Meeting Notice and Newsletter

October 20th 15th, 2010 – Our 79th Meeting! Our sixth in our new home – the Bone & Joint Center!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, October 20th in our new home at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Gateway Hospital. This is just off Dunlop Lane and Holiday Drive and only a few minutes east of Governor’s Square mall. 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.

OUR SPEAKER AND TOPIC: “The Shadow Of Shiloh: General Lew Wallace and the Civil War”

In the Spring of 1862, Union Major General Lew Wallace appeared to have an exceptional military career ahead of him. At the age of 35, he was the youngest major general in the Union Army, rising to that rank from colonel in only eleven short months. After performing very well at Fort Donelson where he showed great initiative launching the first Union counterattack against the surging Confederates, his failure to appear on the battlefield until the end of the first day of Shiloh appears to have put his career on hold. However, the 1864 Battle of Monocacy , the “battle that saved Washington,” appears to have resurrected it. The truth, however, is never that simple. Wallace was a genuine hero, but he made mistakes and was also a scapegoat for others. The story of Lew Wallace and the Civil War is complex and highlights some important truths about battles within the Union Army as well as those with the Confederates.

Lew Wallace was an Indiana native and the son of one of that state’s governors. He served in the Mexican war in the 1st Indiana Infantry and afterward was elected to the state senate. With the coming of the Civil War, Wallace was appointed state adjutant general helping to raise troops and was soon appointed colonel of the 11th Indiana Infantry, a Zouaves regiment. He reached Brigadier General not long after that commanding a brigade. After the war, Wallace wrote what is considered one of the finest pieces of American literature in the 19th Century, the famous book Ben-Hur.

This month’s program will be presented by Gail Stephens, author of the new book, Shadow Of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War. This is her first book. She holds a Bachelors’ Degree in International Politics from George Washington University and has done graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities. She retired from the Department of Defense after 26 years of service which then gave her the time to study the Civil War on a greater scale. Gail volunteers at Monocacy National Battlefield near Frederick, Maryland and she also teaches classes at area colleges in addition to giving battlefield tours. In 2002, she won the National Park Service’s E.W. Peterkin award for her contributions towards the public’s understanding of Civil War history. She will hopefully have copies of her book at the meeting.


Our own Greg Biggs gave his program on the Confederate supply system which went into great detail about the Confederate War Department and the three primary supply bureaus; quartermaster, ordnance and commissary. Each department was created to supply clothing, shoes and other accouterments and equipage along with rifles, ammunition and food for the men and animals of the army. Dealing a blow to the myth that the South lacked industry, Greg showed how they had more than many of the European nations of the era and had more railroad mileage than all of them. While they had an industrial base, they did not have as much as the Union had. The overall lack of capacity for key items, in particular rolled iron products like armor plate for gunboats or rails for the railroads, was something that they could not overcome. Yet their supply bureaus performed miracles and no Confederate army ever lost a battle due to a lack of supplies.

The bureaus were led by some men of vision like Josiah Gorgas of Ordnance, Abraham Myers and Alexander Lawton of Quartermaster and Isaac St. John of Mining & Nitre while also suffering fools like Lucius Northrop of the Commissary Bureau. Coupled with imports and battlefield captures, the Confederate military was actually very well supplied. Where the main supply bottleneck happened was with the railroads and a lack of coherent rail policy along with the lines falling apart. It was sometimes difficult to get the supplies from where they were made or gathered to the armies in the field. Thanks Greg for the program!


November, 2010 – Dr. William Glenn Robertson, US Army Combat Studies Institute, Ft. Leavenworth, KS – “A Tale of Two Orders in the Battle of Chickamauga”

December, 2010 – John Marler, Battle of Franklin Trust/former Petersburg National Battlefield – The Petersburg Campaign

January, 2011 – Mike Manning, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, “The Honey Springs Campaign, Indian Territory”

February, 2011 – Krista Castillo, Fort Negley Visitors Center – “From the Pages of Harper’s Weekly: The Illustrations of Thomas Nast, Reconstruction Politics and Popular Consciousness”

March, 2011 – David Simpson, Robert Hatton Camp, SCV, Lebanon, TN – “Ellis Harper – Guerrilla or Partisan?”

April, 2010 – Thomas Flagel, Columbia State Community College – “Great Panic Prevails: How The Press Reported The Battle Of Nashville”

May, 2011 – Kent Wright, Tennessee Valley CWRT, “Ellet’s Rams”

June, 2011 – James Swan, author, – “Chicago’s Irish Legion In Dixie – The 90th Illinois Infantry.”

July, 2011 – Bobby Krick, historian, Richmond National Battlefield – “The Staff Of Robert E. Lee”

November, 2011 – Eric Jacobson, Battle of Franklin Trust – “Baptism of Fire: The Role of Federal Recruits at the Battle of Franklin”

MEMBERS AND DUES: – Your name badge will have a white ribbon if you are current with your dues. If it only has ribbons of other colors, please pay your dues at this meeting! July is our dues month so please make your plans to pay them at this meeting! Thank you if you have already done so.

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:

Ö Student – $10

Ö Single membership – $20

Ö Family – $30

Ö Military – Active duty and veterans – $15

Ö Military family – Active duty, veterans, and family – $25

To our many guests – Thank you for much for coming to see what we are about. By joining us your dues money goes towards helping to pay the travel expenses for the speakers 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. We have another special item coming up at this meeting!!


Colonel Edmund Rucker Lecture to be held at the Holiday Inn Opryland in Nashville, October 16, 2010

As part of the Rucker Family reunion, Michael P. Rucker of Peoria, Illinois, will present a lecture on Confederate Colonel Edmund W. Rucker. This will be held at 8 PM on Friday, October 16th. Rucker began his military career in west Tennessee as an artillerist and then moved into commanding cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was captured on the second day of the Battle of Nashville after hand to hand combat with troopers of the 12th Tennessee Cavalry (U.S.). This event has been endorsed by the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society and is open to interested members of the public.

General Lloyd Tighman Museum Ghost Walk – Paducah, Kentucky, October 30, 2010

On Saturday, October 30th, the Lloyd Tilghman Museum will hold its Ghost Walk event. This will be a major fundraiser for the Lloyd Tilghman Home and Civil War Museum. Tilghman commanded Kentucky Confederates at Camp Boone near Clarksville as well as troops at Fort Henry and Donelson. He was killed in action at the Battle of Champion Hill in Mississippi in 1863.

Ghosts on the tour will include Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman and wife Augusta, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Abraham Buford and Col. Albert P. Thompson. Thompson was a Paducah native killed in Forrest’s raid there in 1864. Union General U.S. Grant and Col. Stephen G. Hicks will also be there as will a Confederate Camp, ladies in period attire, music and more.

Please support this fine museum that is less than 2 hours from Clarksville. The cost will be $10.00 per person with children 12 and under getting in free with paid adult. For more information please call (270)575-5477.

Franklin, TN Civil War Roundtable program – Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our fine neighbors of the Franklin CWRT will present Dorothy Olson of the Knoxville CWRT and her program “A Want Of Confidence: James Longstreet’s East Tennessee Campaign” at their October meeting. The CWRT meets at the Williamson County Library and the program begins at 3 PM. Dorothy Kelly is an expert on the war in East Tennessee and has been published in North & South magazine. She has lead tours of the Knoxville area and is very active in local preservation efforts. If you get the chance to go please do – this is a great program.

Battle of Nashville Park sites – by Betsy Phillips (Civil War Preservation Trust web site and the Nashville Scene)

I had to take a break from the Metro parks. So I decided to hit up a few non-Metro parks — namely, the places preserved by the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. In my younger days, I had an uncle who was a history teacher: my dad’s brother, Blain. He was brilliant in ways that were inspiring, not off-putting.

My very first thought, the first time I went to Fort Negley and walked the slope up and saw the wooden pathways, was that Uncle Blain was going to love this. He had been dead at least 10 years by then, but my instinct was to share that place with him. I had that same urge in the middle of Redoubt One — to call him, at least, to tell him how they had situated the gun and how I could see clear into town through the trees and how the earthworks they would have hidden behind was worn with time.

On the Battle of Nashville Monument, there’s a poem. It’s not very good, as poems go, but the ending will break your heart: “Let the past be past, let the dead be dead, — Now and forever, American!” If that’s not enough to get the city’s point across, on the other side there’s an explanation of the statue. It reads, “The spirit of youth holds in check the contending forces that struggled here in the fierce battle of Nashville, December 16th, 1864, sealing forever the bond of union by the blood of our heroic dead of the World War 1917-1918. A monument like this, standing on such memories, having no reference to utilities, becomes a sentiment, a poet, a prophet, an orator to every passerby.”

I’m not sure what it means, exactly, but I get the gist — that there was a great wish that the young men dying together as one country during World War I would be a large enough blood sacrifice to heal the gaping wound of the Civil War, and that we could be one country with the past left in the past. The statue was dedicated on Armistice Day, 1927; at that moment Faulkner was sitting in Mississippi just getting started on his writing career, which was, in great part, built on the failure of that wish. It is, of course, in the hands of the young to fix the things we have fumbled. But we were all young, once, and we thought our job was to walk slowly through the world as our favorite uncle told us great, true stories about it.

I guess this is kind of a failure as a park review. They are fine parks and very small, so it’s no trouble to explore each of them thoroughly and still have much of the afternoon. Yes, there’s some graffiti at Shy’s Hill and someone seems to have kicked over the signs telling you to keep off the earthworks at Redoubt One. But you should still go, if only to remember that the place we live is rich with the stories of people who bled and died so we can stand here today — people who are now gone, as you and I will be one day. And while you’re there, you can wonder if we, as a city, have managed to come together since then, or if we have just paved over the sorrows of the past so that we can pretend not to know them — as if we could pretend so hard to forget that one day they might be erased from all time.

Tennessee Civil War 150th Event Kick-Off – November 12-13, 2010 – Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial events begin on November 12th and 13th with two days of seminars, tours, living history events and much more. On Friday, November 12th, events include living history in Bicentennial Capitol Mall, tours of the Civil War exhibits of the Tennessee State Museum and workshops at Tennessee State University. On the 13th, a seminar with historians will be held at the War Memorial Building which includes a keynote address by noted historian and author Sam Davis Elliott as well as tours of the state museum and living history on the mall. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information please visit –

The Battle Of New Market Heights, Virginia – The Perils of Battlefield Preservation by Jimmy Price (Civil War Preservation Trust web site and the blog The Sable Arm – dedicated to black soldiers of the Civil War)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the attempt to make the battlefield at New Market Heights a National Historic Landmark. The attempt was made between 1989 – 1990, led by an African American military veteran who wanted the ground where 16 USCT’s (14 African American enlisted men and two white officers) were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to be preserved and recognized. The reasons that this did not happen are illustrative of just how complicated and frustrating battlefield preservation can be. It all started in 1989 when an organization called The Black Military History Institute of America, Inc. lobbied for preservation of the battlefield. The BMHIA sent two letters out on February 16, 1989. The first was to the Department of the Interior and it stated:

The deeds of these brave and valiant Black fighting men who participated in the struggle for the unity of our nation must no longer be allowed to go unrecognized. To correct this gross oversight, we are requesting that the Department of Interior, under the purview of its charter, take the following action:

a. designate the New Market/Chaffin Farm area as a National Historic Landmark

b. resurrect the Dept. of Interior’s 1979 study to expand Richmond National Battlefield Park to include the New Market Heights Battlefield and Fort Gilmer Extension.

The same day a letter went out to then-Senator John Warner. The BMHIA also sent a request to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Historic Resources for a state highway marker to be placed near the battlefield. In the meantime, local landowners began to dispute the claims that the Battle of New Market Heights was fought on their ground. Not only did they dispute the location of the battlefield, they also disputed the date of the battle. They maintained that the battle took place on Signal Hill, north of route 5 (historic New Market Road) even though a cursory examination of the maps made by the Army of the James in October of 1864 clearly shows the battlefield to be south of the road. In retrospect this seems ludicrous, but these landowners were apparently willing to twist the facts to make sure that the historic battlefield of New Market Heights would not be preserved.

To combat the claims of the local landowners, the BMHIA enlisted the help of Ed Bearss, Chief Historian of the National Park Service in 1989. However, it appears that the institute was not given a place at the table when meetings and deliberations were held concerning the NHL nomination. Not hearing from Senator Warner’s office, Governor Douglas Wilder received a letter on April 6, 1990. Finally, in June of 1990 a memorandum was released that stated the following:

The NHL nomination is dead; it will not be pursued any further by the NPS because of near-unanimous owner opposition. The NPS and the county and Warner’s office are all aware that the battle happened to the south of Route 5, not on Signal Hill. Most of the land where the battle really occurred is in the hands of the opponents. The property owners contend that the battle really happened farther to the east and a week or so earlier than everyone else thinks, Bearss and Richard Sommers (author of Richmond Redeemed) being “everyone else.” Thus ended the battle for making New Market Heights a National Historic Landmark.

In 1993, a roadside marker was placed on Route 5 to mark the site of the battle. Thankfully, there have been renewed talks about preserving what is left of the battlefield at New Market Heights. Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia’s Third District has requested $10,000,000 for a New Market Heights Memorial & Visitors Center, stating that “The funds will be used for land acquisition, site preparation and toward construction of a memorial and visitor’s center at New Market Heights, adjacent to the Richmond National Battlefield Park in Henrico County, Virginia.” It remains to be seen what will become of this effort.

In the meantime, the portion of the battlefield where the USCTs made their charge against Confederate defenses south of Route 5 has been preserved by the County of Henrico and remains dormant and undeveloped. Part of this land was destroyed by a gravel pit that was converted into a large pond before the County purchased the land. The remainder is nearly inaccessible due to the propensity of Four Mile Creek to flood and overflow the dirt road that leads to the site. Henrico County has plans to develop the site and erect a monument to the USCTs and on September 25th I’ll have the honor of leading a special tour of the site for the 146th anniversary of the battle.

Unfortunately, some of the land that has not been protected is about to be lost forever due to a developer who refused to listen to a local preservation group. In a sense, it seems as if the Battle of New Market Heights is still being fought. The Civil War Preservation Trust listed New Market Heights as one of America’s Top 10 most endangered battlefields.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s