The Federal Occupation of the Confederate White House

This is Confederate White House Supervisor of Interpretation Bryce VanStaver talking about the confederate White House during the occupation of Richmond by Union forces. From the video’s description: “Less than a day after Jefferson Davis left Richmond, Federal forces captured the Confederate White House, intact. Thus began a five year occupation of the site by the U.S. Army, during Reconstruction-era Virginia. White House Interpretation Supervisor Bryce VanStavern gives a glimpse of the house as a military occupation headquarters, and spotlights a few of the officers who served there.”

I have a couple of problems with this presentation. First, he spends time explaining how he’s not an expert on what he’s talking about. That’s a bad move. Just deliver the presentation, and if someone asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, just say you don’t know. Second, he claims Henry W. Halleck [he mispronounces Halleck’s middle name] was a lieutenant general and was demoted to major general to take over in Richmond. That’s wrong. Halleck wasn’t a lieutenant general and wasn’t demoted.

Other than that, it’s not too awful bad. He seems to be very unfamiliar with the generals who fought in the Civil War. I’m sure he knows all there is to know about the building, though.

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One comment

  1. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    In Van Staver’s defense, he only got this assignment a few days earlier. Enjoyed the details of Lincoln’s visit. When Pete Taylor, Mike Kiernan and I did our CW trip in 2013, the Confederate White House guide made it clear (as does Van Staver) that Lincoln did not sit in Jefferson Davis’ chair or sit at his desk on the 2nd floor as was later reported. He sat in the first floor library, which looked like an office. I have read other reports that indicate that the Confederate records were captured, not graciously turned over to Halleck by Cooper although it makes a good story. Also, Terry did not “resign” in August 1866 but was merely reassigned. Interesting that Schofield’s MOH is still on the books and was not taken away during the Purge of 1917. One of Weitzel’s lighthouses is the Stannard Rock Lighthouse some twenty miles off the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s U.P. In spite of the glitches, an interesting presentation overall.

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