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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:

CCWRT 2017 Field Trip
Fort Monroe, the Mariners' Museum and the 1862 Peninsula Campaign
September 21 - September 24, 2017

Join us as we travel this year to Norfolk, Virginia to visit Fort Monroe, the Mariners' Museum and various sites of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862.

Our guide this year will be John V. Quarstein, award-winning historian, preservationist and author. He is director of the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and has served as an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary. He is author of fifteen books, including Fort Monroe: The Key to the South and The Monitor Boys, winner of the Henry Adams Prize for Excellence in Historical Literature. He is also a recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's President's Award.

Itinerary and Trip Details

Blast from the Past

Articles from the Charger Archives

When Miles Met Davis
By Clint Johnson
Nelson Miles
Jefferson Davis

General Nelson Miles must have wondered who he had irritated at the War Department to draw his latest assignment, jailer of Jefferson Davis.

Born a farm boy in Massachusetts with little hope of going to college or winning a coveted appointment to West Point, an honor usually reserved for the sons of the privileged classes, Miles showed determination at an early age to become a soldier. At age 17 he moved to Boston where he worked in a crockery store in the daytime while reserving the evening to being tutored in military sciences by a Frenchman who had served in that country’s army.

When the war started Miles, just 22, raised his own company, but his superiors thought he was too young to command respect of other men his own age. They put him in a staff command, a do-little job in his mind. He soon talked his way into a field command.

Miles was brave in battle, but unlucky enough to be wounded in four different battles in four different places on his body. Still he was tough enough that he survived all of the wounds, any one of which could have killed him.

In May 1862 a Confederate musket ball grazed Miles’ heel. In December 1862, another one passed through his throat and out his ear. He reported to his general while holding his throat closed with both hands. In May 1863 Miles took his third ball to his abdomen, a wound that killed most men, and which left him paralyzed for several weeks. Still, Miles came back in order to receive his commission as a brigadier general. In June 1864 Miles suffered his fourth wound, yet another shot to the neck.


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. 


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

William H. Seward and Civil War Diplomacy
By William F.B. Vodrey
William H. Seward

Abraham Lincoln, elected President of the United States in November 1860, soon found his country facing the mortal threat of secession. He turned to the top men of the Republican Party, his celebrated “team of rivals,” in forming his Cabinet. First among equals was William Henry Seward, who just about everyone expected to have been the GOP nominee that year and who, at least initially, perhaps still thought of himself as the rightful occupant of the White House and the better man to be leading the nation. In time he became one of Lincoln’s most trusted advisors, recognizing the prairie lawyer’s wisdom and political skills; in time they also came to be close friends.

A recent biographer, Walter Stahr, wrote that William Seward, "was a well-educated and sophisticated diplomat; but his hair was unruly, his clothes untidy, and his manner casual. Charles Francis Adams Jr. [the U.S. minister, or ambassador, to the Court of St. James’s], who knew him well, once described him as “small, rusty in aspect, dressed in a coat and trousers apparently made twenty years ago, and by a bad tailor at that”… He was a famous host, gathering diplomats, soldiers, politicians, actors, and their wives around his Washington table for fine food and wine. With Seward, in the words of Henry Adams, who also knew him well, “the political had become personal,” so that “no one could tell which was the mask and which the features.”1


Hickenlooper's Ohio Artillery Anchors the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh
By Daniel J. Ursu
Andrew Hickenlooper

Not only did the abolitionist John Brown, the “Meteor of the Civil War” as proffered by poet Walt Whitman, live part of his life in the northeastern Ohio Village of Hudson, but did another military leader of the Civil War actually hail from Hudson - that being Andrew Hickenlooper, Captain of the 5th Independent Battery Ohio Light Artillery.

At the time of the war's outbreak, Hickenlooper was working in Cincinnati, Ohio. The battery was recruited in southwestern Ohio and organized by Hickenlooper at St. Louis, Missouri in August, 1861. Over time, the battery was attached to Brigadier General Prentiss’s 6th division which was part of then Major General U.S. Grant's Union Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh, on April 6th &7th, 1862.

It was Hickenlooper's battery along with another from Minnesota, that anchored the center of the Union line at what became known as the “Hornet’s Nest”. Positioned on a small knoll with good lines of site especially considering the heavily wooded terrain of most of the battlefield, effective fire from his battery arguably saved the line and perhaps the battle, from an even worse disaster that befell the Union on the first of two days of horrendous fighting.


Railroads in the Civil War
By Dennis Keating

Edwin M. Stanton

The American Civil War saw many innovations in military warfare. One of the most significant was the use and strategic importance of railroads in moving troops and supplies to the armies. In 1860, the United States had 200 railroads and 30,000 miles of rail, with 21,000 in the North. In the under industrialized South, the Confederacy had one-third of the freight cars, one-fifth of the locomotives, one eighth of rail production, one tenth of the telegraph stations, and one twenty fourth of locomotive production.

Two of the earliest examples of the importance of the railroads occurred in the East. When President Lincoln called for volunteers to come to Washington City to defend the capital, Massachusetts troops came on trains and were attacked enroute by a mob in Baltimore, whose Mayor attempted to cut off rail access to Washington City. Lincoln quickly acted to protect the railroads through Maryland to the capital. Shortly after the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter, Confederates captured the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. Then, Thomas Jackson managed to transfer some of the much needed railroad equipment to the Shenandoah Valley.


Ulysses S. Grant in Georgetown, Ohio – The Indispensable Man’s Boyhood Home
By Dan Ursu
Ulysses S. Grant

If you believe, as I and many others do, that the Civil War would not have been won by the North but for U.S. Grant, then a visit to his boyhood home in our own State of Ohio at Georgetown, about ten miles north of the Ohio River and 40 miles east of Cincinnati, will be inspiring, informative and worthwhile.

I made the trip on March 11, 2017 in conjunction with renowned Civil War historian Ed Bearss’ presentation to the U.S. Grant Homestead Association “Grant in the Wilderness” in Georgetown’s historic “Gaslight Theater”. This venue has become virtually a Mr. Bearss annual pilgrimage to Georgetown this time of year.

On a sunshiny but brisk winter day sans snow, the small town was certainly evocative of what it must have been like during Grant’s childhood. In his Memoirs Grant states “I was born on the 27th of April, 1822, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. In the fall of 1823 we moved to Georgetown, the county seat of Brown, the adjoining county east. This place remained my home until the age of seventeen, when in 1839, I went to West point.”


A Stroll Through New Orleans'
Metairie Cemetery
By Paul Siedel

The south, in my opinion, has at least three large cemeteries that are well worth walking through if one is a Civil War buff. A stroll through one of these will go far in satisfying the curiosity of one wishing to visit the final resting places of the men and women that were prominent players in that conflict. There is of course Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond and Oakwood Cemetery in Atlanta, but then there is also Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. Seldom does a cemetery have such a storied past and one which comes about as a result of our Civil War.

In 1838 The Metairie Race Course Company acquired title to the property just outside the city limits of New Orleans and proceeded to build a "first class" racing facility. It soon became the south's leading race track and by 1854 was the talk of the nation's racing circles. The track reached it's zenith in 1854 when it hosted the Great State Post Stakes. Horses from Louisiana, Kentucky, New York, Mississippi and Alabama were listed as entries. Kentucky's entry named Lexington won that year and Louisiana's horse Lecomte came in second.


Wilson’s 1865 Raid
By Dennis Keating
James H. Wilson

On March 22, 1865, 13,480 Yankee cavalry in three divisions left their camps at Eastport, Alabama on the south shore of the Tennessee River for the biggest raid of the Civil War. Armed with Spencer carbines whose purchase for the expedition was arranged by its commander James H. Wilson, this corps would have devastating firepower as it aimed at the destruction of the South’s remaining war manufacturing centers in the deep South of the states of Alabama and Georgia. Wilson had successfully argued with George Thomas for this campaign in the waning weeks of the Civil War.

Wilson spent the early part of the war in the East, including serving on George McClellan’s staff at South Mountain and Antietam. He then went West and served as a staff officer for U.S. Grant in the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns. Wilson became the youngest Union brigadier general. He was next assigned to the War Department as head of the Cavalry Bureau. In Spring, 1864, he took the field as commander of the Third Division of Phil Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. His performance in the Wilderness and his Ream’s Station raid south of Petersburg in June, 1864 were not auspicious but Grant sent him back West in October, 1864 and he commanded ably at the battles of Franklin and Nashville in the destruction of Hood’s Army of Tennessee.


New On the Bookshelf

Recent Additions to the Civil War Literature

A Review of The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln’s General, Master Builder of the Union Army by Robert O’Harrow, Jr.
By Dennis Keating

One of the most amazing figures of the Civil War was Montgomery Meigs, the quartermaster of the Union army and one of the critical architects of its victory. His life is recounted by Washington Post investigative reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr.

Meigs was born in 1816 in Augusta, Georgia where his father was beginning his medical career. However, because slavery literally made his mother ill, they returned to Philadelphia, where Meigs enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania (where I got my law degree) at the age of 15. He then entered West Point in 1832 and graduated high in his class and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers.

While working on improving navigation on the Mississippi River, his superior and roommate was Robert E. Lee. During the Mexican War, Meigs was assigned to build fortifications near Detroit to defend against a possible British invasion. Postwar, Meigs was assigned to Washington City. There, he made his mark with the planning and construction of an aqueduct from Great Falls to finally provide a decent water supply for the capital city. His next major engineering achievement under the direction of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was to oversee the extension of the U.S. Capitol, which he modeled on the Roman Pantheon and the Greek Parthenon. His vision produced the Dome over the capitol and the Statue of Freedom atop it. Even as he worked tirelessly on these signature projects, he and his wife lost two of their sons to disease.


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.



2017-18 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 05/17

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Featured Articles

Sheridan’s Butterfly
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Cleveland Civil War Roundtable 60th Anniversary
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The Lincoln Legacy: The Man and His Presidency
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Jefferson C. Davis and the Ebenezer Creek Controversy
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Ex Parte Milligan Anniversary
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A Review of Days of Defiance by Maury Kleine
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A Review of The Battle of Roanoke Island by Michael P. Zatarga
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A Review of 'Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War'
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A Review of 'Valley of the Shadow'
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A Review of 'The West Point History of the Civil War'
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On Inconvenient Truth and Convenient Fiction
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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
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No Horse of Mine
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The Campaign Against the Confederate Battle Flag
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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 Trust


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