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2014-15 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 01/15

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Featured Articles

The April 1861 Madness
By Patrick Bray

Shelby Foote was Wrong!
By Dick Crews

A Rebuttal to “Shelby Foote Was Wrong”
By Greg Biggs

The Battle of Cedar Creek
By Dennis Keating

The U. S. Navy and the Naval Battles of Charleston, 1863
By Syd Overall

Jacob Dolson Cox
By Dennis Keating

Base Ball on Johnson's Island
By William F.B. Vodrey

The Case for Union
By John C. Fazio

A Review of Jennifer Chiaverini's
The Spymistress

By Dennis Keating

Ohio’s Civil War Generals:
Some Lesser Known

By Dennis Keating

The (Secret) Life and Letters of General George Gordon Meade
By George G. Meade

Lincoln and Grant:
The Westerners Who Won the Civil War

By Edward W. Bonekemper, III

My Thoughts Be Bloody
Prologue: The Players

By Nora Titone

Cleveland's Civil War Roundtable
Takes an Excursion into Fiction

By Karen R. Long

Gold, Greed, and a Vacuum of Law
By Carol Buchanan

’The Rebels are Upon Us’ The 1864 Confederate Invasion of Maryland, The Battle of Monocacy, and Jubal Early’s Move on Washington, D.C.
By Marc Leepson

The Great Battle of Gettysburg
By Max R. Terman

Assessing African American Attitudes Toward the Civil War (pdf)
A National Park Service Report prepared
by Hermina Glass-Avery

In the Shadow of the Civil War:
Passmore Williamson and the Rescue of Jane Johnson

By Nat Brandt with Yanna Kroyt Brandt

Scenes from The Fighting McCooks
By Barbara and Charles Whalen

Making a Covenant with Death:
Slavery and the Constitutional Convention

By Dr. Paul Finkelman

Blood, Tears and Glory: How Ohioans Won the Civil War
By Dr. James Bissland

Why Grant Won and Lee Lost
By Edward H. Bonekemper, III

Jefferson Davis's Imprisonment
at Fortress Monroe

By Clint Johnson

The Madness of Mary Lincoln
By Jason Emerson



History Under Siege
The Annual Report of the Civil War Preservation Trust



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Patrick Bray


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Jean Rhodes


Hans Kuenzi


Dave Carrino


Howard Besser


C. Ellen Connally


Jim Heflich


Mike Wells


Paul Burkholder


Dennis Keating
Mike Wells

Charger Newsletter 

Membership in the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable is open to anyone who shares the belief that the American Civil War is the defining event in U.S. history.






Join Us for Our Next Program...

Wednesday, February11, 2015 @ 6:30 p.m.

How the U.S. Navy Won the Civil War
Presented by Neil K. Evans

A case can be made that the American Civil War was won not by Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan and the superior might and materiel of the Northern Armies but rather by the United States Navy. Union victory was generated first, by Abraham Lincoln’s clear and motivating articulation of the causes and nature of the war and the reasons it had to be fought and second, by the United State Navy blockading southern ports, limiting the effectiveness of Confederate privateers on the high seas, and, perhaps most importantly, in projecting U.S. naval might up and down the interior waterways of the United States -

  • hindering Southern troop and supply movements,
  • making joint Northern naval and army operations possible,
  • and, finally, denying the Confederacy the use of those rivers for commercial purposes.

Northern ingenuity in developing and producing such weapons not only won the Civil War but also shaped our modern Navy as a tool for projecting U.S. power and policy around the world.

Our speaker:

Neil Evans was born in Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania.  He received his B.A. in History from the University of Rochester (ROTC) and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Between college and law school, Neil served 10 years in the U.S. Navy (3 years active; 5 active reserve, and 2 inactive), serving on the U.S.S. Fidelity for 3 years including at the Beiruit landing and off the coasts of the Bay of Pigs and the Dominion Republic.

After law school Neil joined the law firm now known as Hahn, Loeser & Parks, LLP in Cleveland, becoming a partner in 1971.  Neil served as Chair of the firm’s litigation department and, in the course of this practice, helped found the Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society (a large-firm malpractice insurance company).  As an adjunct Professor, Neil taught insurance law at both Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University Law Schools.  He is now retired after 31 years of practice.

Neil has served as trustee, chair and/or president of numerous civic organizations, including: the Ohio Historical Society; the Ohio Humanities Council; the Ohio Chamber Orchestra; the Property Committee of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve; the Cleveland Branch of the English Speaking Union and the Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve; and, of course, the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable for which he served as president in 1984.  Neil is also a member of the Western Reserve Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Neil was married in 1964 and has 3 children and 7 grandchildren and currently resides in Beachwood, Ohio.


Meeting Time: Meetings begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30, and the program at 7:30.  Meetings typically end by 9.

Meeting Location: Our meetings are held at Judson Manor (the former Wade Park Manor residential hotel), located at the corner of East 107th Street and Chester in downtown Cleveland, just off University Circle.  Map to Judson Manor History of Wade Park Manor

Reservations: You must make a dinner reservation for any meeting you plan to attend no later than the day prior to that meeting (so we can give a headcount to the caterer).  Make your reservation one of three ways:

  • Send an email to .
  • Click any of the 'Make a Dinner Reservation" links on this page.
  • Call 440-449-9311 and leave a message on the voice mail.

History Briefs

A small glimpse into the Civil War era

The Decisive Battle of the Civil War:
An Unlikely Nomination
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

One of the topics that Civil War enthusiasts enjoy debating is the question of which Civil War battle was the decisive one. As a way of delving again into the thorny subject of the Civil War's decisive battle, a nomination for this distinction is made herein. It is likely that no one will agree with this choice for the Civil War's decisive battle, but if nothing else, the selection of this battle as the decisive one can be taken as an example of how a seemingly distant and unrelated occurrence can have a profound effect on subsequent events. The two Civil War battles that are most often mentioned as the war's decisive battle are Gettysburg and Vicksburg. However, to give consideration to the nomination proposed herein, then it is necessary to accept that the decisive battle of the Civil War did not occur in 1863 in Pennsylvania or Mississippi or, for that matter, anywhere else during 1863. The decisive battle of the Civil War also did not take place in 1864 or 1865. Nor did it occur in 1861 or 1862, and it did not happen in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, or Tennessee. The decisive battle of the Civil War happened in 1847, and it took place in Mexico. The decisive battle of the Civil War was the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War.

Captain Braxton Bragg
US Army

The battle of Buena Vista took place in February 1847. A U.S. army under the command of future president Zachary Taylor was advancing south in Mexico. Taylor received word from a scout that a much larger Mexican army under Antonio López de Santa Anna was moving to oppose him. Taylor positioned his army in a mountain pass to give his smaller force the benefit of terrain. Part of Taylor's army was positioned on high ground on the left. Santa Anna's battle plan was to try to move against and around this left flank, and he sent elements of his army to do so. In spite of the advantage of the high ground, the Mexicans were driving the Americans back, and the left flank of Taylor's army was on the brink of collapse. At this point Taylor sent forward a Mississippi regiment, the Mississippi Rifles, which was under the command of Taylor's son-in-law, Colonel Jefferson Davis. Davis's regiment managed to hold off the Mexicans, but the battle was far from over. A renewed and fierce Mexican attack led to the American lines once more being on the verge of crumbling. To drive off the enemy force Taylor sent in an artillery unit under the command of Captain Braxton Bragg with explicit orders from Taylor to "maintain the position at every hazard." What is remarkable about Bragg's artillery unit rushing forward is that it was done with no infantry support. Only 50 yards from the enemy, Bragg's unit unlimbered and drove canister into the advancing Mexicans, which brought the attack to an end.


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

A Monument to Service:
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
By Tim Daley and Richard T. Prasse

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument commemorates in stone, bronze and glass the service of those enlisted and appointed from Cuyahoga County during the Civil War. Their names are captured in marble inside the Monument’s Memorial Tablet Room, etched alongside those with whom they served during the national struggle. The story of the Monument’s creation was also a struggle. The idea to erect a monument was first proposed by William Gleason in October 1879 to the Soldiers and Sailors Society in Cleveland. Gleason with two others were charged to test the idea the following week at a reunion of Union Veterans. The project was approved with a committee appointed to seek funding support from the State of Ohio. Their advocacy resulted in eight different legislative acts by 1894 in support of the construction of the Monument.

Levi Scofield

With funding provided for, a Union Army Veteran, Levi Scofield, was selected to develop the plan. Scofield had served in the war as an officer in the 103rd O.V.I., fighting in the Western Theatre. Returning to Cleveland after the war, he became an architect, responsible for the design of large public works such as the Ohio State Penitentiary, the Ridges Institution in Athens, Ohio and the Mansfield Reformatory (made famous more recently as the prison in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption). For this project, Scofield worked for expenses, never charging a fee for his services. However, local objections slowed down the plan. Returning to the Ohio General Assembly, the committee was replaced in 1888 by an appointed Monument Commission which today remains the body responsible for the use and control of the Monument and the southeast quadrant of Public Square in Cleveland. The battle for approval and construction wound its way to the Ohio Supreme Court which approved the General Assembly’s power to delegate the authority to the Monument Commission. A later attack in Federal Court also resulted in victory for the veterans and the Monument. The more complete story on the Monument’s construction and labor pains has been told by Bill Stark in the Ohio Historical Society’s Timeline in February 2003 under “Legal Maneuvers.” Reprints are available at the Monument.


"Beyond the Battlefield"
An Ohio History Connection Symposium
By William F.B. Vodrey

The Ohio History Connection (the newly-rebranded Ohio Historical Society) on November 8 hosted a symposium on Ohio's home front during the Civil War. Nine historians, professional and amateur, explored various topics in three panel discussions.

First panel

Prof. Carol Lasser of my alma mater, Oberlin College, led off with a talk about Ohio soldiers' courtship-by-letters. Many of the young men were eager for a commitment from their sweethearts (or the young women they hoped would be their sweethearts) as they went off to war. Some of those courted were taken aback by the hurried ardency of the soldiers, but many agreed to marry their boys in blue. One of those who married the woman he wooed by mail was Giles Shurtleff, a U.S. Colored Troops officer after whom Shurtleff Cottage (now an Oberlin B&B) was named.

I then spoke about Ohio's Civil War governors, William Dennison, David Tod and John Brough. The first was a Whig turned-Republican, the other two War Democrats. Each did well in office, strongly supporting the Lincoln Administration's military policies. In time, however, all three lost political support and were denied reelection, each worn down by the demands of civilian wartime leadership of the state.

Dr. David Bush of Heidelberg University, head of the Friends and Descendants of Johnson's Island (on the board of which CWRT members Kirk Hinman and I serve), discussed the POW camp for Confederate officers on Johnson's Island near Sandusky, and recent discoveries at the archeological dig there. Bush talked about binge drinking among the prisoners' guards while they were on leave (several dozen saloons in Sandusky were glad to take their money), and the recent reenactment of the historic 1864 base ball game between two teams of rebel prisoners.


The Confederate Battle Flag,
Personal License Plates, and Litigation
By Dennis Keating

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.

Perhaps the best known controversy was the flying of the flag over the state capital of South Carolina, the birthplace of the Confederacy, beginning in 1961. The NAACP mounted a campaign in 1987 to remove the battle flag from the capital domes of Alabama and South Carolina and from the state flags of Georgia and Alabama. Corsi recounts these political and legal battles in a chapter entitled “What We Stood For, Will Stand For, and Will Fight For”. The South Carolina controversy resulted in an NAACP-declared national tourism boycott in 1999 and it became an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. In 2000, South Carolina removed the flag from the dome and moved it to Confederate soldiers memorial on the capital grounds (an unsatisfactory decision to the NAACP).


The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable