Join Us for Our Next Program...
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 @ 6:30 p.m.
The Dick Crews Annual Debate:
Other Than Stonewall Jackson, Who was
the Best Corps Commander In the Civil War?
Moderator: William F. B. Vodrey
Best general? Worst general?
Most overrated or underrated general? Most important battle?
Greatest innovation? The war's primary cause? The arguments go on and on and on and we
love them all. One of the reasons we joined the Civil War
Roundtable in the first place was so that we could have such
arguments with like-minded people and give our long suffering
families a break.
This year the argument is best
corps commander - not army commander, not brigade or division
commander, but corps commander. And just to make things
interesting, Stonewall Jackson is off the table. So who is it?
There are many candidates. On the Southern side, James
Longstreet, AP Hill, John Gordon, and Nathan Bedford Forrest are
worth consideration; on the Northern side, John Reynolds, Winfield
Scott Hancock, George Thomas, and George Meade come to mind.
On this evening, six Roundtable
members will make their arguments for the greatest corps commander
of the Civil War. Join us for what promises to be an
FULL 2014-15 PROGRAM SCHEDULE>>
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.
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
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.
440-449-9311 and leave a message on the voice mail.
small glimpse into the Civil War era
On to Richmond!
By David A. Carrino
On to Richmond! This was the battle cry in
the North at the beginning of the Civil War, and it signified the objective to
capture the Confederate capital and thereby bring a quick end to the
rebellion. The history books state that it took nearly four years from the
war's outset until that goal was attained. However, Richmond actually fell
under Union control by the end of 1862, but before this happened there was a
battle there that was not only the most one-sided Confederate victory, but the
most one-sided victory by either side during the Civil War. Moreover, the
commander of the Union army at Richmond was killed by Jefferson Davis. Of
course, these statements do not refer to Richmond, Virginia, but to Richmond,
Kentucky, although there is a connection between these two cities. The
Richmond in Kentucky was founded by Revolutionary War veteran John Miller in
1798, and it was named in honor of Miller's birthplace, Richmond, Virginia.
Kentucky was considered of utmost importance
by both sides during the Civil War, not simply because this state was the
birthplace of both the president of the United States of America and the
president of the Confederate States of America, but because of its geographic
importance. Abraham Lincoln thought that Kentucky was so important to the
Union war effort that he reputedly said in 1861, "I hope to have God on my
side, but I must have Kentucky," and later that year Lincoln wrote in a
letter, "I think to lose Kentucky is to lose the whole game." The Confederacy
wanted Kentucky in order to have the more defensible Ohio River as part of its
northern border. At the beginning of the Civil War, Kentucky, by its own
proclamation, belonged to neither side, since the state made the unrealistic
declaration of its neutrality. Confederate General Leonidas Polk violated this
neutrality in September 1861 by having the army he commanded occupy Columbus,
Kentucky, and from that point on Kentucky was in the war. Other Confederate
forces later pushed into southern Kentucky. But after the fall of Forts Henry
and Donelson, Confederate positions in Kentucky became untenable, and all
Confederate forces there withdrew to Tennessee.
In the summer of 1862, two Confederate armies
advanced into Kentucky from Tennessee with the objective of securing the
Bluegrass State and validating its star on the Confederate flag. Braxton
Bragg's army moved into central Kentucky, and Edmund Kirby Smith's smaller
army moved into eastern Kentucky. While Don Carlos Buell moved his army north
in pursuit of Bragg, a small army under the command of William "Bull" Nelson
advanced from its camp, which was not far from Lexington, to meet Kirby
Smith's force. On August 29-30, 1862, the same dates as the battle of Second
Bull Run, Kirby Smith's veteran army and Nelson's inexperienced force clashed
at Richmond, Kentucky, which is about 25 miles southeast of Lexington.
From the Charger
the Cleveland CWRT
The April 1861 Madness
By Patrick Bray
Sesquicentennial observations of
the Civil War will end in April 2015. This past August marked the
beginning of centennial observations of World War One (WWI), a
conflict to which the Civil War has been compared. In this analogy
the Civil War was the first full scale “modern war” which yielded
substantial improvements in weaponry, communications,
transportation, sanitation, medical treatment, logistics, and naval
capability. Moreover, the ability of the national governments,
particularly the Federals, to mobilize vast social, political, and
economic resources previewed the possibilities of total war in which
whole societies, not just their militaries, were deeply drawn into
conflict. The experience of total war — at least in some if not most
parts of the South -- would make civilians painfully aware of the
suffering and depravations of a new front, the home front.
Despite the presence on both sides
of numerous European military observers as well as actual combatants
from abroad, it seems that few if any of the lessons of the Civil
War were put to use in WWI. Despite the overwhelming advantages
which modern military technology afforded the defense, WWI was
marked by frequent futile frontal assaults on well-fortified
positions. Élan proved ineffective against machine guns as no man’s
land repeatedly became a killing field.
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.
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
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.
A Rebuttal to “Shelby Foote
By Greg Biggs
I read with interest the Dick Crews
op-ed on how
Shelby Foote got it wrong
when he called Nathan Bedford Forrest one of the two geniuses of the
Civil War. Forrest remains a controversial figure of the Civil War
but he was, as Foote suggested, a true genius. With only some six
months of any type of education, he rose from a private to
lieutenant general by the end of his war career, only one of four
American soldiers to do so. You simply do not get that high without
some level of talent and, dare I say genius. The fact that many of
his raids and campaigns are still studied by military colleges also
attests to his military ability.
Mr. Crews focused on the Fort
Pillow raid of April 1864, but left out quite of bit of context.
First, Forrest simply could not go wherever he wanted without
permission of his superior. At this time, Forrest was one of two
cavalry commanders in the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and
East Louisiana, which was then commanded by Lt. General Leonidas
Polk. Anything Forrest wanted to do had to be approved by Polk who
authorized this raid. The main objectives were to disrupt Union
supply lines, in particular the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and to
recruit. Forrest had already been very successful recruiting behind
Union lines in West Tennessee. Thanks to this, he now had a cavalry
corps of two divisions under James Chalmers and Abraham Buford
(related to the Union Gen. John Buford).