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Founded November 20, 1956


Upcoming CCWRT Program...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 @ 6:30 pm

Confederate Pirates:
The Capture of the St. Nicholas

Presented by John Quarstein

The daring capture of the steamer St. Nicholas on June 2, 1861, in the Potomac River was the Union’s first charge of Confederate piracy during the Civil War. Captain George Hollins, CSN, and adventurer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thomas Zarona captured the ship using an elaborate ruse. Their plot focused around a flirtatious "French lady” known as Madame La Force. She had brought three heavy trunks on board and was traveling from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to begin a business there. At the appointed hour, the trunks were emptied of their contents (pistols and cutlasses) by Col. Zarona’s followers. Madame La Force disrobed, revealing none other than the colonel himself, in full Zouave uniform. Zarona and Hollins took over the steamer, later capturing three Northern merchantmen. The pair was proclaimed vicious pirates in the North and treated like heroes throughout the South.

Our speaker: John V. Quarstein is an award-winning historian, preservationist, and author. He is director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. The author of 17 books, including Fort Monroe: The Key to the South, A History of Ironclads: The Power of Iron Over Wood, The CSS Virginia: Sink Before Surrender, and The Monitor Boys: The Crew of the Union's First Ironclad, winner of the 2012 Henry Adams Prize for excellence in historical literature. Mr. Quarstein has also produced, narrated and written several PBS documentaries including the film series, "Civil War in Hampton Roads", a Silver Telly Award winner.

Mr. Quarstein is the recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s President’s Award for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Society’s Preservation Award, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Gold Historians Medal. Lastly, John ably served as our guide on the Roundtable's September 2017 field trip to Fort Monroe, the Mariners' Museum and the 1862 Peninsula Campaign.

Mr. Quarstein lives in the National Register of Historic Places property known as the 1757 Herbert House. This outstanding example of brick Georgian architecture is located near Blackbeard’s Point on the Hampton River in Hampton, Virginia.


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 by sending an email to .

From the Charger

Newsletter of the Cleveland CWRT

Lee's Daughters
By David A. Carrino

Part 1 of a 6-part series

Prior to the Civil War, the four daughters of Robert E. and Mary Lee lived idyllic lives in a home with beautifully scenic surroundings, and they looked forward to a tranquil, secure future. All of that changed on April 20, 1861 when their father made a decision that drastically altered the lives of every member of his family. For the next four years Lee's daughters, like daughters throughout the warring sections of the country, lived lives of sacrifice, hardship, and deep personal loss. When a country engages in war, many if not most people on the home front are adversely affected, particularly for a large-scale war like the Civil War. Such was the case for the women of the Lee family. During the Civil War all four of the men in the Lee family went into combat, but everyone in the Lee family, including the women, went to war.

Robert E. Lee

When the war ended, the Lee daughters were without a home and without a future, in one case literally. The lives that the Lee daughters lived after the Civil War in no way resembled their serene pre-war existence. Although these four women are remembered primarily because their father was one of the most iconic figures of America's greatest conflict, these women nevertheless deserve history's attention, if only because of what they were forced to sacrifice due to their father's ill-fated decision. To that end, this article tells the stories of Mary, Annie, Agnes, and Mildred Lee, the four daughters of Robert E. and Mary Lee, each of whom has a unique life story. Lee's daughters' entry into history was via their father, but the legacies of Mary, Annie, Agnes, and Mildred stand on their own. In fact, the legacies of Mary, Annie, Agnes, and Mildred deserve to stand on their own. The sections of this article which focus on each of the four daughters are not meant to be a detailed biography of each daughter, but are intended to describe the character of each of these women through their experiences, through some of their words, and through words about them from their contemporaries.


Civil War Travelogue
A Visit to Fort Jackson
By Paul Siedel

Fort Jackson today

Another Civil War site off the beaten path and one that is well worth visiting is the National Historic site incorporating Fort Jackson at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  Fort Jackson is located about 60 miles southeast of New Orleans on Rt. 23. An easy drive down Rt. 23 affords one a good picture of the agriculture, orange groves, cattle farms and oil industry that make up much of the state's economy. Also located along the route is "Woodland Plantation" where David Farragut stopped and spent the night. The Woodland Plantation House is famous in its own right as it is the house that is featured on the label of Southern Comfort Whiskey. The plantation is also a nice place to stop and have lunch if one is so inclined.

In April 1862 the U.S. Gulf Blockading Squadron under the command of Commodore David Glasgow Farragut entered the mouth of the Mississippi River with the intent of seizing New Orleans and establishing a Federal foothold in the deep south. New Orleans was by far the South’s largest city with a population of around 175,0000. Guarding the approaches to the city were two heavily armed forts at the mouth of the Mississippi River.


Jubal Early: Lee’s Bad Old Man
By Dennis Keating

Edward H. Bonekemper III, our September 2017 speaker on “The Myth of the Lost Cause”, writes of Jubal Early in his 2015 book:

Early, who faltered at Gettysburg, lost the Shenandoah Valley and his corps, been relieved of his command by Lee, and fled the country for a few years after the war, was an early critic of Longstreet and others who could be blamed for Lee’s shortcomings. Early was a better propagandist than general. As an author and president of the Lee Monument Association, the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the Southern Historical Society, he acted as Lee’s chief votary for three decades. (p. 112)

Jubal Early

Called by Robert E. Lee his “Bad Old Man”, who was Jubal Early and what was his record during and after the Civil War? Early was one of ten children born in 1816 to a slave-holding family owning a tobacco plantation in southwestern Virginia. The owner of a single slave himself, Early was a strong supporter of slavery and a believer in white supremacy. He entered West Point in the class of 1837 with many Civil War officers on both sides (e.g., Braxton Bragg, John Pemberton, Joseph Hooker and John Sedgewick). A mess hall altercation with Lewis Armistead led to the latter’s dismissal from West Point. After graduation, he served briefly in the Seminole war in Florida before resigning and practicing law in Virginia. He served a term in the Virginia legislature. He volunteered during the Mexican war but didn’t see combat.


Some Thoughts on the Removal of Southern Civil War-Related Symbols
By John C. Fazio

Jefferson Davis birthplace memorial

The recent dismantling and removal of Southern statuary, monuments and other symbols relating to the Civil War and its aftermath has, not surprisingly, generated a lot of heat between those favoring the same and those opposed. It is also unsurprising that proponents and opponents are often identified by race, so that a political and regional conflict morphs into a racial one. For this and other reasons, we need to ask ourselves if what appears to be such a good idea, and one whose time has come, is really that, or if our country and its citizenry would be better served by a different approach, one more in keeping with "the better angels of our nature", to use Lincoln's immortal phrase from his First Inaugural Address. 

Let me make myself clear:  I am a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist and therefore believe that the right side won the war. The alternative, in my judgment, would have resulted in the Balkanization of the country, if not the continent, with interminable fratricide. Further, I also believe that it was time for slavery to go. All the major powers of the time (Great Britain, France and Russia), and most of the lesser powers, had already abolished it. The Confederate government's rear-guard action on the path that led to the future, therefore, stood no chance against the locomotive of history. I also believe, strongly, that the highest levels of that government and its Secret Service, principally President Jefferson Davis and Secretary of State Judah Benjamin and the head of the Secret Service in Canada, Jacob Thompson, were complicit in the attempt to decapitate the United States government on the night of April 14, 1865.  On the other hand, I also believe that this conviction does not have much relevance to regional relationships more than150 years after the fact and that, for that reason and others, our country and its citizenry are better served by letting sleeping dogs lie.


History Briefs

A small glimpse into the Civil War era

The Most Fulfilling Kind of Immortality
By David A. Carrino
Roundtable Historian

In its most basic sense, immortality simply means to live forever. However, there are several different concepts of immortality. In a religious sense, immortality means to pass into the afterlife and exist for all eternity. Napoleon Bonaparte characterized his view of immortality when he asserted, "There is no immortality but the memory that is left in the minds of men." Comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen expressed a desire for a more practical immortality in his remark, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying." The kind of immortality that Woody Allen wished for was granted to the ancient Greek mythological character Tithonus, but with a very unpleasant side effect. According to the myth, Tithonus became the lover of Eos, the goddess of the dawn. As a result, Eos beseeched Zeus to make Tithonus immortal, so that he could remain her lover for all time. Zeus was not at all pleased that a goddess would take a mortal as her lover, but in spite of that, Zeus granted Eos her wish. However, he did so with a tragic twist. Zeus made Tithonus immortal, but he did not bestow eternal youth on Tithonus. As a result, Tithonus lived forever, but never stopped aging, and eventually his body became so crippled by the ravages of age that he was uselessly infirm. Technically, the immortality that was conferred on Tithonus conforms to the immortality that Woody Allen said he desires. But if Woody Allen realizes that Tithonus' immortality is an option that fits his request, then he might be more specific about the immortality he craves.

Perhaps the most lofty expression of immortality is found in an ode by the ancient Roman poet, Horace. In that ode, Horace described his concept of immortality as "a monument more lasting than bronze and higher than the royal structure of the pyramids, which neither devouring rain, nor the unrestrained North Wind can destroy, nor the immeasurable succession of years and the flight of time. I shall not totally die, and a greater part of me will evade death." Horace's concept of immortality is the kind of immortality that comes to people who live on in history through their deeds and accomplishments. This type of immortality fits with Napoleon's version, and while it does not satisfy Woody Allen's version of immortality, it at least avoids the highly unpleasant aspects of the immortality of Tithonus. Moreover, the immortality of which Horace wrote is especially fulfilling, because, as Horace wrote regarding his concept of immortality, "a greater part of me will evade death." While the immortality that was espoused by Horace is not perfect, it is certainly very desirable. This kind of immortality ca


New On the Bookshelf

Recent Additions to the Civil War Literature

A Review of Pickett’s Charge: A New Look at Gettysburg’s Final Attack by Phillip Thomas Tucker
By Dennis Keating

Historian Phillip Thomas Tucker claims about the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge on the third day at Gettysburg:

Lee’s complex battle plan on July 3 was more brilliant than Napoleon’s at Waterloo…Lee unleashed a sophisticated and complex, three-part tactical plan to split the Army of the Potomac in two. Despite the failure of Stuart’s cavalry to charge into the rear of Meade’s right-center, and the lack of Longstreet’s and Hill’s coordination of the offensive effort as Lee bitterly reflected for the rest of his days, the attack had nearly succeeded nevertheless. (p. 359)

According to Tucker, Lee’s plan was to have simultaneous assaults not only by the Pickett-Pettigrew force accompanied by flying artillery and follow-up reinforcements but also by Ewell’s corps on Culp’s Hill and by Lee’s cavalry under Jeb Stuart attacking from the rear of Meade’s center (p. XXIV). Tucker also claims that despite the failure of Ewell’s attack being coordinated with the charge in Meade’s front and the failure of Stuart breaking through on the East Cavalry Field, the charge almost succeeded.


A Review of The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln’s General, Master Builder of the Union Army by Robert O’Harrow, Jr.
By Dennis Keating

One of the most amazing figures of the Civil War was Montgomery Meigs, the quartermaster of the Union army and one of the critical architects of its victory. His life is recounted by Washington Post investigative reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr.

Meigs was born in 1816 in Augusta, Georgia where his father was beginning his medical career. However, because slavery literally made his mother ill, they returned to Philadelphia, where Meigs enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania (where I got my law degree) at the age of 15. He then entered West Point in 1832 and graduated high in his class and was assigned to the Corps of Engineers.

While working on improving navigation on the Mississippi River, his superior and roommate was Robert E. Lee. During the Mexican War, Meigs was assigned to build fortifications near Detroit to defend against a possible British invasion. Postwar, Meigs was assigned to Washington City. There, he made his mark with the planning and construction of an aqueduct from Great Falls to finally provide a decent water supply for the capital city. His next major engineering achievement under the direction of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was to oversee the extension of the U.S. Capitol, which he modeled on the Roman Pantheon and the Greek Parthenon. His vision produced the Dome over the capitol and the Statue of Freedom atop it. Even as he worked tirelessly on these signature projects, he and his wife lost two of their sons to disease.


A Review of Days of Defiance by Maury Kleine
By Daniel Bonder

Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War was published in 1997. Its heavily footnoted 430 pages trace the run-up to the Civil War. The vast majority of the book focuses on the time period from Lincoln’s election through the fall of Fort Sumter. There are flashbacks to several important historical events that helped to set the stage for secession. These included Buchanan’s election whose inaction and lack of leadership in the face of the gathering storm left little room for any other outcome but war.

Numerous individuals, both significant and lesser known are followed through those fateful six months. The author provides substantial detail regarding the actors’ lives, relationships, thoughts and actions. These asides relating to the subject person’s background tend to take away from the flow of the historical events. However, if one wants to learn about their personalities, motivations and internal conflicts, the author provides much of that type of information.



2018-19 Program Schedule

The Charger Archives | 04/19

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Featured Articles

Wilson’s 1865 Raid
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Ulysses S. Grant in Georgetown, Ohio – The Indispensable Man’s Boyhood Home
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Railroads in the Civil War
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On Inconvenient Truth and Convenient Fiction
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Jefferson Davis Monuments:
Being Removed?

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The Contested Centennial Presidential Election of 1876
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No Horse of Mine
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The Campaign Against the Confederate Battle Flag
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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
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The Confederate Battle Flag, Personal License Plates, and Litigation
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"Beyond the Battlefield": An Ohio History Connection Symposium
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The April 1861 Madness
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Shelby Foote was Wrong!
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A Rebuttal to “Shelby Foote Was Wrong”
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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
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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


Executive Committee

Dan Ursu


C. Ellen Connally

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Steve Pettyjohn


Mark Porter


Dave Carrino


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Howard Besser


Chris Fortunato


Hans Kuenzi


Jean Rhodes


Paul Burkholder


Dennis Keating
Mike Wells

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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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