The Hampton Roads Peace Conference

I came upon this video of an author of a current book speaking about the peace conference at the Museum of the Confederacy.  To tell you the truth, after watching this video I have no desire whatsoever to purchase his book.

Take a look and see what errors you can find.  I’ll give you a head start:  The steamship River Queen wasn’t Lincoln’s private yacht, as the author claims, nor was it the “Air Force One of its time.”

Which errors did you find?

He also had this piece in the NYT Disunion blog.  What inaccuracies do you see there?

You can find the relevant messages in the OR beginning here.

Here are some of the messages.  Compare them to the claims made by the author:

HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p506-1 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p506-2 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p506-3 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p506-4 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p507-1 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p507-2 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p507-3 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p508-1 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p508-2 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p509-1 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p509-2 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p509-3   HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p510-2 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p511-1 HRPeaceORIVol46Pt2p511-2

The speech Davis gave at the African Church in Richmond is reported here.

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18 comments

  1. Unfortunately, the Disunion blog has gone downhill in the past few months. Selecting him to write for it is further evidence of the current state of affairs.

    1. I can understand why they did so. It was the sesquicentennial of the conference and he has a current book out on it.

  2. I found the book to be very good, well-sourced, interesting, and informative. Perfect? Of course not. If you are nice to me 🙂 I will send you a video of the talk I am giving Monday night at the AACWRT, largely based on this subject and this book.

    1. What I’ve seen from him so far doesn’t fill me with confidence, Jim. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the book is accurate, Jim, because it’s a fairly straightforward story. The errors I’ve seen, though, are so fundamental they call into question everything else. How can I trust what he says about things I don’t know about if there are mistakes in the things that I know about?

      1. He’s not a Civil War historian, he’s an attorney who got interested in one event and wrote a book on it. He’s going to make errors that fanatics like you and I 🙂 would not. I listened to the video while polishing my presentation for Monday, and only noticed a handful of errors—his comments about the River Queen (somewhat understandable, actually), the destruction of Columbia, SC, and a couple of others that I noted but made so little impression on me that all I can remember is thinking, “Yeah, that’s one Al is talking about.”

  3. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    While it’s fun to point out the mistakes — and I noticed them, too — what blew me away were the details of the scheme to cooperate against Mexico. I’m trying to picture the AoNV pulling out of Petersburg and retreating some 1,500 miles to the Rio Grande and then on into Mexico where it would become engaged and the AoP following along behind the Confederates and joining up with them to defeat the Mexicans. I just have a real hard time wrapping my head around that one. Conroy mentions that both Davis and Blair wrote of it. Did they really write about it in such detail?

    1. I wonder if it’s in his footnotes.

      1. According to Conroy’s endnotes, Blair dictated his version of the meeting with Davis to his son, Montgomery, less than a week after his return (so right before his second trip to Richmond). This memo is in the Blair Papers in the LoC. Nicolay and Hay used it in a magazine article about Lincoln. Davis has an account of the meeting in his memoirs, but I don’t know if they include this level of detail. I agree it sounds like an outlandish plan—I’ve always thought it was.

          1. I just checked an online version of Davis’s memoirs, and it does not have any of the fantastic details.

          2. Thanks again, Jim.

  4. The reference to the “River Queen” as the “Air Force One of its time” is a little goofy, but he can be forgiven on this point (though he would have been on much better ground had he claimed it was the “Executive One” of its time). What cannot be forgiven, however, is the ridiculous idea that Jefferson Davis, by arranging the conference, was engaging in Machiavellian subterfuge. Preposterous.

  5. Mr. Conroy seems to misuderstand, or at least take some liberties with, the actual events. The Confederates did not agree to conduct a joint military exercise with United States, and no such plan as the one Conroy describes was ever under consideration. At most, the Confederates were proposing an armistice to allow the United States to confront the threat, to the extent there was one, in Mexico. I’m afraid Mr. Conroy was playing to the audience at the expense of historical authenticity.

  6. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    I have checked the LoC online (Blair papers) but am unable to find anything. You can go here —

    https://books.google.com/books?id=ZHZBBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA317&dq=papers+of+preston+blair&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QSTZVKesCIv1ate-gLAI&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=mexico&f=false

    — to find Conroy’s version of the meeting between Blair and Davis. Roughly pages 82-85.

  7. It’s in BOX 18 REEL 11-12: Davis, Jefferson, meeting with Francis Preston Blair, 1865.

    My talk last night went well. Al will be pleased to note that I criticized Conroy both for his footnoting and for comparing the River Queen to Air Force One.

    1. Glad to hear it, Jim. How about his claim in the video that E.O.C. Ord was Grant’s “second-in-command?” Does he make that claim in the book?

  8. Not that I can find. He refers to Ord as a “capable friend” of Grant’s (I know folks who would dispute the “capable,” but that is another story), but does not attempt to explain the seniority issues that prevailed with both Grant and Meade away.

    1. Thanks for looking, Jim. His assertion that Ord was Grant’s second-in-command was another that grated on me.

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