When: March 8th
Where: La Navona, 154 North Hamilton Road. Gahanna Ohio 43230
Speaker: Kevin J. Weddle, Ph.D. COL (Ret), US Army.
Topic: Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral; Samuel Francis Dupont.
Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral is the story of a long-forgotten naval officer whose stellar peacetime and early wartime career was overshadowed by his failed attack on Charleston in April 1863. Although Admiral Du Pont championed technological innovation, he outspokenly opposed the use of the new ironclads to attack Charleston, which caused him to clash with the powerful secretary of the navy, Gideon Welles. Only when his objections were overridden, did his use of these modern vessels bring his career to a tragic end. The talk exposes this historical misunderstanding, while also pinpointing Du Pont’s crucial role in the development of United States naval strategy and his work in modernizing the navy between the Mexican War and the Civil War. The talk, based on the award-winning book, also unveils the life-long partnership that Du Pont shared with his wife and confidante, Sophie, who served as an immediate counsel to many of his decisions, while also tackling larger historical questions such as civil-military relations, attitudes toward slavery, innovations in military strategy and organization, and the introduction of new military technology in wartime.
Colonel (Retired) Kevin J. Weddle, Ph.D.
Kevin Weddle is Professor of Military Theory and Strategy at the US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He is a native Minnesotan, graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and served over 28 years as a combat engineer officer. Throughout his career he worked in a variety of command and staff positions in the United States and overseas and is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Colonel Weddle’s assignments included service as a platoon leader, assistant battalion operations officer, company executive officer, company commander and tours of duty at West Point, Germany, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Pentagon. He also served as operations officer for the 555th Combat Engineer Group, battalion commander of the 299th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, and was selected for brigade command before joining the US Army War College faculty. At the War College he was the director of the Advanced Strategic Art Program, served as the Deputy Dean of Academics, and held the General Maxwell D. Taylor Chair in the Profession of Arms.
Dr. Weddle has led dozens of civilian and military groups to battlefields in the United States including Vicksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg, Grant’s Overland Campaign, and others. In addition, he has also led groups to European battlefields including Agincourt, Waterloo, Gallipoli, the Somme, Verdun, Ypres, Dunkirk, Sicily, Anzio, and Normandy.
Colonel Weddle holds master’s degrees in history and civil engineering from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. He has written numerous articles for popular and scholarly journals and his first book, Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral: The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont (University of Virginia Press, 2005), won the 2006 William E. Colby Award, was runner up in the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize competition, and won the Army War College’s faculty writing award. He is currently writing a strategic history of the Saratoga campaign for the Oxford University Press. Colonel Weddle has also won the Army War College excellence in teaching award and is a licensed professional engineer.
He is married to the former Jean Buechner of St. Paul, Minnesota and they have one daughter, Anne, a forensic scientist for the FBI who is married to a US Naval aviator.