A lawyer by trade and Civil War historian by choice, Rhea will present “The Overland Campaign — Battle of Cold Harbor” at 7 p.m. in room 239 of the Renaissance Center, 1200 E. Center St., in Kingsport. The program is offered free to the community by the TCCWRT, now celebrating its 30th year.
Rhea, who specializes in the Civil War’s Wilderness Campaign, has written seven books on its battles. On Monday, he’ll provide a closer look at Cold Harbor and the strategies between U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee during and after the battle’s conclusion.
“More than a century and a half has elapsed since the Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and Baldy Smith’s 18th Corps pressed toward Petersburg, aiming to sever the Army of Northern Virginia’s main supply line. The six weeks of combat preceding the movement on Petersburg represents the most intense continuous bout of warfare the continent has ever witnessed. Each side’s premier general — Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee — matched wits and endurance in a campaign of combat and maneuver from the Rapidan River to the James. Packed into those six horrific weeks were the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River and Cold Harbor,” the program description reads.
“My talk will present an appraisal of Grant’s and Lee’s generalship during the Overland Campaign, as the meeting engagement between these two talented warriors is popularly called. The focus will be on the campaign’s final days at Cold Harbor and Grant’s decision to pry Lee from his formidable earthworks by slicing the Army of Northern Virginia’s main supply line at Petersburg. The story is one of the most exciting in the annals of American military history.”
Rhea received his bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University, his master’s in history from Harvard University, and his law degree from Stanford University Law School. He served as Special Assistant to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities for two years and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington D.C. and the United States Virgin Islands for some seven years. He has been in private practice since 1983.
He has written seven award-winning books about the American Civil War, including “The Battle of the Wilderness,” “The Battles of Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern,” “To the North Anna River” and “Cold Harbor.” He has lectured across the country at the invitation of numerous historical societies, universities and historic preservation organizations on topics of military history and the Civil War era. He has also appeared multiple times as a historian and presenter on nationwide television programs, including productions by The History Channel, A&E Channel, Discovery Channel and C-Span.
TCCWRT will have membership forms and newsletters available for attendees. Though the program is free, donations are accepted and welcomed to help cover speaker expenses throughout the year. The group also accepts donated Civil War hardback books, paperback books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, VHS and other historical books, which will go on sale at the TCCWRT-sponsored Fun Fest event in July and again in November.
Prior to Monday’s program, as they do every month, members of the TCCWRT will dine with the guest speaker at The Chop House at 5 p.m. Anyone interested in joining them for the dinner should contact Wayne Strong for reservations at (423) 323-2306 or email him at [email protected]