Chris Godart speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia about General Richard Ewell and the Battle of Gettysburg on February 9, 2016, at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.
Questions and answers follow the presentation.
A copy of the PowerPoint to Mr. Godart's presentation is available at http://files.cwrtdc.org/GodartPP-1-12-2016.pdf
General Ewell at Gettysburg
About The Topic:
Richard Ewell was born in February 1817 and grew up near Manassas, Virginia. He secured an appointment to the USMA at West Point in 1836 and graduated with the class of 1840. On graduation, Lt. Ewell chose the Dragoons and was assigned to the 1st US Dragoons. Except for the Mexican War and duties as a recruiting officer, Ewell would spend the better part of the next twenty years on the western frontier.
When his home state of Virginia seceded from the Union, he resigned his commission and offered his services to the Confederacy. He was given the rank of Lt Colonel, but quickly moved up the ranks to Brigadier General in June 1861 and Major General in Jan 1862 and was given command of a division and assigned to the Army of the Valley with Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. With the Shenandoah Valley secured in mid 1862, General Ewell and General Jackson's men first moved to Richmond and then north to the Manassas Junction area near the rear of the enemy. This march culminated in the Second Battle of Manassas on August 28.
At Groveton, Gen. Ewell was wounded in the knee and had his left leg amputated. He recuperated under the care of his first cousin, Lizinka Campbell Brown, whom he eventually married in May 1863. Shortly after informing Gen. Lee that he was fit to return to duty, Stonewall Jackson died and, after reorganizing the Army of Northern Virginia into three Corps, Gen. Lee promoted Ewell to LtGen and appointed him successor to Gen. Jackson as Commander of the II Corps.
On July 1, 1863, Ewell's Corps approached Gettysburg from the north and smashed two Union Corps, driving them back through the town and forcing them to take up defensive positions on Cemetery Hill south of town. Gen. Lee had just arrived on the field and saw the importance of this position. He sent discretionary orders to Ewell that Cemetery Hill be taken "if practicable." Gen. Ewell chose not to attempt the assault (for which he has been criticized ever since). Ewell remained Commander of the II Corps until mid 1864 when his health forced Gen. Lee to transfer him from corps command to become responsible for the defense of Richmond.
In 1865, during the retreat toward Appomattox, Ewell commanded a mixed corps of soldiers, sailors and marines. Surrounded and forced to surrender at Sayler's Creek, he was imprisoned and taken to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor.
After his release from the prison, Ewell moved to his wife's plantation in Maury County, Tennessee, where he died of pneumonia on January 25, 1872, just five days after Lizinka succumbed to the same illness.
"A truer and nobler spirit never drew sword," proclaimed General Longstreet.
About the Speaker:
Chris Godart has been interested in the Civil War for about 25 years. His interest in educating others about the conflict between the states led him to join "Lee's Lieutenants" (see http://www.leeslieutenants.com) and because of his resemblance to "Old Baldy," the suggestion was made for him to portray Gen. Ewell.
Mr. Godart has been a high school and college soccer coach. He was Head Coach at Catholic University (Washington D.C.) for 10 years. He coached soccer at Oakton, Lee, and Westfield High Schools in Virginia. His teams appeared in eight district titles (winning seven), four regional finals (winning one) and three state championships (winning the State Championship in 1990 with an undefeated record of 20-0-0). Mr. Godart has received the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Coach of the year award for the South region, and he was named the Washington Post All-Metropolitan Coach of the Year.
Mr. Godart has served as President of the Northern Region Soccer Coaches Association and was recognized by the Fairfax Virginia Board of Supervisors in 2009 for his outstanding record of service.
Mr. Godart currently is a Technology Specialist for the Fairfax County Public School system in Virginia and serves a docent at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Mr. Godart lives a short drive from General Ewell’s boyhood home. His website as General Ewell is http://www.leeslieutenants.com/profiles/Ewell.html.
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