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2014-15 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 12/14

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Featured Articles

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

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, December 10, 2014 @ 7 p.m.

Lincoln's Boys:
John Nicolay and John Hay

Presented by Dan Zeiser

Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attended the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote about it after his death.

In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to establish Lincoln’s heroic legacy and to preserve a narrative that saw slavery—not states’ rights—as the sole cause of the Civil War. The popular image of Lincoln as a humble man with uncommon intellect who rose from obscurity to become a storied wartime leader and emancipator is largely Hay's and Nicolay's creation. (From the publisher of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image.)

Our speaker: Dan Zeiser has been a student of the Civil War since childhood. A history major at Kenyon College, the Roundtable has permitted him to continue to indulge his fondness for historical figures such as George Thomas.  Over the years, Dan has contributed many articles to The Charger and has made presentations to the Roundtable on several occasions.  He is known, mostly by himself, for his quirky, yet scholarly pieces and always appreciates the kind forbearance of members for his historical ramblings.  Dan joined the Roundtable in 1992, served as its president in 1997 and then as Editor of The Charger from 2004 - 2014. He is a lawyer with a mediation practice here in Cleveland where he lives with his wife and three children. 


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 around 9.

Meeting Location: Our meetings are held at Judson Manor (the former Wade Park Manor residential hotel), located at the corner of East 107th Street and Chester in downtown Cleveland, 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 .
  • Click any of the 'Make a Dinner Reservation" links on this page.
  • Call 440-449-9311 and leave a message on the voice mail.

History Briefs

A small glimpse into the Civil War era

The Fabricated Letter of Robert E. Lee
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

Anyone who has an e-mail account has received them: those forwarded e-mails that relate some preposterous, attention-grabbing information about some public figure and are intended to put that public figure in a bad light. President Barack Obama is a Muslim who will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and his birth certificate is a forgery. At a right-to-life rally, President George W. Bush repeatedly used the word "feces" instead of "fetus." Many years before 9/11, Senator Al Gore was warned by Oliver North about Osama bin-Laden. The origin of these e-mails is almost never known, but people who oppose these public figures and the causes they embrace send these e-mails around the internet to discredit both the public figures and their causes. At best, these e-mails are misleading embellishments that bear little resemblance to the truth, and many times they are simply false. But with the Internet these e-mails can reach and potentially sway an incredibly large and widespread number of people. The Civil War had a similar fabrication that was circulated to readers as a factual occurrence, although it, of course, was not disseminated by e-mail.

The fabrication was a letter purportedly written by Robert E. Lee to his eldest son, Custis. The letter was reportedly found in Lee's home, Arlington House, and was first published in the New York Sun on November 26, 1864 and then subsequently published in other newspapers. The two-paragraph letter was supposedly written to Custis Lee when Custis was a cadet at West Point. In the first paragraph, Robert E. Lee purportedly gives advice to his son about honesty in dealing with others, and in the second paragraph Lee discusses devotion to duty.


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

The April 1861 Madness
By Patrick Bray

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Sesquicentennial observations of the Civil War will end in April 2015. This past August marked the beginning of centennial observations of World War One (WWI), a conflict to which the Civil War has been compared. In this analogy the Civil War was the first full scale “modern war” which yielded substantial improvements in weaponry, communications, transportation, sanitation, medical treatment, logistics, and naval capability. Moreover, the ability of the national governments, particularly the Federals, to mobilize vast social, political, and economic resources previewed the possibilities of total war in which whole societies, not just their militaries, were deeply drawn into conflict. The experience of total war — at least in some if not most parts of the South -- would make civilians painfully aware of the suffering and depravations of a new front, the home front.

Despite the presence on both sides of numerous European military observers as well as actual combatants from abroad, it seems that few if any of the lessons of the Civil War were put to use in WWI. Despite the overwhelming advantages which modern military technology afforded the defense, WWI was marked by frequent futile frontal assaults on well-fortified positions. Élan proved ineffective against machine guns as no man’s land repeatedly became a killing field.


Shelby Foote was Wrong!
By Dick Crews

Way back in the year 2000, when William Vodrey was President of our Roundtable, Shelby Foote was our big name speaker. You can argue that Ed Bearss or Bruce Catton are bigger name Cleveland CWRT speakers but Shelby Foote was by far the most expensive.

Shelby Foote

One theme Foote repeated frequently was that the American Civil War produced two geniuses: Abraham Lincoln and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Lincoln has stood the test of time but Forrest made one serious error, effecting the outcome of the Civil War, which has been ignored by history.

This summer I visited Fort Pillow, Tennessee. Fort Pillow is located 50 miles north of Memphis. The Fort was on the Mississippi River. The river has now moved two miles west.

The Fort itself was built as an outer defense for Memphis but when Island #10 in the Mississippi River was taken by Union Forces the fort was abandoned by the Confederates.

No important Civil War battles were fought at Fort Pillow. History treats the attack on the Fort by Nathan Bedford Forrest on April 12, 1864 as a racial act. There was no military reason for the attack and later Forrest founded the Ku Klux Klan after the war this conclusion seems to fit. History missed that the Fort Pillow attack was important to the outcome of the Civil War.


A Rebuttal to “Shelby Foote Was Wrong”
By Greg Biggs
President, Clarksville TN CWRT

Nathan Bedford Forrest

I read with interest the Dick Crews op-ed on how Shelby Foote got it wrong when he called Nathan Bedford Forrest one of the two geniuses of the Civil War. Forrest remains a controversial figure of the Civil War but he was, as Foote suggested, a true genius. With only some six months of any type of education, he rose from a private to lieutenant general by the end of his war career, only one of four American soldiers to do so. You simply do not get that high without some level of talent and, dare I say genius. The fact that many of his raids and campaigns are still studied by military colleges also attests to his military ability.

Mr. Crews focused on the Fort Pillow raid of April 1864, but left out quite of bit of context. First, Forrest simply could not go wherever he wanted without permission of his superior. At this time, Forrest was one of two cavalry commanders in the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana, which was then commanded by Lt. General Leonidas Polk. Anything Forrest wanted to do had to be approved by Polk who authorized this raid. The main objectives were to disrupt Union supply lines, in particular the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and to recruit. Forrest had already been very successful recruiting behind Union lines in West Tennessee. Thanks to this, he now had a cavalry corps of two divisions under James Chalmers and Abraham Buford (related to the Union Gen. John Buford).


The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable