I delivered my lecture last night to the members of the San Diego Civil War Roundtable entitled "Revenge and Redemption: The 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment at Gettysburg" and am very proud to say it was a big success!
The talk came in at just about 45 minutes and, based upon feedback I got during the Q and A as well as afterwards, was very well received. We spent a few minutes discussing the origins of the regiment and some of the personalities in it, before moving onto the 20th in the war in the East. We hit Ball's Bluff, Yorktown, the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Second Fredericksburg. In proceeding this way, we were able to lay a good foundation for the regiment's trials and tribulations before Gettysburg.
The bulk of the talk was on the regiment at Gettysburg, and I found some wonderful quotes and personalities to discuss that really brought the experience to life, both for me and my audience. I could hear groans, signs, and the occasional "Wow" as we moved through the subject matter. We finished by traveling with the 20th through the rest of the war, then visited the regimental memorial on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.
One of the best parts of the talk happened quite serendipitously, but I will use again the next time I give it. I had 42 slides, a mixture of photographs, book covers, and maps, as part of a Powerpoint show to be used as an adjunct to my ever-melodious and commanding basso profundo voice. Turned out that our projector would not be available, so I converted the slides into a syllabus and made 10 copies.
There was one syllabus, unbound, for everyone 2-3 people to share, and I would mention when they should turn the page. This was a wonderful way for the presentation to move on. People didn't look ahead, so there was always a measure of suspense, the picture quality was excellent, so the images really had an impact, and the lights stayed on, so no one got drowsy.
The best part was, it gave the room a very special kinetic energy, an interactive dynamism as people could really sink into the subject matter. I saw people pointing and discussing, as well as just staring at some of the faces and images before them. Definitely a fantastic way to have the talk go forward.
Up at the dias, I had an absolute ball, and loved speaking before a group of friends, peers, and The Jess about a subject I'm quite passionate about. I'm glad it showed through and was truly flattered by the compliments I received.
I cannot wait to give the lecture again and would be more than happy to go to other roundtables, classrooms, book clubs, etc. If you'd be interested in hearing the talk, please let me know in a comment.
Speaking of book clubs, the book chat at Civil War Interactive is doing "Harvard's Civil War" by Richard Miller. This is the best regimental history I've ever read and gives an amazing discussion of the 20th before, during, and after the war. It's free to participate, so please sign up!