Blue and Gray on the Silver Screen

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved

Michael Kraus, curator of the Pittsburgh Soldiers & Sailors Monument and Museum, offered a very interesting and original program at the Roundtable’s October 14 meeting. He spoke about the Civil War on film, and his own involvement in the productions of Gettysburg and Cold Mountain. Hollywood turned to the Civil War as a dramatic topic very early on, with dozens of movies (most of them very short) being made about the war annually by the 1920s. Kraus discussed how Lost Cause mythology took early root on the Silver Screen, with both Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind sympathetically reflecting it. (He was intrigued afterwards when I told him that a 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. had sung with the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir at the segregated premiere of GWTW in Atlanta in 1939.)

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Gettysburg 2013

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2013, All Rights Reserved

Author’s note: I recently again took part in the Straight Dope (straightdope.com) Poetry Sweatshop. Participants are given one hour to write a poem that includes three randomly-provided words. The words provided this year were: “present,” “passing,” and “completer.”


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Charleston 1861: The Other Star-Spangled Banner

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2003, 2005, All Rights Reserved

On April 14, 1861, after an extensive bombardment, the outnumbered and outgunned Union garrison of Ft. Sumter surrendered to the Confederate forces in and around Charleston harbor. U.S. Army Maj. Robert Anderson insisted, as a condition of his troops’ surrender, that they be permitted to fire a 100-gun salute to the huge United States flag that had so defiantly flown over the fort during the battle. Confederate Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard agreed to the demand of Anderson, his former West Point artillery instructor. The Union guns began firing the salute, but on the 47th round, Union Army Private Daniel Hough was killed in the accidental explosion of a pile of cartridges; five others were wounded. Hough was the first casualty of the Civil War. The salute was promptly reduced to 50 rounds. Maj. Anderson and his troops then boarded a steamship and sailed north, with the flag, into history.

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Letters from the Front

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved

About the Letters

The following letters were given to one of our members by a kindly fellow from Tallmadge, Ohio, named Bob Lowry, after the member addressed a group there. They appear to have been written in 1862 from Ft. Scott, Kansas, by a Union soldier named George C. Ashmun, who was from Tallmadge, though some of his letters were addressed to West Virginia and Indiana, too. Interestingly, there are still Ashmuns living in Tallmadge. Additionally, a Google search revealed a publication in Ohio Mollus – Sketches of War History, Vol. Two, transcribed by Larry Stevens, titled “Recollections of a Peculiar Service,” by Second Lieutenant George C. Ashmun. This may or may not be our Ashmun, though an intelligent guess is that it is.

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Five Hundred Dead and a Hoax that Lives On

By Peter Holman
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2015, All Rights Reserved

One hundred and forty years ago, a man hailed as a modern Robinson Crusoe made a brief appearance in newspapers across the world and continues today to impact genealogists, historical societies and miscellaneous bloggers throughout the world-wide web. And he was, with all moral certainty, long dead.

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Balthasar Best and the American Dream

By Mel Maurer
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

I was first introduced to Balthasar (also Balthazar) Best by his great grandson, Bill Lasswell, almost two years ago (2003) on the battlefield at Gettysburg. My grandson, Eric, and I had just parked near the Pennsylvania Monument on our auto tour and had walked across the road to the tableau describing the actions of the 1st Minnesota when an older couple approached us. The man said he had noticed that my license plates were from Cuyahoga County. He told us how his great grandfather, Balthasar Best, who had fought with the 1st Minnesota, had survived a shipwreck in 1850 somewhere off the shores of Cuyahoga County when he was just a boy. Mr. Lasswell then asked if I might know anyone named Kleinschmidt – the name of the family that took the young Balthasar in when he managed to reach shore. I told him that I didn’t but that I would do some research when I got home on the shipwreck and the Kleinschmidts.

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Andersonville’s “Clerk of the Dead”

By Dick Crews
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved

Civil War prison Andersonville was only in operation for fourteen months, but is considered the most notorious United States prison. During this short period of just over a year of operation, 45,000 Union soldiers would suffer miserably and 13,000 would die.

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Giuseppe Garibaldi, General in Chief, U.S. Army?

by E. Chris Evans
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

Is the idea of the great Italian revolutionary warrior Giuseppe Garibaldi trading in his famous red shirt for a Union officer’s blue frock coat incredible? Is the idea improbable, even impossible, especially since this man would be filling a position first held by General George Washington?

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Family Reminiscences of the Confederacy

By Bishop Beverly Tucker
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2001, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The article below is a transcript of a talk given to the Roundtable on October 19,1959 by the Rt. Reverend Beverly Tucker, PhD, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Northeast Ohio. The talk was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In 1994, Dr. William Schlesinger, one of our founders, had the recording transferred to cassette tape and submitted it for inclusion in the Roundtable archives. This talk was later transcribed by Robert E. Battisti and published in The Charger in the winter of 2001 and then on the Roundtable’s website in 2008.


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