Upcoming CCWRT Program Via Zoom
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

Recap of the Dick Crews Debate: Hollywood Goes to War (The Civil One)

Topic: What movie or TV production has had the greatest impact on how we view the events surrounding the Civil War?

Thank you to everyone who joined us last night for the Dick Crews Annual Debate! We had a rare tie in the voting, so our two winners were Eric Lindblade, arguing in favor of the impact of the film Gettysburg, and Hans Kuenzi, arguing in favor of the impact of Gone with the Wind.

Our debate got off to a rocky start as one of our debaters–Dick Crews, himself–lost his internet connection earlier in the afternoon and had to participate by phone. Crews, arguing in support of the influence of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War, spoke of how Shelby Foote, despite not being a historian, was able to make history a less dry subject for those who watched the series. Hans Kuenzi followed, arguing that the sheer ubiquity of Gone with the Wind in pop culture, made it the most influential film by default; half the population of the United States saw the film in 1939, and it has been frequently revived in the following decades. Pat Bray came next, arguing that the rebirth of the KKK and decades’ worth of subsequent racial discord in the United States have resulted from the release and popularity of The Birth of a Nation in 1915, and Jimmy Menkhaus similarly argued that the greatest impact of the 2012 film Lincoln derives from its continued relevance to modern racial and political conflicts. Multiple debaters made reference to last Wednesday’s events at the Capitol in arguing that these movies and television shows, and the points of view contained within them, are still directly related to current events. Our final debater, Eric Lindblade, argued that the film Gettysburg has affected what parts of the battle the general public finds the most compelling (e.g., Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Little Round Top), as well as their opinions on individual officers, such as its role in rehabilitating the image of James Longstreet.

The Zoom format removed a lot of the spontaneity and good-natured rowdiness that frequently characterizes the debate, but the traditional rebuttal period, as well as the audience Q&A period, remained intact, as in past debates. Our moderator, William Vodrey, performed his traditional role with characteristic aplomb, keeping everything on-topic and under the time limit. The debate, as with our previous Zoom meetings this year, has been recorded for posterity, and will be posted on our YouTube page later. Thank you again to our debaters, our moderator, and all our attendees!

A thank-you note to the debaters from Roundtable president Steve Pettyjohn


I want to extend my thanks for the superb job you all did during our annual Dick Crews Debate. As I hoped, the evening was very informative and entertaining with the good-natured questioning between the participants. From my own perspective, I could see the century-long arc of how the War of Rebellion and our memory of it was shaped by these cinematic creations and the impact they have had on our culture through this day. I appreciate the work you all put into your presentations, and I thank you again for helping this night to be a special one for our group.

CWRT Congress Presents:

The Sea Battle of the CSS Alabama & the USS Kearsarge
LIVE ON ZOOM.US with John C. Fazio
January 20, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. EDT

Registration at www.cwrtcongress.org/speaker.html

Historian John C. Fazio, past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable and author of the book Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, tells the story of the only major battle between ocean-going vessels in the Civil War. John A. Winslow and Raphael Semmes had become best friends while serving together aboard the USS Cumberland and the USS Raritan during the Mexican War. During the Civil War, however, Semmes captained the CSS Sumter and the CSS Alabama and became the scourge of federal commercial shipping, sinking or capturing 85 merchantmen and one Union warship in a three-year period. As captain of the USS Kearsarge, Winslow pursued his former friend and the Alabama for 14 months before cornering him off the coast of Cherbourg, France, where the two ships fought to the death on a beautiful Sunday morning, June 19, 1864. Winslow’s and Semmes’ last view of each other, and the action taken by Winslow in consequence of it, is the stuff of legend. The story is not only history; it is supreme literature.

Registration at www.cwrtcongress.org/speaker.html

Hail to the Chief

As most CWRT members know, it is customary at the May meeting for the outgoing President to be recognized for her/his contributions to our group. Serving as President is the culmination of four years of service starting as Secretary, proceeding to Treasurer and then on to Vice-President where your task is to plan next year’s programs and field trip, and finally as President where you have to make sure that your plan is implemented as well as addressing all of the administrative duties and customer service requests associated with leadership of the organization.

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we did not conduct a meeting in May. Because of this it was not possible to recognize 2019-2020 President Ellen Connally for the wonderful job she did as President. We are posting some pictures highlighting her year including the field trip to the “Land of Lincoln” with visits to the Lincoln Museum, the Lincoln House and other sites along with the side trip to New Salem where Lincoln spent his formative years.

Other highlights include the innovative and exciting “Night at the Museum” where the Western Reserve Museum opened their collection of Civil War artifacts for us.

Viewing artifacts at the Western Reserve Museum
The meeting at the Western Reserve Museum
Ellen Connally with the fiddler who provided entertainment at the meeting

The Lincoln theme continued with the February presentation by Judge Frank J. Williams, an internationally renowned Lincoln historian. This presentation was attended by over 100 members and guests which may have set a record for our group.

The February 12, 2020 meeting: Lincoln’s birthday
The February 12, 2020 meeting: Frank Williams, Ellen Connally, and ‘Abraham Lincoln’ (Mel Maurer)

And of course, who can forget last year’s Dick Crews debate “The Most Important Ohioan during the Civil War” won by Steve Wilson but also including an incredible rendition of John Brown’s Body by Mark Porter. In retrospect, it was an innovative, interesting and exciting year cut short by the Pandemic.

The January 2020 Dick Crew’s Debate: The most important Ohioan during the Civil War

Another CWRT custom is for the outgoing President to receive a ceremonial saber as a gift and token of appreciation from the membership. One of President Connally’s first communications with her new Vice-President [me], was that she under no circumstances wanted a sword. Fortunately, during the Field Trip, Rich Hronek noticed her spending a lot of time examining the statue of Grant at the Lincoln Museum gift shop. We were able to get her out of the shop, circle back and pick up the statue. Later, it was pointed out by more traditional members that we really needed to follow tradition and get some kind of sword. This was addressed by getting a miniature saber letter opener made by a company that serves the Armed Forces with sabers and miniatures. The result is in the picture accompanying this article.

I had hoped to present these to Ellen at a regular meeting. Again, the Pandemic made this impossible. Instead, we had a very informal presentation this month at the Holiday Inn Independence [our new home when the Pandemic lifts] parking lot where we met to ostensibly exchange some speaker related material. In a follow up phone call, I was delighted to learn that Ellen was excited about both gifts, and appreciated receiving them. Ellen continues to support the Executive Committee serving as Past President and providing advice and valuable assistance. I hope all of you will join me in thanking her for her leadership last year, and her continued support of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.

YouTube Channel

YES! The Cleveland Civil War Round Table has a YouTube Channel! At this time, we have our last three speakers’ presentations online. You can simply Google Cleveland Civil War Round Table You Tube and get to our “channel.” You can also use the following link:


Meeting Time: In ordinary times, 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. In the COVID-19 age, meetings will be done by Zoom.

Note New Meeting Location: Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, in-person meetings will be held at the Holiday Inn Independence, 6001 Rockside Road, Independence, Ohio 4413.

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

From the Charger
Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT