Intrepid Mariners: John Winslow of the USS Kearsarge & Raphael Semmes of the CSS Alabama

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

March 9 to 27, 1847. Polk’s nasty little war of conquest against our southern neighbor was on. (“We had to have California.”) This was the war that Ulysses S. Grant would later characterize, in his memoirs, as “…one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation,” the war that he believed led directly and consequentially to our national fratricide, which he saw as “punishment” for our “transgressions.” General Winfield Scott (“Old Fuss and Feathers”) commenced his expedition against Mexico City by laying siege to Vera Cruz, which he took on March 27, overcoming stiff resistance.

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The Sword Was Mightier Than the Pen

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2002, 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in December, 2002.


A funny thing happened on the way to Atlanta. The warriors – William Tecumseh Sherman, 43, lean, tough, methodical, ruthlessly efficient and with a passion for order, and John Bell Hood, 32, impetuous, reckless and incredibly brave (strapped on his horse because of his wounds) – took time out from the business of killing to engage in relatively civil correspondence, but not too civil.

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The Barlow-Gordon Controversy: Rest In Peace

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

Editor’s note: An abbreviated version of this article along with biographical sketches of Francis and Arabella Barlow and John and Fanny Gordon first appeared in the Charger in 2005 and then in 2006 on this website. The much expanded article below was published in the July 2009 issue of The Gettysburg Magazine and appears here through the courtesy of the author.


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John and Fanny – A Love Story

By John C. Fazio
The Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2006, All Rights Reserved

All right, I admit it. I’m an incurable romantic. I love those touching, poignant scenes that reflect the best that is in us, if not always the strongest. I’m talking about Spencer Tracy grabbing John Carradine’s shirt, under his neck, telling him that he’ll kill him if he lays a finger on the boy, Freddie Bartholomew (Captains Courageous), or Rod Steiger putting a gun into brother Marlon Brando’s ribs in the back seat of a car, pleading with him to “take that job,” the one that will save his life, followed by Brando’s plaintive lament that he could have been a contender (On the Waterfront), or Charles Boyer, Cary Grant and Warren Beatty realizing, at the last split second before walking out on their true loves forever (Irene Dunne, Deborah Kerr and Annette Bening, respectively), that the latter missed their appointment atop the Empire State Building because of an automobile accident (An Affair to Remember, a love story so gripping that it has been filmed three times), and countless others that jerk our tears and put lumps in our throats.

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Francis and Arabella – A Love Story

By John C. Fazio
The Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2006, All Rights Reserved

The Civil War is filled with touching, poignant, human interest stories, which is not surprising given the human drama that comprised this American Iliad. Examples abound of men who had cushy private lives and could therefore have easily avoided service, but chose, instead, to storm the roaring cannon because of their sense of duty (the most sublime word in the English language, said Robert E. Lee) and their dedication to their country; of men given up for dead by doctors, but who defied the odds and lived to fight another day; of angels of mercy wending their way through enemy lines to be with their beloveds, finding them, snatching them from the jaws of death, as only love and devotion can do, only to later succumb to disease, disease, disease that was all around them; of combatants who stepped away from the maelstrom for a few golden moments to give care, comfort and kindness to a gravely wounded enemy, only to face that very enemy in mortal combat at another time and on a different field; and of men who, when the national fratricide was over, continued the fight for right, as they saw it, in a different arena, and by different means, and succeeded in felling mighty predators. One Civil War story combines all of these scenes. Here it is.

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Lovejoy of Illinois

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved

In a very real sense, the Civil War’s first casualty fell not at Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861 (Pvt. David Hough, killed during a post-bombardment salute to Old Glory), or even in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 24, 1861 (Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth, killed after tearing down a Confederate flag atop the Marshall House Inn), but in Alton, Illinois, on November 7, 1837. For there and then it was that the first volley from a pro-slavery mob ended the life of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, a courageous idealist who paid with his life for his defense of free speech and a free press and his opposition to slavery. In so doing, he added his name to a very, very long list of men and women for whom principle was more important than convenience, so much so, in fact, that it was worth dying for. It would be left to another Illinoisan and the Northern coalition he led, twenty-seven and a half years later, to vindicate this Illinoisan’s message.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 4

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

This is the final installment in a four-part series by past Roundtable President John Fazio reviewing the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 3

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

This is the third installment in a four-part series by past Roundtable President John Fazio reviewing the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 2

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

This is the second installment in a four-part series by past Roundtable President John Fazio reviewing the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

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Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 1

By John C. Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

In this four-part series, past Roundtable President John Fazio reviews the current scholarship on the question of whether John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators, in their attempt to behead the Union government, acted independently or under the direction of the Confederate Secret Service and the top levels of the Confederate government, up to and including Jefferson Davis.

Continue reading “Confederate Complicity in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln – Part 1”