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Founded November 20, 1956



2014-15 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 10/14

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Featured Articles

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

Gettysburg 2013
By William F.B. Vodrey

Remembering 9/11
By William F.B. Vodrey

U.S. Grant Boyhood Home Rededicated By William F.B. Vodrey

A Review of Justice in Blue and Gray by Stephen C. Neff
By William F.B. Vodrey

Notes on the Lincoln Forum 2012
By Mel Maurer

The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
By Dennis Keating

Lincoln's Assassination: Three Riddles
By John C. Fazio

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

Lincoln’s Suspension of Habeas Corpus
By Dennis Keating

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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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, November 12, 2014 @ 7 p.m.

The Most Important Battle of the
Civil War: Vicksburg

Presented by Steve Pettyjohn

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Vicksburg "the key” when developing Union war strategy and Vicksburg proved to be the decisive campaign of the Civil War. This presentation will examine the campaign and the siege of Vicksburg along with the consequences of its fall. It will also be presented as something of a “discovery” and travelogue as Steve Pettyjohn will share his experiences during his 15 visits to the Vicksburg area with photographs to help illustrate the terrain and defensive obstacles surrounding the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy.” A discussion of the loss of the USS Cairo and its second life as a museum will also be included in the presentation.

Our speaker: Steve Pettyjohn has been interested in the Civil War since childhood when his grandparents first showed him the uniform his great-great grandfather wore as a private in the 19th Indiana, part of the Iron Brigade. This interest was cemented when he read Bruce Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox and then received the board game Gettysburg for his 12th birthday. Today, Steve has a Civil War library of over 200 books.  He has made trips to many of the major battlefields and other historic sites of the war, including over 15 trips to Vicksburg. Steve looks forward to this year’s field trip to Franklin where one of his other great-great grandfathers served in the 40th Indiana.

Steve Pettyjohn is President of Quality Assist Consulting which assists organizations in developing and improving ISO management systems including those for Quality, Environmental, Safety, IT Services, Information Security and Risk Management.  Steve has a BS in Education and History from Indiana University along with an MBA from IU. He also did post-graduate work in quality at the Wharton School of Business. After moving 8 times in 18 years, he and his wife Lynn settled in Westlake where they raised their son and daughter. His wife is a librarian who has a high level of tolerance for his Civil War activities. He has been a member of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable since 2010.



Meeting Time: Meetings begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7, and the program at 8.  Meetings typically end by around 9:30.

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.


Civil War Discussion Group
Next Meeting: November 19

A group of Civil War scholars, led by CCWRT member Syd Overall, meets regularly throughout the year at various locations around greater Cleveland to discuss Civil War books and topics.  This group's next meeting will be on Wednesday, November 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Solon Branch Library (34125 Portz Parkway @ the intersection of SOM Center Road and Portz Parkway). This meeting's topic will be General Robert E. Lee. The group won't meet again until April when the topic will be Grant vs. Lee.  The cost is free and Civil War scholars of all levels of expertise are invited to attend.  Contact Syd Overall for more information.

History Briefs

A small glimpse into the Civil War era

The Civil War:
Chapter 17, Verses 1-51
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

The Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together. A champion went out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, "Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me." All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were afraid. David said to Saul, "Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." David took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones out of the brook and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, and he drew near to the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took thence a stone, and slung it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth. David ran and stood upon the Philistine, drew his sword out of the sheath, and slew Goliath.

This Biblical story is the prototype of a clash in which a smaller, apparently weaker combatant defeats a larger, stronger adversary. The Confederate Navy had its own David, both figuratively and literally. This was the small warship CSS David. The David was a cigar-shaped vessel about 50 feet long and with a diameter of about five and a half feet at her widest point. The boat was designed to sail very low in the water so that she operated as a semi-submersible with only her low conning tower and smokestack above water. Her only weapon was a 130-pound explosive charge, or torpedo, projecting from the bow on a 30-foot spar. Her intended plan of attack was to sail undetected at night close to enemy ships, plant her torpedo below water on the hull of her target, and then detonate the torpedo with a lanyard as she withdrew.

A David-class torpedo boat, abandoned at
Charleston, South Carolina, 1865
(U.S. National Archives)

The development of the semi-submersible David and the more well-known Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was the epitome of invention being born of necessity, because the Confederate Navy was far inferior to the Union Navy with regard to conventional resources. In the seceding states that became the Confederacy, one of the prevailing opinions about fighting men from the industrialized North was to berate the Northerners as "pasty-faced mechanics," whose fighting capabilities were inferior to those of Southern men. This opinion held sway in the South, because it was felt that the agrarian lifestyle in the South made the men there more physically fit. In light of the "pasty-faced mechanics" insult, it is ironic that it was Southern mechanics, of unknown complexion, who developed some of the most intriguing naval innovations of the Civil War, such as the Hunley and the David.


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

The Battle of Cedar Creek
By Dennis Keating

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, September 19, 1864), 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.

Philip Sheridan

Months earlier Sheridan had been selected by Ulysses Grant, with President Lincoln’s support, to clear out the Valley following Early’s defeat of David Hunter’s army and subsequent raid all the way to threaten Washington, D.C. in order to relieve pressure on Lee’s besieged force in Petersburg. Sheridan’s army consisted of the VI Corps from the Army of the Potomac, the XIX Corps from Louisiana, and George Crook’s Army of West Virginia and cavalry commanded by Alford T. A. Torbert (with division commanders George Custer and Wesley Merritt). Sheridan and his fellow Ohioan Crook had been close friends at West Point. In his army Sheridan had many Ohioans: the Second Brigade of the Third Division of the VI Corps included the 110th, 122nd, and 126th Ohio regiments; the First Brigade of the First Division of Crook’s small army included the 116th and 123rd Ohio regiments; the First Brigade of the Second Division (commanded by future U.S. President from Ohio Rutherford B. Hayes) included the 23rd and 36th Ohio regiments; the Second Brigade included the 34th and 91st Ohio regiments and the 1st Ohio Light Battery L. In Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps there were two Ohio regiments: 2nd and 8th.


Shelby Foote was Wrong!
By Dick Crews

Way back in the year 2000, when William Vodrey was President of our Roundtable, Shelby Foote was our big name speaker. You can argue that Ed Bearss or Bruce Catton are bigger name Cleveland CWRT speakers but Shelby Foote was by far the most expensive.

Shelby Foote

One theme Foote repeated frequently was that the American Civil War produced two geniuses: Abraham Lincoln and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Lincoln has stood the test of time but Forrest made one serious error, effecting the outcome of the Civil War, which has been ignored by history.

This summer I visited Fort Pillow, Tennessee. Fort Pillow is located 50 miles north of Memphis. The Fort was on the Mississippi River. The river has now moved two miles west.

The Fort itself was built as an outer defense for Memphis but when Island #10 in the Mississippi River was taken by Union Forces the fort was abandoned by the Confederates.

No important Civil War battles were fought at Fort Pillow. History treats the attack on the Fort by Nathan Bedford Forrest on April 12, 1864 as a racial act. There was no military reason for the attack and later Forrest founded the Ku Klux Klan after the war this conclusion seems to fit. History missed that the Fort Pillow attack was important to the outcome of the Civil War.


The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable