America, Love it or Leave it

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 April 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


America, love it or leave it. People who lived during the 1960s are familiar with this expression, because it became popular during the Vietnam War as a way of declaring unwavering, even unquestioning support for the United States in the face of strong anti-war protests. But this expression can, in a sense, also be applied to those who joined the secessionist movement that culminated in the Civil War. The secessionists of the mid-19th century were dissatisfied with America, and they chose to leave it, but in a way that involved taking some of the country’s territory with them. The secessionists no longer loved America, and their goal was to leave America by forming a separate country from land that was part of the United States.

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The First Memorial Day

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 May 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Near the end of May, we in the U.S. participate in an annual remembrance of those who gave, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the last full measure of devotion” in defense of our country. This is done on the day that has come to be known as Memorial Day. This commemoration was codified by John Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was an organization of Union veterans who had fought in the Civil War. On May 5, 1868 Logan issued his directive for this commemoration in his General Orders No. 11, in which he specified that the remembrance would take place on May 30, 1868. Logan’s directive stated that May 30, 1868 “is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.” The wording that Logan used led to the day of commemoration being called Decoration Day, although the Grand Army of the Republic stipulated in a follow-up directive that “the proper designation of May 30th is Memorial Day” and further stipulated that it should be an annual event. After World War I, Memorial Day came to be a day to remember those who died not just in the Civil War, but in all of America’s wars. On Memorial Day, when we commemorate those who gave their lives for our country, we are following a long-standing tradition, a tradition that began in 1868. Or did it?

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Sealed with a Kiss

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 February 2018 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The word sarcasm comes from an ancient Greek word that literally means to tear the flesh. This makes sense, because a figurative tearing of the flesh is what sarcasm does, and what sarcasm is intended to do. However, sometimes sarcasm can be problematic, because too often, the line between sarcastic and hurtful is difficult to discern. In fact, I know someone who was so concerned that her sarcasm might be perceived as hurtful that one year she gave up sarcasm for Lent. (For me personally, I don’t know what would be a more challenging Lenten sacrifice: giving up sarcasm or giving up chocolate.) Although there can be issues with sarcasm, there are some situations in which sarcasm is warranted and in which the target of the sarcasm is deserving of it. Such a situation is the subject of this month’s history brief. The main characters in this story of sarcasm are Jordan Anderson (whose first name is sometimes spelled “Jordon” or “Jourdon”) and Patrick Henry Anderson, who went by his middle name, Henry. Prior to the Civil War, Jordan was a slave who was owned by Henry. During the war Jordan and his family obtained their freedom, and shortly after the war the family moved north. While Jordan was living in his post-war place of residence, he received a letter from Henry with a proposal that Jordan return to the plantation to work for his former master. The letter that Jordan sent in response is an exquisite piece of sarcasm. In recognition of February being Black History Month, Jordan Anderson and his brilliantly sarcastic letter are the subject of this month’s history brief.

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The Man Whose Torpedoes Farragut Damned

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 September 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


One of the most famous quotes in U.S. naval history purportedly occurred at the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864, when Union Admiral David Farragut famously ordered, or maybe did not order, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” Whether or not Farragut actually said these exact words, this quote has become one of the most esteemed wartime quotes in U.S. history, because it embodies the qualities of bravery and determination to press on even in the face of life-threatening danger. Farragut certainly deserves much credit for making this decision and for stating his decision in such forceful and memorable language. However, Farragut does not deserve all of the credit for this superb quote. In fact, some of the credit for this quote should go to a Confederate general. It may not be clear why a general in the Confederate army deserves some of the credit for something that was said by a Union admiral in a naval battle. The reason is that, without this Confederate general, there would not have been any torpedoes for David Farragut to damn, because it was a Confederate general, Gabriel J. Rains, who was chiefly responsible for the torpedoes in Mobile Bay and in other places that the Confederacy protected with torpedoes. (Gabriel Rains’ younger brother, George, also made an indispensable contribution to the Confederate war effort by implementing and overseeing the production of gunpowder. George Rains is the focus of the October 2017 history brief, which is titled The Chief Chemist of the Confederacy.)

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The Chief Chemist of the Confederacy

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 October 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The statement, “An army marches on its stomach,” has been attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, but it may have originated with Frederick the Great. It may even be that this statement, or at least the concept embodied in it, originated much earlier with the Roman physician Claudius Galen. But whoever deserves credit for this anatomically incorrect statement, it is meant to convey that an army must be well provisioned in order to conduct operations. Nevertheless, an army has to do more than just march and eat. Often when an army arrives at its destination, it then has to fight, and to do this it needs more than just food, unless the battles resemble the cafeteria scene from the movie Animal House. For the Confederacy, one important ingredient necessary to fight Civil War battles was in perilously short supply early in the war. Fortunately for the secessionist war effort, a resourceful and industrious person who was knowledgeable in chemistry found a way to provide ample amounts of this ingredient, although this person’s success worked to the detriment of any Union military personnel who were killed or wounded by projectiles that were propelled by gunpowder.

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Like Father, Like Son…or Not

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 November 2017 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


I remember when I was much younger, maybe age 12, my father took my brother and me to see the movie Taras Bulba. The movie stars Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis as, respectively, a father and son, and I suppose that this pairing strains credulity for genetic inheritance of physical appearance. The father and son in the movie are members of a Cossack community, and this community is in conflict with a Polish principality. During the movie, the son falls in love with a Polish woman and makes the decision to fight with the Poles in their conflict against the Cossacks. Near the end of the movie, the enraged father kills his son for supporting the cause that he opposes. As it happens, the Civil War had something of a Taras Bulba episode, and it occurred at the Battle of Galveston.

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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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