“The Civil War Was Won in the West” – or so they say

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 September 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


On September 11, 1862, it could be said that the North was doing well and certainly winning the war in the West. In the East, McClellan had repulsed Lee at Antietam, last year’s field trip at which our guide Steve Recker eloquently argued – whether you agreed with him or not – won the war because it paved the way for Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Coincidentally, it’s Lincoln’s hometown, Springfield, Illinois, that will be the destination of Ellen’s field trip at the end of this month. I tend to agree with Steve; the Emancipation Proclamation and the momentum it produced in so many ways, be it in the heart of the slaves who slowly learned of the document, or the morale boost that it gave many of the soldiers in the North and the resultant moral incentive to fight on to victory – and everything in between – that would overwhelm the South by 1865.

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The Rock of Chickamauga

By Matt Slattery
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in the Fall of 2000.


In the winning of battles no other commander in the Civil War, North or South, equaled the slow-moving, keen-minded Virginian, George H Thomas.

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The Sword Was Mightier Than the Pen

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2002, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in December, 2002.


A funny thing happened on the way to Atlanta. The warriors – William Tecumseh Sherman, 43, lean, tough, methodical, ruthlessly efficient and with a passion for order, and John Bell Hood, 32, impetuous, reckless and incredibly brave (strapped on his horse because of his wounds) – took time out from the business of killing to engage in relatively civil correspondence, but not too civil.

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The Decisive Battle of the Civil War: An Unlikely Nomination

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2014-2015, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the January 2015 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One of the topics that Civil War enthusiasts enjoy debating is the question of which Civil War battle was the decisive one. As a way of delving again into the thorny subject of the Civil War’s decisive battle, a nomination for this distinction is made herein. It is likely that no one will agree with this choice for the Civil War’s decisive battle, but if nothing else, the selection of this battle as the decisive one can be taken as an example of how a seemingly distant and unrelated occurrence can have a profound effect on subsequent events. The two Civil War battles that are most often mentioned as the war’s decisive battle are Gettysburg and Vicksburg. However, to give consideration to the nomination proposed herein, then it is necessary to accept that the decisive battle of the Civil War did not occur in 1863 in Pennsylvania or Mississippi or, for that matter, anywhere else during 1863. The decisive battle of the Civil War also did not take place in 1864 or 1865. Nor did it occur in 1861 or 1862, and it did not happen in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, or Tennessee. The decisive battle of the Civil War happened in 1847, and it took place in Mexico. The decisive battle of the Civil War was the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War.

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On to Richmond!

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2014-2015, All Rights Reserved

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


On to Richmond! This was the battle cry in the North at the beginning of the Civil War, and it signified the objective to capture the Confederate capital and thereby bring a quick end to the rebellion. The history books state that it took nearly four years from the war’s outset until that goal was attained. However, Richmond actually fell under Union control by the end of 1862, but before this happened there was a battle there that was not only the most one-sided Confederate victory, but the most one-sided victory by either side during the Civil War. Moreover, the commander of the Union army at Richmond was killed by Jefferson Davis. Of course, these statements do not refer to Richmond, Virginia, but to Richmond, Kentucky, although there is a connection between these two cities. The Richmond in Kentucky was founded by Revolutionary War veteran John Miller in 1798, and it was named in honor of Miller’s birthplace, Richmond, Virginia.

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Erin’s Spartans in Gray

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 March 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Rightly or wrongly, some months of the year in the U.S. are dominated by a holiday that happens to fall in that month: New Year’s Day for January, Independence Day for July, Halloween for October, Thanksgiving Day for November, and Christmas for December. Any religious significance aside, these holidays and the monthly focus on them transcend any ethnic ancestry. However, there is one month which, in a sense, belongs to a particular ethnic group due to a holiday which falls in that month. That month is the month of March, which can be said to belong to the Irish, because Saint Patrick’s Day falls in March. Likewise, some units that fought in the Civil War had an Irish heritage. Of course, the most well-known Irish unit of the Civil War was the Union’s Irish Brigade. But for those who also wear gray while they do their wearing of the green, there were some Irish units in the Confederacy. While some of these were regiments, such as the 6th Louisiana, 10th Tennessee, and 8th Alabama, most of the Irish units in the Confederate army were companies rather than regiments or brigades. One of these Irish companies was Company F of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery, and this unit has an illustrious history.

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Some Other South Carolina Rebels Who Fought for Secession

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 December 2015 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Near the end of the movie Glory there is a depiction of the attack by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment on Fort Wagner. This attack took place on July 18, 1863 on Morris Island near Charleston, South Carolina as an attempt by forces of the national government to take Charleston from the rebels who held it. Some years prior to this assault, government forces attempted to capture Charleston by attacking a fort that was situated on a different island near Charleston, an island named Sullivan’s Island. In the battle on Sullivan’s Island, the rebels held a fort that guarded the entrance to Charleston harbor. Combined naval and ground forces of the national government planned to take the fort and then capture Charleston. In ground forces alone, the rebels on Sullivan’s Island were outnumbered two to one. The naval fleet of the national government included nine warships, while the rebels had no naval force during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. In spite of this, the rebels repulsed the forces of the national government, inflicted five times as many casualties as they suffered, and prevented the capture of Charleston. Although the Battle of Sullivan’s Island pit rebel troops against forces of the national government, this battle was not between men in blue and men in gray. In the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, the rebel forces were American colonists, the government forces were British, and the battle took place on June 28, 1776 or four score and seven years before the attack of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment on Fort Wagner. In December 1860 South Carolina’s defiance was expressed by its secession from the United States. But in an earlier act of defiance, some other South Carolina rebels fought in support of secession against forces of their national government in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island.

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The Union Army’s NBA Regiment

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 November 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ astonishing and (dare it be said) historic championship that they won in June 2016, the last Cleveland team to win a championship in one of the major sports was the Cleveland Browns in 1964. Unfortunately for Cleveland sports fans, the Indians did not add a second championship to Cleveland in 2016, but at least the Cavaliers ended the 52-year drought that existed since the Cleveland Browns 1964 championship. As that Browns team was preparing to defend its championship in the 1965 season, the team’s head coach, Blanton Collier, reportedly told the players a sports aphorism which perhaps not everyone agrees with, and which, for that matter, may not be true. Collier said this to the team in an attempt to motivate the players so that they would not become complacent during the season that followed their championship. Collier told the team that defending a championship is more difficult than winning a championship. On October 25, 2016 the Cavaliers raised their championship banner and began defense of their championship. If Collier is correct about defending a championship, then the Cavaliers will need as much if not more effort and focus as they gave in the previous season, and some additional personnel might also be beneficial.

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Two Wars at a Time: The War within the Civil War

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 January 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


On September 4, 1957, Ford Motor Company introduced a car that it predicted would revolutionize American automobiles. That car was the Edsel, and rather than revolutionize American automobiles, the Edsel was, without exaggeration, a spectacular failure, so much so that the name Edsel is now synonymous with commercial failure. As part of the marketing campaign for the Edsel, Ford Motor Company coined a slogan to describe its new car, specifically, the car of the future. That dynamic slogan was intended to instill in people a high regard for the Edsel and to motivate them to purchase one. But the future for the so-called car of the future lasted only two years, because production ceased in 1959, and that slogan became a source of ridicule.

In the Civil War, there was a slogan that someone introduced which also sounded dynamic and was intended to instill in soldiers a high regard for the person who introduced the slogan and to motivate the soldiers to buy into that person’s leadership. The Civil War leader in question is John Pope, who truly was an Edsel of an army commander. When Pope was given command of a Union army in the East, he introduced something of a slogan about himself when he wrote that his headquarters would be in the saddle. Pope’s intent with this slogan was to indicate to his men that he would not dawdle when it came to campaigns against the enemy. Instead, he would be aggressive and continuously on the move. But after Pope’s dismal failure at the Second Battle of Bull Run, many people twisted Pope’s slogan and said that if Pope’s headquarters really were in the saddle, then his headquarters were where his hindquarters should be.

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What I did on my Summer Vacation

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 September 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The stereotypical first assignment for students who are returning to school after the summer is to write a report about what they did on their summer vacation. Since the September meeting is routinely the first meeting after the Roundtable’s summer break, this history brief is about something that I did on my summer vacation. The Roundtable’s president for 2018-2019, Dan Ursu, chose Southern invasions and raids of the North as the theme for this session. With that in mind, this history brief focuses on an invasion of the North, in fact, an invasion of that state up north, which all Ohioans know is the correct pronunciation for the state whose name is spelled M-i-c-h-i-g-a-n. The invasion that is the subject of this history brief was not a Southern invasion, but a British invasion. And not the British invasion of the 1960s that was led by the Beatles, but a British invasion that occurred during the War of 1812. However, there is a Civil War connection, which will become clear below. The subject of this history brief is the Battle of the River Raisin, which took place in southeastern Michigan from January 18 to 22, 1813. Like a number of Civil War battles, the Battle of the River Raisin goes by a couple of names, one for the body of water near its location and one for the town near its location. Hence, this battle is known as the Battle of the River Raisin and the Battle of Frenchtown.

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