Join Us for Our Next Program...
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 @ 7 p.m.
Jacob Dolson Cox,
Ohio Citizen General
Presented by Dr. Gene D. Schmiel
The wrenching events of the Civil War
transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on
to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob
Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was
among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which “political
generals” often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen
general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.
During his school days at Oberlin College, no
one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox
possessed what he called in his writings the “military aptitude” to lead men
effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia
for the Union; jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the
critical Battle of Antietam; breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby
precipitating the fall of Atlanta; and holding the defensive line at the
Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate
threat in the West.
At a time when there were few professional
schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success;
true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of
his vocations and avocations—general, governor, cabinet secretary, university
president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist—he
was recognized as a leader. Cox’s greatest fame, however, came to him as the
foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict
are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the
interpretation of many aspects of the war.
Eugene D. Schmiel is a retired U.S. Department of State Foreign Service
officer. He was an assistant professor of history at St. Francis
University (PA) and has taught at Marymount, Shenandoah, and Penn State
universities. He holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and
coauthored, with his wife Kathryn, a book on life in the Foreign Service.
His book Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era (War and Society in North America)
was published in 2014 by Ohio University Press.
To make a reservation:
Use the Dinner Reservation Form on
this website, send an email to
or call 440-449-9311 and leave a message on the voice mail.
Please note: Meetings
are held at Judson Manor at the corner of East
107th Street and Chester on University Circle in downtown Cleveland.
Map to Judson Manor.
Meetings commence with a social hour at 6 p.m., dinner is served at 7, and
the program begins roughly at 8.
From the Charger
the Cleveland CWRT
Ohio’s Civil War Generals:
Some Lesser Known
By Dennis Keating
During the Civil War, 134 Ohioans
(either born or living in Ohio at the war’s outbreak) were generals
in the Union army. Three comprised the triumvirate of the Union’s
pantheon of military heroes: U.S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman,
and Phil Sheridan. Four became U.S. presidents: James Garfield,
Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Rutherford B. Hayes. Sherman famously
declined to be a presidential candidate. Other notable Ohio Union
generals (both good and bad) included Don Carlos Buell, George
Crook, George Armstrong Custer, Joe Hooker, George McClellan, the
seven Fighting McCooks (Alexander, Anson, Daniel, Edward, Edwin,
George, and Robert), Irvin McDowell, James McPherson, John Pope, and
rest, there are some very interesting Ohioans who may not be very
familiar to most. This article will profile thirteen lesser known
Ohio generals. Their biographies may be found in Stewart Sifakis’s
Who Was Who in the Civil War
Born in Montreal, Canada, Cox
attended Oberlin College and married a daughter of its president. He
became a lawyer and Warren Ohio’s school superintendent. An
abolitionist and ally of James Garfield and Salmon Chase, he was an
organizer of the Ohio Republican Party and elected to the state
legislature in 1860. He became commander of the Kanawha Brigade in
West Virginia. After Jessie Reno’s death at South Mountain, Cox
became commander of the IX Corps of the Army of the Potomac, which
fought at Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam.
In 1864, Cox served as a
division commander in the Army of the Ohio under Schofield in
the Atlanta, Franklin, and Nashville battles, and in the
Carolinas. Postwar, he was elected Ohio’s 28th governor and
served as Grant’s Secretary of the Interior until he resigned to
protest patronage appointments. He later served one term in
Congress, then as Dean of the University of Cincinnati’s law
school and later as University President. He published five
books on the Civil War.
“We Shall Make the Fight!”
General John Bell Hood CSA
And The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee,
November 30 1864
by Mel Maurer
Confederate General John Bell
Hood, commander of the Army of Tennessee sits on his horse on Winstead Hill
looking north towards the village of Franklin TN. It’s 1:00 in the afternoon
of November 30, 1864 - a balmy fall day after several days of chilly wet
weather in the area. He holds his field glasses in his right hand, his left
arm hangs useless at his side - the result of a wound received during the
Battle of Gettysburg which almost cost him the arm. Another wound, this time
during the battle of Chickamauga did cost him all but 4” of his right leg.
He has an artificial leg but has to be tied to his horse to keep from falling
off. General Hood is in pain and he is angry, very angry.
Looking out across relatively
flat barren land, with the Columbia road leading to Franklin, though its
center, he sees, as do the generals with him, the heavily fortified position
of the union army, the army of the Ohio, that he, and his force of over 35,000
men, now arrayed below him at the base of the hill, have been chasing for
weeks. The blue army got here ahead of him earlier that day in time to renew
their old breastworks and to dig new ones. (Breastworks are ditches in front
facing the enemy, with the dirt from the ditches piled high behind them, in
this case 8 feet high -with sharp sticks embedded in them.) Attacking such
positions requires crossing open fields while the enemy fires at you, somehow
hurtling the ditch without getting impaled or shot at close range by those
shooting from behind the mound - and trying to do all of this while shooting
at the enemy with one shot rifles that require at least 30 seconds to reload.
The union had two sets of such breastworks. If the attacking army got by the
first one - it would be faced with another one.
The Battles of Nashville
By Mel Maurer
Whatever hope the rebellious South had
for continuing its fight until the North grew tired of the bloody
struggle died - not with the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Court
House in April 1865 - but rather on the hills outside of Nashville
Tennessee, when Confederate General John Bell Hood and his Army of
Tennessee were crushed in the last great battle of the Civil War in
desperate clash of armies that December 15th and 16th however was
just one of the battles fought in Nashville that month. Commanding
Union General George Thomas, while preparing to fight Hood also had
to fight President Lincoln, Secretary of War Stanton, Army Chief of
Staff Halleck and Commander in Chief U.S. Grant to retain his job
and to confront the enemy according to his plan and timetable. Hood,
with his ruined left arm and missing right leg, already struggling
with pain, medication, and alcohol, also had to fight a crippling
As that December began almost
everything was going the Union's way: Lincoln had been reelected,
Grant still had General Robert E. Lee, and his army of Northern
Virginia, under siege at Petersburg while General William T. Sherman
was about to take Savannah after his devastating march through
Georgia. All was going well, except Hood’s army was marching towards
Nashville with 25,000 to 30,000 men (Thomas thought he had a larger
force) to take that city and then to move on to threaten Kentucky
and Ohio - actions, which, even if partially successful, could
change the outcome of the war.
the Cleveland CWRT
The U. S. Navy and the
Battles of Charleston, 1863
By Syd Overall
The Union Blockade
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.