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Founded November 20, 1956


Join Us for Our Next Program...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 @ 6:30 p.m.

Team Trivia Competition:
Civil War Photo Edition

Moderator: Chris Fortunato

Official Rules

Our trivia quiz last year was such a hit, we've decided to do another one, but this time focusing on pictures, paintings and images.  Teams of members will vie to correctly answer the most questions - identifying generals, paintings, monuments, parts of battlefields, etc.  Put on your thinking cap and come prepared to figure what the heck you're looking at! 

President Chris Fortunato will be our moderator, making use of images assembled by Vice President Jean Rhodes, Wally Folkmann and others. 

And remember, no wagering allowed.


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

Whose Maryland?
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

The opening lines of the official state song of what was once one of the 13 original colonies are as follows:

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
Maryland, my Maryland.
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland, my Maryland.

In light of the uncomplimentary things that were written in the Declaration of Independence about King George III, it is not surprising that the state song of one of the 13 original colonies refers to a despot. But what may be surprising to many people is that the despot referred to in the state song of Maryland is not George III, but Abraham Lincoln. In other lines Lincoln is referred to as a tyrant and a vandal, and near the end of the song there is a line that calls opponents of secession "Northern scum." These sentiments are expressed in this song because this song, which is titled Maryland, My Maryland, was not written at the time of the Revolutionary War, but was written in late April of 1861 as a poem urging Maryland to secede from the Union. In spite of the fact that the song advocates secession, Maryland, My Maryland remains the state song of Maryland.

James Ryder Randall

Maryland, My Maryland was written by James Ryder Randall, who was born in Baltimore. By 1861 Randall had been living in the South for several years, and he came to consider himself a Southerner. He was an ardent secessionist, and he wrote Maryland, My Maryland as a reaction to what happened in Baltimore on April 19, 1861. On that day a Massachusetts regiment was moving on foot through the streets of Baltimore on its way to Washington when a mob of secessionists began throwing stones and bricks at the troops and even shot at them. Eventually the Massachusetts troops fired back at the mob. By the end of the riot 15 people were dead, 4 soldiers and 11 civilians, and many more were wounded. After James Ryder Randall heard news of the riot in the city of his birth, he wrote a poem as a plea to Maryland to join the Confederacy, and those words became the lyrics of the song Maryland, My Maryland. Randall's poem was published in newspapers throughout the South, and by May 1861 the poem had made its way to Maryland, where Jennie Cary, a daughter in a prominent secessionist family in Baltimore, set the poem to the tune of O Tannenbaum after tweaking the words slightly to better fit the melody. The song became very popular in the South during the Civil War, and according to some accounts Robert E. Lee had the men in the Army of Northern Virginia sing that song as they marched into Frederick, Maryland during Lee's first northern invasion. Maryland, My Maryland has been called the Marseillaise of the South, although other songs also lay claim to that nickname.


From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

Jefferson Davis Monuments:
Being Removed?
By Dennis Keating

Confederate President Jefferson Davis is memorialized in monuments at various locations in the South. They have now come under fire, with demands that some be removed from public grounds.

The Jefferson Davis birthplace monument in Pembroke, KY

In New Orleans, the Remove Racist Images coalition and others, have called for the removal of statues from city properties honoring Davis, as well as well as Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard. The city’s Monuments Commission has voted to remove them from public grounds and has been supported Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

In March, 2015, the student government of the University of Texas at Austin voted to have the university remove the status of Davis from the South Mall of the campus. There are also statues on the campus honoring Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee and Albert Sydney Johnston.

None of these monuments have yet been removed. In Frankfurt, Kentucky, a group of 72 Kentucky historians called for the removal of the Davis statue from the rotunda of the state’s capitol building. Davis was born in Kentucky (as was Abraham Lincoln). In August, 2015, the Kentucky Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted 7-2 against removal of the Davis statue.


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

Even the masters go astray occasionally. Edison thought direct current was the wave of the future. Ezra Pound thought Mussolini and Hitler were statesmen instead of the buffoons and bloody tyrants they were. Einstein thought nuclear energy would never be obtainable. So it is, too, sometimes, with historians. Otherwise brilliant and conscientious men and women spend so much time studying trees that they lose sight of the forests.

John Wilkes Booth

The issue of John Wilkes Booth’s membership in the Confederate Secret Service was raised in the pages of the October, 2015, issue of The Surratt Courier as part of Richard Willing’s review of Terry Alford’s Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth. The issue is important because Confederate complicity or non-complicity in the assassination hinges on it. Richard tells us that Terry came down on the side of non-complicity and therefore in favor of the simple conspiracy theory. With the greatest respect, my friend Terry is mistaken.

Let us start with the membership issue. Asia, Booth’s sister, described him as “a spy, a blockade-runner, a rebel”. He told her that he was involved in the “underground” and that the work demanded travel. Would he use the term “underground” to describe his work if he and it were not part of the Secret Service? Clearly, no. That he worked in concert with others and not as a lone wolf is attested to by Asia herself: the unexplained trips, the strange visitors at all hours, the callused hands from nights of rowing, it suddenly all made sense to her. She wrote “He often slept in his clothes on the couch downstairs, having on his long riding boots. Strange men called at late hours, some whose voices I knew, but who would not answer to their names ; and others who were perfectly strange to me. They never came farther than the inner sill, and spoke in whispers”. (1) Is it reasonable to suppose that these “strange men” were also unattached rogues unknown to Richmond, or is it more reasonable to suppose that they were also Secret Service agents. Clearly, the latter.


New On the Bookshelf

Recent Additions to the Civil War Literature

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.



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Featured Articles

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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Hans Kuenzi


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Jim Heflich


Paul Burkholder


Dennis Keating
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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.




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