Our March Newsletter and Meeting Notice!

Clarksville Civil War Roundtable

Founded March, 2004 – Clarksville, Tennessee

March 18th, 2009 – Our 60th Meeting – and our 5th Birthday!!!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009, in the café of Borders Books in Governor’s Square Mall. This is located on Wilma Rudolph Blvd (Hwy 79) south of Exit 4 off I-24, then head south a bit. The mall is on the left. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and is always open to the public. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.


“The Sultana: America’s Greatest Maritime Disaster and Civil War Tragedy”

Most people, even those interested in Civil War history, are unaware that the greatest maritime disaster in American history was the explosion of the steamer “Sultana” on April 27, 1865, on the Mississippi River with the loss of 1,800 souls. This vessel was transporting home recently released Union POWs from the infamous Confederate pens at Andersonville, GA, and Cahaba, AL. Through greed, human error, and bad fortune, about 2,100 soldiers and nearly 200 passengers and crew faced death by explosion, fire, or drowning when the ship’s boilers blew up at 2:00 a. m. about seven miles above Memphis, TN.

Our speaker, Norman Shaw, will describe the last journey of the Sultana and the factors that led to the tragedy. Included will be the story of the Union 3rd Tenn. Cavalry, comprised of men from the Knoxville area, which had aboard a remnant of 360 survivors from the war and Cahaba. Mr. Shaw’s talk will conclude with a brief account of the work of the Sultana Association over the last twenty years.

Norman Shaw’s study of the American Civil War started in earnest following his graduation from law school and taking a position as a title attorney in Knoxville, TN, in 1981 where he works and resides today. In 1983, Mr. Shaw founded the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable and later became its first president. He continues to be active in the KCWRT and is currently its Program Chairman.

In 1987, Mr. Shaw started the Sultana Association with a current national membership of about 150 folks which meets annually in Knoxville or other cities connected with the “Sultana” story. He worked with the “Blue and Gray” magazine to publish a “Sultana” issue which eventually came out in August of 1990. Mr. Shaw is a member of the Civil War Preservation Trust and the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association.


The Clarksville CWRT was treated to a return visit by Dr. Glenn LaFantasie of Western Kentucky University where he teaches Civil War history and is also the director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War in the Western Theater. We were most fortunate to hear a new program regarding President Abraham Lincoln and the American military tradition. Beginning with some background as to how the American military tradition developed and its subservience to the civilian elected authority, Prof. LaFantasie then delved into how Lincoln, operating in extraordinary circumstances that no American president to date had faced, moved within the system constructed by his political predecessors. To be sure the times dictated some changes with Lincoln working to develop Union war strategy and often enough, clashing with his generals over it. It would not be until 1864, when Generals Grant and Sherman rose to prominence, that Lincoln began to relax quite a bit even though he disagreed with Grant initially. In between, Lincoln learned, grew as a commander in chief and made mistakes. But ultimately he won his war.

It was also most interesting to note that Dr. LaFantasie still thought highly of T. Harry Williams’ book Lincoln And His Generals despite it being over 50 years old! Your editor fully concurs!

Thanks Glenn for a wonderful and illuminating program.

April, 2009 – Kevin Tanner, Austin Peay State University – “John Brown And The Civil War”
May, 2009 – Jeff Patrick, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield – “A Mean Fowt Fight; The Battle of Wilson’s Creek”
June, 2009 – Jim Epperson, University of Michigan – “The Prisoner Of War Cartel”
July, 2009 – Prof. Earl Hess, Lincoln Memorial University – “The Rifled Musket in the Civil War” (based on his book)
August, 2009 – Dr. Michele Butts, Austin Peay State University – “1st U.S. Volunteers, Galvanized Yankees.”
September, 2009 – Lee Anderson, Western Kentucky University/Clarksville CWRT – “The Myth Of Total War”
October, 2009 – Thomas Cartwright, former Director, Carter House Historic Site – “The Battle of Thompson’s Station”
November, 2009 –
December, 2009 – Max Hochstetler, Austin Peay State University/Clarksville CWRT – “The Decker Brothers and the 32nd Indiana Infantry in the Civil War”
February, 2010 – Dr. Wally Cross, Austin Peay State University, “The Commanders Of Ft. Donelson”


Thanks to all of you, the Clarksville CWRT continues to grow. We would love to have you join us! If you have friends interested in the Civil War, please bring them along. July is our fiscal year when dues for the current campaign were due. If you haven’t paid your dues for this season yet please do so. Our dues help us get great speakers and for historical preservation. Annual dues are as follows:

Single membership – $20
Family – $30
Military – Active duty and Veterans – $15
Military Family – Active duty and Veterans – $25
Student – $10

Former members and our many guests – We would love to see you back at the Clarksville CWRT meetings every month and we hope that you will consider rejoining us! To our guests, thank you for much for coming to see what we are about. Your dues money goes towards helping to pay the travel expenses we get to visit us so we hope that you considering joining our ranks very soon. Welcome to our new members!!!!!



Mark your calendars for Friday, March 27th and Saturday, March 28th, 2009 for the “The Cavalry: A Conference On Mounted Warfare” to be held at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville. Hosted by Belle Meade, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and the Tennessee State Museum, the event will feature lectures and tours related to cavalry operations in Middle Tennessee. It is being held in conjunction with the “Hoofbeats In The Heartland” touring exhibit from the Tennessee State Museum.

The event begins on Friday evening, March 27th with a program by Dr. Richard McMurry, “Uncompromising Secessionist: James Knox Miller and the 8th Confederate Cavalry.” On Saturday, March 28th, the luncheon program features Dr. Brian McKnight of Angelo State University in Texas with “Champ Ferguson: Tennessee Terror.” Other programs include: Myers Brown, Tennessee State Museum on “Loyal Cavaliers: Tennessee’s Unionist Cavalrymen” (based on his recent book – Clarksville’s Borders has this in stock); Dr. Lonnie Maness, Univ. of Tennessee-Martin, “Lightning Warfare: Forrest’s West Tennessee Raid” and Greg Biggs, Clarksville CWRT, “Turning The Tide: The Union Cavalry at the Battle of Shelbyville.” Thomas Cartwright, former director of the Carter House State Historic Site, will conduct a tour of Belle Meade which was the site of a cavalry battle during the Battle of Nashville as well as CS Gen. James Chalmers’ headquarters during the fight.

Registration is only $65 for the entire program with military, teachers and student discounts available.

For more details please call Jenny Lamb at Belle Meade at (615) 356-0501 (email interpretation@bellemeadeplantation.com) or Jeff Sellers at the Tennessee State Museum at (615)253-0142 (email jeff.sellers@state.tn.us). Registration deadline is March 20th, 2009. For more information and directions visit http://www.bellemeadeplantation.com.

Let’s see a big turnout from the Clarksville CWRT!!!!

The Parkers Crossroads Battlefield spring lantern walk is scheduled for Saturday, March 21 at dusk. Guides will lead groups on lantern lighted tours through the battlefield with volunteers portraying soldiers and civilians sharing stories taken from the letters and diaries of the period. The 40 minute walk will start at tour stop 7 which is located south of I-40.
The battlefield is located off Exit 108 off I-40 west of Nashville. Turn east onto Federal Lane traveling approximately 1/4 mile to the battlefield parking area. The event is open and free to the public. Trails are wheelchair accessible. For more information call Sue Jordan at 731-986-5572 evenings or visit their website at http://www.parkerscrossroads.com. Please support Tennessee’s newest battlefield park!


The History Department of Austin Peay State University will present a program on Monday, April 6, 2009 by historian Alecia Long of Louisiana State University. Her topic will be “Mis-remembering General Order No. 28: Benjamin Butler, the Woman Order, and Historical Memory.”

Union Gen. Benjamin “Beast” Butler, one of the many politically appointed generals, was the military governor of New Orleans after the city’s fall in April, 1862. During his rule, he issued several decrees pertaining to the heavily pro-Southern population that would earn him much scorn from the populace, in particular the women of the city. From wearing small Confederate flags to crossing to the opposite sides of the street when Union soldiers were near, the Crescent City’s population resisted in their own manner. Butler’s picture would eventually find a place of honor in the bottoms of ladies chamber pots.

Though Butler fancied himself a man of war, he found the verbal and symbolic abuse heaped upon himself and his soldiers by the city’s female population too much to bear. Thus, on May 15, 1862 he issued his infamous General Order Number 28 – The Woman Order. The order concluded that any woman who did not behave herself would “be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.” In a city as well known for prostitution as New Orleans, the implied threat of sexual violence on the part of the occupying Union forces, though veiled, was all to clear.

A small number of historians, including Mary Ryan, Drew Gilpin Faust and Catherine Clinton, have analyzed Butler’s time in New Orleans from a perspective that incorporates gender. Yet these writers, like most traditional Civil War historians, have concluded that General Order No. 28 was quite successful in subduing and taming the she-rebels of New Orleans.

Professor Long takes a different view of Butler’s order and her program will show that General Order No. 28 was only the opening salvo in what became an ongoing war of wills between occupying forces and the women of New Orleans.

The program will be at the university’s Gentry Auditorium, and it will begin at 6 pm. It is free and open to the public. For more information please contact Minoa Uffelman, APSU Department of History and Philosophy, (931)221-7704 or by email at:

We thank Prof. Uffelman for this excellent program notice and her wanting to have the Clarksville CWRT’s members be involved. Let’s all support our local university!


On Monday, April 20th, 2009, the new Nashville Civil War Roundtable will have its debut meeting. The meetings will be held the third Mondays of each month so as to take advantage of working with the Middle Tennessee CWRT (third Tuesdays) and Clarksville CWRT (third Wednesdays) in sharing long distance speakers. All meetings will be held at historic Ft. Negley Park in Nashville in the new visitor’s center. Ft. Negley is a unit of Nashville’s Metro Parks and our own Krista Castillo is site manager (we are SO proud of her!!!).

There has not been a CWRT in Nashville for a few years and a number of people have been discussing forming one while trying to decide where to meet. With Krista going to Ft. Negley and her invitation to have meetings there, everything fell into place. The first speaker will be James Hoobler of the Tennessee State Museum on “Occupied Nashville.” Hoobler is a well known author of two photo oriented books on Tennessee in the Civil War. A slate of other speakers has already been booked.

We hope everyone in the Middle Tennessee area who is interested in the Civil War will support the newest roundtable in the state. Ft. Negley Park is next to the Nashville Sounds baseball stadium and behind the Science Museum right off I-65. More details in next month’s newsletter. For more information please email Krista.Castillo@nashville.gov or call (615)862-8470. The park’s website is http://www.nashville.gov/parks/historic/fortnegley.


Not only is March the birthday of the Clarksville CWRT, it is also time to choose a slate of officers. Officers as stated by the membership are: president, vice president, secretary/newsletter and treasurer. If anyone is interested in running for one of those offices please make it known at this month’s meeting.

CWRTs are made up of its members and it is always encouraging to see the membership help run the organization so please consider running for something. The members can also suggest a new officer post, such as preservation chair, tours chair, etc. Other CWRTs have such officers and it might be something to consider for our’s.

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