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Want to ask Gen. Robert E. Lee or Gen. U.S. Grant a question?

By Ned Jilton II njilton@timesnews.net • Jul 7, 2018 at 10:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Ever wondered what happened the last 48 hours before the meeting at Appomattox during the Civil War?

You can find out on Monday, July 16, as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. Robert E. Lee will visit the Renaissance Center Theater in Kingsport for a “Civil War Evening.” The presentation is part of the Tri-Cities Civil War Round Table Fun Fest event.

The role Grant will be presented by Dr. Curt Fields while the role of Lee will be presented by Thomas Jessee.

Fields holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Memphis. He later earned a master’s degree in secondary education and a Ph.D. in educational administration and curriculum from Michigan State University. He is a career educator, having taught for eight years at the junior and senior high school levels, then served for 25 years as a high school administrator. He teaches as an adjunct sociology professor at the University of Memphis and in education at the Belhaven University, Memphis campus.

During the presentation, Fields, as Grant, will address his command of Federal armies and his buildup for final battles in the Petersburg Siege, going into the Appomattox final battle and the surrender of Lee.

Jessee is a longtime student of Lee and has presented the general in various venues over the years. He was approved by the National Park Service to portray the general at the 150th anniversary of Appomattox re-enactment in Virginia and in the new Appomattox Visitors Center film shown to the public daily. He continues to appear in this role every April.

Jessee and his wife have been dedicated volunteers for the Florida Parks Service since 1970. In 1977, Jessee attended the first Olustee re-enactment on the Olustee battl field and has attended every Olustee event since that time. During those early years of Olustee, he was given command of Confederate troops. Then in the early part of the 1980s, he became commanding general of the Confederate forces at Olustee, a position he still holds. In addition, he has been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for nearly 50 years.

As Grant and Lee, the two men will tell of their roles in the war leading to Appomattox and then answer questions.

The show begins at 7 p.m.,  starting off with 15-20 minutes of Civil War music by Canjo John. Tickets are $5.

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