Letters from the Front

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved

About the Letters

The following letters were given to one of our members by a kindly fellow from Tallmadge, Ohio, named Bob Lowry, after the member addressed a group there. They appear to have been written in 1862 from Ft. Scott, Kansas, by a Union soldier named George C. Ashmun, who was from Tallmadge, though some of his letters were addressed to West Virginia and Indiana, too. Interestingly, there are still Ashmuns living in Tallmadge. Additionally, a Google search revealed a publication in Ohio Mollus – Sketches of War History, Vol. Two, transcribed by Larry Stevens, titled “Recollections of a Peculiar Service,” by Second Lieutenant George C. Ashmun. This may or may not be our Ashmun, though an intelligent guess is that it is.

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The Case for Union

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2014, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: Following is a Sept. 12, 1864 letter written by General William Tecumseh Sherman, Commander of the Western Theater of the War, to James M. Calhoun, Mayor, and E. E. Rawson and S. C. Wells, representing the City Council, of Atlanta, in reply to their petition to revoke his orders for the civilian population to evacuate the city. Italics are mine. Commentary is also mine. – John C. Fazio


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The Vigilantes of Montana Revisited

By John C. Fazio & Carol Buchanan
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: In February 2005 CCWRT past president John Fazio published his article The Vigilantes of Montana in The Charger, the CCWRT newsletter. The article was later republished here on the CCWRT Website and in November 2010 a revision of the article was published in The Montana Pioneer, where it caught the attention of Montana writer Carol Buchanan. Ms. Buchanan is the author of God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, an historical novel set in Montana during the vigilante period. Ms. Buchanan wrote to us taking exception to several points made by Mr. Fazio in his article and even graciously submitted her own overview of the period, Gold, Greed and a Vacuum of Law, for publication on the CCWRT website.

The article below is a dialog between our two authors, John Fazio and Carol Buchanan discussing their differences on the history of the vigilante period in Montana.


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The Vigilantes of Montana

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

Previously, I have argued in these pages that the decisive battle of the Civil War was not Gettysburg, as so many assume (though its critical importance cannot be denied), but Spotsylvania and Grant’s literal turning south that preceded it after his defeat in the Wilderness. My point was that the rolling twelve-day slugfest that was Spotsylvania demonstrated to Robert E. Lee both the unprecedented doggedness of the new commander of the Army of the Potomac and the terrible arithmetic that spelled the doom of the Confederacy, that is, Grant’s ability and Lee’s inability to replace losses.

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Did the Institution of Slavery Cause the Civil War?

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: A debate on the cause or causes of the Civil War was held on January 10, 2007 as part of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable’s monthly meeting. It was an intercollegiate-style debate, i.e., two on the affirmative and two on the negative. The resolution debated was: Resolved: That the Institution of Slavery Was the Cause of the Civil War. The negative won, based on a vote of the attendees. Following the debate in that forum, John C. Fazio, the Roundtable president at the time of that debate, weighed in with the following.


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Booth in the Confederate Secret Service

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2012, All Rights Reserved

John Wilkes Booth was an agent of the Confederate Secret Service. It is not known, and may never be known, when or exactly under what circumstances he was recruited and accepted his role as such, but that he was an agent and was in regular contact with other agents, who had ties to the Confederate leadership, or who had ties to other agents who had such ties, has been firmly established. Asia Booth described her brother as “a spy, a blockade-runner, a rebel!”1

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Lincoln and History

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

I am of the opinion that major historical events, and some minor ones too, occur only in the fullness of time, which is to say that they occur only when conditions are ripe for their happening. Attempts to accomplish them in non-conducive circumstances, or at inappropriate times, will fail. Examples are endless and superfluous, but I shall give one because it is especially relevant to our area of interest.

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On Inconvenient Truth and Convenient Fiction

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: John C. Fazio is a past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable and the author of numerous articles on the Lincoln assassination as well as the book, Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, published in 2015 by McFarland.


Truth, like a bastard, comes into the world, never without ill-fame to him who gives her birth. – Thomas Hardy

All great truths begin as blasphemies. – George Bernard Shaw

Shall truth be first or second with us? “Us” is we historians, real or fancied, amateur or professional. Lincoln said that history isn’t history unless it is the truth. I agree with that, to which I would add only “or some reasonable facsimile thereof arrived at conscientiously and with due diligence.” Therefore, if truth is to be second with us, second, that is, to convenience, aka political correctness or some other approximation of comfort, then I suggest that we are in the wrong business and that we should find some other vocation or avocation, one that doesn’t tax our character so meanly.

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