The Social Network of Civil War Dead

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012-2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the January 2013 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


In October 2012 Facebook announced with great fanfare that its social network had exceeded one billion people. That is certainly very impressive, but Civil War nurse Cornelia Hancock was head of a social network that included a functionality that Mark Zuckerberg probably never contemplated when he developed Facebook. Cornelia Hancock’s social network extended into the afterlife, and she described it in a letter to her family from a military hospital near Gettysburg.

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Rosie the Riveter and the Bloodiest Day in American Military History

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2013-2014, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the April 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


During World War II many American women worked in factories to produce materiel for the war effort. These women were personified in the image of a female factory worker that came to be known as Rosie the Riveter. Similarly, numerous women worked in munitions factories during the Civil War, in both the North and the South, and represent Civil War era Rosie the Riveters. Some of the North’s Rosie the Riveters suffered a ghastly tragedy in the explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, which was a village at that time, but is now part of the city of Pittsburgh. The Allegheny Arsenal explosion occurred on September 17, 1862, the same day as the battle of Antietam.

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The Day Rosie the Riveter Died

By David A. Carrino, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2013-2014, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the March 2014 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One of the most iconic images from World War II is Rosie the Riveter. It is a stylized depiction of a female factory worker, and it is meant to portray the large number of American women who worked in factories to provide materiel for the war effort. The Civil War had its generation of Rosie the Riveters, and on Friday March 13, 1863 a horrendous tragedy befell a number of them. This occurred when there was an explosion at the Confederate Laboratory on Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia.

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“The Rest of the Story”

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 April 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


“And now you know the rest of the story.” This is the tagline that was used by news broadcaster and commentator, and dispenser of Americana, Paul Harvey to close each of the segments of a radio series that he did. In each segment of that series, which was named The Rest of the Story, Paul Harvey related a story about some person or event in which there was some kind of interesting and unexpected anecdote or connection. This series was on the radio for decades, so there certainly was no shortage of subject material. But if Paul Harvey ever needed another subject for his series, he could have used the front-page story of the July 4, 1863 Harper’s Weekly for a segment of his program The Rest of the Story. On July 4, 1863, the day that Vicksburg fell and the day after Pickett’s Charge, the front-page story in Harper’s Weekly was an account of a bold attempt at espionage by two Confederate officers near Franklin, Tennessee. Mel Maurer, past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, included an account of this story in part three of a six-part article which Mel wrote about his life in Franklin. Mel’s account of this tale of espionage appeared in the September 2001 issue of The Charger, and Mel’s article is archived on the Roundtable’s web site. Neither the Harper’s Weekly account nor Mel’s account includes the intriguing side story that is connected to the episode of attempted espionage that occurred outside of Franklin. This history brief describes the intriguing side story, which contains a tragic romance.

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Rosa Parks’ Historical Rhyme

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 February 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


There is a witty quote about history repeating itself, which conveys the notion that history repeats itself in a poetic way. The quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, although there is no evidence that Mark Twain ever said or wrote it. It is easy to believe that this is a Mark Twain quote, because its pithiness sounds like Mark Twain. This quote exists in a few different forms with slightly different wording, but all of the versions of this quote convey the same notion. One version of the quote states, “History does not repeat itself, but it does tend to rhyme.”

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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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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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The Most Fulfilling Kind of Immortality

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 December 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


In its most basic sense, immortality simply means to live forever. However, there are several different concepts of immortality. In a religious sense, immortality means to pass into the afterlife and exist for all eternity. Napoleon Bonaparte characterized his view of immortality when he asserted, “There is no immortality but the memory that is left in the minds of men.” Comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen expressed a desire for a more practical immortality in his remark, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” The kind of immortality that Woody Allen wished for was granted to the ancient Greek mythological character Tithonus, but with a very unpleasant side effect. According to the myth, Tithonus became the lover of Eos, the goddess of the dawn. As a result, Eos beseeched Zeus to make Tithonus immortal, so that he could remain her lover for all time. Zeus was not at all pleased that a goddess would take a mortal as her lover, but in spite of that, Zeus granted Eos her wish. However, he did so with a tragic twist. Zeus made Tithonus immortal, but he did not bestow eternal youth on Tithonus. As a result, Tithonus lived forever, but never stopped aging, and eventually his body became so crippled by the ravages of age that he was uselessly infirm. Technically, the immortality that was conferred on Tithonus conforms to the immortality that Woody Allen said he desires. But if Woody Allen realizes that Tithonus’ immortality is an option that fits his request, then he might be more specific about the immortality he craves.

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