The Vigilantes of Montana Revisited

By John C. Fazio & Carol Buchanan
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: In February 2005 CCWRT past president John Fazio published his article The Vigilantes of Montana in The Charger, the CCWRT newsletter. The article was later republished here on the CCWRT Website and in November 2010 a revision of the article was published in The Montana Pioneer, where it caught the attention of Montana writer Carol Buchanan. Ms. Buchanan is the author of God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, an historical novel set in Montana during the vigilante period. Ms. Buchanan wrote to us taking exception to several points made by Mr. Fazio in his article and even graciously submitted her own overview of the period, Gold, Greed and a Vacuum of Law, for publication on the CCWRT website.

The article below is a dialog between our two authors, John Fazio and Carol Buchanan discussing their differences on the history of the vigilante period in Montana.


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Gold, Greed, and a Vacuum of Law

By Carol Buchanan
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2011 Carol Buchanan, All Rights Reserved

As he helps to bury a murdered friend, attorney Daniel Stark (the protagonist in my historical novel God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana) wonders how to find the killer and bring him to justice:

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The Vigilantes of Montana

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

Previously, I have argued in these pages that the decisive battle of the Civil War was not Gettysburg, as so many assume (though its critical importance cannot be denied), but Spotsylvania and Grant’s literal turning south that preceded it after his defeat in the Wilderness. My point was that the rolling twelve-day slugfest that was Spotsylvania demonstrated to Robert E. Lee both the unprecedented doggedness of the new commander of the Army of the Potomac and the terrible arithmetic that spelled the doom of the Confederacy, that is, Grant’s ability and Lee’s inability to replace losses.

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The Illusion of “The Lost Cause”

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

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Charger in March 2002. Its author, Matt Slattery, wrote it shortly before his death in December 2001. Even at 90 years of age Matt was still looking at new ideas about his and our favorite hobby, the American Civil War. Matt will be missed.


In 1865, the Civil War ended and the North had won. Had the South lost? Their generals had to admit it. Their armies were broken, their cities demolished, their railroads a wreck. Was all this acceptable to the Confederates? They ignored it (as best they could) by not writing about it, not speaking about it. Instead, they trumpeted The Lost Cause.

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Did the Institution of Slavery Cause the Civil War?

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: A debate on the cause or causes of the Civil War was held on January 10, 2007 as part of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable’s monthly meeting. It was an intercollegiate-style debate, i.e., two on the affirmative and two on the negative. The resolution debated was: Resolved: That the Institution of Slavery Was the Cause of the Civil War. The negative won, based on a vote of the attendees. Following the debate in that forum, John C. Fazio, the Roundtable president at the time of that debate, weighed in with the following.


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The Constitution Caused the Civil War

By Dan Zeiser
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Of course, you say, the Constitution caused the Civil War. By recognizing and institutionalizing slavery, the war was inevitable. But this is not the only reason that the Constitution caused the Civil War. There was another, perhaps more important, reason that the founding fathers caused our particular sectional strife. This reason is the electoral college.

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George Washington: Hero of the Confederacy?

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007 Weider History Group
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of American History magazine.


The cost of political greatness, it’s been said, is to be forced to campaign long after your death. That’s certainly true of George Washington, whose name, image, and legacy were appropriated by the Confederacy.

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On Inconvenient Truth and Convenient Fiction

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: John C. Fazio is a past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable and the author of numerous articles on the Lincoln assassination as well as the book, Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, published in 2015 by McFarland.


Truth, like a bastard, comes into the world, never without ill-fame to him who gives her birth. – Thomas Hardy

All great truths begin as blasphemies. – George Bernard Shaw

Shall truth be first or second with us? “Us” is we historians, real or fancied, amateur or professional. Lincoln said that history isn’t history unless it is the truth. I agree with that, to which I would add only “or some reasonable facsimile thereof arrived at conscientiously and with due diligence.” Therefore, if truth is to be second with us, second, that is, to convenience, aka political correctness or some other approximation of comfort, then I suggest that we are in the wrong business and that we should find some other vocation or avocation, one that doesn’t tax our character so meanly.

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The Peter Principle and George B. McClellan

By Dan Zeiser
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

We are all familiar with the business theory known as the “Peter Principle.” According to this concept, a person continues to rise in an organization until he or she reaches a level that requires more ability than the person has. Put another way, a person advances until reaching a level of incompetence. This principle applies in more areas than just business, and the Civil War is one of those areas. George Brinton McClellan is perhaps the perfect model of this theory in the Civil War.

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