Civil War authors to appear at Latrobe library
Two men who have penned books on Civil War topics will be featured in a series of local author presentations this fall at Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe.
Derry resident Alfred C. Young III will speak about his book, “Lee’s Army During the Overland Campaign,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the library, at 1112 Ligonier St.
W. Stephen Coleman, associate professor emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Theatre Arts, is scheduled to visit the library at 6 p.m. Oct. 2, to discuss the topic of his book: “Discovering Gettysburg: An Unconventional Introduction to the Greatest Little Town in America and the Monumental Battle that Made It Famous.”
Library Director Tracy Trotter said scheduling and promoting a series of author talks seemed a good way to expand awareness of and attendance at such programs.
“If you have them as stand-alone programs, you tend to miss them,” she said.
It’s appropriate for Young to discuss his book at the library since it helped him obtain research materials as he was writing it.
According to the book’s publisher, Louisiana State University Press, Young’s research fills in a gap in statistical knowledge about Robert E. Lee’s Confederate units as they clashed with Ulysses S. Grant’s Union forces during several weeks of fighting in Virginia, beginning in May 1864. Supplementing spotty official Southern records, Young discovered Lee’s troops were stronger in numbers, but also suffered higher casualties, than previously thought during such battles as the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.
Trotter said Young’s research, which will provide a basis for future Civil War scholarship on the Overland Campaign, involved seeking out lists of battle casualties published at the time.
“He went to all these old newspapers and added them all up,” Trotter said. “Nobody else has this.”
In addition to his work at the university, Coleman has gained notice in the past with acting parts in high-profile features filmed in Southwestern Pennsylvania. His character was literally defaced by villain Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” He portrayed the ill-starred British General Braddock, who was mortally wounded in a battle with French and Indian adversaries at present-day Braddock in July 1755, in the PBS series “The War That Made America.”
A four-hour guided tour of the Gettysburg battlefield in 2008 sparked Coleman’s interest in the famed Civil War conflict. He has since grown to also admire the surrounding modern town that is split between those who embrace the battle legacy, and the tourism it has generated, and others who view it with disdain.
“It’s an interesting tension,” Coleman said. It’s reflected in his decision to devote five chapters of his book to the battle and the remaining five to the town.
In gathering material for the book, he’s made at least 30 trips to Gettysburg and interviewed more than 40 people from all sectors of the community.
“It was the largest battle on American soil,” he noted. “The town itself has really gone out of its way to preserve much of what was there in 1863.”
Cartoonist and fellow actor Tim Hartman illustrated the book with caricatures of some of the key people involved in the story.
In another author presentation, local dentist Dr. Edward Torba will visit the Latrobe library at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 to read from “Matt Monroe and the Secret Society of Odontology,” the latest entry in his middle-grade children’s fantasy series.
All of the author sessions are free to attend, but registration is required by calling 724-539-1972 or stopping at the adult circulation desk.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .