TALK TOPICS

Need a speaker for your book club, historical society, or community gathering? Gregg Clemmer would be happy to meet your group, presenting on a number of different topics that would take you back in time . . . and yet embrace you with the present. A gifted story teller, Gregg makes history come alive, letting you behold the past as if you were there. Below, check out the descriptions of a number of his talks.

 

For more information, contact him at Gregg.Clemmer@gmail.com

Why the Civil War Still Lives

 

Near the end of his life, Mark Twain wrote that the American Civil War had "uprooted institutions that were centuries old, changed the politics of a people, transformed the social life of half the country, and wrought so profoundly upon the entire national character that the influence cannot be measured short of two or three generations." Really? Just two...or three generations? In Why the Civil War Still Lives, Clemmer compares and contrasts the details and events of the 1860s with those of today – everything from clothing styles, poems, and music to speeches, food, and quotes to the famous, infamous, and forgotten. But of more importance, perhaps, what is The War's enduring legacy? And how do Americans of today compare with those from that time in their response to devastating events? Expect the unexpected!

Valor in Gray

 

The Confederate Medal of Honor remains one of the rarest and least-known decorations for American battlefield valor. Among the recipients are but a few well-known names. In his presentation, Clemmer tells the story of one of the recipients who embraced the cataclysmic challenges of his time, then when faced with the life and death trials of the battlefield, rose "above and beyond the call of duty." This valor is American valor. And American valor, be it Blue or Gray, is the shared heritage of all Americans. The book includes a chapter on each of the 42 recipients and begins with an eloquent foreword by Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient Capt. Tom Kelley.

Who the h#** was Old Alleghany?

Ed Johnson is "one of the wickedest men I ever heard of," wrote a member of the Stonewall Brigade. Declared another, he is "a large and rather rough looking man on horseback...whom the men jeered." Others recalled Johnson as an irascible character who "always carried a big hickory club or cane, and when he got mad could work his ears like a mule."  Still, Johnson's highest accolades shine from subordinates who followed him into battle. They are legion, but perhaps summarized best in the words of artillerist William P. Carter: "No bolder soldier ever donned the Southern gray, or followed the storm-tossed colors of the immortal Lee." 

Despite warnings from several nationally known historians that few primary sources existed, Clemmer's diligent research over a dozen years discovered two notable caches of Johnson letters and a treasure trove of primary records. As a result, Clemmer's biography of Ed Johnson won the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award as the book of highest merit in the field of Southern history.

 

Robert E. Lee: The History You Were Never Taught

With Confederate statues and indeed Southern history grabbing headlines across our country in recent months, it might be interesting if we took a look at pages of our history rarely read. Robert E. Lee's memory is especially under review -- if not attacked. But the former Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia's most enduring legacy is one few recognize, and one we should all be grateful for.

After Lewis & Clark, who are the next two most famous members of the Corps of Discovery?

The first of this duo is easily answered, an individual whose particular talents proved unique to Lewis & Clark and whose legacy endures to this day.  The second individual secured legendary status in the years after service with the Corps of Discovery and today, personifies the merits of perseverance.