Decisive Battles of the Civil War? None

By Greg Biggs
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: Greg Briggs has authored or co-authored several books and many articles on the Civil War. He has held executive positions with several Civil War Roundtables and preservation and historical societies and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Center For the Study of the Civil War in the West at Western Kentucky University. Mr. Biggs spoke to the CCWRT at its December, 2007 meeting; this article is a follow-up to that presentation.


In my program “Napoleonic Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest” at the December meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, I stated early on that the Civil War had no decisive battles despite Civil War historians constantly writing that this or that battle was “decisive.” I also stated that most Civil War historians do not study warfare prior to the Civil War, most importantly the Napoleonic Wars, when decisive battles were fought. Lastly, I argued that the primary reason for the lack of decisive battles in the Civil War was the misuse of cavalry, particularly in the pursuit phase, which rarely existed after a typical Civil War engagement.

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Fort Pillow and Ball’s Bluff: A Response

By Greg Biggs
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: Greg Briggs has authored or co-authored several books and many articles on the Civil War. He has held executive positions with several Civil War Roundtables and preservation and historical societies and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Center For the Study of the Civil War in the West at Western Kentucky University. Mr. Biggs spoke to the CCWRT in December 2007 and was our guide for our 2012 field trip to Forts Henry and Donelson. This article originally appeared in the Charger in response to a book authored by our November 2012 speaker, Dr. John Cimprich.


In the November 2012 issue of the Charger, President Michael Wells wrote about the controversy of Fort Pillow. He made mention of our time at the Tilghman House in Paducah and how the guide there compared the casualties at Ball’s Bluff to Fort Pillow and wondered why, since Ball’s Bluff had very similar casualty rates, it was also not called a “massacre.” The person who brought up this discussion was not the house guide, it was me.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 4

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

This is the final installment in a four-part series by past Roundtable President John Fazio reviewing the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 3

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

This is the third installment in a four-part series by past Roundtable President John Fazio reviewing the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 2

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

This is the second installment in a four-part series by past Roundtable President John Fazio reviewing the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

Continue reading “Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 2”

Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 1

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

In this four-part series, past Roundtable President John Fazio reviews the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

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On Trees and Forests: Correcting History’s View of J. Wilkes Booth

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2015, 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.


Even the masters go astray occasionally. Edison thought direct current was the wave of the future. Ezra Pound thought Mussolini and Hitler were statesmen instead of the buffoons and bloody tyrants they were. Einstein thought nuclear energy would never be obtainable. So it is, too, sometimes, with historians. Otherwise brilliant and conscientious men and women spend so much time studying trees that they lose sight of the forests.

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Man, Not Myth

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 April 2012 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The topic of the presentation at the April 2012 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable was how Robert E. Lee lost the Civil War. With this in mind, there is a page in the August 24, 1861 issue of Harper’s Weekly, which contains a short note about Robert E. Lee. The note gives a brief description of Lee’s military career in the U.S. Army and then concludes with this. “After filling this honorable and agreeable post in the military service of his country for several years, he crowned his career by deserting his flag at the moment of his country’s sorest need. When the Richmond politicians passed what they called an Ordinance of Secession, Robert E. Lee threw up his commission and accepted the rank of General in the rebel army.”

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The First, and Second, Battles of Selma

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 May 2015 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


On May 13, 1865 the last battle of the Civil War came to an end, or so most people say. The Civil War’s battles are considered by most people to have taken place between April 12, 1861 and May 13, 1865, because this time period encompasses what are generally accepted to be the Civil War’s first battle and its last battle. But not every ‘Civil War battle’ took place between April 12, 1861, the date of the Battle of Fort Sumter, and May 12-13, 1865, the date of the Battle of Palmito Ranch, which is considered to be the last battle of the Civil War.

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Some Thoughts on the Removal of Southern Civil War-Related Symbols

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved


The recent dismantling and removal of Southern statuary, monuments and other symbols relating to the Civil War and its aftermath has, not surprisingly, generated a lot of heat between those favoring the same and those opposed. It is also unsurprising that proponents and opponents are often identified by race, so that a political and regional conflict morphs into a racial one. For this and other reasons, we need to ask ourselves if what appears to be such a good idea, and one whose time has come, is really that, or if our country and its citizenry would be better served by a different approach, one more in keeping with “the better angels of our nature,” to use Lincoln’s immortal phrase from his First Inaugural Address.

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