A Review of The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2013, All Rights Reserved

Prolific writer Jennifer Chiaverini has been best known for her Elm Creek Quilts series. It includes two Civil War related books: The Union Quilters and The Runaway Quilt. Chiaverini has also written a Civil War novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, about Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave dressmaker in Washington City who became close to Mary Todd Lincoln (and President Lincoln). This novel focuses on the relationship between these two women.

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A Review of Valley of the Shadow by Ralph Peters

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer, journalist, and award-winning Civil War novelist. His Civil War novels include Cain at Gettysburg, Hell or Richmond, and the Owen Parry (pen name) mystery series. His latest novel is Valley of the Shadow. It covers the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, including Jubal Early’s raid on Washington.

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A Review of The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs by Robert O’Harrow, Jr.

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved

One of the most amazing figures of the Civil War was Montgomery Meigs, the quartermaster of the Union army and one of the critical architects of its victory. Meigs’ life is recounted by Washington Post investigative reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr. in his book The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln’s General, Master Builder of the Union Army.

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The Confederate Battle Flag, Personal License Plates, and Litigation

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2015, All Rights Reserved

In Tony Horowitz’s Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Random House, 1998), he devotes a chapter entitled “Dying for Dixie” to the killing of a neo-Confederate in Kentucky devoted to the Confederate flag by a black teenager and the antipathy of African Americans to Confederate symbols that defended slavery. In contrast, many Southerners regard the flag as a symbol of Southern patriotism and reject attempts to ban it from public places. The definitive history of the Confederate battle flag and the contemporary controversies over its display is The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (Harvard University Press, 2005) by John Coski, Library Director of the Museum of the Confederacy.

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The Campaign Against the Confederate Battle Flag

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2015, All Rights Reserved

July 9, 2015 saw Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, sign the bill removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capital. This ended a decades long struggle. The flag came down the next day, to be placed in a museum. This was triggered by the massacre of nine African Americans participating in a Bible study group in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston on June 17 by a white supremacist.

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Railroads in the Civil War

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved

The American Civil War saw many innovations in military warfare. One of the most significant was the use and strategic importance of railroads in moving troops and supplies to the armies. In 1860, the United States had 200 railroads and 30,000 miles of rail, with 21,000 in the North. In the under-industrialized South, the Confederacy had one-third of the freight cars, one-fifth of the locomotives, one-eighth of rail production, one-tenth of the telegraph stations, and one-twenty-fourth of locomotive production.

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Grierson’s Raid

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved

After again watching the 1959 film The Horse Soldiers, I decided to revisit Grierson’s Raid. The movie starred John Wayne (as a stand-in for Col. Benjamin Grierson) and William Holden as the surgeon assigned to his brigade for the raid. John Ford directed. Unfortunately, the film veered considerably from the actual raid. It was based on the 1956 novel of the same name by Harold Sinclair. The film included: conflicts between Wayne and Holden over the latter’s medical practices, a love/hate relationship between Wayne (a self-described railroad builder) and a southern belle and plantation owner, a fictional battle at the Newton Station railhead, and another fictional battle based on a caricature of that of New Market, Virginia (May 15, 1864) involving young VMI cadets. (This battle is featured in the Summer 2010 issue of the Civil War Preservation Trust’s Hallowed Ground magazine.) Presumably, these were included for audience appeal. The movie did contain at least some of the actual elements of the incredible Grierson raid.

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The Battle of Cedar Creek

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2014, All Rights Reserved

This October 19 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. It was one of the most dramatic events in the entire Civil War. Riding his horse Rienzi (memorialized in the stirring poem by Thomas Buchanan Read – “Sheridan’s Ride”) from Winchester, an inspiring Phil Sheridan re-organized and rallied his almost defeated Army of the Shenandoah in a few hours to defeat the rebel army of Jubal Early (Robert E. Lee’s “Bad Old Man”), who had launched a successful surprise attack in the fog that morning in Sheridan’s absence.

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Three Ohio Civil War Veterans Who Became President

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Introduction

Five Ohio-born Civil War veterans later became President of the United States. William Tecumseh Sherman might have been a sixth, but he famously refused to be nominated. The first was Ulysses S. Grant, the victorious hero and general in chief who captured three Confederate armies and who served two terms as the 18th President succeeding Andrew Johnson, the assassinated Abraham Lincoln’s second Vice President. Grant, of course, deserves separate treatment by himself and also began his Civil War career in Illinois, not Ohio.

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