December Newsletter and Meeting Notice

December 15th, 2010 – Our 81st Meeting!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, December 15th 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 Petersburg Campaign”

Petersburg, located below the James River south of Richmond, Virginia, was an important Confederate supply center and railroad junction. All of the supplies sent to Richmond from the Deep South passed through the city during the war. Accordingly, it became a military target for the Union Army. Defense lines were built, local defense troops raised and industry expanded. In 1864, the Union military targeted both Richmond and Petersburg with a massive offensive. Union General Ulysses S. Grant used a two-fisted approach to go after these cities; his right hook was aimed at Richmond via the Overland Campaign while the left hook was the Army of the James starting with the Bermuda Hundred attack and subsequent crossing of the James River by Grant’s forces. Petersburg was first attacked in June along the Dimmock Line east of the city, held by Bushrod Johnson’s Tennesseans, among others. As the Union Army gained strength, they probed south and west seeking to cut the railroads into Petersburg and thus Richmond. With these gone, the Confederates would have to abandon both. Battles at Ream’s Station, Weldon Railroad, the Crater, Fort Stedman and Jerusalem Plank Road were critical fights to maintain the Confederate hold on the cities. Finally, with Union troops wet of Petersburg, the Battle of Five Forks, followed by the massive attack along Hatcher’s Run on April 2, 1865, shattered the Petersburg defenses. The Confederates were forced to retreat to the west which ended at Appomattox Court House on April 9.

Petersburg was the longest continuous campaign of the Civil War and its conclusion set up the immediate defeat of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the loss of Richmond. Some of the biggest names, north and south, fought in the campaign which caused massive casualties. The huge trench systems built by both sides presaged what would happen in World War I in 1916. Despite the size of the campaign, few books have been written on it.

Fortunately for us, we have John Marler, former Petersburg National Battlefield ranger and now Operations Assistant for the Battle of Franklin Trust, coming to tell us the story of all that happened. John’s program will focus entirely on what happened south of the James River, Grant’s left hook. John, in addition to working for the National Park Service at Petersburg, also ran the Appomattox Touring Company which lead tours of the campaign. Since 2009, John has been working at Carnton and the Battle of Franklin Trust rising from a part time employee to his current position.

Please join us for John Marler and his program on the Petersburg Campaign.


We were extremely fortunate to have had Dr. William Glenn Robertson, director of the Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, speak to us on the tale of two orders – the Polk/Wood controversy of the Battle of Chickamauga. With detailed analysis and excellent story telling ability, Dr. Robertson wove the tale of how both armies in this pivotal battle were heavily influenced by the actions of a Confederate private and a civilian clerk (although he may have been in the ranks as well) and a poorly written order from one of Rosecrans’ staff officers that pulled a division out of line right where a major Confederate assault was aiming. The results for both orders were close to disaster in one case (the Confederates) and absolute disaster in the second (the Federals). This was much more than the typical whose army did what at Chickamauga; rather it was military history at the nuts and bolts level and it served to underscore the big importance of a well-run headquarters and good staff officers who write orders properly. This is a lesson that the best generals of history knew all too well for if they were to be successful their staffs had better be what they needed them to be.

We thank Dr. Robertson for his excellent program which was accompanied by a history of the U.S. Army Staff Rides and their use for professional soldiers today. This would be a terrific program for any CWRT!


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”

August, 2011 – TBA

September, 2011 – TBA

October, 2011 – TBA

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

December, 2011 – TBA

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!!


Tennessee Civil War Preservation License Plates Sales Going Well

Many states have vanity license plates for their vehicles. Most of them help raise money for special causes. The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association license plate is one of those and it directly benefits the sites in the state. They need 1000 commitments for the plates before they go into production. Sales just topped 500 so they are half way there. If these plates are of interest to you please contact or visit their website Remember – a portion of the fees for these plates goes to save Tennessee’s Civil War battlefields!

The Maine State Archives Puts Hundreds of Civil War Documents Online

A growing trend in many historic repositories is to put many of its holdings online. One of the latest is the Maine State Archives. Tying in with the Civil War Sesquicentennial, Maine has uploaded all sorts of documents relating to the actions of its soldiers in the Civil War. Probably their most famous soldier was Joshua Chamberlain and several of his documents are online as are some from Union Generals Oliver O. Howard and Benjamin Butler. Lots of reports, letters and much more can be found online. Just visit – and be prepared to spend a lot of time looking at the documents.

Ulysses S. Grant Papers Also Now Online Through Mississippi State University

Several years ago, the Ulysses S. Grant Papers, which had been archived at Southern Illinois University, were moved to their new home at Mississippi State University. As part of the university’s continuing work with these important papers, which covers his military career as well as his time in the White House, they have been uploaded online. The web site has a fully searchable capability to make it easier to wade through the massive collection allowing researchers to get to what they need rapidly. For those of us in Clarksville there’s a lot of details in these volumes about us and our area of the Civil War. These include communications between Grant and subordinate officers from 1861-1865. For more details please visit – When the web site opens go to “digital collections” and click on that and move forward from there.

Franklin’s Charge Moving To Save Ciritcal Battlefield Land in Franklin With Great Success

Franklin’s Charge recently received $960,000 to go towards saving the Battle of Franklin to purchase the land across from the Carter House where the Domino’s Pizza currently stands. The long term goal is to restore the Ohio artillery battery site as well as the Carter Cotton Gin. This will add tremendously to the recovery efforts for this crucial battle. Despite this wonderful news, Franklin’s Charge still needs to raise matching funds so they can continue to get new grants. Typically these grants come with matching funds caveats so the help of each of us is still crucial. $90,000 is still needed so if you wish to contribute please visit their web site at – – and make your donation. The site has all of the details for this recovery effort including an artist’s rendering of what it will look like when completed.

Stones River National Battlefield “Remembering The Battle of the Cedars” Program – December 11, 2010

Our neighbors to the southeast are offering a program on the overlooked Battle of the Cedars on Saturday, December 11, 2010. The program times are 11 AM and also 1, 2 and 3 PM. The programs will be held at the Visitor’s Center.

The Battle of the Cedars was the attack on the defenders on the massive Fortress Rosecrans by cavalry and infantry under Confederate cavalry commander General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Detached from John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee while the latter was besieging Nashville, Forrest attempted to capture Murfreesboro and the massive Union supply base there. However, unlike July, 1862 when he was able to take the town and its entire Union garrison, Fortress Rosecrans had been built. It was the largest earthwork ever built in North America and within its wall were supply depots, mills and much more. The fort was heavily defended by heavy cannons and lots of Union troops. Despite a valorous attack, Forrest was rebuffed. In the meantime, Union General George Thomas attacked Hood’s army and in two days of smashing assaults, drove Hood in disarray back towards Alabama. Forrest was recalled to handle the rear guard actions and he did so brilliantly. In fact his actions saved what was left of the Confederate army.

For more details please visit the park’s web site at – or call (615)898-9501 for more information.

DVD Of the September, 2010 Re-enactment At Fort Negley Now Available

On September 25, 2010, more than 170 reenactors made history at Fort Negley and a professional videographer captured the event on tape. Now you can relive the excitement and
share the unforgettable day with family and friends in vivid color. Don’t miss the opportunity to own two full hours of unbelievable footage including –

Pre-Battle Activity in the Camps, the skirmish from the hill, the thunder of the cannon and a moving funeral of a USCT drummer boy. This offer is only available for a limited time!
Click the link below to view the trailer and to place your order.

Skirmish at the Fort DVD Offer –

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