Rosie the Riveter and the Bloodiest Day in American Military History

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 April 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


During World War II many American women worked in factories to produce materiel for the war effort. These women were personified in the image of a female factory worker that came to be known as Rosie the Riveter. Similarly, numerous women worked in munitions factories during the Civil War, in both the North and the South, and represent Civil War era Rosie the Riveters. Some of the North’s Rosie the Riveters suffered a ghastly tragedy in the explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, which was a village at that time, but is now part of the city of Pittsburgh. The Allegheny Arsenal explosion occurred on September 17, 1862, the same day as the Battle of Antietam.

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The Day Rosie the Riveter Died

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 March 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One of the most iconic images from World War II is Rosie the Riveter. It is a stylized depiction of a female factory worker, and it is meant to portray the large number of American women who worked in factories to provide materiel for the war effort. The Civil War had its generation of Rosie the Riveters, and on Friday March 13, 1863 a horrendous tragedy befell a number of them. This occurred when there was an explosion at the Confederate Laboratory on Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia.

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Adversaries under the Same Flag

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 January 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The honor system is something that is familiar to almost everyone. It is defined as a system whereby persons are trusted to abide by a certain code of conduct without supervision or surveillance. But there is another type of honor system that held individuals to a code of conduct that frequently led to tragic consequences. This honor system was usually referred to as a matter of honor or an affair of honor, and one such incident involving two Confederate generals took place on September 6, 1863 at 15 paces with Colt Navy revolvers.

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The Major General Who Wasn’t

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 October 2013 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


If at first you don’t succeed, find a career in something that you’re good at. This rewording of the old aphorism applies to the person who did the painting that is often called Whistler’s Mother, namely James Whistler. Before he became the painter who is familiar to many, Whistler tried his hand at the art of warfare. Had he been successful at this, he very likely could have been someone who was part of the Civil War. But Whistler failed with the sword and instead made his mark in history with a paintbrush.

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The Fabricated Letter of Robert E. Lee

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 November 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Anyone who has an email account has received them: those forwarded emails that relate some preposterous, attention-grabbing information about some public figure and are intended to put that public figure in a bad light. President Barack Obama is a Muslim who will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and his birth certificate is a forgery. At a right-to-life rally, President George W. Bush repeatedly used the word “feces” instead of “fetus.” Many years before 9/11, Senator Al Gore was warned by Oliver North about Osama bin Laden. The origin of these emails is almost never known, but people who oppose these public figures and the causes they embrace send these emails around the internet to discredit both the public figures and their causes. At best, these emails are misleading embellishments that bear little resemblance to the truth, and many times they are simply false. But with the internet these emails can reach and potentially sway an incredibly large and widespread number of people. The Civil War had a similar fabrication that was circulated to readers as a factual occurrence, although it, of course, was not disseminated by email.

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Six Degrees of Simon Bolivar Buckner

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 November 2015 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


A popular movie trivia game is Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The object of the game is to connect a particular movie actor with Kevin Bacon step by step via movie co-stars from a movie in which that particular actor appeared to a movie in which Kevin Bacon appeared. One of the fascinations of this game is that Kevin Bacon, an actor who is not particularly prominent, can be connected to even very prominent actors. Something similar can be done with Civil War officers, who had many shared experiences prior to and during the war. In keeping with the use of a less prominent individual, one Confederate officer who has some interesting and not well-known connections with some prominent Union officers is Simon Bolivar Buckner. Buckner had a role in Ulysses Grant’s Civil War nickname, and prior to the war Buckner did a gracious favor for Grant. During the war Buckner gave advice in his hometown to a young Union officer who had no military training; later in the war this young Union officer made a wise military decision for his own troops that more prominent Union officers had not yet made. Buckner’s closest childhood friend was the man who was responsible for the Confederate victory at Chickamauga. Buckner also has a connection to William McKinley, although this connection is electoral, not military. In a military connection that extends beyond the Civil War, Simon Bolivar Buckner commanded troops on Okinawa in World War II, and he was mortally wounded near the end of that battle.

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A Civil War Greek Tragedy

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 October 2015 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


“In times of peace sons bury their fathers; in times of war fathers bury their sons.” This quote comes from the ancient Greek text The Histories, which was written by Herodotus in the second half of the fourth century B.C. The Histories chronicles events that happened in ancient times in Greece and western Asia. The Histories is part fact, part opinion, and part fable. The quote about peace and war was spoken by a man named Croesus, who was king of Lydia, a kingdom in what is now western Turkey. Croesus was one of those fathers who buried his son, not because of war, but because of a tragic accident involving an ancient weapon of war. Croesus had had a dream in which he saw his son killed by a spear. Because of this he refused to allow his son to fight in battle. At one point during his reign, Croesus received a report of a giant boar that was ravaging a province in his kingdom, and the people in that province petitioned Croesus to send a hunting party to kill the boar. Croesus’ son, Atys, told his father that he wanted to lead the hunting party, but Croesus refused because of the dream. However, Atys convinced Croesus to let him lead the hunting party by telling his father that a boar does not wield spears. When the hunting party found the boar, the members of the group surrounded the animal and began hurling spears at it. One of the spears missed the target and struck and killed Atys, which both fulfilled the prophecy in the dream and filled Croesus with deep remorse for allowing Atys to lead the hunting party. The Civil War has a story like that of Croesus and Atys, and it involves Confederate General William J. Hardee and his only son, Willie.

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“The Rest of the Story”

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 April 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


“And now you know the rest of the story.” This is the tagline that was used by news broadcaster and commentator, and dispenser of Americana, Paul Harvey to close each of the segments of a radio series that he did. In each segment of that series, which was named The Rest of the Story, Paul Harvey related a story about some person or event in which there was some kind of interesting and unexpected anecdote or connection. This series was on the radio for decades, so there certainly was no shortage of subject material. But if Paul Harvey ever needed another subject for his series, he could have used the front-page story of the July 4, 1863 Harper’s Weekly for a segment of his program The Rest of the Story. On July 4, 1863, the day that Vicksburg fell and the day after Pickett’s Charge, the front-page story in Harper’s Weekly was an account of a bold attempt at espionage by two Confederate officers near Franklin, Tennessee. Mel Maurer, past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, included an account of this story in part three of a six-part article which Mel wrote about his life in Franklin. Mel’s account of this tale of espionage appeared in the September 2001 issue of The Charger, and Mel’s article is archived on the Roundtable’s web site. Neither the Harper’s Weekly account nor Mel’s account includes the intriguing side story that is connected to the episode of attempted espionage that occurred outside of Franklin. This history brief describes the intriguing side story, which contains a tragic romance.

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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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It’s a Wonderful Connection

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 November 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


When the calendar moves to December, among the things we can count on are cold weather, very many holiday sales, and far too little time to prepare for the holidays. There are also sure to be plenty of opportunities to overdose on television broadcasts of holiday movies. These holiday movies include musicals such as Holiday Inn and White Christmas, animated films such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman, and the stop motion film Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There are several versions of A Christmas Carol, including one with the Disney characters and another with the Muppets. (Who needs Alastair Sim and George C. Scott when we have Mickey Mouse and Kermit the Frog?) There are comedies such as Elf, Home Alone, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and there are sentimental movies such as Miracle on 34th Street and The Polar Express. There is also the movie A Christmas Story, which is both humorous and sentimental and is set in a house that, in real life, is in Cleveland. Of all the holiday movies, the one that is arguably the most inspirational and uplifting is It’s a Wonderful Life, because this movie’s story conveys the message that every person is valuable, even those whose lives seem ordinary and humdrum. But one little-known aspect of this movie is that it has a definite connection to the Civil War. One connection between It’s a Wonderful Life and the Civil War is that Jimmy Stewart, who had the male lead in It’s a Wonderful Life, also had the leading role in a 1965 movie named Shenandoah, a fictitious story about a Virginia family during the Civil War. But that movie is maudlin and insipid, and there is a connection between It’s a Wonderful Life and the Civil War which is much more substantive than that.

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