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 held at Giannotti’s Country Restaurant on Pricetown Road in Alsace Manor, and will also be provided virtually for members who are unable to attend due to COVID-19 concerns.

A book raffle is held each month with all proceeds donated to battlefield preservation, and members who attend virtually will have the opportunity to participate even if they cannot attend a program.

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!


"Moments of Contingency & the Rise of Grant"

presented by Chris Mackowski

"The condition of being dependent on chance; uncertainty."  Perhaps the least common definition of "contingency," it nonetheless certainly describes the rise of Ulysses S. Grant from an undistinguished pre-Civil War West Pointer to the highest rank in the United States Army in three years (and the presidency of the nation in less than five more).  From Belmont to Appomattox (and then to the White House) there was nothing certain about Grant's future.  Some may consider him to have been lucky while others would say blessed, but there were more than a few moments of contingency between 1861 and 1865 that could have resulted in an entirely different outcome of the War and the future of the nation, and this program will explore some of those key instances of uncertainty where chance showed its hand.


Chris Mackowski has been a frequent and popular presenter for the First Defenders.  A self-described "fanboy" of Stonewall Jackson, Chris' work on Grant probably makes him a fanboy of him, too.  The editor-in-chief and co-founded of Emerging Civil War, Chris is a writing professor and associate dean for undergraduate programs at St. Bonaventure University in New York.  A prolific author with more than two dozen titles to his credit, Chris is also the historian-in-residence at Stevenson's Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania Battlefield.  Formerly a National Park Service historian, Chris still leads tours of the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania battlefields as well as the site where Stonewall Jackson died.  In his spare (!) time, he is also the vice president of the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust and serves on the advisory board of the Civil War Round Table Congress. 

We Fight for Our Rights, Liberty, Justice and Union:  the Battle of New Market Heights, September 29, 1864

presented by Tim Talbott

"Lincoln & the Press"

presented by Harold Holzer

"Civil War Jeopardy"

moderated by Ev Binns

"A Tie that Binds: General John Hartranft, the 1899 Exeter Train Wreck & Beyond"

presented by Craig Breneiser

"Colonel Edward Cross"

presented by Wally Heimbach

"Intelligence Gathering Issues for Lee & Meade During the Gettysburg Campaign"

presented by Greg Mertz


"Lee Invades the North: a Comparison of the Antietam & Gettysburg Campaigns"

presented by Brad Gottfried

-To Be Announced-