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Founded November 20, 1956


Upcoming CCWRT Program...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 6:30 pm

Protecting the Flank at Gettysburg – The Clash of Horse and Steel on East Cavalry Field
Presented by: Eric J. Wittenberg

On July 3, 1863, a large-scale cavalry fight was waged on Cress Ridge four miles east of Gettysburg. There, on what is commonly referred to as East Cavalry Field, Union horsemen under Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg tangled with the vaunted Confederates riding with Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart. Stuart had arrived at Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 2, and felt that if he could defeat Gregg’s troopers guarding the Union rear, he could dash thousands of his own men behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. A lengthy mounted battle ensued, highlighted by the charge of Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, leading the 1st Michigan Cavalry, which blunted the attack by Wade Hampton's brigade, blocking Stuart from achieving his objectives. This combat featured artillery duels, dismounted fighting, hand-to-hand engagements, and the most magnificent mounted charge and countercharge of the entire Civil War.

Our speaker: Eric J. Wittenberg is an historian, author, lecturer, tour guide and battlefield preservationist. He is occupied as a practicing attorney in Columbus, Ohio. His published works have focused especially on the Civil War cavalryman and the cavalry battles of the Civil War, with emphasis on the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps. In 2015, his book The Devil's to Pay: John Buford at Gettysburg won the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable's 2015 Book Award.

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 by sending an email to .

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

From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

Jubal Early: Lee’s Bad Old Man
By Dennis Keating

Edward H. Bonekemper III, our September 2017 speaker on “The Myth of the Lost Cause”, writes of Jubal Early in his 2015 book:

Early, who faltered at Gettysburg, lost the Shenandoah Valley and his corps, been relieved of his command by Lee, and fled the country for a few years after the war, was an early critic of Longstreet and others who could be blamed for Lee’s shortcomings. Early was a better propagandist than general. As an author and president of the Lee Monument Association, the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the Southern Historical Society, he acted as Lee’s chief votary for three decades. (p. 112)

Jubal Early

Called by Robert E. Lee his “Bad Old Man”, who was Jubal Early and what was his record during and after the Civil War? Early was one of ten children born in 1816 to a slave-holding family owning a tobacco plantation in southwestern Virginia. The owner of a single slave himself, Early was a strong supporter of slavery and a believer in white supremacy. He entered West Point in the class of 1837 with many Civil War officers on both sides (e.g., Braxton Bragg, John Pemberton, Joseph Hooker and John Sedgewick). A mess hall altercation with Lewis Armistead led to the latter’s dismissal from West Point. After graduation, he served briefly in the Seminole war in Florida before resigning and practicing law in Virginia. He served a term in the Virginia legislature. He volunteered during the Mexican war but didn’t see combat.


Civil War Travelogue
On the Route of The General
By Paul Siedel

One of the more interesting excursions any Civil War buff will make is with Jim Ogden and the Blue and Gray Education Society to follow the route of Andrews Raiders on The Western and Atlantic Railroad through northern Georgia. Some of our members have taken advantage of this opportunity and I'm sure they would agree that it was a weekend well spent.

Our tour began on a Friday with a lecture by Mr. Ogden on the history of railroads in the antebellum period and the place the Western and Atlantic had in founding the city of Atlanta. He went into why this rail line was so important to the Confederates and why it was chosen for the raid, generally setting the stage for the conditions leading up to the actual operation itself.

The next morning we boarded two vans and drove to Marietta, Georgia where we saw the hotel which served as the staging point for the raiders and where they stayed prior to the action. We then went on to The Southern Museum of The Civil War and Locomotive History which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution at Kennesaw, Georgia (which was called Big Shanty at the time of the raid). Here, one can see the actual locomotive and view railroading artifacts from the mid-1800s. The museum is a must-see and well worth the stop one can make going down I-75 just north of Atlanta.


Some Thoughts on the Removal of Southern Civil War-Related Symbols
By John C. Fazio

Jefferson Davis birthplace memorial

The recent dismantling and removal of Southern statuary, monuments and other symbols relating to the Civil War and its aftermath has, not surprisingly, generated a lot of heat between those favoring the same and those opposed. It is also unsurprising that proponents and opponents are often identified by race, so that a political and regional conflict morphs into a racial one. For this and other reasons, we need to ask ourselves if what appears to be such a good idea, and one whose time has come, is really that, or if our country and its citizenry would be better served by a different approach, one more in keeping with "the better angels of our nature", to use Lincoln's immortal phrase from his First Inaugural Address. 

Let me make myself clear:  I am a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist and therefore believe that the right side won the war. The alternative, in my judgment, would have resulted in the Balkanization of the country, if not the continent, with interminable fratricide. Further, I also believe that it was time for slavery to go. All the major powers of the time (Great Britain, France and Russia), and most of the lesser powers, had already abolished it. The Confederate government's rear-guard action on the path that led to the future, therefore, stood no chance against the locomotive of history. I also believe, strongly, that the highest levels of that government and its Secret Service, principally President Jefferson Davis and Secretary of State Judah Benjamin and the head of the Secret Service in Canada, Jacob Thompson, were complicit in the attempt to decapitate the United States government on the night of April 14, 1865.  On the other hand, I also believe that this conviction does not have much relevance to regional relationships more than150 years after the fact and that, for that reason and others, our country and its citizenry are better served by letting sleeping dogs lie.


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.”


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.


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. 


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.


New On the Bookshelf

Recent Additions to the Civil War Literature

A Review of Pickett’s Charge: A New Look at Gettysburg’s Final Attack by Phillip Thomas Tucker
By Dennis Keating

Historian Phillip Thomas Tucker claims about the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge on the third day at Gettysburg:

Lee’s complex battle plan on July 3 was more brilliant than Napoleon’s at Waterloo…Lee unleashed a sophisticated and complex, three-part tactical plan to split the Army of the Potomac in two. Despite the failure of Stuart’s cavalry to charge into the rear of Meade’s right-center, and the lack of Longstreet’s and Hill’s coordination of the offensive effort as Lee bitterly reflected for the rest of his days, the attack had nearly succeeded nevertheless. (p. 359)

According to Tucker, Lee’s plan was to have simultaneous assaults not only by the Pickett-Pettigrew force accompanied by flying artillery and follow-up reinforcements but also by Ewell’s corps on Culp’s Hill and by Lee’s cavalry under Jeb Stuart attacking from the rear of Meade’s center (p. XXIV). Tucker also claims that despite the failure of Ewell’s attack being coordinated with the charge in Meade’s front and the failure of Stuart breaking through on the East Cavalry Field, the charge almost succeeded.


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 | 09/17

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Cleveland's Civil War Roundtable
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Gold, Greed, and a Vacuum of Law
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’The Rebels are Upon Us’ The 1864 Confederate Invasion of Maryland, The Battle of Monocacy, and Jubal Early’s Move on Washington, D.C.
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A National Park Service Report prepared
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Making a Covenant with Death:
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Blood, Tears and Glory: How Ohioans Won the Civil War
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Why Grant Won and Lee Lost
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Jefferson Davis's Imprisonment
at Fortress Monroe

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The Madness of Mary Lincoln
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History Under Siege
The Annual Report of the Civil War Trust


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