History Briefs: 2010-2011

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: From 2007 to 2011, Mel Maurer filled the position of Roundtable historian. During Mel’s tenure as historian, each Roundtable meeting opened with a ‘history brief’ presented by Mel, each ‘brief’ providing a small glimpse into a less-explored corner of the story of the Civil War. This page collects the history briefs from the 2010-2011 Roundtable season. Following Mel’s tenure as historian, his successors likewise presented history briefs at the beginning of each Roundtable meeting. The history briefs that were written by Mel’s successors are also on the Roundtable’s website, each of those history briefs on a separate web page.


April 2011

I have to admit that there was a time in my life, when I heard that slaves escaped the South by an Underground Railroad, I thought they all took the subway. (Not really.)

I believe that most people, when they hear the term, “Underground Railroad,” think of the great lady I wish to honor tonight: Araminta Ross. Well, that was her birth name. She later took her first name from her mother, Harriet, and her last name from her husband, John Tubman.

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Grant’s Combined Arms Generalship at Vicksburg – Part II

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the November 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


We resume where we left off in October with General Grant having decided to move ahead with Admiral Porter’s daring plan to help achieve Grant’s goal of ultimately landing troops on dry ground on the east bank of the Mississippi south of Vicksburg. Porter’s plan was to slip by fortress Vicksburg “running the batteries” under the cover of darkness. However, before we venture further, one of our members, Brian Kowell, after reading last month’s history brief submitted some additional research to me on the ironclads in Porter’s fleet that I believe readers of this history brief would enjoy.

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Grant’s Combined Arms Generalship at Vicksburg – Part I

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the October 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Please recall last month’s history brief where we left off with the end of Grant’s creative winter efforts of 1862-3 to bypass Vicksburg, which sputtered out in a haze of impracticability. From the engineering attempts for a proposed trench to reroute the Mississippi River along the neck of a peninsular bend near the fortress city, itself, and the push for a channel through marshy terrain to ultimately join with the Red River and its tributaries and thence to the Mississippi and finally a military effort to land troops just north of Vicksburg through the Yazoo River environs, all of these endeavors came to naught. But not for lack of effort; Grant recorded in his “Memoirs” that he was proud of the hard work his troops had undertaken, which had at least kept them productive outside the campaigning season. Now Grant huddled with Admiral Porter to devise a daring combined arms effort to achieve his goal of landing his troops on dry ground on the east side of the river below Vicksburg.

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Grant’s Winter of 1862-3: Three Attempts at Vicksburg

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the September 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Please recall Grant’s campaign in the West to capture Vicksburg where we left off at the CCWRT December 2019 meeting with the “Battle of Chickasaw Bayou.” This was a defeat for General Grant, who commanded a two-pronged attack to vanquish the fortress. The first prong was his own movement through central Mississippi that would hopefully draw Confederate troops from Vicksburg to allow a direct thrust at the fortress. The second prong along the Mississippi River was under his friend and colleague, General Sherman. Grant’s drive was short-lived as his supply lines were disrupted by “that devil” General Nathan Bedford Forrest amongst others. Accordingly, Confederate General Pemberton maintained the majority of his troops in the Vicksburg defenses and decisively repulsed Sherman’s attack through the Chickasaw Bayou.

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The Underground Railroad in Ohio

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the December 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Our speaker this evening will be focusing on Colored Troops during the Civil War. As many of you know, he also portrays a personage involved with the Underground Railroad. So, it seemed a natural for this evening’s history brief to focus on the Underground Railroad and especially in Ohio.

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What was Happening during the Civil War on or about Lincoln’s February 12th Birthday?

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Since this month’s regular meeting falls on Lincoln’s birthday it was thought appropriate to highlight what was taking place during the Civil War years 1861 through 1865 on or about Lincoln’s birthday.

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The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou: Grant’s First Attempt to Vanquish Vicksburg

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the December 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The “war was won in the West” – or so they say – and has been our monthly focus of these history briefs paralleling the same months in 1862. And so we come to December of 1862, which is widely known as the start of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign.

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The Second Battle of Corinth and the Start of the Vicksburg Campaign

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the November 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


We pick up from my September 11, 2019 history brief, with Confederate General Price maneuvering away from Iuka on September 19, 1862. His movement was in a wide southwestwardly arc. (Follow map.) He first went to Baldwyn, Mississippi, then northwest toward Ripley, where he was joined by Van Dorn, and together they headed due north to Pocahontas, Tennessee. Van Dorn assumed command of what was now known as the 22,000 man Confederate Army of Western Tennessee. Positioned thusly, he threatened both Corinth and the Mobile & Ohio Railroad providing a supply line to the Union troops to the south.

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“The Civil War Was Won in the West” – or so they say

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the September 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


On September 11, 1862, it could be said that the North was doing well and certainly winning the war in the West. In the East, McClellan had repulsed Lee at Antietam, last year’s field trip at which our guide Steve Recker eloquently argued – whether you agreed with him or not – won the war because it paved the way for Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Coincidentally, it’s Lincoln’s hometown, Springfield, Illinois, that will be the destination of Ellen’s field trip at the end of this month. I tend to agree with Steve; the Emancipation Proclamation and the momentum it produced in so many ways, be it in the heart of the slaves who slowly learned of the document, or the morale boost that it gave many of the soldiers in the North and the resultant moral incentive to fight on to victory – and everything in between – that would overwhelm the South by 1865.

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Famous Last Words

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 May 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Clark W. Griswold Sr. in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “I’m retiring.”

Retired NFL quarterback Jay Cutler: “I’m not really looking to do a lot of work right now. I’m looking to do the exact opposite of that.”

From the song “Closing Time” by the group Semisonic: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

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