History Briefs 2007-2008

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007 & 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: From 2007 to 2011, Mel Maurer filled the position of Roundtable historian. During Mel’s tenure as historian, each Roundtable meeting opened with a ‘history brief’ presented by Mel, each ‘brief’ providing a small glimpse into a less-explored corner of the story of the Civil War. This page collects the history briefs from the 2007-2008 Roundtable season. Following Mel’s tenure as historian, his successors likewise presented history briefs at the beginning of each Roundtable meeting. The history briefs that were written by Mel’s successors are also on the Roundtable’s website, each of those history briefs on a separate web page.


September 2007

Lincoln secretary, John Hay, writes to Lincoln’s other secretary, John Nicolay.

“Executive Mansion
Washington, September 11, 1863

“Washington is as dull here as an obsolete almanac. The weather is not so bad as it was. The nights are growing cool. But there is no one here except us old stagers who can’t get away. We have some comfortable dinners and some quiet little orgies on wine and cheese in my room.

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History Briefs: 2008-2009 – Civil War Words in the Election Year of 1864

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008-2009, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: From 2007 to 2011, Mel Maurer filled the position of Roundtable historian. During Mel’s tenure as historian, each Roundtable meeting opened with a ‘history brief’ presented by Mel, each ‘brief’ providing a small glimpse into a less-explored corner of the story of the Civil War. This page collects the history briefs from the 2008-2009 Roundtable season. Following Mel’s tenure as historian, his successors likewise presented history briefs at the beginning of each Roundtable meeting. The history briefs that were written by Mel’s successors are also on the Roundtable’s website, each of those history briefs on a separate web page.


In this election year, I thought it might be interesting if my history briefs for summer and fall were taken from the election year of 1864 – a year that many historians consider to be the most important in our history. Would Lee ever falter? Was Grant a butcher? Could Sherman take Atlanta? Would the North lose its patience with the war? Could Lincoln be reelected?

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History Briefs: 2009-2010

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2009-2010, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: From 2007 to 2011, Mel Maurer filled the position of Roundtable historian. During Mel’s tenure as historian, each Roundtable meeting opened with a ‘history brief’ presented by Mel, each ‘brief’ providing a small glimpse into a less-explored corner of the story of the Civil War. This page collects the history briefs from the 2009-2010 Roundtable season. Following Mel’s tenure as historian, his successors likewise presented history briefs at the beginning of each Roundtable meeting. The history briefs that were written by Mel’s successors are also on the Roundtable’s website, each of those history briefs on a separate web page.


September 2009

September 1862: Union forces under General George McClellan hold back the invading forces of General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland. Some words of those days:

General George McClellan, upon being handed the Battle plan of General Lee:

“Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobbie Lee, I will be willing to go home.”

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History Briefs: 2010-2011

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2011, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: From 2007 to 2011, Mel Maurer filled the position of Roundtable historian. During Mel’s tenure as historian, each Roundtable meeting opened with a ‘history brief’ presented by Mel, each ‘brief’ providing a small glimpse into a less-explored corner of the story of the Civil War. This page collects the history briefs from the 2010-2011 Roundtable season. Following Mel’s tenure as historian, his successors likewise presented history briefs at the beginning of each Roundtable meeting. The history briefs that were written by Mel’s successors are also on the Roundtable’s website, each of those history briefs on a separate web page.


April 2011

I have to admit that there was a time in my life, when I heard that slaves escaped the South by an Underground Railroad, I thought they all took the subway. (Not really.)

I believe that most people, when they hear the term, “Underground Railroad,” think of the great lady I wish to honor tonight: Araminta Ross. Well, that was her birth name. She later took her first name from her mother, Harriet, and her last name from her husband, John Tubman.

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The Lee Burneson Middle School 2007 Civil War Ball

By Mel Maurer
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved

Each year the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable sponsors The Jon Thompson Poetry Contest at Lee Burneson Middle School in Westlake, Ohio. The contest is named in honor of Language Arts teacher (and CCWRT member) Jon Thompson, who devoted over 35 years of his life to the students of Lee Burneson before retiring in 2006.

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Wade Park Manor

By Mel Maurer, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: In 2008, the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable moved its meeting site from the Cleveland Playhouse Club to Judson Manor at University Circle. Judson Manor is a beautiful facility with a long history dating back 85 years to its original incarnation as the Wade Park Manor residential hotel that we thought members might find interesting. Judson Manor remained the site of the Roundtable’s meetings until 2020, when the site had to be changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Behind the Lines: My Life as a Yankee in Franklin, TN, Part 6

By Mel Maurer
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved

Part 6 of a 6-part article


When General John Bell Hood looked out from Winsted Hill in the late afternoon on November 30, 1864, the day he would lead so many men to their deaths in the Battle of Franklin, he would have seen, among other things, three miles north from where he stood, the farmhouse of Fountain Branch Carter on the immediate west side of Columbia Road just behind two lines of Federal entrenchments. The Carter cotton gin was about 100 yards from the house on the east side of the road. These structures would see some of the heaviest fighting, not only in the Battle of Franklin, but also of the whole Civil War.

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Behind the Lines: My Life as a Yankee in Franklin, TN, Part 5

By Mel Maurer
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved

Part 5 of a 6-part article


Franklin had four major events each year at the time I moved there – one in each season. The last weekend in April, the town’s street were closed and filled with various booths of goodies and crafts for Franklin’s annual and very well attended “Main Street Festival.” In August stages were set up on several downtown streets for the town’s annual Jazz Festival (yes, jazz, not country music). On the closest weekend to Halloween, the streets were again closed for Pumpkin Fest with a costumed parade of young and old and various activities and booths. On an early weekend in December, the Heritage Society holds its “Dickens of a Christmas” festival, wherein townspeople dress up as Dickens characters, and the town becomes an English village, an event that attracts hundreds of visitors over its two days. (I was Batman for Pumpkin Fest and David Copperfield for Dickens, but I never had the chance to dress as a Federal or Confederate.)

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Behind the Lines: My Life as a Yankee in Franklin, TN, Part 4

By Mel Maurer
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved

Part 4 of a 6-part article


In the first article in this series, I wrote that our house was in a subdivision that was in the shadow of Roper’s Knob – a hill, the top of which was used as a signal station during the Civil War. Actually, while it’s the highest hill in the area, although not by much, it’s only several hundred feet high, so “shadow” was something of an exaggeration. (We did wish we were in the shadow of something during the very hot Tennessee summers.) Roper’s Knob was just a half-mile west of our house – it was the first thing I would see when I walked out our front door.

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Behind the Lines: My Life as a Yankee in Franklin, TN, Part 3

By Mel Maurer
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved

Part 3 of a 6-part article


I knew of Fort Granger before moving to Franklin from the reading I had done about the Battle of Franklin but I didn’t know until I had lived there a few weeks that Fort Granger, or what was left of it, was still there. While I had passed its location many times in our search for a home, I was unaware that the trees, on a small hill above Franklin’s Pinkerton Park right off route 96, just before the bridge over the Harpeth River as you enter Franklin from the east, were hiding the remains of a Civil War treasure. Once learning of its existence and its location, I set out one Sunday morning with great expectations to visit it.

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