Speakers Bureau

The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable’s speakers bureau consists of members of the Roundtable who are available to give presentations on various topics related to the Civil War. Members of the speakers bureau can give their presentations to groups who are interested in subjects related to the Civil War. Below is the list of Roundtable members who are available to do this, including their contact information and the different presentations that they are prepared to give.

John C. Harkness

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Fellow of American Society for Metals
Principal Scientist, Materion Inc. (Retired)
Member: Company of Military Historians; Ohio Gun Collectors’ Association
Former Member: North-South Skirmish Association (competitive target shooting with Civil War small arms); Brigade of the American Revolution (reenactor, 23rd Foot, Royal Welch Fusiliers in America)
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  • Materials and Processes in the Manufacture of Civil War Small Arms (development of manufacturing technology to mass produce military arms ca, 1860’s; introduction to metallurgy of iron and steel and their production in mid-19th Century; a full metallurgical examination of original US Springfield and British Enfield rifle-musket components). Freshly updated with new metallurgical test results (2023) that (a) compare the metallurgy of Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle-muskets produced IN NEPAL using native workmen for issue to colonial British East India Company/Gurkha Battalion troops vs. those made in England for issue to Crown forces or for export to Union and Confederate forces, and (b) shed new light on the very unique and previously unreported metallurgy of the US-made Colt Special Model 1861 rifle-musket that was a hybrid design utilizing both Pattern 1853 Enfield and US Springfield tooling.

W. Dennis Keating

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
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  • The Irish in the Civil War
  • Thomas Francis Galwey, Cleveland’s Hibernian Guards, and the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • Cleveland and the Civil War

Brian Kowell

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Member: Civil War Trust
Author: “Pell-Mell Cavalry Clash” (an article about the Buckland Races, which appeared in the July 1992 issue of America’s Civil War magazine)
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  • Island No. 10
  • The Battle of Big Bethel
  • Kill Cavalry: Life of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick
  • Buckland Races
  • Kilpatrick’s Shirt Tail Skedaddle: The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads
  • The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Richmond Raid
  • General George Gordon Meade
  • Civil War Horses
  • The Magnificent Seven: Pook’s Turtles in the Civil War
  • How Sheridan Won His Star: The Battle of Booneville, Mississippi
  • John Barleycorn in the Civil War: Alcohol in Blue and Gray
  • The Tragic Romance of Rooney and Charlotte Lee
  • Of Prussians, Pants, and Pianos: Captain Justus Scheibert in the Civil War
  • The Case of Lucy Bagby: The Last Fugitive Slave
  • General Thomas Lanier Clingman
  • From Russia With Love: John and Nadine Turchin in the Civil War

Mel Maurer

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Member: Lincoln Forum; Civil War Preservation Trust
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  • Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Real Story of How Lincoln Wrote the Gettysburg Address – The talk examines how Lincoln thought and wrote, taking the audience to Gettysburg that historic November 19, 1863 to hear Lincoln’s greatest speech and the reaction to it.
  • The Battle of Franklin – The talk focuses on the story of this significant 1864 battle. I lived in Franklin and came to know that battle well. (I also do a talk on the book, The Widow of the South. The woman in the story lived in Franklin during the war and created a cemetery on her land for fallen Confederates.)
  • Jesse James: The Last Rebel of the Civil War – The true story of Jesse James, Confederate guerrilla and notorious outlaw, the subject of countless articles, numerous books, and over 70 movies and TV shows. Was he a true folk hero, an American Robin Hood? Or was he a ruthless criminal, a killer who served only his own interests?
  • Lincoln: The Man and His Legacy – A short talk on Lincoln that focuses on his human side as lawyer, politician, and family man – with some of his humor and his major contributions to our country.
  • Performance as President Lincoln: An Evening with President Abraham Lincoln – It is February of 1865, and Mary Lincoln, in her efforts to raise money for soldiers and their families, has committed Lincoln to a talk at a fundraiser before an audience in Washington, D.C. at Ford’s Theatre. The President speaks about his life, beliefs, policies, and the war as it nears its end. His words will provide insights into that era, seasoned with his characteristic sense of humor.
  • Performance as President Lincoln: Lincoln on Leadership – Lincoln speaks to an audience of West Point cadets and gives his views on leadership, the good and the bad, using examples of Civil War leaders to illustrate the points he is making.
  • The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – The full story of how our 16th president was assassinated on April 14, 1865: the co-conspirators, the murder, and their escape and capture.
  • The Escape and Capture of John Wilkes Booth – The complete story of the escape and then capture, 12 days later, of Lincoln’s assassin after he shot the president.
  • Lincoln’s Last Great Debate: Lincoln’s Confrontation with Jefferson Davis at Hampton Roads – This is a three-person play which imagines that Lincoln and Davis came together at a peace conference at Hampton Roads in 1865. They are asked questions by a reporter and in the course of answering they debate policies and the war. I play Lincoln, John Fazio plays Davis, and William Vodrey plays reporter Franklin Boyd.
  • The Unknown Lincoln-Douglas Debate – A three-person, one act play wherein Lincoln and Douglas meet with an old friend, a judge who is writing a book on their Senate campaign debates, to discuss those debates and the issues raised in them, thus leading to one last informal debate.
  • The Last Full Measure of Devotion – A Memorial Day talk honoring all who served and especially all those who gave their lives in all of our nation’s wars and conflicts.
  • The Abe Lincoln Trivia Game – I act as game show host and ask questions about Lincoln, having some fun with the facts and with the audience. By the end of the presentation, the audience usually knows more than they ever did before about Abe.
  • Abraham Lincoln and His War – A six-class course on aspects of Lincoln and the Civil War. Each class is one of my talks.
  • President Grant and General Lee at the White House – I portray Robert E. Lee in a one-act play imagining their meeting at the White House in 1868.
  • Debate on the propriety of Confederate monuments with fellow Roundtable member John Fazio – I believe that any monument or tribute of any kind that would be appropriate in a “Confederate States of America” does not belong in the United States of America. John takes the opposing position.
  • Debate on whether Jefferson Davis approved the actions of John Wilkes Booth with fellow Roundtable member John Fazio – John has written a book, Decapitating the Union, in which he makes the case that Jefferson Davis was involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, while I assert that there are no facts supporting that position.

William McGrath

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
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  • CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge
  • USS Monitor and CSS Virginia

Steve Pettyjohn

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Member: World at War Forum

Steve is President of Quality Assist Consulting and an avid amateur historian. He is a founding member of the World at War Forum based at Westlake Porter Public Library. He has made presentations there and at several Civil War roundtables as well as at other groups around Ohio. He lives in North Ridgeville, Ohio with his wife, a retired librarian, who tolerates his 1,500-book library and his hobby of playing war board games with friends.
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  • The Three General Presidents – Only three Americans have held supreme military command in wars critical to the future of the United States and then have gone on to serve as president. All three created the strategy to win their wars. All three commanded the most daring campaigns of their time. Two of them are ranked by presidential historians in the top ten of all presidents, and one has gone through a 70-year process of moving up in those rankings from last place to above average. This presentation focuses on the lives and careers of these three men: George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The presentation highlights some comparisons between the three (some of which are humorous) and also notes some common traits that helped lead to their success. Topics in the presentation include how all three “learned their business,” used spies, dealt with difficult people, displayed different kinds of courage, exhibited strategic thinking, and achieved “domestic tranquility.” Lastly, the presentation addresses why these three men have different reputations, how we look at them now, and how the perception of these three has changed over time.
  • Vicksburg, General Grant & Me – During the American Civil War, generals and their armies were driven by memories of Napoleon and his campaigns of annihilation. In spite of many efforts, only one man was able to wage a campaign that could be given the title “Napoleonic” based on its operational daring, speed, courage, complexity, innovation, and results: Vicksburg. This presentation follows the Vicksburg Campaign of Ulysses S. Grant. Initially outnumbered, Grant managed to conduct a brilliant campaign and achieve one of the most decisive victories in U.S. history. The presentation uses PowerPoint slides that include photographs taken during the many trips which the presenter was able to make to the Vicksburg area. This is a history lesson and a travelogue combined with the conclusions of the presenter regarding the Vicksburg Campaign and its legacy.

Paul Siedel

Paul is a native of Olmsted Falls, Ohio and a 1968 graduate of Olmsted Falls High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Akron University and later took courses at Cleveland State University in the teaching of reading in elementary grades. His first teaching assignment was with the Prince William County Schools in Manassas, Virginia. He then came home to Ohio and taught 25 years with the Midview Local Schools in Grafton, Ohio. He is an avid book collector and reader, and he is a member of three Civil War roundtables. He is also a member of the Cleveland branch of the International Dickens Fellowship and of the Northeast Ohio Education Association. In addition, he is on the board of trustees for the Woodland Cemetery Foundation. He lives in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland.
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  • A Walk through Woodland Cemetery (40 minutes with slides)
  • A Tour of the Civil War Sites of Cleveland (45 minutes with slides)
  • Whatever Happened to Camp Cleveland (20 minutes)
  • Ohio City in the Civil War (45 minutes with slides)
  • The Life and Times of Boston Corbett, The Assassin of the Assassin (45 minutes)
  • The Story of Two Clevelanders, Colonels Creighton and Crane (20 minutes)
  • On the Route of the General: Following the Great Locomotive Chase (45 minutes with slides)
  • A Visit to the H.L. Hunley (45 minutes with slides)
  • In Search of the Battle of Irish Bend (45 minutes with slides)
  • Looking for the Last Veteran: The Story of Curtis Phillips, the last Civil War Veteran in Cleveland (30 minutes with slides)
  • A Visit to Beauvoir, the Last Home of Jefferson Davis (45 minutes with slides)
  • Looking for the Homes of Jefferson Davis and John Bell Hood in New Orleans (45 minutes with slides)

William Vodrey

Past President, Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Member: American Battlefield Trust; Blue and Gray Education Society
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  • Dennison, Tod, and Brough: Ohio’s Civil War Governors
  • Blood in the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots
  • Political Graverobbery: The Confederacy and George Washington
  • The Gettysburg Address: Lincoln Redefines America
  • What If?: An Overview of Civil War Alternative Histories
  • Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet: Traitors All?
  • The Last Naval Duel: The USS Kearsarge vs. the CSS Alabama
  • Brown Water, Black Ships: U.S. Navy Operations on the Mississippi
  • Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: Scholar, Citizen, Soldier
  • Lincoln’s Commando: William Cushing and the Sinking of the CSS Albemarle
  • Clash of Ironclads: The USS Monitor vs. the CSS Virginia
  • The War that Never Was: Britain, the U.S., and the Trent Affair
  • Raid!: The Confederacy Comes to St. Albans, Vermont
  • The Lincoln You Thought You Knew
  • Lincoln’s Vice Presidents: Hamlin and Johnson
  • William H. Seward and Civil War Diplomacy
  • Edwin M. Stanton, Buckeye Warlord
  • Father Neptune: Gideon Welles and the U.S. Navy in the Civil War
  • The Battle of New Hope Church, Georgia