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Speaker Profiles

Biographical profiles of Roundtable speakers

Gregg Biggs - 12/12/07, "Nathan Bedford Forrest: Napoleonic Cavalryman"

Gregg Biggs is a Civil War author, editor, researcher and tour guide specializing in the war fought in the western theater - in particular Sherman's Atlanta campaign, the battle for Fort Donelson and CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  He has held executive positions with several Civil War Roundtables and preservation and historical societies including the Western Ohio Civil War Roundtable, the Ohio Civil War Association, the Clarksville, TN Civil War Roundtable and the Montgomery County Civil War Preservation Society and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Center For the Study of the Civil War in the West at Western Kentucky University.

As an author, Mr. Biggs' Civil War articles have appeared in Blue & Gray Magazine (where he also served as an Associate Editor), Civil War Regiments, Citizen's Companion, American Vexillum Magazine and the Flags Of The Confederacy website.  He has authored or co-authored several books including the forthcoming, Tattered Banners: Alabama's Civil War Flags, I Go To Illustrate Georgia: Civil War Flags Of Georgia Troops and Tennessee's Civil War Flags.  Mr. Biggs has also contributed research to the Civil War works of authors Larry Daniel, Robert Maberry, Gordon Rhea, Russell Brown, John Coski, Wiley Sword, John Sexton, Eric Wittenberg and Andrew Johnson as well as to artists Don Troiani, John Paul Strain and Dale Gallon.

Mr. Biggs has co-lead tours with Ed Bearss and Brian Wills and has lead multiple Civil War Roundtables and military groups on tours of Civil War Atlanta, Fort Donelson as well as various spots from Cairo, IL. to Clarksville, TN.

George Buss and Timothy Connors - 09/12/07, The Lincoln - Douglas Debates

George Buss is a sixth-generation Illinoisan whose family came to Illinois the same year Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress (1847).  He is a native of Freeport, Illinois and serves on the Board of Directors of the Stephen Douglas Association of Chicago (an organization for which he is also a past president), the Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin, and the Lincoln-Douglas Society of Freeport. He is also a charter member of the Lincoln Forum.  Mr. Buss holds degrees from Ball State University and National-Louis University.  

Through nearly twenty years of research on Lincoln, Douglas, and the politics of the 1850s, Mr. Buss has collected a considerable library of speeches, letters and documents produced not only by Lincoln and Douglas, but their contemporaries in both Houses of Congress - material that forms the foundation for his presentations.  He has been appearing as Abraham Lincoln since 1989, when a friend authored the script, “A Discussion with President Lincoln and Judge Douglas."  Over that time, Mr. Buss has portrayed Lincoln many times for many audiences, including the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable back in 2004.

Tim Connors is also a life-long resident of Freeport where he is Director of Speech and Theatre for the Freeport Public Schools.  Under his direction, Freeport has produced nearly two-dozen state qualifiers in the annual IHSA Speech Competition, eight State Finalists, and one State Champion.  

Mr. Connors is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, where he earned both graduate and undergraduate degrees.  He has appeared in nearly 30 community theatre events, directed some twenty productions and received multiple awards for his work.  He is a member of the Lincoln-Douglas Society and the Stephen A. Douglas Association.

James F. Epperson - 06/13/07, "The Lincoln-Baldwin Conference"

Jim Epperson, a member of the Ann Arbor Civil War Roundtable, is a 50-something editor and author with interests in Civil War history and the sports teams of his alma mater, the University of Michigan. He currently works for Mathematical Reviews, the premier mathematics reviewing and abstracting journal in the world. In previous lives, he was an avid war-gamer and model railroader, activities he wishes he had more time for now.  He indulges an avocational interest in the American Civil War by maintaining three web sites, two of which have won several awards:

John C. Fazio - 05/14/08, "The USS Kearsarge v The CSS Alabama"

John C. Fazio has lived for half a century in the Greater Cleveland area and is currently a resident of Fairlawn, an Akron suburb. He is married, with five children, all of whom have left the nest. His wife, Mary, is retired, after a career in public relations. John joined her in retirement in 2014 after practicing law for 49 years.

John is a student of history with an emphasis on European and American history and with an even greater emphasis on the most defining event in American history, namely the Civil War, or as it is sometimes called, the War Between the States, and even the War of Northern Aggression. (It's official title is the War of the Rebellion.) He has been a member of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable for about 10 years and was its Vice-President in 2005-2006 and President in 2006-2007. He frequently lectures on the war and has written numerous articles on the subject, including:

  • Braxton Bragg, A Dour Martinet

  • Eye of the Storm (A review of Robert Sneden's memoir)

  • Francis and Arabella -- A Love Story (Francis C. Barlow and his wife, Arabella Griffith Barlow)

  • John and Fanny -- A Love Story (John B. Gordon and his wife, Fanny Haralson Gordon)

  • Francis and Arabella; John and Fanny: Love and War

  • Intrepid Mariners (John A. Winslow and Raphael Semmes; the Kearsarge - Alabama duel)

  • The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

  • The Montana Vigilantes

  • The Turning Point: The Wilderness and Spotsylvania

  • The Sword Was Mightier Than The Pen (Wartime correspondence between William T. Sherman and John Bell Hood)

  • The Proclamation That Saved A Nation (The Emancipation Proclamation)

John recently completed a book on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln after five years of research and writing, titled Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln. Publication is expected in March, 2015. For additional information, please contact the author at .

Harold A. George - 03/14/07, "Custer's Last Stand"

Harold A. George has a collection of nearly 100 books on Custer’s Last Stand and is a member of the Little Bighorn Association, a national organization that researches and studies the battle. He has studied the history of the battle for 25 years and has visited the Montana battlefield many times. 

A member of Cleveland Grays, Mr. George has been a Civil War re-enactor since 1992. He serves as the commanding officer of an artillery Civil War re-enactment unit, the 9th Ohio Light Artillery. He has participated in the re-enactments commemorating the 135th and 140th anniversaries of the Battle of Gettysburg as well as in the filming of the Ted Turner produced film, “Gettysburg.” 

He is the author of Quick Reference Guide to the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Jim Getty - 04/13/05 , "A Night with the President"
from Gettysburg Consulting Group

A native of central Illinois, Jim Getty now resides in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he portrays the 16th President in a one-man show during the tourist season. The program has received the Pennsylvania Travel Excellence Award.

Mr. Getty holds a Master of Music degree from Illinois Wesleyan University. He taught choral music in St. Charles, Illinois, Naperville, Illinois, Sandusky, Ohio, and was director of Choral Activities at The University of Maine.  A member of National Speakers Association and The International Platform Association, Mr. Getty regularly speaks to schools and colleges, conventions and business meetings.

Having spent years in research of Lincoln and his contemporaries, Mr. Getty has developed several "first person" presentations as the President. Participation in National and State Government festivities are a part of his schedule each year.

Mr. Getty has worked with The Close-Up Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Seminars and The Corcoran Gallery. He participates in the leadership Conferences offered by The Tigrett Corporation.  Mr. Getty's voice is that of the President in two A & E programs: (1) Abraham Lincoln; A Biography, and (2) The Assassination of President Lincoln. Mr. Getty also portrayed Lincoln in the Turner Television film, "The Ironclads".  The Delta Steamboat Company employs Mr. Getty to portray President Lincoln on each of their several, annual Civil War Cruises.  For more on Mr. Getty, visit: http://www.gettysbg.com/alincoln.html

Harold Holzer - 05/11/05, "U.S. Grant, Seen and Heard"
from HaroldHolzer.com

Harold Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, he serves as co-chairman of the United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed by President Clinton in September 2000, and elected co-chairman in 2001.  For a more complete biography go to: http://www.haroldholzer.com/bio.html

Mr. Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 23 books, including:

  • The Lincoln Image (1984); Changing the Lincoln Image (1985); and The Confederate Image, (1987), all with Mark E. Neely, Jr. and Gabor S. Boritt;

  • The Lincoln Family Album (1990), Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art (1993), and The Union Image (2000) with Neely;

  • Lincoln on Democracy (1990) with Mario M. Cuomo.

  • The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1993);

  • Washington and Lincoln Portrayed (1993);

  • Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President (1993);

  • Witness to War (1996); The Civil War Era (1996);

  • The Lincoln Mailbag: America Writes to the President (1998);

  • The Union Preserved (with Daniel Lorello, 1999),

  • The Lincoln Forum: Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, and the Civil War (co-edited with John Y. Simon and William Pederson, 1999);

  • Lincoln as I Knew Him (1999);

  • Lincoln Seen and Heard (2000);

  • Abraham Lincoln, The Writer (2000, named to the Children's Literature Choice List, and the Bank Street "Best Children's Books of the Year");

  • Prang's Civil War: The Complete Battle Chromos of Louis Prang (2001),

  • State of the Union: New York and the Civil War (2002);

  • The Lincoln Forum: Rediscovering Abraham Lincoln (co-edited with John Y. Simon, 2002);

  • The President is Shot! The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (2004).

  • Lincoln At Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President (2004).

In addition, Mr. Holzer has written more than 350 articles for both popular magazines and scholarly journals, including Life Magazine, American Heritage, Civil War Times, American History Illustrated, North & South, Blue & Gray, The Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Brian Kowell - 02/13/08, Civil War Quiz

Brian has been a student of the Civil War since conception. A tennis major in college, the Roundtable has been unable to prevent him from continuing to indulge his fondness for Judson Kilpatrick. 

Over the years, Mr. Kowell has contributed many articles to the Charger and has made presentations to the Roundtable on several occasions.  He is known for his half-vast knowledge of Civil War horses and those who rode them.  Mr. Kowell has been a member of the Roundtable since 1975, is a past president and was editor of the Charger for many years.  Brian is married and has five children.

John F.  Marszalek - 10/13/04, "Halleck" (Link to Commander of All Lincoln's Armies)
from the Mississippi's Writers Page

Historian John F. Marszalek was born July 5, 1939, in Buffalo, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College in 1961 and a master’s from Notre Dame in 1963. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1965-67, in which he attained the rank of captain, he returned to Notre Dame and earned a Ph.D. in 1968. He taught at Canisius College and Gannon University before joining the faculty at Mississippi State University in Starkville in 1973, where he was named the William L. Giles Distinguished Professor in 1994. He has written or edited eleven books of history and published more than 150 articles over the course of his career.

In 2002 he retired from his faculty position at Mississippi State, but he continues to work, currently serving as a consultant for several historical commissions. He is now working on a biography of the Civil War’s longest serving commanding general, Henry W. Halleck, which is scheduled for publication in 2004 by Harvard University Press.

Mr. Marszalek was featured on C-SPAN’s Booknotes on March 8, 1998, to discuss his book The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House.


  • Court Martial: A Black Man in America. New York: Scribner, 1972; revised edition published as Assault at West Point (Collier, 1994).

  • (With Sadye Wier.) A Black Businessman in White Mississippi, 1886- 1974. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1977.

  • (Editor.) The Diary of Miss Emma Holmes, 1861-1866. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979.

  • Sherman’s Other War: The General and the Civil War Press. Memphis State University Press, 1981.

  • (With Douglas L. Conner.) A Black Physician’s Story: Bringing Hope in Mississippi. Foreword by Aaron Henry. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985.

  • Grover Cleveland, A Bibliography. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1988.

  • (Editor with Charles D. Lowery.) Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present. Foreword by David J. Garrow. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1992.

  • Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order. New York: Free Press, 1993.
    Assault at West Point: The Court-Martial of Johnson Whittaker. New York: Maxwell Macmillan International/Collier, 1994.

  • (Coeditor with Wilson D. Miscamble.) American Political History: Essays on the State of the Discipline. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1997.
    The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson’s White House. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000.

Mel Maurer - 04/09/08, "Jesse James, The Last Rebel"

Mel Maurer is a retired executive of the Dana Corporation and a student of history. He is a past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable (now its Historian) as well as the Philosophical Club of Cleveland, and a member of the Titanic Historic Society. An Abraham Lincoln scholar, Mr. Maurer is a lifetime member of the Lincoln Forum, attending its Symposium in Gettysburg every November. 

Mr. Maurer and his wife, Elaine live in Westlake, Ohio. They have four children (his son, Rick, is also a member of the Roundtable) and eight grandchildren. His interests include writing, acting and speaking on community affairs, charitable causes, history and political issues.

Timothy B. Smith - 03/09/05 , "Myths of Shiloh"

Timothy Smith holds a Ph.D. in history from Mississippi State University.  He worked for years as Park Ranger at the Shiloh National Battlefield Park and now teaches history at the University of Tennessee.  His books include:

  • This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park (2004)

  • Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg (2004)

  • The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield (2006)

Jon Thompson - 05/09/07, "The Civil War Letters and Diary of Private Alfred Weedon"

Jon Thompson is the great-great grandson of Alfred Weedon, a private in the 26th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Among his small collection of Civil War artifacts, Mr. Thompson prizes most the 75 letters his ancestor wrote to his wife, Eliza, during the war. His presentation allows the audience to hold and read the actual letters.

Mr. Thompson retired in 2006 after a thirty-seven year career teaching English and Civil War history for the Westlake, Ohio City Schools. He graduated from Ohio University, obtained a Masters degree from John Carroll University, and did post-graduate work in education at Baldwin-Wallace College and Kent State University.

Combining his love of literature and history, Mr. Thompson has written several Civil War plays. In 1991 he created a Blue & Gray Ball at his school, which remains today an annual event. For years he appeared in the classroom in costume performing various Civil War personae, both fictional and non-fictional. In 2000, with the support of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, of which he's a member, Mr. Thompson created an annual Civil War Poetry Contest for students. As a teacher he always enjoyed taking his students to Gettysburg and placing "Roses of Honor" at various sites on the battlefield, and he still takes great pleasure in helping to make Civil War history come alive for others.

William F.B. Vodrey - 03/12/08, "Raid!: The Confederacy Comes to St. Albans, Vermont"

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 recently launched the effort to have the U.S. Navy name a new class of nuclear-powered submarine the Monitor, in honor of the famous ironclad. 

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.

Marjorie Wilson - 10/07/07, "General James Barnett, A Man of Many 'Firsts'"

Marge Wilson is a one of the newest members of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable as well as its Executive Committee where she has led the Roundtable into its new relationship with "National History Day." (Begun in Cleveland, National History Days is a national educational competition designed to promote an interest in American history in Junior and Senior high school students.)

Ms. Wilson grew up in 'the East' and is an honors graduate of Cornell University where she majored in nutrition and biochemistry; her early professional years involved writing, teaching and public speaking in these fields.  She was bitten late in life with what she calls the "the Civil War bug." It happened while acting as a Guide at Lake View Cemetery where she met a group from an area Roundtable touring the cemetery in search of Civil War-era people buried there.  From her basic study of several Clevelanders in the Civil War, Ms. Wilson has developed an in-depth report on two Ohio generals: Maj. Gen. Mortimer D. Leggett and Brig. Gen. James Barnett. Since 2004, she has presented her PowerPoint-illustrated commentaries to many groups in the Cleveland area.

Ms. Wilson has two grown daughters, both of whom live in California, where she recently found some rich Civil War archives in the glorious surroundings of Santa Barbara.

Dan Zeiser - 11/14/07, "George Thomas at the Battle of Chickamauga"

Dan Zeiser has been a student of the Civil War since childhood. A history major in college, the Roundtable has permitted him to continue to indulge his fondness for historical figures such as George Thomas.  Over the years, Mr. Zeiser has contributed many articles to The Charger and has made presentations to the Roundtable on several occasions.  He is known, mostly by himself, for his quirky, yet scholarly pieces and always appreciates the kind forbearance of members for his historical ramblings.  

Mr. Zeiser has been a member of the Roundtable since 1992, is a past president and currently serves as Editor of The Charger. Dan is married and has three children. 

The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable