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The Charger Archives | 08/14

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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



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



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Charger Newsletter 

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.






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.

Our speaker: 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

Newsletter of 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 William Rosecrans.

Among the 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 (1988).

Jacob Cox

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 December 1864.

This last 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 winter storm.

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.


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.


The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable