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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America, Love it or Leave it

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 April 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


America, love it or leave it. People who lived during the 1960s are familiar with this expression, because it became popular during the Vietnam War as a way of declaring unwavering, even unquestioning support for the United States in the face of strong anti-war protests. But this expression can, in a sense, also be applied to those who joined the secessionist movement that culminated in the Civil War. The secessionists of the mid-19th century were dissatisfied with America, and they chose to leave it, but in a way that involved taking some of the country’s territory with them. The secessionists no longer loved America, and their goal was to leave America by forming a separate country from land that was part of the United States.

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The First Memorial Day

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 May 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Near the end of May, we in the U.S. participate in an annual remembrance of those who gave, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the last full measure of devotion” in defense of our country. This is done on the day that has come to be known as Memorial Day. This commemoration was codified by John Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was an organization of Union veterans who had fought in the Civil War. On May 5, 1868 Logan issued his directive for this commemoration in his General Orders No. 11, in which he specified that the remembrance would take place on May 30, 1868. Logan’s directive stated that May 30, 1868 “is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.” The wording that Logan used led to the day of commemoration being called Decoration Day, although the Grand Army of the Republic stipulated in a follow-up directive that “the proper designation of May 30th is Memorial Day” and further stipulated that it should be an annual event. After World War I, Memorial Day came to be a day to remember those who died not just in the Civil War, but in all of America’s wars. On Memorial Day, when we commemorate those who gave their lives for our country, we are following a long-standing tradition, a tradition that began in 1868. Or did it?

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Like Father, Like Son…or Not

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 November 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


I remember when I was much younger, maybe age 12, my father took my brother and me to see the movie Taras Bulba. The movie stars Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis as, respectively, a father and son, and I suppose that this pairing strains credulity for genetic inheritance of physical appearance. The father and son in the movie are members of a Cossack community, and this community is in conflict with a Polish principality. During the movie, the son falls in love with a Polish woman and makes the decision to fight with the Poles in their conflict against the Cossacks. Near the end of the movie, the enraged father kills his son for supporting the cause that he opposes. As it happens, the Civil War had something of a Taras Bulba episode, and it occurred at the Battle of Galveston.

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