The Union Army’s NBA Regiment

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 November 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ astonishing and (dare it be said) historic championship that they won in June 2016, the last Cleveland team to win a championship in one of the major sports was the Cleveland Browns in 1964. Unfortunately for Cleveland sports fans, the Indians did not add a second championship to Cleveland in 2016, but at least the Cavaliers ended the 52-year drought that existed since the Cleveland Browns 1964 championship. As that Browns team was preparing to defend its championship in the 1965 season, the team’s head coach, Blanton Collier, reportedly told the players a sports aphorism which perhaps not everyone agrees with, and which, for that matter, may not be true. Collier said this to the team in an attempt to motivate the players so that they would not become complacent during the season that followed their championship. Collier told the team that defending a championship is more difficult than winning a championship. On October 25, 2016 the Cavaliers raised their championship banner and began defense of their championship. If Collier is correct about defending a championship, then the Cavaliers will need as much if not more effort and focus as they gave in the previous season, and some additional personnel might also be beneficial.

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The First First Lady

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 September 2016 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


September 14, 2016 was the date of the first meeting in the presidency of the second woman president in the history of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable. In recognition of that milestone, this history brief is about the first first lady of the United States. The obvious person to have the distinction of being the first first lady is Martha Washington, the wife of the first president of the United States. However, Martha Washington was never called first lady while her husband served as president. In fact, Martha Washington was typically called Lady Washington, a name that she reputedly expressed a preference for. More than 40 years after Martha Washington’s death, an article by a poet named Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney complimented Martha Washington for never taking on an air of pretentiousness despite her husband’s lofty stature. The compliment read, “The first lady of the nation still preserved the habits of early life.” Although the title of first lady was applied to Martha Washington in this article, this was done decades after her death, and there is no evidence that this title was ever used for Martha Washington while her husband was president. Dolley Madison was another presidential wife in our nation’s early history to whom the title first lady may have been applied. This may have occurred when President Zachary Taylor reputedly eulogized Dolley Madison in 1849 by calling her “the first lady of the land for half a century.” However, no written documentation exists for this statement, and even if the statement is factual, the comment was made many years after Dolley Madison’s husband was president. During James Madison’s presidency, his wife was called Presidentess or Presidentress, not first lady.

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Abraham Lincoln’s Little-Known Important Legacy

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 April 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One stereotypical expression that is associated with a life-threatening experience is to say that his life flashed before his eyes. I cannot say for sure if that actually happens, but something similar that often happens after a person dies is that other people reflect on the dead person’s life and legacies. April is the month in which Abraham Lincoln died, so it is appropriate during the month of April to look at Lincoln’s legacies. Among Lincoln’s legacies are two that are very well known and rank among the greatest legacies in U.S. history: preserving the Union and ending slavery. It is difficult if not impossible to choose which of these legacies is more significant, so perhaps it is best to just quote the Black Knight from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail and simply say, “Alright, we’ll call it a draw.” But Abraham Lincoln has a little-known legacy that has had and continues to have an essential role in our country. While this legacy is by no means as significant as Lincoln’s two great legacies, this legacy is something for which Lincoln really should be more widely remembered. This underappreciated legacy has nothing to do with civil rights, the Constitution, or great oratory. This underappreciated legacy involves science.

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Marching Home to the Beat of a Purloined Melody

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 March 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


On August 31, 1976 a district court in New York City ruled that former Beatle George Harrison was guilty of copyright infringement. Harrison was ordered by the court to pay nearly $1.6 million to the publisher of the song that Harrison had plagiarized, although that amount was subsequently amended to $587,000. The lawsuit involved Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord,” which rose to number one in the U.S. and in so doing made Harrison the first of the former Beatles to have a number one song as a solo artist. The song that Harrison plagiarized is “He’s So Fine,” which was released by the singing group The Chiffons in December 1962 and became a number one song in 1963. Although the presiding judge in the trial, Richard Owen, acknowledged that he believed that Harrison had not deliberately plagiarized “He’s So Fine,” the judge nevertheless asserted that what Harrison did was “under the law, infringement of copyright, and is no less so even though subconsciously accomplished.” U.S. copyright laws were certainly different at the time of George Harrison’s trial compared to the mid-19th century, but a judicial fate like that of George Harrison’s could have befallen the person who composed one of the most popular and uplifting songs of the Civil War.

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A Life Flavored with Sweet Vanilla and Bitter Injustice

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 February 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


According to a recent survey by the International Dairy Foods Association, the best-selling flavor of ice cream in the U.S. is vanilla. If you are one of the people whose favorite ice cream is vanilla, then you should give credit to a slave for vanilla ice cream, because it is due to a slave that vanilla ice cream tastes like vanilla.

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Two Wars at a Time: The War within the Civil War

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 January 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


On September 4, 1957, Ford Motor Company introduced a car that it predicted would revolutionize American automobiles. That car was the Edsel, and rather than revolutionize American automobiles, the Edsel was, without exaggeration, a spectacular failure, so much so that the name Edsel is now synonymous with commercial failure. As part of the marketing campaign for the Edsel, Ford Motor Company coined a slogan to describe its new car, specifically, the car of the future. That dynamic slogan was intended to instill in people a high regard for the Edsel and to motivate them to purchase one. But the future for the so-called car of the future lasted only two years, because production ceased in 1959, and that slogan became a source of ridicule. In the Civil War, there was a slogan that someone introduced which also sounded dynamic and was intended to instill in soldiers a high regard for the person who introduced the slogan and to motivate the soldiers to buy into that person’s leadership. The Civil War leader in question is John Pope, who truly was an Edsel of an army commander. When Pope was given command of a Union army in the East, he introduced something of a slogan about himself when he wrote that his headquarters would be in the saddle. Pope’s intent with this slogan was to indicate to his men that he would not dawdle when it came to campaigns against the enemy. Instead, he would be aggressive and continuously on the move. But after Pope’s dismal failure at the Second Battle of Bull Run, many people twisted Pope’s slogan and said that if Pope’s headquarters really were in the saddle, then his headquarters were where his hindquarters should be.

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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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The Enemy Within: The Confederate Invasion of the White House

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 October 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Not surprisingly, whenever Confederate military forces invaded the North, feelings of fear and anxiety were raised among people living in the part of the country where the invaders roamed. This was most likely especially true when the invaders were the seemingly invincible Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, who carried out two invasions of the North. One of these was the invasion of Pennsylvania, which ended at Gettysburg, and the other was the invasion of Maryland, which ended at Antietam. Another major Confederate invasion of the North was the twin invasion of Kentucky by Braxton Bragg with his Army of Mississippi and Edmund Kirby Smith with his Army of Kentucky. This invasion, which caused great anxiety in southern Ohio, ended at Perryville. Even greater anxiety in southern Ohio was caused by the cavalry raid through that region that was led by John Hunt Morgan. The greater anxiety in Ohio was due to the fact that Morgan’s raid actually penetrated into the Buckeye State, in contrast to the invasion by Bragg and Kirby Smith, which never made it north of Kentucky. (As an aside, Morgan and his men were not the first Confederates to invade Ohio. That distinction belongs to Albert Jenkins and his Confederate cavalry, who invaded Ohio nine months before Morgan did. Jenkins’ raid into Ohio is described in the history brief of September 2013.) Another Confederate invasion that caused great anxiety, not so much in Ohio, but in the U.S. capital, was Jubal Early’s 1864 invasion that reached the outskirts of Washington. These and other Confederate invasions of the North were significant, but no Confederate invasion matched the extent of the one that occurred in late 1863. This invasion went farther than any of the other Confederate invasions, and, in contrast to Jubal Early’s invasion, penetrated not only into Washington, but into the White House. Even more astonishing is the fact that this Confederate invasion of the White House was authorized by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

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What I did on my Summer Vacation

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 September 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The stereotypical first assignment for students who are returning to school after the summer is to write a report about what they did on their summer vacation. Since the September meeting is routinely the first meeting after the Roundtable’s summer break, this history brief is about something that I did on my summer vacation. The Roundtable’s president for 2018-2019, Dan Ursu, chose Southern invasions and raids of the North as the theme for this session. With that in mind, this history brief focuses on an invasion of the North, in fact, an invasion of that state up north, which all Ohioans know is the correct pronunciation for the state whose name is spelled M-i-c-h-i-g-a-n. The invasion that is the subject of this history brief was not a Southern invasion, but a British invasion. And not the British invasion of the 1960s that was led by the Beatles, but a British invasion that occurred during the War of 1812. However, there is a Civil War connection, which will become clear below. The subject of this history brief is the Battle of the River Raisin, which took place in southeastern Michigan from January 18 to 22, 1813. Like a number of Civil War battles, the Battle of the River Raisin goes by a couple of names, one for the body of water near its location and one for the town near its location. Hence, this battle is known as the Battle of the River Raisin and the Battle of Frenchtown.

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The History That the Victors Chose Not to Write

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 March 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


There is a well-known axiom that all is fair in love and war, or, as the expression appears in its earliest known form, “The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war.” This expression is used to justify that in love and in war, it is acceptable to resort to anything in order to achieve the ultimate goal. Since our organization is the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, which focuses its interest on a war, this is not the appropriate forum to discuss whether or not this axiom applies to love. On the other hand, there is more than enough evidence to prove that this axiom applies to war, and a great deal of such evidence can be found in the Civil War. Far too often, the axiom that all is fair in war has been used to justify cruelty, and there are many examples of cruelty in the Civil War. Perhaps the most well-known is the treatment of Union prisoners at Andersonville. But the Confederates were not alone in their cruel treatment of enemy prisoners. It is not as widely known that Confederate prisoners of war in Union prisons were also subjected to cruel treatment. The cruelty that both sides inflicted on prisoners is disturbing for the most basic, primal, and biological of reasons. Of all the species that exist on planet Earth, the one that displays the worst cruelty is Homo sapiens. This is because cruelty in other species arises from instinct, but for humans, cruelty very often arises by choice.

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