Home Current Events APUS Interactive Marketing Team Hosts Webinars About the Civil War in Jefferson County

APUS Interactive Marketing Team Hosts Webinars About the Civil War in Jefferson County

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Every month, the American Public University System (APUS) Interactive Marketing Team hosts two webinars which are open and free to all students, faculty, staff, and the public.  The topics for these webinars range from terrorism to logistics and from nursing to history.  Recently, the team has developed a series of webinars focused on the Civil War in Jefferson County, West Virginia where APUS makes its home in Charles Town.  Last week I attended one of the webinars about the Civil War titled “Border War: Jefferson County at the Outset of the Civil War” and was  impressed with the content.

The webinar featured Mr. Dennis E. Frye, Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and past president of a national battlefield preservation organization (today known as the Civil War Preservation Trust).  Mr. Frye has written six books and authored more than 70 articles about the Civil War.  He also served as the Associate Producer for the acclaimed film Gods and Generals.  Mr. Frye is an expert on the topic of the Civil War in Jefferson County.

Situated on the border of the north and south, Jefferson County was a critical position for both sides.  At the time of the war’s beginning, Jefferson County was part of the state of Virginia.  Following John Brown’s assault on the US Armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry, the citizens of Harpers Ferry formed militia, uncertain whether Brown acted alone or whether they should expect another such attack.  It was these militiamen who initiated the first attempts to protect Harpers Ferry from the north. 

Frye compared the fear of the citizens of Harpers Ferry in those days to the fears that most Americans felt in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  In the midst of  an unprecedented attack by an enemy  yet to be identified, many Americans began taking precautions to be prepared in the event that another attack would follow.  The citizens of Harpers Ferry had similar motivations when they began arming militias to defend their town after John Brown’s attack. 

Robert E. Lee was appointed to develop the military strategy that would be required to defend Virginia, and Lee understood quite well the strategic importance of Jefferson County and the Shenandoah Valley.  Lee assigned Thomas Jonathan (later known as “Stonewall”) Jackson to Harpers Ferry.  Frye explained  that these two men worked tirelessly to develop a sound strategy for defending the area which sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.  He quoted extensively from letters written between the two men and provided the audience with the first-hand accounts of these illustrious soldiers as they strategized on how best to hold their position. 

He applauded Jackson’s ingenuity at manipulating the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad’s operating hours.  Restricting the railroad’s movement through Harpers Ferry to only two hours each day, Jackson was able to position his men so that when the train came through, his forces were able to take control of the railroad quite easily, seizing several hundred cars containing equipment, arms, and ammunition intended for the north.  Known as Jackson’s “Great Railroad Robbery,” Frye posits this action with allowing the South to maintain control of the area and gain an advantage over their much better armed and trained Northern counterparts. 

APUS makes its headquarters in an area steeped in American history. Charles Town is named after its founder, Charles Washington, George Washington’s brother.  Many of the early plantations in the area were owned by Washington family members.  During the Civil War, there were dozens of battles and engagements in this county between the two armies. Mr. Frye’s focus on military strategy in the area during the opening days and months of the Civil War was of particular interest to me as well as many of our military history students and others.  I encourage you to find time to attend some of the webinars that the APUS Interactive Marketing Team is offering twice each month.  Through the end of 2012, at least once each quarter, they will offer a webinar focused on the Civil War in Jefferson County.   I hope to be able to attend these as well.  Past webinars can be viewed on-demand from the archive section of the CivilWarScholars.com blog which is sponsored by American Public University (APU). 

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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