of the land for future generations.

Passionate about the study of the American Civil War since visiting the Gettysburg battlefield with his parents in July 1963, Mr. Franks studied history at the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Pittsburgh. A former telecommunications executive with extensive international experience, he is currently the President of Franks Consulting Group and the owner of CockedHats.com, a historical hat business. Mr. Franks also is the founder and President of the Battle of Falling Waters 1863 Foundation, Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. 

Mr. Franks is the former President of the Capitol Hill Civil War Round Table, a member of Hagerstown Civil War Round Table, Save Historic Antietam Foundation and the Civil War Trust. He is also a Governor and a former Vice President of the Company of Military Historians.

Mr. Franks has researched the July 14, 1863 battle of Falling Waters, Maryland for a decade and owns and lives in the 1830 Daniel Donnelly House on the battlefield. Franks can be reached via email at fallingwatersmd1863@gmail.com or his web site at www.fallingwatersmd1863.com.
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