History Briefs: 2008-2009 – Civil War Words in the Election Year of 1864

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008-2009, 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 2008-2009 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.


In this election year, I thought it might be interesting if my history briefs for summer and fall were taken from the election year of 1864 – a year that many historians consider to be the most important in our history. Would Lee ever falter? Was Grant a butcher? Could Sherman take Atlanta? Would the North lose its patience with the war? Could Lincoln be reelected?

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No Horse of Mine

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2015, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This short story first appeared in the October 2015 Charger.


Sam was his name, or at least that’s what he told people. Not that too many asked, not these days, not when they saw his eyes.

He had once worn gray and cheered the Confederacy as loudly as anyone, but victory was no closer now than it had ever been. The war was the war, all-encompassing, and the news lately had been grim: Stonewall dead, Lee marching back downcast from Gettysburg, food riots in Richmond, niggers fleeing north by the thousands. If he was honest with himself – something that didn’t come naturally, not these days – he had to admit that he really didn’t care much anymore.

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The (Secret) Life and Letters of General George Gordon Meade

By Major General George Gordon Meade
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: In the more than 100 years since his decease, the General has been busy reconstructing from memory his secret, lost letters which shed new light on topics of great interest to the members of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable. He currently is living in Bloemfontein South Africa working on a complimentary biography of General D. E. Sickles (decs’d).


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The Great Debate of 2008

The Southern Victory of 1865:
Was the Confederacy a Viable State?

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

Was the Confederacy a viable state? Could it have survived as a nation? If so, what made it viable? If not, what did it lack?

The 2008 Dick Crews Debate posed the question: The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State? Five speakers presented on the topic of how the Confederate States of America won its independence and how it did or did not survive. Below are the texts of those five arguments, along with moderator William Vodrey’s opening remarks, presented in the order the speakers addressed the Roundtable.

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The Great Debate of 2008: Opening Remarks

The Southern Victory of 1865:
Was the Confederacy a Viable State?

By William F.B. Vodrey – Debate Moderator
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January, 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was the opening remarks made by the moderator of the debate.


Many of you have probably heard the old children’s rhyme:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

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A Captain-Less Raft Floating On a Sea of Problems

The Confederacy Was NOT a Viable State.

By C. Ellen Connally
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those five presentations.


We are faced tonight with a question – a burning question in the minds of most of you – was the Confederacy a viable state? It is the conundrum of the hour, a question that historians and Civil War buffs will argue into time immemoriam. But tonight, we, the Great Debaters of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, will provide the wisdom and the knowledge so that all of you can answer the question and decide the fate of us, the humble debaters.

I intend to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Confederate States of America was not a viable state; not in its beginning, not in its end and not in the minds of a sufficient number of its citizens to allow it to survive as a nation.

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The Myth of a Weak Confederacy

The Confederacy WAS a Viable State.

By Paul Burkholder
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those five presentations.


CSA Independence

I think most of us would agree that, with a not too absurd twist of fate, there were several points before 1865 when the Confederacy could have won its independence. The Confederacy’s best chance for a viable independence with the least absurd twist of fate occurred in the fall of 1862 when Lee was invading Maryland, Bragg was invading Kentucky and Lord Palmerston’s government in London was seriously deliberating English intervention.

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Follow the Money

The Confederacy WAS a Viable State.

By Hans Kuenzi
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those five presentations.


For purposes of this debate, I have assumed that the Confederacy survived the Civil War as an intact sovereign nation. This may have occurred in a number of ways: through victory on the battlefield, as the result of some domestic calamity or due to the intervention of a foreign power. In any case, it is my position that with the conclusion of hostilities, the Confederate States of America would have not only survived but thrived as an independent republic.

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‘Too Small for a Republic…Too Large for a Lunatic Asylum’

The Confederacy Was NOT a Viable State.

By Peter Holman
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those five presentations.


After the order of secession had passed the South Carolina legislature in December 1860, the old anti-nullification attorney James L Petigru was asked if he would now, at last, support his native state. “I should think not!” he replied. “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for a lunatic asylum!” And that, despite the fantastical notions we discuss tonight, is the key to answering the question – was the Confederacy a viable state following their victory of 1865?

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The Second Shot Heard ‘Round the World

The Confederacy WAS a Viable State.

By Thomas E. Stratton-Crooke
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those five presentations.


The “genesis” of the Civil War may be found at the time of the American Revolution which began in 1776. Therefore it might be construed by some to say that the Civil War started in 1776.

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