Upcoming CCWRT Program
Wednesday, February 9, 2022 at 6:00 p.m.

Video of January 2022 Meeting Uploaded

A video of the January 2022 Roundtable meeting has been posted on the Roundtable’s YouTube channel. The January 2022 meeting featured the annual Dick Crews Debate. The topic for this year’s debate was “Fired but not forgotten: Of all the Civil War generals and flag officers relieved of command, subjected to a court-martial, or otherwise disciplined by superiors, which of them least deserved his fate?” Four debaters presented arguments for the officer whom they think was least deserving of being relieved of command. The video of the debate can be viewed on the Roundtable’s YouTube channel.

Recap of the January 2022 Roundtable Meeting

The January 2022 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable featured the Dick Crews Debate. The debate, which is named for its longtime moderator, is an annual event for the Roundtable, and each year the Roundtable president chooses the debate topic. The topic for this year’s debate, chosen by Roundtable president Mark Porter, was “Fired but not forgotten: Of all the Civil War generals and flag officers relieved of command, subjected to a court-martial, or otherwise disciplined by superiors, which of them least deserved his fate?”

William Vodrey again served as moderator for the debate, as he has now for 17 years. William is also responsible for recruiting the debaters, which he does far enough before the debate to give each person sufficient time to prepare an argument. The four debaters whom William recruited are Gene Claridge, Jake Collens, John Fazio, and Mel Maurer. Each of them picked the officer that he proposed as least deserving of his fate, and then at the debate each of them presented an argument for his officer.

Gene Claridge

Gene Claridge argued that Gouverneur K. Warren least deserved to be relieved, because he was relieved by a vindictive Philip Sheridan, who was not fond of Warren and who used the discretion that was given to him by Ulysses Grant as an opportunity to remove a subordinate whom he disliked. Gene further indicated that Grant supported Sheridan because Grant likewise was not fond of Warren, which meant that the decision to relieve Warren came in large part due to personal feelings of animosity toward Warren. Gene pointed out that Sheridan used tardiness on the part of Warren at the Battle of Five Forks as a reason for relieving him, but Warren actually performed very well at this battle, so much so that a post-war board of inquiry vindicated Warren, although, sadly, Warren went to his grave not knowing that he had been exonerated.

Jake Collens

Jake Collens argued on behalf of Fitz John Porter, who came to his fate after the Second Battle of Bull Run. Porter was accused by John Pope of failing to attack Stonewall Jackson’s position, which Pope claimed would have led to Union victory. As Jake pointed out, Pope insisted that Porter’s failure to attack caused the disastrous Union defeat at this battle. However, as Jake indicated, Pope was completely incorrect about the dispositions of the Army of Northern Virginia, believing that James Longstreet’s corps was not present and that Jackson’s corps was in a different location than it actually was. Because of this error, Pope’s proposed attack would have been catastrophic. Jake further said that the Union high command was looking for a scapegoat on whom to pin blame for the defeat, and Porter was a convenient target. After the war, Porter was exonerated for his actions at the Second Battle of Bull Run, which further supports Jake’s case.

John Fazio

John Fazio offered Joseph Hooker as the officer who was least deserving of being relieved. As John discussed, it was the Battle of Chancellorsville that led to Hooker’s removal as commander of the Army of the Potomac, after that army was defeated by an army almost half its size. John argued that Hooker was not to blame for the outcome, because many of his subordinates were responsible for the Union defeat, particularly Oliver Howard. John further argued that Hooker was knocked senseless during the battle, and this made it impossible for him to think clearly from that point on. John also indicated that Hooker was viewed unfavorably because of his scandalous personal conduct, and this played a role in his dismissal. John pointed out that Hooker demonstrated his capabilities as an effective officer later in the Civil War when he fought in the Western Theater, and this shows that he did not deserve to be relieved.

Mel Maurer

Mel Maurer chose to make a case for Joseph E. Johnston. As Mel described, it was William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign that led to Johnston’s removal, after Johnston did not attack the advancing Union force for two months and repeatedly fell back while Sherman progressed toward Atlanta. Frustrated by this, Jefferson Davis relieved Johnston and replaced him with John Bell Hood. Mel argued that Johnston pursued the correct strategy, because he was terribly outnumbered and attacking Sherman would lead to the destruction of Johnston’s Army of Tennessee, which, as Mel pointed out, is exactly what happened after Hood replaced Johnston and did what Davis wanted, that is, attack the Union forces. This, as Mel stated, shows that Johnston was correct. Mel also argued that Johnston’s strategy of slow withdrawal and withstanding a siege could have been successful for the Confederacy, because it may have caused frustration among war-weary Northerners, who might have elected George McClellan in the election of 1864 with the possibility of a negotiated peace in favor of the Confederacy. Mel asserted that in light of all of this, Johnston did not deserve to be relieved, because Johnston was correct in what he was doing.

After each debater made his case, there were questions from the audience followed by rebuttal comments from each debater as to statements made by other debaters. After this lively period of give-and-take, those attending the meeting (both in person and remotely) voted on which debater they thought best presented his case. Gene Claridge won the vote and was thus declared the winner of the debate. In recognition of this, Gene received fabulous prizes, and everyone agreed that the 2022 Dick Crews Debate was once again a resounding success.

The debaters and moderator for the 2022 Dick Crews Debate: Mel Maurer, Gene Claridge, John Fazio, Jake Collens, and William Vodrey (left to right)

January 2022 Charger Uploaded

The January 2022 issue of The Charger has been uploaded. It can be accessed by clicking on this link.

A Great Accomplishment by One of Our Members

One of our members, Jimmy Menkhaus, who is currently the secretary of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, recently had his book published. Jimmy’s book is Immersion: A Pilgrimage into Service. Congratulations, Jimmy!

Immersion: A Pilgrimage into Service is a resource for those discerning or undergoing an immersive service experience or post-graduate volunteer service program. It utilizes recent Catholic social thought, Scripture, an Ignatian paradigm of service-reflection, and Christian spirituality. This book helps readers to identify and navigate their innermost call to service by providing tools for reflection and discernment. It also challenges harmful attitudes that can reinforce unhealthy uses of privilege and power and perpetuate historically deleterious impacts on host communities through cultural and racial hegemony. A book which invites reflection on the motives, potential pitfalls, and outcomes of immersion and service programs is timely as the United States grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and a greater sense of the need for racial justice. Despite the vast resources used to sustain immersion and post-graduate volunteer programs, there are few resources to guide students, their parents, team leaders, discerning post-graduate volunteer participants, and program directors through the personal, social, and spiritual transformation that is sparked by these experiences. Immersion: A Pilgrimage into Service fills that void.

Darcy Phillips, Director of Immersions, Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Santa Clara University, says of Jimmy’s book, “An essential resource for anyone discerning or participating in immersion experiences. It encourages you to reflect deeply on the “why” and “what” that you bring to the experience and challenges you to enter immersion with humility and intentionality to have authentic encounters and avoid potential pitfalls.” Susan Haarman, Associate Director of Loyola University of Chicago’s Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship, states, “This book tackles the complex issue of immersions with the critical hope it needs. Jimmy Menkhaus threads a conversation around justice, relationship, and immersion with a rich understanding of Ignatian Spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises.”

Jimmy’s book can be purchased from Amazon by clicking on any of the book links above. Part of the proceeds from any book purchased from Amazon through the CCWRT website is returned to the CCWRT to support its education and preservation programs.

Passing of a Longtime Member

The Roundtable sadly reports that longtime member Neil Evans passed away on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Neil was instrumental in restoring the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument here in downtown Cleveland. He did yeoman’s work as the Monument Commission President to raise money for its restoration. During this time, Neil was always excited to tell us how the fundraising and then the restoration efforts were going, and he kept the Roundtable well informed of the progress of each step. Neil’s efforts on behalf of the monument are described in an article on this website. It is in large part thanks to Neil that the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was restored to its original splendor after many decades of deterioration, both aesthetically and structurally. Everyone who visits the monument and admires its stately grandeur should think of Neil and whisper a thank-you to him. The magnificently restored monument will remain a lasting legacy to Neil. He will be missed.

Latest History Brief (December 2021) Now Posted

Roundtable historian Dan Ursu’s December 2021 history brief has been posted. Dan’s latest history brief describes George McClellan’s use of artillery at the Battle of Antietam and its importance at that battle. Dan’s latest history brief is McClellan’s “Pieces of Position” at Antietam.

2021-2022 Cleveland Civil War Roundtable Program

The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted many things, and the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable was no exception. Thanks to the magnificent efforts of 2020-2021 Roundtable president Steve Pettyjohn, the Roundtable was able to have an excellent season of meetings and a field trip. These efforts included remote meetings and a change in timing of the typically early autumn field trip. Now that the unprecedented and eventful 2020-2021 season of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable is finished, it is time to look forward to the Roundtable’s next season. Mark Porter, the 2021-2022 Roundtable president, has organized the program for the next season of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, and that program is now posted on our website. More information can be found below regarding the resumption of meetings in September 2021.

Membership Roster and Contact Information

We have worked very hard to improve our membership database and contact information this year, but we know we probably have more work to do. Please be sure to keep us advised of changes in contact information by sending us the information at clecwrt@gmail.com. We monitor that email account on a regular basis, so this would be a big help in making sure we can keep you informed of group activities. If you want to see what has been posted on our Facebook page or Twitter account, you do not have to become a member of the Roundtable. Everyone is welcome to view our Facebook page and Twitter account. These can also be accessed by googling “Cleveland Civil War Roundtable” and either “Facebook” or “Twitter” and clicking on the appropriate link in the search results.

New Recruits in the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable

New members in the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable are encouraged to introduce themselves to the group by emailing a photograph and a short biography to the Roundtable (clecwrt@gmail.com). If you don’t want to send a picture or bio, just let us know and give us approval to post your name on the website as a new member.

YouTube Channel

YES! The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable has a YouTube channel! Some of our meetings were recorded, and videos of the recorded meetings can be viewed on our YouTube channel. You can simply Google Cleveland Civil War Roundtable YouTube and get to our “channel.” You can also use the following link:

Cleveland Civil War Roundtable Monthly Meetings

Meeting Time: Monthly meetings of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable are typically held on the second Wednesday of the month from September through May. Meetings ordinarily begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7:30 p.m. Meetings usually end by around 9:00 p.m. The September 2021 meeting was held in person, and barring any future pandemic-related restrictions, we anticipate that the remaining meetings during the 2021-2022 season will also be held in person.

Meeting Location: In-person meetings are held at the Holiday Inn Independence, 6001 Rockside Road, Independence, Ohio 44131.

Reservations: For in-person meetings, you must make a dinner reservation for any meeting you plan to attend no later than the Friday prior to that meeting (so we can give a head count to the caterer). Make your reservation by sending an email to: ccwrtreserve@gmail.com

2021-2022 Cleveland Civil War Roundtable Program