Community Events at New Canaan Library


The Maryland Campaign and Battle of Antietam

Thursday, September 27, 2012, 7 pm

“The truth is, when bullets are whacking against tree trunks and solid shot are cracking skulls like eggshells, the consuming passion in the breast of the average man is to get out of the way…”  Private David L. Thompson, of Company G, 9th New York Volunteers, distressingly captures the sense of what was to become the bloodiest one-day battle in our military history:  the Battle of Antietam.  The total dead at the close of the Civil War is estimated at 625,000.  Antietam accounted for some 26,000 dead or 4% of that total, a twelve-hour toll not matched even in modern times.  This lecture will present material (complemented by extensive PowerPoint slides) on the battle which took place in Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862.  Of this battle, James M. McPherson, noted scholar of the Civil War, said, “No other campaign and battle had such momentous, multiple consequences as Antietam….Contemporaries recognized Antietam as the preeminent turning point of the war.”  Special attention will be paid to Connecticut units involved.


Richard L. Judd is President Emeritus of Central Connecticut State University and served as a U.S. National Park Service Ranger at the Antietam National Battlefield Site.  Dr. Judd continues to study this battle and is a member of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Committee.



Connecticut’s Bohemian Brigade:  Journalists and Artists of the Civil War

Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7 pm

The “War of the Rebellion” was the first war to be extensively reported in the newspapers by civilian journalists and artists who followed the armies into battlefield areas.  The typical American newspaper in the early years of the nineteenth century was a journal of opinion and a cheerleader for politicians.  It was not much of a news-paper.


In the years before the Civil War, however, men like James Gordon Bennett, founder of the New York Herald; Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune, and Charles Anderson Dana, managing editor of the Tribune, revolutionized the industry.  They and many others like them hired scores of reporters and artists to follow the armies and report, as accurately as possible, the events as they saw them.


The “Bohemian Brigade” was made up of an informal cadre of civilian journalists and artists working for the major newspapers or as stringers or free-lance reporters.  They chose the name “Bohemians,” which they defined loosely as “Free-thinkers and free lovers, who lived by their art, spent liberally, and considered the world their own.”  The “Bohemian Brigade” often flocked together—reporters still do it today—for companionship and comfort and to exchange information.  They also figured that it was a good way to keep an eye on the competition.


Several members of the “Bohemian Brigade” were Connecticut men who worked for the New York newspapers.  This program will highlight their exploits and those of many other journalists and artists.


RobertRobert Berthelson has had a lifelong interest in American history and nostalgia.  He has produced over 50 illustrated lectures, including several historical documentaries on Connecticut history, the American Revolution, the Civil War, postcard collecting, early photography, and stamp collecting.  Bob has presented these lectures to over 2,000 audiences including retirement communities, senior centers, schools, health care facilities, historical societies, libraries, camera clubs, and social groups.



Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 7 pm

This talk by Richard A. Gerber explores Lincoln as a politician; Lincoln’s relationship with the Constitution; and the meaning of emancipation.


Dr. Gerber received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1967.  His primary teaching experience is in constitutional and legal history of the U.S. and Britain.  He taught American history at Lehman College of City University of New York from 1967 to 1985, the last seven years as Chair of the History Department.  After a stint as academic dean and then academic vice president he returned to the classroom at Southern Connecticut State University in 1992.  He spent seven additional years as Southern’s Coordinator of Academic Planning and Evaluation.


Dr. Gerber has won awards for scholarship from the Organization of American Historians and from the New Jersey School Boards Association.  He has also received honors for excellence in teaching from Lehman College.  He has written numerous scholarly works on the Liberal Republicans of 1872, on aspects of the 13th and 14th Amendments, and on the methodologies of teaching history.  His interpretive study of the Constitution, The System:  The American Constitution in Historical Perspective, is a standard reference.  He is currently at work on a history of the Civil Rights Act of 1875.  Dr. Gerber resides in Glastonbury, Connecticut.