Jefferson C. Davis and the Ebenezer Creek Controversy

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

In addition to the murder of General “Bull” Nelson, Union General Jefferson C. Davis is also remembered for what occurred on December 9, 1864 at Ebenezer Creek, Georgia. As Sherman’s army neared Savannah in its March to the Sea, the 14,000-man XIV Corps commanded by Davis was the rear guard. Union engineers had to place a pontoon bridge across the creek swollen by rain to replace a removed bridge. As the troops passed over the creek, they were trailed by a mass of former slaves that was following Sherman’s army across Georgia.

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Did the Institution of Slavery Cause the Civil War?

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s Note: A debate on the cause or causes of the Civil War was held on January 10, 2007 as part of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable’s monthly meeting. It was an intercollegiate-style debate, i.e., two on the affirmative and two on the negative. The resolution debated was: Resolved: That the Institution of Slavery Was the Cause of the Civil War. The negative won, based on a vote of the attendees. Following the debate in that forum, John C. Fazio, the Roundtable president at the time of that debate, weighed in with the following.


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The Underground Railroad in Ohio

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the December 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Our speaker this evening will be focusing on Colored Troops during the Civil War. As many of you know, he also portrays a personage involved with the Underground Railroad. So, it seemed a natural for this evening’s history brief to focus on the Underground Railroad and especially in Ohio.

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The Last U.S. President Who Was a Slaveholder

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2013-2014, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One interesting piece of Civil War-related trivia is the last U.S. president who was a slaveowner for at least some time in his life. The perhaps surprising answer is Ulysses S. Grant. As far as is known, Grant owned only one slave in his lifetime, and he freed that slave even though at the time Grant was in a dire financial situation and could have made some much needed money by selling his slave.

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The Slave Who Captained the Ship to His Freedom

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2015-2016, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


There is an old joke that is intended to convey the lesson that in order for a person to attain a particular goal he needs to do more than simply petition the Almighty and then let God decide whether or not this goal should be realized. As this joke goes, a man died and went to heaven, and when he came face to face with the Sovereign of the Universe, he said to God, “I am certainly happy to be here in heaven, but there is a question that I have long wanted to ask you. During my life on earth I prayed to you every day, often more than once per day, that you would let me win the lottery. But even after years of praying, I never won the lottery. The Bible says that if someone asks, it will be answered, yet you never answered my prayer to win the lottery.” God looked compassionately at the man and in a gentle voice said, “My son, it was always my desire to see you be happy, but that was one prayer that I was not able to answer.” The man replied, “You are God almighty. How could you not have been able to answer that prayer?” God responded, “Even with all my almighty powers, I was not able to answer your prayer to win the lottery, because you never bought a lottery ticket.” Just as the old joke admonishes that more must be done to address personal needs and desires than simply prayerfully await intervention by the Almighty, a slave named Robert Smalls did not merely wait for his freedom to come to him, but won his freedom in a unique and daring escape.

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The Southbound Underground Railroad

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016-2017, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the May 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


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. However, there was one pre-Civil War railroad that operated in only one direction. This railroad, which operated without locomotives and without tracks and was a railroad in name only, was the Underground Railroad, and it went essentially only in a northbound direction.

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Destiny Personified

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016-2017, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the March 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Destiny is defined as “the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person in the future” and is also defined as “the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future.” For many people living in the United States prior to 1865, destiny was shackled in chains and consigned to chattel servitude. Bondage was the only destiny that these people realistically foresaw for themselves. However, history has shown that sometimes what appears to be an immutable destiny is not necessarily fixed in the cosmos. In the classic movie Casablanca when Victor Laszlo was taken into custody by the police and was being led away to be imprisoned, Rick Blaine said to Laszlo, “It seems that destiny has taken a hand.” For some who were victims of what was euphemistically called the peculiar institution, destiny did take a hand. One such person is Allen Allensworth, and because destiny took a hand on behalf of Allensworth, he was able to make important contributions to American society. As one person wrote about Allensworth, “Born into slavery and sold many times to different owners, the future looked bleak for the young Allen. But life had some specific plans for the gutsy, hard-working, and brave (Allensworth).”

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Rosa Parks’ Historical Rhyme

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016-2017, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


There is a witty quote about history repeating itself, which conveys the notion that history repeats itself in a poetic way. The quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, although there is no evidence that Mark Twain ever said or wrote it. It is easy to believe that this is a Mark Twain quote, because its pithiness sounds like Mark Twain. This quote exists in a few different forms with slightly different wording, but all of the versions of this quote convey the same notion. One version of the quote states, “History does not repeat itself, but it does tend to rhyme.”

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A Life Flavored with Sweet Vanilla and Bitter Injustice

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2018-2019, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


According to a recent survey by the International Dairy Foods Association, the best-selling flavor of ice cream in the U.S. is vanilla. If you are one of the people whose favorite ice cream is vanilla, then you should give credit to a slave for vanilla ice cream, because it is due to a slave that vanilla ice cream tastes like vanilla.

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Sealed with a Kiss

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017-2018, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The word sarcasm comes from an ancient Greek word that literally means to tear the flesh. This makes sense, because a figurative tearing of the flesh is what sarcasm does, and what sarcasm is intended to do. However, sometimes sarcasm can be problematic, because too often, the line between sarcastic and hurtful is difficult to discern. In fact, I know someone who was so concerned that her sarcasm might be perceived as hurtful that one year she gave up sarcasm for Lent. (For me personally, I don’t know what would be a more challenging Lenten sacrifice: giving up sarcasm or giving up chocolate.) Although there can be issues with sarcasm, there are some situations in which sarcasm is warranted and in which the target of the sarcasm is deserving of it. Such a situation is the subject of this month’s history brief. The main characters in this story of sarcasm are Jordan Anderson (whose first name is sometimes spelled “Jordon” or “Jourdon”) and Patrick Henry Anderson, who went by his middle name, Henry. Prior to the Civil War, Jordan was a slave who was owned by Henry. During the war Jordan and his family obtained their freedom, and shortly after the war the family moved north. While Jordan was living in his post-war place of residence, he received a letter from Henry with a proposal that Jordan return to the plantation to work for his former master. The letter that Jordan sent in response is an exquisite piece of sarcasm. In recognition of February being Black History Month, Jordan Anderson and his brilliantly sarcastic letter are the subject of this month’s history brief.

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