The Case of Lucy Bagby: The Last Fugitive Slave

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in November 2022.


The saga of Sara Lucinda (“Lucy”) Bagby begins in Richmond, Virginia. In 1850 Virginia’s population of 1.12 million people included 479,000 slaves, seven-year-old Sara Lucinda (“Lucy”) Bagby among them. The slave trade in Virginia was far and away the state’s largest industry, and in Richmond the traffic in slaves surpassed all other areas in the state. In 1850 more than 80,000 men, women, and children were sold in the Virginia slave markets.1

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Doubleday’s Revenge

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in April 2023.


If you stand on the ramparts of Fort Moultrie in South Carolina and look down the beach west of the fort’s massive guns, in the direction of Mount Pleasant, you will see the place where 162 years ago there once stood a luxurious beachfront hotel. In the evening, with a little imagination, you might see its bright lights and hear the sounds of music and laughter of the well-to-do people dancing at one of its extravagant balls, or sitting along its wide veranda, or strolling along its sandy beachfront.

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A Zouave Summer in Cleveland

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in December 2022.


“They have paraded and drilled and in so doing have astonished and delighted beyond measure thousands of spectators.”1 And now they were coming to Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1860, Cleveland had a population of 43,417, making it the 19th largest city in the United States. It was a bustling commercial city. With its Port of Cleveland on Lake Erie and goods transported via the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio & Erie Canal, in addition to its train connections with New York, Chicago, and the South, commerce was booming. It became an important city not only in Ohio, but in the nation.2

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Civil War Spy Balloons

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in April 2023.


Look up in the sky. What do you see? A bird? A plane? A spy balloon? Recently a Chinese spy balloon was seen crossing our skies, only to be later shot down by an F-22 fighter jet. Using balloons to spy are not unique to the Chinese. Their use dates back to the 18th century.

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The Sound and the Fury: William Faulkner’s Great-Grandfather

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in December 2021.


“I want to be a writer like my great-granddaddy.”

–William Faulkner

William Clark Falkner was a lawyer, farmer, businessman, politician, soldier, poet, and great-grandfather to one of the greatest writers in American literary history. Born September 25, 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, the writer William Faulkner never knew his great-grandfather. The young Faulkner spent his boyhood listening to stories told by his elders about the Civil War, slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Falkner family. Faulkner’s grandfather also told him about the exploits of William’s great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner – or as the family referred to him – the “Old Colonel.”

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Was “Prince John” Only Acting?

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in October/November 2021.


“He’s the hero for the times,
The furious fighting Johnny B. Magruder”

– Civil War Ballad

Though a small engagement, the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861, made General John Bankhead Magruder a celebrity. Pompous, egotistical, and given to theatrical behavior, he thrived on the recognition. Nicknamed “Prince John” because of his penchant for lavish entertainment, courtliness toward ladies, and fashionably ornate military dress, he also was fond of strong drink.

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A Footnote in Civil War History

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in February 2022.


There are 18 outdoor Civil War statues spread throughout much of central and northwest Washington, D.C. There are 11 statutes of Union generals, two of Union admirals, and one (which was recently removed) of Confederate General Albert Pike, who was depicted as a Mason and not as a general. The other Civil War statues in Washington, D.C. are a G.A.R. Memorial, Peace Monument, Emancipation Memorial, and, the newest, an African American Civil War Memorial.

In addition to the statuary, there are a number of historical plaques to the Civil War at various sites. One of the strangest sites is located on the grounds of the Washington Naval Yard. The plaque there reads:

“Within this wall is deposited the leg of Col. Ulric Dahlgren U S V
wounded July 6th 1863 while skirmishing in the streets of Hagerstown
with the rebels after the Battle of Gettysburgh”

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The Highest Ranking Black Officer in the Civil War

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in May 2022.


Although regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) were staffed mostly by white officers, 120 African Americans were commissioned in the Union army during the Civil War. The highest ranking of those Black officers was Alexander Thomas Augusta, who left the U.S. Army in 1866 with the rank of brevet lieutenant colonel.

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David vs. Goliath at Hampton Roads: The CSS Squib vs. the USS Minnesota

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in October/November 2021.


On March 8, 1862, the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) sank two Federal warships in Hampton Roads, Virginia. A third ship to be targeted was the USS Minnesota, which had run aground while steaming toward the enemy. After unsuccessfully bombarding the Minnesota, the ebbing tide and falling darkness forced the Virginia to return to her dock in the Elizabeth River. On the 9th, when she steamed out to finish off the Minnesota, the Virginia was confronted by the USS Monitor, and in their epic battle of ironclads, the Minnesota was saved.

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