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Founded November 20, 1956


Upcoming CCWRT Program...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 6:30 pm

Myth of the Lost Cause –
False Remembrance of the Civil War

Edward H. Bonekemper III

The call for the removal of Confederate memorials has been heard. Why were these icons erected? Since the end of the struggle, the former Confederate states have continued to mythologize the South’s defeat to the North, depicting the Civil War as unnecessary, or as a fight over states’ Constitutional rights, or as a David v. Goliath struggle in which the North waged “total war” over an underdog South. Ed Bonekemper deconstructs this multi-faceted myth, revealing the truth about the war that nearly tore the nation apart.

Our speaker: Edward H. Bonekemper III is a military historian, author and lecturer. Between 2010 and 2016, he was book review editor at Civil War News. A national figure, Bonekemper has lectured over ten times at the Smithsonian about the Civil War, and has appeared on C-SPAN on multiple occasions to discuss Grant and Lee's Civil War generalship.

View Full 2017-18 Program Schedule


Meeting Time: Meetings begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30, and the program at 7:30.  Meetings typically end by 9.

Meeting Location: Our meetings are held at Judson Manor (the former Wade Park Manor residential hotel), 1890 E 107th St, Cleveland, OH, at the corner of East 107th Street and Chester, just off University Circle.
Map to Judson Manor | History of Wade Park Manor

Reservations: You must make a dinner reservation for any meeting you plan to attend no later than the day prior to that meeting (so we can give a headcount to the caterer).  Make your reservation one of three ways:

  • Send an email to .
  • Submit a dinner reservation form from this website.
  • Call 440-449-9311 and leave a message on the voice mail.

History Briefs

A small glimpse into the Civil War era

The Southbound Underground Railroad
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

The Civil War has been called the first modern war, because many innovations that had been developed in the years prior to the Civil War saw their first extensive wartime use in the Civil War.  In keeping with this, the January 2004 Cleveland Civil War Roundtable Dick Crews debate focused on the topic of the equipment or innovation that had the most effect on the Civil War.  One of the five innovations that were discussed was railroads.  

Most historians agree that the Civil War was the first war in which railroads saw widespread use and had a major impact.  For example, at the first battle of Bull Run, Joseph Johnston used a railroad to rapidly move his troops from the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce P.G.T. Beauregard.  A few months after the battle of Shiloh, Braxton Bragg moved his infantry by rail along a circuitous route from Tupelo, Mississippi to Chattanooga, Tennessee so he could join forces with an army led by Edmund Kirby Smith for an invasion of Kentucky.  Railroads were instrumental prior to the Civil War in the development of the United States due to their capacity for rapid transportation in all directions throughout the country. 

However, there was one pre-Civil War railroad that operated in only one direction.  This railroad, which operated without locomotives and without tracks and was a railroad in name only, was the Underground Railroad, and it went essentially only in a northbound direction.  As Civil War enthusiasts know, the Underground Railroad was a series of secret routes by which escaped slaves fled from slave states to free states.  The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable visited the Underground Railroad museum in Cincinnati several years ago as part of our annual field trip.  Because of the geographic locations of free and slave states, escaped slaves who used the Underground Railroad moved northward, which is where they could find freedom.  However, before there was a northbound Underground Railroad to move escaped slaves toward freedom, there was a southbound Underground Railroad that moved escaped slaves toward freedom.  In fact, this southbound Underground Railroad was the first Underground Railroad that was used by escaped slaves to flee from the future Confederacy in a quest for freedom.


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

Whatever Happened to Camp Cleveland?
By Paul Siedel

The largest Civil War training camp in Northeast Ohio was Camp Cleveland, located in the Tremont neighborhood just to the south of downtown. Along with the U.S. General Hospital it covered approximately 80 acres and according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History eventually trained 15,230 U.S. troops. It also served as a transit camp for troops moving from one front to another and housed two groups of Confederate prisoners. Camp Cleveland was, however, the only west side facility. Camps Wood, Taylor, Tod and Brown were located along Woodland Ave. between E 55 and Ontario St. This is now the route of the Inner-belt.

Along with the training camp, the U.S. Army General Hospital was located just to the east of what is today is Wesy 5th St. One of the men affiliated with the hospital was Dr. George Miller Sternberg. He is considered by some to be the Father of American Bacteriology. Sternberg was in the U.S. Army and served in the Battles of Bull Run, Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill. He was later assigned to the Cleveland Hospital and was here from May 1864 to July 1865 when the Camp closed. In later years he documented the cause of yellow fever and malaria and confirmed the roles of bacilli in both tuberculosis and typhoid fever. In 1886 he was instrumental in establishing the Army Medical School known today as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Dr. Sternberg died in 1915 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. 


Sheridan’s Butterfly
By Jim Heflich

General Philip Henry Sheridan’s famed Civil War career – most notably his “hell for leather” charge at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864 – eventually led to his post-bellum appointment as Commanding General U.S. Army on November 1, 1883 – succeeding William Tecumseh Sherman. He remained in that post until his death on August 5, 1888.

Philip Sheridan

Like many towns in the West that were named for U.S. Army officers, Sheridan, Wyoming in north-central Wyoming just east of the Bighorn Mountains, was named in honor of Phil Sheridan in 1882 by John D. Loucks who served under Sheridan in the Civil War.

But this was not the first patronymic honor that Sheridan earned in Wyoming. In 1877 a type of specimen of a beautiful but tiny green butterfly (under 1” wingspan) collected in north-central Wyoming was named “Sheridan’s Hairstreak” (Callophrys sheridanii sheridanii) by W.H. Edwards – the leading amateur American lepidopterist of the 19th century. It is one of three races of this species – given the modified common name of “White-lined Sheridan’s Hairstreak”.


A Surprising Find
By Paul Siedel

Last June while attending the Civil War Institute in Gettysburg I decided to take a detour on my way home and look for a house called "The Bower". Located somewhere between Martinsburg and Charlestown, West Virginia, it was, during the Civil War owned by the Dandridge Family and the house was offered by them to General Jeb Stuart to serve as his headquarters during the autumn of 1862 shortly after the Battle of Antietam.

While Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet had their headquarters at Bunker Hill Virginia, on the Valley Pike (today U.S. 11) between Martinsburg and Winchester Virginia, Stuart chose to stay at "The Bower". Here during the months of September, October and into November was located the famous "boys club" which revolved around Stuart and his group of officers which included Stuart, John Pelham, Heros Von Borke, Wade Hampton and much of the the cavalry of Lee's Army. The house was the site of many entertaining nights with Stuart and Von Borke reciting and acting out scenes from Dickens and Shakespeare. Lively conversation, dances and games of whist, chess and cards were all enjoyed by the folks both military and civilian during their sojourn at the Dandridge home.


Civil War Photography
By Dennis Keating


Matthew Brady

The American Civil War was much seen through the cameras of a group of early photographers. The best known was Matthew Brady. Before the war, Brady prospered by doing portraits in his New York City studio. His most famous was his photograph of presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln before his speech at the Cooper Union in February, 1860. Lincoln later said: “Brady and the Cooper Union speech made me the president of the United States”.

With the coming of the Civil War, Brady determined to outfit mobile darkrooms and send teams of photographers to capture scenes of the war. His own first venture was to go the Bull Run battlefield, although he did not get scenes from that conflict. Actual battle scenes were not photographed during this era.


Cleveland Civil War Roundtable 60th Anniversary
By Mel Maurer

Three score years ago this month - our founders brought forth in Cleveland a new Civil War Roundtable dedicated to the “belief that the American Civil War is the defining event in U.S. history.”

Now we are engaged in a great celebration of its 60th anniversary. Our beloved CCWRT has enhanced the history of America’s Civil War over these years through its members’ and guests’ research, articles, talks, debates, discussions, preservation funding, and books.

There is something special about gatherings of people with shared interests in any subject or endeavor - and there is no subject with more aspects and importance – with its people, politics, battles, romance, great drama and some humor all coming together - while in the process of tearing our nation apart - in the greatest drama in our country’s history.


The Lincoln Legacy: The Man and His Presidency
By William F.B. Vodrey

Sarah Vowell
Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner, screenwriter of Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln, and Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation, appeared at the Maltz Center on November 29 as part of Case Western Reserve University’s Think Forum speaker series.  CWRU Prof. Jerrold Scott acted as moderator for a lively, interesting discussion of Civil War history and pop culture.

Scott asked how Kushner and Vowell came to be interested in Lincoln, and Kushner said he never really focused on Lincoln until Spielberg asked him to write the screenplay.  Even then, he was reluctant, given all that had already been written about the 16th President.  Spielberg brought together a group of Lincoln scholars including Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Kushner asked them many, many questions.  Goodwin encouraged Kushner to take on the job, saying, "Whether this project is a success or a failure, you will be glad to have spent a few years with Lincoln."  He finally decided to do it, and then found himself calling Goodwin several times a week with additional questions while writing the script.  

Vowell, by contrast, said Lincoln’s writing grabbed her early on.  Since Lincoln didn’t have the deep bass voice we associate with weighty words, she often asks her friend, the nasally-voiced humorist David Sedaris, to read Lincoln’s words whenever they appear together at public events.  Kushner and Vowell both credited Lincoln with creating a new American form of prose, simple, straightforward and clear, which Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant later built upon.


A Visit to the H.L. Hunley or a Dose of Southern Culture
By Paul Siedel

Every year it happens, we receive invitations to fundraisers for our pet causes and each year we say "Next year I'm going to do this." Well this year was my year to take in the annual "Friends of the Hunley" barbecue and oyster roast in Charleston, South Carolina. What an experience it was!

It was a ten hour drive down I-77 to Columbia S.C., which is well worth taking in if one is a Civil War Buff. The next day it was onto Charleston, which is a fantastic tourist town for anyone interested in any aspect of American History. The day of the members’ tour arrived and I drove to the Warren Lasch Conservation and Research Center in North Charleston, a huge hall named after Mr. Warren Lasch a former Clevelander now affiliated with Clemson University and where the Hunley currently resides. 


Jefferson C. Davis and the Ebenezer Creek Controversy
By Dennis Keating

In addition to the murder of General “Bull” Nelson, Union General Jefferson C. Davis is also remembered for what occurred on December 9, 1864 at Ebenezer Creek, Georgia. As Sherman’s army neared Savannah in its March to the Sea, the 14,000 man XIV Corps commanded by Davis was the rear guard. Union engineers had to place a pontoon bridge across the creek swollen by rain to replace a removed bridge. As the troops passed over the creek, they were trailed by a mass of former slaves that was following Sherman’s army across Georgia.

Jefferson C. Davis

Once the last Union troops had crossed the creek, Davis ordered the pontoon bridge removed immediately. This left a large number of black refugees stranded on the western bank with Confederate General Joe Wheeler’s cavalry closing in on them. Upon their arrival, his scouts exchanged shots with Union soldiers, who attempted to help blacks who attempted to swim across to escape death or recapture by the Confederates. Hundreds, including women and children, died in their unsuccessful attempts to swim across or use logs thrown to them by Union soldiers. Both Sherman and Davis had previously been unhappy about having these refugees trying to escape and traveling along with the army and seeking protection and food.


Fort Ward: Bastion Against the South
By Dan Ursu

Fort Ward is one of the 68 forts eventually built by the North during the Civil War that ringed Washington D.C. as protection against southern invasion and raids.

As with many of the forts constructed for this purpose, Fort Ward was strategically located astride highways leading towards the Union Capital. Built near Alexandria Virginia, it protected the potential southern invasion routes of the Leesburg and Alexandria Turnpike (modern route 7) and overlooked to the northwest Bailey’s and Balls Cross Roads. It was named after Commander James Harmon who was the first Union naval officer killed during the Civil War.

Today the site is a 45 acre municipal Park operated by the city of Alexandria. I visited Fort Ward on the way to our annual field trip on September 22, 2016. There is a modest sized visitor center and museum. A walking tour of the perimeter of the site takes about 45 minutes and is well worth the visit. The fortification is entered through the reconstructed Fort Ward gate.


Peter Diemer & Curtis Phillips:
The Last Civil War Veterans From Cuyahoga County
By Paul Siedel

Not too long ago while visiting the Soldiers and Sailors Monument downtown I overheard a docent telling someone that the last Civil War veteran from Cuyahoga County died in 1943. His name was Peter Diemer.

I also learned that the last Cavalry soldier to pass away in Cuyahoga County was Curtis Phillips. Mr. Phillips died in 1942 and was buried in Butternut Ridge Cemetery in North Olmsted. Being from that part of town I decided to visit Mr. Phillips. My visit to Mr. Phillips's gravesite made me wonder just who, exactly, these last two Cuyahoga County Civil War veterans were, where they lived, what their war time experiences were, what they did following the war and where they died. I decided to see what I could find out.


Ex Parte Milligan Anniversary
By Dennis Keating

Lambdin Milligan

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Ex Parte Milligan. In 2012, I wrote about “Lincoln’s Suspension of Habeas Corpus” for The Charger. In this archived article I recounted the issues and U.S. Supreme Court cases surrounding Lincoln’s controversial wartime policy.

The case of Lambdin Milligan is the one most remembered because it declared Lincoln’s use of military tribunals like the one that condemned Milligan and other Indiana opponents to his wartime policies to death for treason to be unconstitutional. As long as civil courts were operating, the Court ruled in a unanimous opinion by David Davis that Lincoln opponents like the “Copperhead” Milligan could not be tried by military tribunals.


New On the Bookshelf

Recent Additions to the Civil War Literature

A Review of Days of Defiance by Maury Kleine
By Daniel Bonder

Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War was published in 1997. Its heavily footnoted 430 pages trace the run-up to the Civil War. The vast majority of the book focuses on the time period from Lincoln’s election through the fall of Fort Sumter. There are flashbacks to several important historical events that helped to set the stage for secession. These included Buchanan’s election whose inaction and lack of leadership in the face of the gathering storm left little room for any other outcome but war.

Numerous individuals, both significant and lesser known are followed through those fateful six months. The author provides substantial detail regarding the actors’ lives, relationships, thoughts and actions. These asides relating to the subject person’s background tend to take away from the flow of the historical events. However, if one wants to learn about their personalities, motivations and internal conflicts, the author provides much of that type of information.


A Review of The Battle of Roanoke Island by Michael P. Zatarga
By William F.B. Vodrey

Having made summer trips to the Outer Banks with my family since I was a boy, I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it.  I knew only a little about the Civil War along the North Carolina coast from David Stick’s classic Graveyard of the Atlantic (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1952).  Michael Zatarga, a historian formerly with the National Park Service, has written a short, concise book about one of the first Army-Navy amphibious operations in U.S. history.  Although The Battle of Roanoke Island isn’t perfect, I did learn quite a bit from it.

George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside were classmates and friends at West Point, and McClellan gave Burnside a much-needed job with the Illinois Central Railroad in 1858 after Burnside’s business went bankrupt.  Burnside did not do too badly leading troops at First Bull Run, and McClellan, named to command the Army of the Potomac, soon picked him to lead an expedition to capture territory along the North Carolina coast.  If all went well, Federal strongholds there could provide bases and coaling stations to support the Navy’s blockade, and furnish jumping-off points for raids deeper into Confederate territory, including threatening the naval base in Norfolk, Va., just up the coast.



2017-18 Program Schedule

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Featured Articles

A Review of 'Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War'
By Patrick Bray

A Review of 'Valley of the Shadow'
By Dennis Keating

A Review of 'The West Point History of the Civil War'
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On Inconvenient Truth and Convenient Fiction
By John C. Fazio

Jefferson Davis Monuments:
Being Removed?

By Dennis Keating

On Trees and Forests: Correcting History's View of J. Wilkes Booth
By John C. Fazio

The Contested Centennial Presidential Election of 1876
By Dennis Keating

No Horse of Mine
By William F.B. Vodrey

The Campaign Against the Confederate Battle Flag
By Dennis Keating

A Report On: American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague, Civil War "Belle of the North" By John Oller
By Jean Rhodes

A Monument to Service: The Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
By Tim Daley and Richard T. Prasse

The Confederate Battle Flag, Personal License Plates, and Litigation
By Dennis Keating

"Beyond the Battlefield": An Ohio History Connection Symposium
By William F.B. Vodrey

The April 1861 Madness
By Patrick Bray

Shelby Foote was Wrong!
By Dick Crews

A Rebuttal to “Shelby Foote Was Wrong”
By Greg Biggs

The Battle of Cedar Creek
By Dennis Keating

The U. S. Navy and the Naval Battles of Charleston, 1863
By Syd Overall

Jacob Dolson Cox
By Dennis Keating

Base Ball on Johnson's Island
By William F.B. Vodrey

The Case for Union
By John C. Fazio

A Review of Jennifer Chiaverini's
The Spymistress

By Dennis Keating

Ohio’s Civil War Generals:
Some Lesser Known

By Dennis Keating

The (Secret) Life and Letters of General George Gordon Meade
By George G. Meade

Lincoln and Grant:
The Westerners Who Won the Civil War

By Edward W. Bonekemper, III

My Thoughts Be Bloody
Prologue: The Players

By Nora Titone

Cleveland's Civil War Roundtable
Takes an Excursion into Fiction

By Karen R. Long

Gold, Greed, and a Vacuum of Law
By Carol Buchanan

’The Rebels are Upon Us’ The 1864 Confederate Invasion of Maryland, The Battle of Monocacy, and Jubal Early’s Move on Washington, D.C.
By Marc Leepson

The Great Battle of Gettysburg
By Max R. Terman

Assessing African American Attitudes Toward the Civil War (pdf)
A National Park Service Report prepared
by Hermina Glass-Avery

In the Shadow of the Civil War:
Passmore Williamson and the Rescue of Jane Johnson

By Nat Brandt with Yanna Kroyt Brandt

Scenes from The Fighting McCooks
By Barbara and Charles Whalen

Making a Covenant with Death:
Slavery and the Constitutional Convention

By Dr. Paul Finkelman

Blood, Tears and Glory: How Ohioans Won the Civil War
By Dr. James Bissland

Why Grant Won and Lee Lost
By Edward H. Bonekemper, III

Jefferson Davis's Imprisonment
at Fortress Monroe

By Clint Johnson

The Madness of Mary Lincoln
By Jason Emerson



History Under Siege
The Annual Report of the Civil War Preservation Trust


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Dennis Keating
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Membership in the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable is open to anyone who shares the belief that the American Civil War is the defining event in U.S. history.




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