June Meeting Notice and Newsletter

June 15, 2011 – Our 87th Meeting!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, June 15th 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: “Chicago’s Irish Legion In Dixie – The 90th Illinois Infantry.”

The 90th Illinois Infantry, organized in Chicago from its Irish community, mustered in early September 1862. By the end of the year they were stationed in west Tennessee and would soon take part in General U.S. Grant’s first Vicksburg Campaign. After some time in the Memphis area, they again took part in the second Vicksburg Campaign and the advance in Jackson, Mississippi after the river fortress capitulated. With the rest of the Army of the Tennessee, the regiment moved to Chattanooga in November 1863 to help raising the Confederate siege of that city. Afterwards, the regiment moved to Knoxville before taking part in the Atlanta Campaign. When that city fell in September 1864, the regiment first helped pursue John Bell Hood into North Georgia before turning south for the March to the Sea. Their war ended in North Carolina in late April 1865.

This month’s speaker, James Swan, will relate what members of the Irish Legion reported they saw and who they met and interacted with in Tennessee Mississippi, Alabama and elsewhere. Using letters as the basis of the program, Swan will relate what these soldiers experienced from the hell of battle to the lighter sides of soldiering. He will also briefly describe the Legion’s travels as part of General William T. Sherman’s XV Corps and two of the battles in which they took part. All of this will be drawn from his book Chicago’s Irish Legion, which he will hopefully have for sale at the meeting. The book is his first publication based on his research.
James Swan, is a native of central Illinois and graduate of the Universities of Illinois and Wisconsin. Now a retired professor, he taught, conducted research, and published in scientific journals in the fields of Soil Science and Agronomy at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University. Two years service in the U. S. Army in the late 1950’s increased his interest in the military while providing him a degree of insight into the life and attitudes of citizen soldiers. Swan’s interest in the Civil War stems from his grandfather, a Civil War veteran who emigrated from County Wicklow, Ireland. Throughout his adult life, this interest led Swan to read extensively in the Civil War literature, with an emphasis on the Western Theater. After retiring from his chosen vocation, Swan took up his avocation and began intensive research into the history of the 90th Illinois Volunteer Infantry regiment and its soldiers. Having retired to Nashville, Tennessee, Swan is a member of new Civil War Round Tables in Franklin and Nashville


Our CWRT was very fortunate to have Kent Wright from the Tennessee valley CWRT in Huntsville, Alabama and his fascinating program on Ellet’s Rams. This most unique unit of ships, none of them armed, and later a marine brigade, plied the Mississippi River and tributaries winning battles and capturing sites for the Union from 1862 onwards. The rams, using 2000 plus year old technology of simply ramming enemy warships, basically won the naval battle of Memphis in June 1862 and helped sweep the rivers of Confederate warships. Charles Ellet, the man behind the rams, answered only to Edwin Stanton, much to the dismay of the Union army and navy high commands. This allowed Ellet great flexibility on what he wanted to do – and did! We sure appreciate Kent Wright coming up to see us. Other CWRTs will indeed enjoy this program.


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

August 2011 – Ross Hudgins, author, “The Civil War of Nashville’s Maggie Vaulx, April 1861 to March 1862”

September 2011 – Ross Massey, historian and author, “General James Chalmer’s Cavalry Division in the Battle of Nashville”

October 2011 – Phil Seyfrit, Richmond, KY Battlefield – “The Battle of Richmond, Kentucky“

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

December 2011 – John Marler, Battle of Franklin Trust – “The Siege of Petersburg”

January 2012 – Teresa Prober, Austin Peay State University, “The Dover Hotel and Dover, Tennessee in the Civil War”

February 2012 – Kraig McNutt, historian and author – “The Civil War Letters of Addison Lee Ewing, 63rd Indiana Infantry, Late Summer 1864-January 1865”

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! 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


Speakers at the Bowling Green, KY, Nashville and Franklin, TN Civil War Roundtables – June 2011

Two of our neighboring CWRTs have some excellent programs coming up in June. Bowling Green, KY CWRT is taking June and July off but will resume programs in August. The BG CWRT meets the night after Clarksville on the Western KY University campus.

Franklin, TN CWRT has Dr. Glenn LaFantasie on Sunday, June 12th. His program will be, “The Mystery Of Ulysses S. Grant.” Dr. LaFantasie is from Western KY University in Bowling Green. Dr. LaFantasie has spoken to Clarksville before so we know how good he is. The Franklin CWRT meets at the Williamson County Library just south of the Carter House off US 31. The meeting is Sunday, June 12 at 3 PM.

The Nashville CWRT meets at historic Fort Negley Park just south of downtown Nashville on the third Monday of each month. Dr, Tim Johnson of Lipscomb University, will be speaking on “Civil War Soldiers of the Mexican War.” The meeting is Monday, June 20th and begins at 7 PM.

Pastfinders Club in Russellville, Kentucky Monthly Meetings

If the Clarksville CWRT doesn’t provide enough history for you then the Pastfinders club in Russellville, KY can fill in the holes. They also meet once a month at Roy’s Bar B Que at 6 PM on the third Saturday of each month except for December. To get to Roy’s, just head to Russellville on US Highway 79. Just south of town you will come to Bypass US Highway 431. Turn left and just past the hill is Roy’s on the left side. Speakers for the rest of 2011 are:

June 18th – Dr. Glen LaFantasie: From the Civil War to James Bond In Less Than One Step

July 16th – Krista Castillo: Fort Negley and the Defense of Nashville

Aug 20th – Kaelin Vernon : Civil War in the South Union

Sept 17th – John Baker: the Washingtons of Wessington Plantation (My Family’s Journey to Freedom )

Oct – Field Trip ( TBA )

Nov 19th – Dr. Carol Crowe-Carrico: Civil War Topic (TBA)

Many of the Clarksville CWRT members also belong to Pastfinders so why not go up and pay them a visit!

Atlanta Campaign Tour Led by Greg Biggs – October 21-23, 2011

The Tennessee Valley CWRT of Huntsville, Alabama is having a three day guided tour of the first phase of the Atlanta Campaign led by Clarksville CWRTs Greg Biggs. This tour begins at Ringgold, GA and ends at Kennesaw Mountain. The CWRT is opening the tour up to anyone who wishes to attend. The tour begins out of Huntsville and people can park either there or in the Chattanooga area where others will be picked up. The tour fee includes hotels, bus, guide, park fees and much more. For more information please email Kent Wright at – kdwrt@netzero.net. Greg has been leading Atlanta tours since 1993 and has been walking these battlefields for many years.

Graves Of American Soldiers Killed In The Mexican War Found In Monterrey Mexico

The developer of an apartment complex in Monterrey, Mexico, began clearing the land for the project in 1996 and almost immediately the workers come across human remains. The project is halted and archeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico are contacted and they began an extensive survey to see what these bodies were and if more could be found. Indeed, over the years, several more bodies were found. As of last month, eleven have been recovered. One of them retained .75 caliber musket balls in the skeleton and another had coins from 1822 and 1846 laid over the eye sockets.

What were these bodies and where did the musket balls come from? The site for the apartments is on the old Battle of Monterrey battlefield and these soldiers are American troops buried on the battlefield who were either killed in action or died in the hospital. Based on where these troops were found they are most likely from Colonel William Bowen Campbell’s 1st Tennessee Volunteers or Colonel Jefferson Davis’ Mississippi Rifles. Both regiments were part of the American attack on the Teneria (tannery) which the Mexicans had converted into a fortress. The 1st Tennessee suffered 100 casualties in the attack. The Battle of Monterrey was fought in September 1846 when the American forces under General Zachary Taylor attacked the fortified city. Several notable Civil War figures were involved in this battle besides Davis and Campbell including artillerist Braxton Bragg, whose guns helped win the battle. The standard musket for the Mexican Army was the British Brown Bess musket which was of .75 caliber.

These discoveries have been confirmed by the Mexican INAH who entered into a protracted legal battle with the developer over their survey of this site. Fort Campbell, on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line, is named for William Bowen Campbell who also became a Union general in the Civil War. For those that are not familiar with Fort Campbell, it is the home post for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 5th Special Forces Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the famous Night Stalkers).

For those that attended the May meeting of the Clarksville CWRT, you will recall the report by Captain Jim Page, 101st Airborne historian, on this topic. To date Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander nor Congressman Marsha Blackburn have not responded to emails or letters from Captain Page on this issue but Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has. Govenor Haslam has directed the state Commissioner of Veteran’s Affairs to investigate the remains and to determine what can be done. The Tennessee State Adjutant General’s Office is also aware and has acknowledged Captain Page’s letter and can provide support for burial, etc. if these men are indeed Tennesseans who can be brought back to Tennessee for reburial. If they prove to also be men from Mississippi then political officials from that state also need to be informed.

It would be wonderful if the membership of this roundtable would also contact their Tennessee representatives and for the members of the CWRTs getting this newsletter would do the same with their representatives. Little has been reported on this story save for a recent scroll on Fox News last week and MSNBC some years ago. It would be great if these men could be repatriated home for reburial or moved to the American cemetery in Mexico City. Right now the remains are in storage awaiting their fate. These are American soldiers sent to do the bidding of their government who gave the ultimate in patriotism by sacrificing their lives in a war. Please contact your elected officials to make these men known to them. If enough of them know about it then maybe they can be buried properly in a real cemetery. It is the least we can do.

For more information on this please contact Captain Jim Page, US Army, 101st Airborne Division historian at – jim.page@us.army.mil

General Dan Sickles Lost Leg On The Move (From the Raleigh CWRT newsletter)

Union General Daniel Sickles, commander of the 3rd Corps at Gettysburg, had his leg shattered by a cannonball on the second day of the battle when Gen. James Longstreet’s Confederates smashed his corps at the Peach Orchard. Sickles left the field on a stretcher smoking his cigar and cheering his boys on. After having the leg amputated, he later met with President Lincoln and gave him the first report on the battle which was not complimentary of commanding General George Gordon Meade.

Sickles’ leg was later put on display in the Army Medical Museum near Washington. It is said that he even led tours of the site making sure that everyone got to see it! Well, that leg is on the move for a time anyway. It is to be loaned to Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland for a time so if you happen to be in the DC area, Frederick is only an hour northwest. This is close to the Civil War Medical Museum in Hagerstown and the Antietam Battlefield. Even closer is the Monocacy Battlefield and Gettysburg is not that far north of Frederick. So make your vacation plans and be sure to see Ol’ Dan’s leg!

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