"Two Fights at the Mule Shoe" Monday at Eastman Employee Center

Ned Jilton • Sep 9, 2018 at 10:30 AM

KINGSPORT — It was a point-blank slugfest lasting for 22 hours and resulting in 17,000 casualties when Union and Confederate forces locked together in battle in Virginia at a place called the Mule Shoe Salient.

On Monday night you can learn the story behind the battle as the Tri-Cities Civil War Round Table presents “The Battle of Spotsylvania: Two Fights at the Mule Shoe Salient,” featuring historian Frank O’Reilly.

O’Reilly received both his BA and MA in American History with a concentration on Early American Military History and Civil War Studies. He did his undergraduate work at Washington & Lee University before joining the National Park Service at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. He worked briefly at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and then returned to Fredericksburg as a historian in 1990. Frank also served as an historical consultant for the City of Fredericksburg.

He has written numerous articles on the Civil War and Mexican War for national and international journals. He released his first book on the Fredericksburg Campaign titled “Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg” in 1993. He has appeared in quite a few documentaries, on CSPAN and lectured extensively on military history to audiences around the world, including several conferences in the United Kingdom at Oxford. He served as the sesquicentennial special events coordinator for the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and the Overland Campaign’s 150th anniversary commemorations.

His latest book, “The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock,” received a 2003 nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters. It was released by LSU Press in December 2002, and has won the 2002 Capital District (Albany, N.Y.) Book Award; the 2003 James I. Robertson Jr. Book Award; the 2004 Daniel Laney Book Award; and the 2004 Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award. Currently he is researching a book on the Battle of Malvern Hill and the Seven Days’ Campaign around Richmond.

On Monday night O’Reilly will talk about the events of May 1864, when Ulysses S. Grant clashed with Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania. It was here that Lee misread the intentions of Grant and shifted his forces out of their earthworks only to find Grant attacking instead of flanking.

The resulting battle in the rain was among the most brutal of the war as Confederates fought hand-to-hand with Federals for hours to hold their position while Lee established a new position behind them.

To learn more, check out the TCCWRT program which is free and open to the public. It will take place at the Eastman Employee Center, 400 Wilcox Drive, Room 219, starting at 7 p.m.


Oct. 8, 2018 — John Marszalek, “The Winning Combination: Grant & Sherman,” Eastman Employee Center, Room 219

Nov. 12, 2018 — Ed Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus NPS, “Farthest Forward: Pickett and Pettigrew at Gettysburg,” Eastman Employee Center, Room 219

Jan. 14, 2019 — Jim Ogden, Chief Historian NPS, TBD, Eastman Employee Center, Room 219

March 11, 2019 — Gordon Rhea, lawyer, author, speaker, TBD

May 13, 2019 — William “Bill” J. Cooper, Jr., Retired MSU Professor, speaker, author, “Jefferson Davis, As Commander in Chief, CSA”