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Founded November 20, 1956


Join Us for Our Next Program...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

2016-17 CCWRT Program Schedule

Date Topic Speaker
09/14/16 Stand Fast to the Union and the Old Flag:
Re-electing Lincoln in 1864
Todd Arrington
09/22/16 09/24/16 Field Trip: The Wilderness & Spotsylvania Kris White
10/12/16 Autumn 1862: The True High Tide of the Confederacy Robert Lee Hodge
11/09/16 Work for Giants: The Campaign and Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg Tom Parson
12/14/16 The Case of the Murder of Bull Nelson Robert Girardi
01/11/17 Faces of the Civil War C. Ellen Connolly
Marge Wilson
Jean Rhodes
02/08/17 Cleveland in the Civil War Paul Siedel
03/08/17 William H. Seward and Civil War Diplomacy William Vodrey
04/12/17 What’s All the Hoop-la? (Civil War Clothing) Heather Nichols
05/10/17 The Andrews Raid James Ogden


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), 1890 E 107th St, Cleveland, OH, at the corner of East 107th Street and Chester, 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 .
  • Submit a dinner reservation form from this website.
  • Call 440-449-9311 and leave a message on the voice mail.

History Briefs

A small glimpse into the Civil War era

The First First Lady
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

September 14, 2016 was the date of the first meeting in the presidency of the second woman president in the history of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable. In recognition of that milestone, this history brief is about the first first lady. The obvious person to have the distinction of being the first first lady is Martha Washington, the wife of the first president of the United States. However, Martha Washington was never called first lady while her husband served as president. In fact, Martha Washington was typically called Lady Washington, a name that she reputedly expressed a preference for. More than 40 years after Martha Washington's death, an article by a poet named Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney complimented Martha Washington for never taking on an air of pretentiousness despite her husband's lofty stature. The compliment read, "The first lady of the nation still preserved the habits of early life." Although the title of first lady was applied to Martha Washington in this article, this was done decades after her death, and there is no evidence that this title was ever used for Martha Washington while her husband was president.

Dolley Madison was another presidential wife in our nation's early history to whom the title first lady may have been applied. This may have occurred when President Zachary Taylor reputedly eulogized Dolley Madison in 1849 by calling her "the first lady of the land for half a century." However, no written documentation exists for this statement, and even if the statement is factual, the comment was made many years after Dolley Madison's husband was president. During James Madison's presidency, his wife was called Presidentess or Presidentress, not first lady.


The Medical "Rebellion" Within the Union Army
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

Anyone who has watched television in Cleveland has almost certainly seen one of the commercials that end with the following emphatically confident promise, "I'll make them pay." These advertisements are for a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice. If this law firm had been in existence at the time of the Civil War, one of the medical practices used by the Union army may have provided an opportunity for this firm to follow through on its confident promise. Battlefield medicine saw amazing advancements during the Civil War, and Civil War physicians worked tirelessly and admirably to deal with one seemingly hopeless injury after another. In spite of this, there were flaws in the medical treatment that soldiers received. With regard to one serious flaw, the person in charge of medical matters for the Union army was not responsible for this problem and, in fact, mandated a correction of this flaw. But a political appointee who is well known to every Civil War enthusiast undid the corrective action.


The Best Confederate General from the Buckeye State
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

In 2012 the sports web site Bleacher Report published its choices for the best player ever to play for each National Basketball Association team. The choices for some teams, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls, are obvious. But for other teams, such as the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, it is difficult to choose the best player in that team's history, because those teams had an abundance of great players. If a similar endeavor were done for Union Civil War generals by state, Ohio would fall into the latter category, because there would be some question about whether to choose Ulysses S. Grant or William Tecumseh Sherman, since a compelling case can be made for either one of them. It can be argued that Grant should belong to Illinois, since Grant gave his place of residence as Galena, Illinois when he and his son checked into the Willard Hotel in Washington. But Grant's birthplace is in Ohio, which means that Ohio can legitimately lay claim to Grant, similar to Illinois laying claim to Barack Obama, while Obama can also be claimed by his place of birth, Hawaii. (Or is it Kenya?) If Ohio is allowed to claim Ulysses Grant, then choosing between Grant and Sherman as the best Union general from the Buckeye State is not easy. But the decision is not as difficult for Ohio's best Confederate general. Depending upon the criteria that are used to classify someone as being "from Ohio," there are five and perhaps six Confederate generals who were from Ohio. (After the text of this history brief, the names of the Confederate generals from Ohio are listed along with a brief description of each of them.) Among these five (or six) Ohio Confederate generals, the strongest case can be made for Bushrod Johnson as the best, if for no other reason than the extent of his military contributions to the Confederate cause, although Johnson's record is by no means unblemished.


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

On Inconvenient Truth and Convenient Fiction
By John C. Fazio

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
(Annajanska (1919))

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.

Abraham Lincoln, William Seward, Edwin Stanton, Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and James Seddon were human beings not sacred cows. Like all human beings, they were capable of good and evil and at some time in their lives surely manifested both. Therefore, if we want to stay in this business, and if we want to honor it, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to unhesitatingly and unsparingly criticize these men when the facts and circumstances, as we see them, warrant it, on any score. Further, we fail, as historians, if we allow ourselves to be deterred by reverence for anyone open to criticism, from whatever quarter.


New On the Bookshelf

Recent Additions to the Civil War Literature

A Review of Valley of the Shadow, by Ralph Peters
By Dennis Keating

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer, journalist, and award-winning Civil War novelist. His Civil War novels include Cain at Gettysburg, Hell or Richmond, and the Owen Parry (pen name) mystery series. His latest novel is Valley of the Shadow. It covers the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign, including Jubal Early's raid on Washington.

Peters' portrayal of both the major events of this campaign and its leading characters is gripping. The major engagements that Peters covers are Monocacy, Third Winchester, Cedar Creek, and Fisher's Hill. In addition, there's the battle that never happened when Early's advance halted in front of the fortress defenses of Washington City at Fort Stevens with President Abraham Lincoln looking on and Early decided against an attack, retreating back to the Valley. Peters captures the desperate nature of the outnumbered Early's mission to defend the Valley and divert some of the Union forces besieging Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg. This is most dramatic at Cedar Creek, when Gordon's surprise attack on October 19 initially smashed Phil Sheridan’s army until his dramatic ride from Winchester and rally of his battered troops, leading to his counterattack that led to victory that same day. Historians credit Sheridan's rout of Early's army, after Sherman's capture of Atlanta, with ensuring Lincoln's reelection the following month.


A Review of Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War by James M. McPherson
By Patrick Bray

James McPherson has done it yet again: published an insightful, fair, and very readable book on the Civil War. This time his subject is the wartime presidency of Jefferson Davis, a man whose reputation over the years has had more ups and downs then a stretch along the Appalachian Trial. In his introduction McPherson acknowledges the challenges of writing about a person who has occasionally been portrayed as a tragic hero, but more often has been a target for scathing criticism.

It is reassuring when an author discloses early on his potential biases which he seeks to overcome. Perhaps unnecessarily McPherson tells us that “My sympathies lie with the Union side in the Civil War”, not that we would expect any Neo-Confederate nonsense from a serious scholar like him. McPherson is also careful not to be unduly influenced by some of Davis’s disagreeable personal characteristics, a temptation which many Davis contemporaries and subsequent biographers have been unable to resist. Another pitfall which McPherson detours around is a comparison between Lincoln’s and Davis’s leadership to which the “apples to oranges” cliché was never more true.


A Review of The West Point History of the Civil War, edited by Clifford J. Rogers, Ty Seidule and Samuel J. Watsone
By William F.B. Vodrey

Who better to write a book about the Civil War than the faculty of the U.S. Military Academy? Well… yes and no.

The West Point History of the Civil War, edited by Clifford J. Rogers, Ty Seidule and Samuel J. Watson (Simon & Schuster 2014), is a big, handsomely-illustrated book. Intended to be the first in a series of authoritative, West Point-approved books on our country’s major wars, it is an impressive – but far from flawless – volume.

The book was excerpted from a 71-chapter text used to teach the Civil War to cadets, and then tested and improved by feedback from faculty and cadets. It embodies a longstanding West Point boast, “Much of the history we teach was made by the people we taught.”

The early days of the Civil War were not easy ones for West Point. Although Cadet J.E.B. Stuart (Class of 1854) had praised the nationalizing influence of the school and said there was “no North and no South” among the cadets while he studied there, by 1859 the sectional divide had become stark. One observer said the Corps of Cadets had split “into two parties, hostile in sentiment and even divided in barracks.” Southern cadets burned President-elect Abraham Lincoln in effigy in late 1860. The first cadet left to serve the Confederacy on November 19, 1860, just weeks after Election Day. When high-profile graduates and faculty such as Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard went south, critics in Congress blasted West Point as a breeding ground of traitors. Sen. “Bluff Ben” Wade of Ohio declared that “you can hardly find a graduate of West Point who is not heartily now the supporter of southern independence… the whole batch were imbued with… secession doctrine.” Bills were actually twice brought to the floor of Congress to cut off all funding and close the school. The Academy survived, but Congress imposed a new loyalty oath that is still used to this day.



2015-16 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 09/16

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Featured Articles

Jefferson Davis Monuments:
Being Removed?

By Dennis Keating

On Trees and Forests: Correcting History's View of J. Wilkes Booth
By John C. Fazio

The Contested Centennial Presidential Election of 1876
By Dennis Keating

No Horse of Mine
By William F.B. Vodrey

The Campaign Against the Confederate Battle Flag
By Dennis Keating

A Report On: American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague, Civil War "Belle of the North" By John Oller
By Jean Rhodes

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

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

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

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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