Europe’s Artistic Ambassador to the Post-Civil War United States

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2011-2012, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2012 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The last painting from life that was made of Robert E. Lee was done in Lexington, Virginia, where Lee lived the final years of his life. But an interesting bit of Civil War trivia is the current location of this painting. The painting is in Washington, D.C., and it hangs in the residence of the Swiss ambassador to the U.S., where it has been since 2005. Prior to then, the painting was in a museum in Bern, Switzerland. This may seem surprising until the identity of the artist is revealed. The person who did this painting is Swiss painter Frank Buchser, and his life history, as well as the history of this painting, is quite interesting.

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The Highest Ranking Officer in the Confederate Army

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012-2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the March 2013 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One interesting bit of trivia about the Civil War is the identity of the highest ranking officer in the Confederate Army. It was not Robert E. Lee, although that is the answer that many people would give. Nor was it Albert Sidney Johnston; he was number two. At least he was number two until the Battle of Shiloh, where he was mortally wounded. It was also not Joseph E. Johnston, even though he famously believed that it should have been. The highest ranking officer in the Confederate Army was Samuel Cooper, which leads to the next questions. Who was Samuel Cooper, and how did he come to be the South’s highest ranking officer?

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Two Lost Causes

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012-2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the December 2012 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


In 1995 the U.S. Post Office issued a series of stamps to commemorate the Civil War. Evidently there was some Southern input into the design of this stamp series, because a heading underneath the main heading reads, “The War between the States.” The people selected for depiction on the stamps include those who are expected, such as Lincoln and Davis, Grant and Lee, and Sherman and Jackson. There is, however, one person whose inclusion has to be considered surprising, and that is someone named Stand Watie. When I first saw these stamps, I had no idea who Stand Watie was. Since this stamp series includes a mere 16 stamps that depict individuals from the Civil War, can Stand Watie be considered worthy of inclusion as one of the top 16 people of the Civil War?

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A Musical Historical First

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012-2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the November 2012 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


What do the following historical figures have in common: Ferdinand Magellan, Roger Bannister, Yuri Gagarin, and Louise Brown? The answer is that each one earned a place in history primarily by being the first person to do something: Magellan for leading the first circumnavigation of the Earth, Bannister for running the first sub-four-minute mile, Gagarin for being the first human to go into outer space, and Brown for being the first person born through in vitro fertilization. Not that these people did nothing else of consequence, but their place in history really came from being the first person to do something.

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The Only Man to Beat Robert E. Lee in an Even Fight

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012-2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the October 2012 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


There are some who consider Robert E. Lee the greatest military leader of the Civil War. But Ulysses S. Grant beat Robert E. Lee, which calls into question the claim that Lee was the greatest military leader of the Civil War. However, that wasn’t an even fight, and even if detractors of Lee and admirers of Grant refuse to admit that it wasn’t an even fight, it doesn’t change that fact. Nevertheless, there was someone who did beat Robert E. Lee in an even fight, and that person was Charles Mason.

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The Other Gettysburg Orator

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 November 2013 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


“Four score and seven years ago.” With this creative phrasing of the age of the United States, Abraham Lincoln began the two-minute process of upstaging the featured speaker at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg. Many who are interested in the Civil War know Edward Everett only as the featured speaker who was upstaged by Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address. However, by the time of the Civil War, Everett had lived a very accomplished life. Although it was Everett’s well-deserved reputation as an orator that led to him being chosen as the featured speaker, he had many other accomplishments as a statesman and educator.

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A Doubly Exemplary Singular Civil War Accomplishment

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 April 2015 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


To paraphrase Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of baseball.” There are many aspects of baseball that make it such a captivating sport, not the least of which is the time of year when it is played. Baseball rises from its hibernation in the spring, when the earth is emerging from another of its recurrent seasons of frigid lifelessness. Baseball flows through the hot days and warm nights of summer as a leisurely accompaniment to the sunshine and easy living. Baseball’s climax comes as autumn is putting a close on another season of beaches, amusement parks, and cookouts, and the crowning of baseball’s champion serves as a reminder that the next cycle of hard, drab days is near.

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The Medical “Rebellion” within the Union Army

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 May 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Anyone who has watched television in Cleveland has almost certainly seen one of the commercials that end with the following emphatically confident promise, “I’ll make them pay.” These advertisements are for a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice. If this law firm had been in existence at the time of the Civil War, one of the medical practices used by the Union army may have provided an opportunity for this firm to follow through on its confident promise. Battlefield medicine saw amazing advancements during the Civil War, and Civil War physicians worked tirelessly and admirably to deal with one seemingly hopeless injury after another. In spite of this, there were flaws in the medical treatment that soldiers received. With regard to one serious flaw, the person in charge of medical matters for the Union army was not responsible for this problem and, in fact, mandated a correction of this flaw. But a political appointee who is well known to every Civil War enthusiast undid the corrective action.

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The Best Confederate General from the Buckeye State

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 April 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


In 2012 the sports website Bleacher Report published its choices for the best player ever to play for each National Basketball Association team. The choices for some teams, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls, are obvious. But for other teams, such as the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, it is difficult to choose the best player in that team’s history, because those teams had an abundance of great players. If a similar endeavor were done for Union Civil War generals by state, Ohio would fall into the latter category, because there would be some question about whether to choose Ulysses S. Grant or William Tecumseh Sherman, since a compelling case can be made for either one of them. It can be argued that Grant should belong to Illinois, since Grant gave his place of residence as Galena, Illinois when he and his son checked into the Willard Hotel in Washington. But Grant’s birthplace is in Ohio, which means that Ohio can legitimately lay claim to Grant, similar to Illinois laying claim to Barack Obama, while Obama can also be claimed by his place of birth, Hawaii. If Ohio is allowed to claim Ulysses Grant, then choosing between Grant and Sherman as the best Union general from the Buckeye State is not easy. But the decision is not as difficult for Ohio’s best Confederate general. Depending upon the criteria that are used to classify someone as being “from Ohio,” there are five and perhaps six Confederate generals who were from Ohio. (After the text of this history brief, the names of the Confederate generals from Ohio are listed along with a brief description of each of them.) Among these five (or six) Ohio Confederate generals, the strongest case can be made for Bushrod Johnson as the best, if for no other reason than the extent of his military contributions to the Confederate cause, although Johnson’s record is by no means unblemished.

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A Hanukkah Gift for All Americans

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 December 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


American men who were born between 1944 and 1950 were automatically entered into the first of seven lotteries in which entrants were hoping that they did not receive a number that put them at or near the top of the list. This lottery, which was held on December 1, 1969, was the first Selective Service draft lottery of the Vietnam War, and in that and the subsequent lotteries the order in which draft-eligible men would be drafted was randomly assigned based on birthdates. One of the jokes that came out of that lottery was that Jesus Christ had number 84 in the Selective Service draft order, because number 84 was the number that was drawn for December 25. The birthdate that led to Jesus receiving that number is one of the most important religious holidays in Christianity. There is compelling evidence that the birth of Jesus did not occur in December, which not only means that Jesus should actually have received a different draft number, but also makes this religious holiday misplaced, although that birth is celebrated on December 25 nonetheless.

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