Musters – Events
The First Defenders meet at 6:30 PM on the second Tuesday of each month from September through May. Meetings include dinner and a speaker who may be a guest or a member. Meetings are currently held at The Inn at Reading. A book raffle is held each month with all proceeds donated to battlefield preservation. Guests and new members are welcome. Space is limited in the restaurant, so please contact a board member or the First Defenders by email (see the Regimental Staff page).
MEMBERS ONLY! Sign up to attend the upcoming event!
"Phil Kearny- International Soldier" presented by Wally Heimbach
The American Civil War produced many memorable and flamboyant personalities who, even 15 decades later, almost seem larger than life. Major General Phil Kearny was one such individual who would have loomed even larger had he not been cut down during the Battle of Chantilly in September 1862. "Kearny the Magnificent" was the scion of a wealthy family who pointed him toward a career in law. But, a desire for military adventure that burned from his youth would push him toward the U.S. Army and a commission at the age of 21. Wanderlust would take him to other continents to fight with other armies, and he was known for riding into battle with the reins of his horse held in his teeth, a revolver in one hand and a swinging saber in the other. Loss of an arm during the Mexican War did nothing to decrease his flamboyance (even if he did have to use only one weapon at a time!). On the Peninsula, Kearny was at the head of his troops urging them forward saying, "Don't worry men, they'll be shooting at me!" At the time of his death, rumor suggested President Abraham Lincoln was considering him as a replacement for George McClellan, and it's interesting to hypothesize what may have happened to the Union war effort if the magnificent Kearny had been promoted to lead the Army of the Potomac instead of Ambrose Burnside.
Wally Heimbach is a long-time Round table participant who seems to know almost everyone who is anyone in modern-day Civil War touring, research and writing. His first Round table presentation in 2018, a last-minute substitute for the renowned Ed Bearss, dealt with another superb Union general, "Hancock the Superb."
"The 128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry" presented by Paula Gidjunis
Men of the 128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry men hailed from the counties of Bucks, Berks and Lehigh. They were "nine-month men," enlisting in August 1862 in response to the fear of invasion of the North by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The 128th would earn its baptism by fire at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland after barely one month of service. With scant opportunity for military training, they would pay the price with heavy casualties. By their time to muster out and return home was nearing, these veteran soldiers would find themselves in the thick of the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, and they possibly were the catalyst resulting in the friendly fire shooting of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
Paula Gidjunis is a retired middle school Social Studies and adjunct college history teacher, and currently works as a bookkeeper for JPG Photography in Philadelphia. She serves on the board of the Delaware Valley CWRT and chairs its Preservation Committee. Paula also serves on the board of the Historical Society of Montgomery County. She has a bachelors degree in History/Education, a certificate in Historical Preservation, a M.B.A. and a M. A. in History from LaSalle University. Paula lives in Glenside, PA, and when not doing something historical is babysitting her toddler grandson.
"Colonel Charles Albright & the 132nd PVI" presented by Dave Fox
"Mary Todd Lincoln - A Living History Portrayal" presented by Linda Minarik
"From Soldiers to Governors" presented by Dave Unger
"From Kirby’s Kingdom: Ramifications from the Trans-Mississippi in 1864" presented by Phillip Greenwalt
The pivotal Red River Campaign in the Trans-Mississippi theater was fought by Union General Nathaniel Banks forces with naval support under Admiral David Porter against Confederate General Richard Taylor’s Army of Western Louisiana. Largely overlooked by events east of the Mississippi River, this program brings into focus the fighting along the Red River and bayous of western Louisiana. What transpired resulted in a Confederate victory, but due to command issues and competing visions the victory was without triumph. The ramifications of this empty success would reverberate across the Confederacy as far as the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in 1864.
Phillip S.Greenwalt is returning for his second presentation to the First Defenders. He is a co-founder of Emerging Revolutionary War and the Emerging Revolutionary War Series as well as a full-time contributor to Emerging Civil War. He is the co-author of three volumes of the Emerging Civil War Series and two volumes of the inaugural volumes of the Emerging Revolutionary War Series.
Phill has a graduate degree in American History from George Mason University and a bachelor’s in history from Wheeling Jesuit University. He is currently a Supervisory Park Ranger for Everglades National Park. He has also served in official National Park Service details at Morristown National Historical Park, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park, and Fort McHenry National Memorial and Historic Shrine. He began his National Park Service career at George Washington Birthplace National Monument and Thomas Stone National Historic Site as a park ranger-historian. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland.
Program to be announced soon. Please check back!