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2014-15 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 03/15

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Featured Articles

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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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, April 8, 2015 @ 6:30 p.m.

Lincoln’s Father Neptune:
Navy Secretary Gideon Welles
Presented by William F.B. Vodrey

Gideon Welles’s 1861 appointment as secretary of the navy placed him at the hub of Union planning for the Civil War and in the midst of the powerful personalities vying for influence in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. Although Welles initially knew little of naval matters, he rebuilt a service depleted by Confederate defections, planned actions that gave the Union badly needed victories in the war’s early days, and oversaw a blockade that weakened the South’s economy.

Perhaps the hardest-working member of the cabinet, Welles still found time to keep a detailed diary that has become one of the key documents for understanding the inner workings of the Lincoln administration. With his often vitriolic pen, Welles captured the bitter administration disputes over strategy and war aims, while lacerating colleagues from Secretary of State William H. Seward to General-in-Chief Henry Halleck, and condemning the actions of the self-serving southern elite he sees as responsible for the war.  (From the publisher of The Civil War Diary of Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy.)

Our speaker: William Vodrey is a magistrate of the Cleveland Municipal Court and a former president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable. He gives presentations on a wide variety of Civil War topics to roundtables and historical societies and has spoken to the Cleveland Roundtable on many occasions.

Mr. Vodrey graduated from Oberlin College and earned his law degree at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He is a member of the Civil War Preservation Trust, the Blue & Gray Education Society, and the Ohio Historical Society, and a former re-enactor with the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Co. B, where he, in his own words, "skyrocketed to the rank of corporal." His essay, "George Washington: Hero of the Confederacy?" appeared in the October 2004 issue of American History magazine.


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

One War at a Time... Again
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

During the Civil War the United States Navy committed a maritime violation of British sovereignty, which caused a serious international diplomatic incident and which led some in the British Empire to call for war against the U.S. This statement can refer to the November 1861 incident involving the British steamer Trent and the U.S. warship San Jacinto in what came to be known as the Trent Affair, but everyone who is interested in the Civil War knows about the Trent Affair. This statement can also refer to the less widely known December 1863 incident involving the Nova Scotian vessel Investigator and the U.S. gunboat Ella and Annie in what came to be known as the Chesapeake Affair.

At the center of the Chesapeake Affair was a U.S. passenger steamer, the Chesapeake, which made regular runs between New York City and Portland, Maine. A group of 18 Confederate sympathizers, all of whom were citizens of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia and, hence, were British subjects, plotted to hijack the Chesapeake, take her south, and use her to prey on Union shipping. Several of these men had aliases, so their names appear in different forms in the historical record. The masterminds of the plot were Vernon G. Locke and John C. Brain, each of whom was the epitome of a scoundrel. During the summer of 1863, these men and their cohorts met several times in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick to make their plans.

CSA Secretary of State
Judah Benjamin

In a feat of legal legerdemain that would make a shifty defense attorney proud, Vernon Locke concocted a scheme whereby, if the Chesapeake conspirators were apprehended, the commandeering of the Chesapeake would be classified as an act of war rather than an act of piracy, which would spare the perpetrators from charges of piracy, at least according to Locke's convoluted rationalizing. Locke had in his possession a letter of marque written by Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin authorizing a Confederate raiding ship, the Retribution, to seize Northern merchant ships and sell their cargo. The letter of marque had originally been issued to someone named Thomas Power, who transferred the letter to Locke when Locke took over command of the Retribution. After the Retribution captured some Northern merchant ships in the West Indies early in 1863, the vessel docked in Nassau in March 1863, but she was seized by the authorities because she was judged to be unseaworthy. However, Locke kept the letter of marque for possible future use, and that possibility arrived when Locke planned to use the letter to avoid charges of piracy for the hijacking of the Chesapeake. Locke's scheme involved renaming the Chesapeake the Retribution and claiming that the vessel's name in conjunction with the letter of marque constituted evidence that the Chesapeake conspirators were engaged not in an act of piracy, but an act of war.


Blast from the Past

Articles from the Charger Archives

Confederate Complicity In the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
By John C. Fazio

I. Rogue Operations - The Case of Jonathan Pollard

From May, 1984, until his arrest in November, 1985, Jonathan Pollard, a 31-year old head of the Middle Eastern desk at the U.S. Navy’s Suitland, Maryland, Intelligence Complex, spied for Israel. The classified documents that he gave Israel access to would fill a space 10 ft. by 6 ft. by 6 ft. (360 cu.ft.). It was said that he did it for money and jewelry, but we may be certain that he did it for political reasons as well. His treachery is said to have caused one of the worst security disasters in United States history.  In 1987 he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. All efforts to have him paroled or pardoned have failed.

Jonathan Pollard’s Naval Intelligence ID photo

What is significant is that from the date of his arrest until 1998, Israel insisted that his activities were a rogue operation. In 1998, then Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted that it wasn’t so, that in fact Pollard was, at all relevant times, an Israeli intelligence agent and that Israeli intelligence had recruited him and handled him, i.e. supervised his activities, until he was caught.

Does anyone suppose that United States intelligence services, or any intelligence service in the world, for that matter, bought the “rogue operation” explanation? Of course not. Why not? Because all intelligence services know that the business of intelligence is incredibly complex and sophisticated, that it is imperative that agents follow orders at all times, especially when major policies of a government can be and likely will be affected by their actions, and that “rogue operations” are all but unknown in the intelligence world.

So let it be with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The notion that it was a rogue operation by a disgruntled actor and a little band of cut-throats, mental retards and cowards is ridiculous on its face, and the evidence that it was not this is very strong to overwhelming.


Booth In the Confederate Secret Service
By John C. Fazio
John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth was an agent of the Confederate Secret Service. It is not known, and may never be known, when or exactly under what circumstances he was recruited and accepted his role as such, but that he was an agent and was in regular contact with other agents, who had ties to the Confederate leadership, or who had ties to other agents who had such ties, has been firmly established. Asia Booth described her brother as "a spy, a blockade-runner, a rebel!"

Because he is not known to have been an agent before 1864 and is known to have been such in 1864 and 1865, it appears that he was recruited and trained in 1864, quite likely when he was in New Orleans for three weeks that year from the middle of March through early April. While there, he boarded at the home of George Miller, a Confederate sympathizer known to have had ties to high-ranking figures in the Confederate government. Booth and Miller are known to have corresponded for some time after Booth left the city. Another sympathizer he met there, and in whose company he was often seen, was Hiram Martin, a blockade runner. Either Miller or Martin could have been the recruiter. The only certainty is that by the end of that summer, Booth was in regular contact with Confederate agents and was familiar with their cipher system.

Booth told Asia that he was involved in the “underground” and that the work demanded travel. The unexplained trips, the strange visitors at all hours, the callused hands “from nights of rowing,” to Asia it suddenly all made sense. She wrote that:

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.


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.


The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable