September 16th, 2009 – Our 66th Meeting!
The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, September 16th, 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. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.
OUR SPEAKER AND TOPIC:
“Stealing The General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor”
One of the great stories of the Civil War is the Great Locomotive Chase, or Andrews’ Raid. It has been the topic of several books over time, including memoirs by participants. Two movies, a silent film featuring Buster Keaton, and a later Disney production with Fess Parker that made every effort to be accurate, added to the popularity of this great story.
The book, Stealing The General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal Of Honor, by Atlanta attorney Russell S. Bonds, is the latest, and in the opinion of your newsletter editor, the finest treatment of this raid to date, and it adds much to our understanding of the story. It will be the topic of Mr. Bonds’ program for this month’s Nashville CWRT.
In the Spring of 1862, Union Gen. Ormsby Mitchell conceived a campaign to capture northern Alabama and threaten Chattanooga. As part of this offensive, Mitchell dispatched raiders (mostly Ohio soldiers in civilian clothing) under James J. Andrews to hijack a freight train on the vital Western & Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga and tear up track, burn bridges and cut the telegraph lines. This would prevent reinforcements coming up from Atlanta.
The train in hand and driven by the locomotive The General, Andrews’ men tried to break tracks and burn bridges but were stymied by rain that fell during the raid. They were also pursued by the intrepid conductor, William Fuller and a few others, who first chased them on foot, then by hand car and finally by another locomotive running backwards! After running out of fuel, Andrews and his men were captured north of Ringgold, GA and sent to prison. Some were executed as spies, others escaped and made their way back north. Some of those survivors were the first American soldiers to receive the new Medal of Honor.
Russell Bonds is an in-house lawyer for The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and the author of Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor, winner of the Richard B. Harwell Award for Best Civil War Book in 2007. His new book is War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta. He is also a member of the Atlanta CWRT and the Friends of Kennesaw Mountain. An Atlanta native, Russ is an honor graduate of Georgia Tech and of the University of Georgia’s School of Law. Russ lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife Jill and three daughters—Caroline (11), Sophie (9), and Ava (5).
Please join us as Russell Bonds speaks about the Great Locomotive Chase! Our friends at Borders will have both books in stock for the meeting.
LAST MONTH’S MEETING
Dr. Michele Butts, of Austin Peay State University and author of the book Galvanized Yankees On The Upper Missouri: The Face Of Loyalty, spoke on the topic of the 1st United States Volunteers, formed from former Confederate prisoners of war. Rather than remain at Point Lookout Prison, these men were offered their freedom in exchange for an oath of loyalty and to fight plains Indians. Move to forts along the Missouri River, these men from the South faced harsh climates, hostile tribes and even a lack of support from their new “side” in their efforts to keep open the trails in their part of the vast West. Few today know of their exploits and only two books have covered the topic in detail. Dr. Butts, delivering the program with a firm knowledge of the subject and often laced with humor, also displayed a compassion for her topic that carried over to her audience. Backed with a fine Power Point presentation, it was one of the very best programs delivered to our CWRT.
We highly recommend this program for any Civil War Roundtable out there. Tired of hearing about the same old thing? Then this is a program that your CWRT will very much enjoy!
October, 2009 – Lee Anderson, Western Kentucky University/Clarksville CWRT – “Remembering Calamity: The Total War Fallacy”
November, 2009 – Jim Hoobler, Tennessee State Museum – “Occupied Nashville”
December, 2009 – Max Hochstetler, Austin Peay State University/Clarksville CWRT – “The Decker Brothers and the 32nd Indiana Infantry in the Civil War”
January, 2010 – Howard Kittel, Director and CEO, the Hermitage – “The Civil War In The Shenandoah Valley”
February, 2010 – Dr. Wally Cross, Austin Peay State University, “The Commanders of Ft. Donelson”
March, 2010 – Thomas Cartwright, former Director, Carter House Historic Site – “The Battle of Thompson’s Station”
July, 2010 – Joseph Reinhart, Louisville CWRT and author – “Germans in the Civil War”
MEMBERS AND DUES: – Our dues were due in July – if you have not paid as yet please do so! Please support the CWRT so we can get fine speakers!!
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!!!!!
Clarksville CWRT silent auction – Each month we hold a silent auction of donated items to help raise more money for the club’s treasury. If you have something Civil War related that you would like to donate please bring it to the meeting. Thanks very much to all of you who have donated items.
CIVIL WAR NEWS AND EVENTS:
Murray State University Hosts Dr. John Marszalek At Annual Scholarship Banquet
On Saturday, September 19th, 2009, Dr. John Marszalek, Professor Emeritus, Mississippi State University, noted Civil War historian and author, will address the Eighth Annual
Dr. James W. Hammack Jr. Scholarship banquet. The event begins at 7 PM in the Curris Center ballroom on the campus of Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky. The center
is easy to find and has close by parking.
The event is open to the public and offers a wonderful opportunity to hear such a distinguished historian, who has written biographies of William T. Sherman, Henry Halleck and
President Grover Cleveland, among other works. The proceeds will go to the Hammack Scholarship. The event is sponsored by the Murray State Department of History. For
reservations, which are required, please call Kay Hays at (270)809-2234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $40 per person.
Filson Historical Society of Louisville, KY – Atlanta Campaign Field Trip
The Filson Civil War Field Institute will be doing a tour of the pivotal Atlanta Campaign from October 22-24, 2009. The tour will travel by bus and feature as its guide Charlie Crawford
of the Georgia Battlefield Protection Association. On Thursday, October 22nd, a keynote speech will be given by Richard McMurry, one of the finest historians of the Western Theater
and a noted author.
Among the sites to be visited are: Resaca, New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield, General Leonidas Polk Monument, Kennesaw Battlefield, Atlanta History Center, the
Atlanta Cyclorama, the Southern Museum in Kennesaw and battlefield sites around Atlanta.
The tour will be based in Cartersville, GA (379 miles from Louisville, KY) which is located 45 minutes north of Atlanta at the Fairfield Inn-Marriot. Call 770-387-0400 to make
your hotel reservations. Mention Filson Historical Society to get a discounted rate. The fee is: $298 for members; $345 Non-members and it includes all admission fees to
museums and parks, the chartered bus, two lunches, a reception and one dinner for the keynote program.
For more information please contact The Filson Historical Society via their website: http://www.filsonhistorical.org
Saving A Florida Civil War Site (From the CWPT email and the Associated Press)
History and nature have combined in a little-known park which was once the major Confederate military base in north Florida near the end of the Civil War. In 1864, Camp Milton was a key Confederate installation aimed at blocking Union advances toward Baldwin, a supply center and rail head. Florida was a big supplier of cattle, salt and other goods to the Confederate army. Although no major battles were fought on the grounds, Camp Milton served as a base for skirmishes between the 8,000 Confederate troops and 12,000 Union soldiers in Jacksonville, about a dozen miles to the east. Soldiers and slaves had built massive wooden defenses.
Less than a decade ago, this 124-acre park on the far western edge of Jacksonville was destined to become a sludge dump, until city and state agencies stepped forward to purchase the land. Now the park is home to towering pines, magnolias, saw palmettos and blackberries, plus foxes, bobcats, snakes, deer, armadillos, opossums and red-shouldered hawks. Youngsters skipping down a boardwalk into the woods on a recent summer day to see the remains of earthworks built in 1864.
Period re-enactors dressed in long, flowing dresses taught the children about life in Jacksonville in 1864, describing laundry, basket-weaving, spinning and toys. Some 1,750 children have visited the preserve this summer. Dressed as a Union soldier in military wool from his underwear to his outer blouse, Michael Meek, 24, described the life of a soldier in the waning days of the Civil War near Jacksonville. Meek described his muzzle-loading rifle, complete with bayonet, to the children while they peppered him with questions. “It’s an honor to talk to the little kids about their history,” said Meek, who has learned that he is descended from a Union soldier who spent time at Camp Milton.
Although Milton was built as a Confederate camp, Union forces from Jacksonville invaded and then abandoned Camp Milton four times before it closed in July 1864. The camp was named for Florida’s Civil War Gov. John Milton, who committed suicide on April 1, 1865, when he realized the South had lost the war. Designed by Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a specialist in defensive fortifications, the earthworks at Camp Milton were built of wood instead of coquina rock or brick. “These things were very tough to build. You can imagine what these guys went through, the humidity and the heat,” said Fred Singletary, an amateur historian and historical re-enactor. The park is a mostly undiscovered jewel. There are no signs directing visitors from nearby Interstate 10 and it is not advertised in city tourism brochures.
Each year in February, the park holds a re-enactment of the events leading up to the Battle of Olustee with soldiers and women dressed in period garments. The fact that the Camp Milton Historical Preserve exists is a testament to the work of amateur historians and sympathetic city and state lawmakers. Their dreams came to fruition in September 2006, when Camp Milton opened to the public.
But there are other Civil War locations across the South, including some in north Florida, which are being lost to development. “We believe that the ultimate fate of nearly all Civil War battlefield land will be decided in the next decade,” said Jim Campi, a spokesman for the Civil War Preservation Trust.
Camp Milton was saved using a combination of about $1.7 million in city and state matching grants to purchase land and fund amenities.
Editor’s Note: If you have never been to Olustee Battlefield in north Florida, it is one of the most pristine Civil War sites in the nation. It is a state park just east of Lake City off of Interstate 10 heading towards Jacksonville. The battle was the result of a Union raid in 1864 aimed at destroying the region’s cattle industry. The famous 54th Massachusetts Infantry fought there with great distinction. You can visit this site on the way to Camp Milton above.
Battle Joined For Tourist Dollars (Charleston, SC Post & Courier and CWPT email)
Every day, Charleston honors, idealizes and trades on its key role in what many locals refer to as The War. Not only are old times here not forgotten — they’re profitable. But now, as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaches, just about every state in the old Confederacy is trying to horn in on what is one of South Carolina’s biggest tourism draws. Georgia plans to spend $5 million refurbishing its battlefields and historic sites. Virginia has put $4 million into its sesquicentennial tourism campaign. Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and even Maryland have started heritage events.
In South Carolina, more than a dozen public agencies and private boards and groups are working on plans for five years’ worth of events to mark everything from the state’s secession to the firing on Fort Sumter and the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Charleston. The state has set up a War Between the States Heritage Trust Commission, but it has not yet met. So far, South Carolina has put no money into any of these efforts. “I hope we don’t let other states surpass us,” said Randy Burbage, South Carolina division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “It could be a huge economic success, if we do it right.” State officials say it’s still early and money could materialize, but it’s a tough sell in a world of budget cuts, layoffs and record-high unemployment.
For now, local groups are handling most of the planning. The Fort Sumter/Fort Moultrie Trust is coordinating local events for the sesquicentennial. Right now, there are plans for a December 2010 event at The Citadel which will recall the state’s secession with lectures from leading war scholars. Charleston is a natural focal point for the war’s anniversary. South Carolina seceded from the Union in December 1860 in a meeting that took place in the city. Shots were fired on the Star of the West steamship by Citadel cadets in January 1861, and the war began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861. Charleston fell and Columbia was burned in the early months of 1865, just before the war ended that April.
Already, a good number of the tourists who visit Charleston come for that history. At the Confederate Museum in the Market, director June Murray Wells says there has been a steady increase in visitors over the past few years. They flock to the museum, where they can find some of the most amazing artifacts of the war in this city: the first Confederate flag to fly over Fort Sumter, the first rifled cannon made in the south, a lock of Robert E. Lee’s hair.
“I think we are having more people now than ever before,” Wells said. “I don’t think the sesquicentennial will have very much effect.”
The museum will offer special exhibits during the five years of the anniversary, but is not coordinating with other groups. Many other agencies also are acting solo but expect the state commission to put them under one umbrella to better market the state. Most events are still in the planning stage; specific dates are not set. State officials note that South Carolina is a year away from the budget that would include money for tourism campaigns. “People are just beginning to wake up to the fact that it’s a year away,” said Marion Edmonds, communications director for the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
State Sen. Glenn McConnell, president pro tem of the Senate and chairman of the state Hunley Commission, said South Carolina’s budget has been too tight of late to include any money for a marketing campaign. But there may be ways to benefit the state’s commemoration in the coming legislative session. Perhaps, he said, the Legislature could direct some of the Parks, Recreation and Tourism marketing budget toward anniversary events. “The only way to make a case for that is to show that it’s advantageous for the state,” McConnell said. “Put aside historical arguments, we have an opportunity to out-perform other states for a great many tourism dollars. Interest is going to be very high for five years, and we’ve got to look for ways to leverage that for economic development.”
In the meantime, Rosen said the Fort Sumter/Fort Moultrie Trust will ask Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant for some accommodations tax money to help pay for some events. The Sons of Confederate Veterans plans to contribute to the state’s efforts of their own accord. Right now the group is working on a brochure that will direct folks to significant historical sites in each South Carolina county. The group will also sponsor its own seminar in January 2011 on the legalities of secession and plans to release information on where each of the 170 signers of the Ordinance of Secession are buried. The group also will coordinate re-enactors who will camp at Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter in the days leading up to the firing on the fort, but members aren’t sure they will be able to pull off a re-enactment of the actual bombardment.
But Burbage says once again, South Carolina will be home to a shot heard ’round the world. “It’s such a part of our history,” he says, “We can’t let it pass by.”
Fredericksburg Area Planning For Anniversary (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star & CWPT email)
Just as armies converged again and again on the Fredericksburg area during the Civil War, so, too, will the region be in the bull’s-eye during the sesquicentennial of the nation’s bloodiest conflict. Local organizers are still firming up their plans, but it’s clear the public will have much to choose from among the special programs envisioned here for the 150th anniversary. Since the war ran from 1861 to ’65, the sesquicentennial will begin in 2011.
Already, Virginia’s sesquicentennial commission has provided a grant to support The Crossing, events focused on the 10,000 slaves who crossed the Rappahannock River to freedom as the Union army arrived here in 1862. Fredericksburg slave John Washington, one of the first to escape bondage during that exodus, left a poignant memoir of his experience that was recently published in two books. Spotsylvania County, the first Virginia locality to form a sesquicentennial planning group, is laying the groundwork for a future Civil War Ball by offering 19th-century dance lessons every third Friday at the Spotsylvania Courthouse area’s Marshall Center.
Next month, Spotsylvania will kick off its observances with an 1859 County Fair in the courthouse area, said Russell Seymour, the county’s director of economic development. Politicians will debate the hot topics of that pre-war year, a medicine show will mix banjo music and cure-alls, a historian will explain gospel songs’ hidden meanings, photographers will demonstrate wet-plate techniques of the time, and players will compete in a period-style baseball game. Fredericksburg and Stafford County have their own planning group, and its programs are going to touch on almost everything–including hospitals, civilians and slaves–said the group’s chairman, John Hennessy.
Plans include a History Alive series of interactive, first-person participatory programs; candlelit illuminations of the Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg battlefields; songs from home, field and hearth; talks by first-rate historians; and programs on local churches, wartime experiences and the stories of descendants of soldiers, civilians and slaves. “We want to create a new understanding and appreciation of a time when the Fredericksburg-Stafford-Spotsylvania area was a focal point of the American experience,” said Hennessy, who is also chief of interpretation at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
The Virginia panel is also participating in 2009 events that focus on another run-up to the war: John Brown’s 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Locally, Hennessy will discuss the effect of Brown’s raid on our area in a Sept. 13 talk to the Fredericksburg Civil War Round Table. Virginia and other states, of course, hope their sesquicentennial plans will boost heritage tourism.
“Virginia is a repository of dramatic personal stories of soldiers and leaders, of nurses and war correspondents, of civilians caught in the war’s wake, and of enslaved Virginians yearning for and, in some cases, fighting for freedom. And those types of stories can be found aplenty in the Fredericksburg area,” said Richard Lewis, spokesman for the Virginia Tourism Corp.