March Meeting – Gordon Calhoun

For our first meeting of the year, we host native northern Virginian Gordon Calhoun, offering a presentation on the commerce raider CSS Florida.

Meeting time:  7:30 PM, March 12, 2013.

Location:   Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia.

Topic:  “CSS Florida: A Commerce Raider’s Operations and Artifacts”

CSS Florida was a commerce raider/cruiser commissioned by the Confederate States of America to raid U.S.-flagged merchant ships. Built in Liverpool, England, she was the second most successful commerce raider of the war (only to CSS Alabama).  The U.S. Navy eventually captured her in 1864 in Brazil and brought her back to Hampton Roads. The talk itself would discuss general Confederate naval strategy on the high seas, the U.S. Navy’s incompetent response to it, Florida’s operations, her eventual capture, and how she ended up 50 feet below the James River and 400 yards from USS Cumberland’s wreck where she lies today.  The Hampton Roads Naval Museum has several artifacts from the
ship and continues to monitor the wreck site for unlawful intrusion.

About our speaker:

Gordon is native of Alexandria, VA, Gordon Calhoun has worked at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum as the publications editor and command historian since September 1994. His principal task is the editing of the museum’s free quarterly journal of local history entitled The DaybookThe Daybook is currently in its sixteenth year of publication.  It has covered many events in the Hampton Roads area including professional baseball players playing ball at Naval Station Norfolk during World War II, Task Force Alpha’s role in the Bay of Pigs disaster, several articles on the Atlantic fleet in the Spanish-American War, local privateers in the War of 1812, USS Wisconsin’s history and the frigate USS Cumberland’s history.

He has also written or co-written several of the museum’s exhibits including National Emergency: Local Navy Units in The Cold War, The Sailor’s Best Friend: Animals in the U.S. Navy, Cuba Libre: The Atlantic Fleet in the Spanish-American War, and One Hundred Years of Silence: The Submarine Force at 100.  He also begun an extensive research to into operations and life of the sloop-of-war USS Cumberland, the ship that was sunk by the ironclad CSS Virginia on March 8, 1862 in Hampton Roads.

Gordon graduated in 1993 from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio with a B.A. in History and a minor in economics.  He has also completed an M.A. in History with a certificate in Strategy and Policy from Old Dominion University here in Norfolk.

When not at the museum, Gordon and his wife Lisa own and manage Perfect Peace Farm, a Thoroughbred, Anglo-Arabian, and Welsh Pony breeding operation in Southampton County, Virginia.  He has two beautiful and very energetic daughters.

About Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.
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