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Featured Articles


A Review of Jennifer Chiaverini's
The Spymistress

By Dennis Keating

Ohio’s Civil War Generals:
Some Lesser Known

By Dennis Keating

Gettysburg 2013
By William F.B. Vodrey

Remembering 9/11
By William F.B. Vodrey

U.S. Grant Boyhood Home Rededicated By William F.B. Vodrey

A Review of Justice in Blue and Gray by Stephen C. Neff
By William F.B. Vodrey

Notes on the Lincoln Forum 2012
By Mel Maurer

The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
By Dennis Keating

Lincoln's Assassination: Three Riddles
By John C. Fazio

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

Lincoln’s Suspension of Habeas Corpus
By Dennis Keating

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

MORE ARTICLES>>

 

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

 

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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.


 

 

 

 

 

History Briefs


A small glimpse into the Civil War era

Repositioning History's Demarcations
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

In the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, a projectile from a cannon that may or may not have been fired by Edmund Ruffin flew toward Fort Sumter and became the first shot of the Civil War. The Fort Sumter garrison, which consisted of fewer than 100 men, was commanded by Major Robert Anderson and included among its officers Abner Doubleday, the mythical inventor of baseball. After the garrison endured a bombardment of over 30 hours, Anderson agreed to surrender the fort. On April 14 the Fort Sumter garrison evacuated the fort, but not until after the troops fired a salute. During this salute, a cannon misfired and killed Daniel Hough, which gave him the unfortunate distinction of being the first person to die in the Civil War.

George Edward Haynsworth

For the most part, this very brief account of the battle of Fort Sumter is factual. There is some dispute about whether or not Edmund Ruffin fired the first shot of the Civil War, but there is no dispute that the first shot occurred on April 12, 1861, and there is no dispute that the first person to die in the Civil War was Daniel Hough. Or is there? There are some who claim that the first shot of the Civil War was fired more than three months before shots were fired on Fort Sumter, that this first shot was fired by George Edward Haynsworth, and that the first person to die in the war was Robert L. Holmes.

The alternative account regarding the first shot and the first death of the Civil War begins in late December of 1860 when plans were being made by the U.S. to reinforce and resupply the Fort Sumter garrison. The original plan was for the warship USS Brooklyn to sail to Charleston with troops and supplies. (On a side note, at the battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, it was the Brooklyn that slowed down and caused David Farragut to utter his famous "Damn the torpedoes" quote.) President James Buchanan and his advisors decided that sending a military ship would be provocative, and the War Department instead chartered the side-wheel merchant steamer Star of the West to transport about 200 troops and also small arms, ammunition, and provisions. It was thought that a merchant ship would arouse less suspicion, and the troops on board were to remain below deck once the vessel entered Charleston harbor. Moreover, the Star of the West regularly transported passengers and mail from New York City to points south, including New Orleans and Havana, and it was thought that this would further aid in concealing the true intent of the voyage.

CONTINUE BRIEF>>

From the Charger


Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

Jacob Dolson Cox
By Dennis Keating
Jacob Dolson Cox

As Eugene Schmiel concludes in his biography of Jacob Dolson Cox, he was a Renaissance Man in the Gilded Age. Schmiel recounts his many pursuits as a Citizen-General. These include his life as a lawyer, politician, corporate executive, educator, author, and Civil War general.

Born in Montreal, Canada, Cox entered Oberlin College in 1847 and married the daughter of its president two years later. He then dropped out of its Theological Seminary to first become superintendent of Warren's public schools and then a lawyer. He became a founder of Ohio’s Republican party. In his life he would interact with many of those notable Ohioans prominent in the Civil War - among them Chase, Garfield, Grant, Hayes, McClellan, Rosecrans, Sherman, and Stanton and Ohio's wartime governors. In 1859 he was elected to the Ohio legislature.

With the outbreak of the Civil War George McClellan put Cox in charge of training volunteers at Camp Dennison. Cox soon followed McClellan to West Virginia in the successful campaign to secure its secession from Confederate Virginia. Cox enjoyed his first military successes there. In September, 1862. he would rise to Union military prominence when at South Mountain he succeeded a mortally wounded Jessie Reno as commander of the Ninth Corps of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. He then played an important role at Antietam commanding that corps at the battle for Burnside Bridge and the failed attempt to destroy Lee’s army. After the battle, he became the target of criticism by General Hugh Ewing of the prominent Ohio Republican Ewing clan for his actions at Antietam.

CONTINUE ARTICLE>>


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

On August 27, 1864, Confederate prisoners played a base ball (as it used to be spelled) game on Johnson's Island near Sandusky, Ohio, on the grounds of the U.S. Army prison camp there. The Confederate and the Southern base ball clubs took to the field, and when all was said and done, the Southern team won by a score of 19-11.

On August 24, 2014, a century and a half later almost to the day, vintage base ball players reenacted the game on Johnson's Island. Members of the Great Black Swamp Frogs played the the Confederate club, all in red shirts, while the Ohio Village Muffins, in white, portrayed the Southern team. Members of the Army of the Ohio, a Civil War reenactment group including members from the 6th, 30th and 41st Ohio, served as prison guards (and, for those who showed up in gray or butternut, prisoner/spectators).

Base ball historian John Husman spoke to the crowd before the game, noting that the 1864 game is thought to be the first organized base ball game ever played in Ohio. Many of the prisoners were members of antebellum base ball clubs in New Orleans. Base ball lingo was different in 1864; players were "ballists," a batter was a "striker," an error was a "muff" (hence the Ohio Village team's name), a run was an "ace," and you encouraged a striker to run fast by shouting, "Leg it!" And of course, we all shouted "Huzzah!" and not "Hooray!"

CONTINUE ARTICLE>>


The Case for the Union
By John C. Fazio

Editor's note: Following is a Sept. 12, 1864 letter written by General William Tecumseh Sherman, Commander of the Western Theater of the War, to James M. Calhoun, Mayor, and E. E. Rawson and S. C. Wells, representing the City Council, of Atlanta, in reply to their petition to revoke his orders for the civilian population to evacuate the city. Italics are mine. Commentary is also mine. - John C. Fazio

William T. Sherman

Gentleman: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from statements of distress that will be occasioned, and yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the cause, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies which are arrayed against the laws and Constitution that all must respect and obey. To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now, I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter; and, therefore, deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no manufacturers, commerce, or agriculture here, for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past month? Of course, I do not apprehend any such things at this moment, but you do not suppose this army will be here until the war is over. I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what we propose to do, but I assert that our military plans make it necessary for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible.

CONTINUE ARTICLE>>

Roundtable Report


News from the Cleveland CWRT

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

The Union Blockade

Samuel Du Pont
Flag Officer, USN

The Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter was a 33-hour, one-sided ordeal which triggered the War of the Rebellion. Within a week, the basic policies of the war were determined. Two days after the surrender of the fort, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer troops from loyal states to preserve the Union against the insurrection of seven Deep South States organized as the Confederate States of America. Four Upper South slave states then declared for secession. Two days later, Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed the issuance of letters of marque to private ship owners to be Confederate privateers to attack United States non-combatant ship owners following the American practice in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Lincoln then proclaimed a blockade of the Confederacy. Three weeks after the insurrection at Charleston, on May 6, the Confederate Congress formally declared war on the United States.

In the early months of the war, General-in-Chief Winfield Scott advocated a plan to defeat the Confederacy derided by Union newspapers as the Anaconda Plan. With a blockade imposed on the Confederacy, operating like an anaconda snake to straggle its economy, Scott projected amphibious army-navy operations down the Mississippi River to capture New Orleans and to divide the Confederacy. The Lincoln administration did not formally accept the Anaconda Plan but it was well publicized and followed.

CONTINUE ARTICLE>>

The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable