April Meeting Notice and Newsletter

April 18th, 2012 – Our 97th Meeting!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, April 18th 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: “Civil War Arkansas 1863: The Battle for a State”

In 1863, Union commanders began a concentrated campaign to gain control of the Arkansas River valley and split the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy in half. In January, Union commander John McClernand, a political general from Illinois, sought to upstage Ulysses S. Grant especially after his failed attempt to take Vicksburg in December 1862. Gathering an army and with naval support, McClernand went after Fort Hindman, better known as Arkansas Post, which protected the Arkansas River approach to the state capital of Little Rock. After a battle, McClernand was able to capture the entire garrison earning a rare victory and gloating rights over Grant. This set into motion a series of battles to control Arkansas that would take the rest of the year.

In early July, 1863, while battles at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and the Tullahoma Campaign waged, Confederate forces attacked the fortified Union garrison at Helena, Arkansas. If they took the town, they could again cut the Mississippi River perhaps offsetting, somewhat, the pending defeat at Vicksburg. But they were repulsed after several assaults and heavy casualties. After this, Union General Frederick Steele, Grant’s West Point classmate, took a force to take the state capital of Little Rock. Plagued by disease and Confederate defense, Steele finally took the city in September 1863. In October, the Confederates struck back seeking to capture Pine Bluff on the Arkansas River and cut Federal supply lines. A stout Union defense threw back their assaults and held the town. Supporting all of this was the Union victory in the Indian Territory which secured the western portion of Arkansas. Other than raids, Arkansas remained in Federal hands for the rest of the war.

Our speaker, Mark Christ, probably knows more about the war in Arkansas than anyone around. His most recent book covers the campaigns that will be the subject of his program for the Nashville CWRT. Many of these will not be that well known, save possibly Helena, but the importance of them is little appreciated. Offsetting Vicksburg could have been one result had the Confederates won at Helena and Arkansas Post. Mark will have his books for sale at the meeting.

Mark Christ is community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage He joined the AHPP in 1990 after eight years as a professional journalist. A 1982 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, he received his Master’s degree in 2000 from the University of Oklahoma, where he wrote a thesis based on the Little Rock Campaign of 1863. He is a member of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Arkansas Humanities Council and is a member of the board of trustees of the Arkansas Historical Association. He has written and edited several books, including “Rugged and Sublime” The Civil War in Arkansas, Sentinels of History: Reflections on Arkansas Properties Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which won an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History, “Getting Used To Being Shot At”: The Spence Family Civil War Letters, “All Cut to Pieces and Gone to Hell”: The Civil War, Race Relations and the Battle of Poison Spring, “The Earth Shook and Trees Trembled”: Civil War Arkansas 1863-1864, and “The Die is Cast: Arkansas Goes to War, 1861”. The University of Oklahoma Press just published his newest book, Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle for a State, which won the 2010 Douglas Southall Freeman Award.

Please join us as Mark Chris of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program tells us much more about the Civil War in Arkansas in 1863.


We were very fortunate to have had Ltc. (retired) Harold Knudsen give us a very detailed program analyzing the military career of Confederate General James Longstreet. Using two of his battles, Fredericksburg and Chickamauga, which detailed his vision of defense in depth and attack in depth, Ltc. Knudsen offered his views, rooted in his military training and career as a professional soldier, as to why Longstreet was ahead of many of his contemporaries in terms of how he viewed tactical combat in the Civil War. Longstreet, of course, remains a very controversial general. Much of which stems from his life after the Civil War and the need to blame the loss at Gettysburg on somebody other than Robert E. Lee on whose shoulders the defeat actually rests (and he said so at the time). This is a very unique program given by a speaker in full command of the topic coupled with sound military analysis of this controversial general. It proves him to be an officer of great capability who was looking ahead in his tactical dispositions in battle. Thanks Ltc. Knudsen for the terrific program. Other CWRTs would be benefit greatly from this program.


May 2012 – Michael Bradley, author/historian – “The Staff and Escort of Nathan Bedford Forrest”

June 2012 – Gordon and Traci Belt, authors – “Onward Southern Soldiers: Religion in the Army of Tennessee”

July 2012 – The one and only Ed Bearss! Topic TBA.

August 2012 – Jack Hurst, author/historian – “Grant and Forrest: Extraordinary Ordinary Americans.”

September 2012 – Martin Stewart, historian/author – “The 71st Ohio Infantry” (based on his revised unit history)

October 2012 – Brian Wills, author/historian – “General George Thomas”

November 2012 – Ruth Hill McAllister, author/historian – “The Memoirs Of Sam Watkins, Company Aytch”

December 2012 – Krista Castillo, Fort Negley Park – “Christmas In The Civil War”

January 2013 – Rick Warwick, historian/author – Topic TBA (tentative)

April 2013 – William C. Davis, VA Tech University, author/historian – Topic TBA

MEMBERS AND DUES: – Your name badge will have a ribbon and a star if you are current with your dues. If it has neither 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


Carolyn Ferrell to Sign Her Book On Clarksville in the Civil War at Montgomery County Library

Local author Carolyn Ferrell will have a book signing at the Montgomery County Library for her recently published book Occupied: The Story of Clarksville, Tennessee During The Civil War on Sunday, April 15th, 2012 from 1PM to 4 PM. Her books will be available for purchase. The Montgomery County Library is located in the center of the Montgomery County government center just off Madison Street. Please be sure to support this fine book and the author.

Fort Negley Memorial Day Program Set – Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fort Negley Park announces a Memorial Day weekend observance to honor all serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to commemorate those who gave the final devotion to their country. The observance will also honor those who perished building and defending the fortifications of Nashville during the Civil War including Fort Negley.

The program begins at 11 AM and continues until 1 PM on Saturday, May 26, 2012. The event is free and open to the public. Please support this wonderful event with your attendance.
For more information please call Fort Negley at (615) 862-8470.

Richmond, KY Battlefield Wants a Tennessee Monument – Can Tennessee CWRTs Help?

Phil Seyfrit, one of our recent speakers, is asking the Tennessee Civil War Round Tables to help raise funds for a Tennessee Monument to be placed on the battlefield at Richmond, KY.
Tennessee officers who fought there include Alfred Vaughn, Preston Smith, Benjamin Hill, Tyrell Bell and Lucius Polk. The Tennessee units include: 4th Tennessee Cavalry; 2nd
(Bate’s), 12th, 13th, 35th, 47th, 48th and the 154th Senior Tennessee Infantry and Huwald’s Tennessee Battery. The Tennessee troops pierced the Union line in what is now the
Richmond Cemetery which has granted permission for such a monument.

The Clarksville CWRT voted to create a “battlefield box” where members and guests can donate funds for this monument. The Nashville CWRT challenges all other Tennessee
CWRTs to do the same to commemorate Tennessee soldiers in this battle. More details for private donations to this fund are forthcoming.

Johnsonville State Historic Park Opens New Welcome Center – Friday, May 11, 2012

The Grand Opening of the Johnsonville State Historic Park Welcome Center will be Friday, May 11th, at 11:00 a.m. The park welcome center is located in New Johnsonville, TN. Parking will be located across the street at the Baptist Church and participants will be shuttled over to the event site. Please arrive no later than 10:30 to be sure to get a seat. Governor Haslam is scheduled to be there and light refreshments will be served.

The park is about an hour west of Nashville on US Hwy 70 at the Tennessee River. It was the site of a massive Union supply depot that was attacked in November 1864 by Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest’s destruction of the depot was probably the largest such demolition of a Union supply dump of the entire war resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in supplies. Forrest hoped that it would force Union General William T. Sherman to abandon his March to the Sea but to no avail. Johnsonville state park, along with nearby Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park on the Tennessee River, interpret this Forrest campaign. The park superintendent is Jerry Wooten, who is well known to many in the Tennessee Civil War community.

Civil War Show in Cave City, Kentucky – May 4-6, 2012

The second Civil War show to be held in historic Cave City, Kentucky, will be held on May 4-6, 2012 at the Cave City Convention Center. This is located just off Exit 53 off I-65 about 30 minutes north of Bowling Green. After the exit, turn left and follow the signs to the convention center. As with last year’s show, a Civil War encampment will also be held. This show brought dealers from the South and Midwest and promises to be even better this year. For more information please visit http://www.cityofcavecity.com or call (270) 773-2118.

Cave City was the site of one of John Hunt Morgan’s raids and is close to the Civil War sites at Munfordville, Kentucky which are well worth visiting if you haven’t yet done so. This is about 90 minutes from Clarksville.

Excellent Programs at The Franklin Civil War Roundtable Coming This Year

Our neighbors to the south, the Franklin Civil War Roundtable, have a wonderful offering of programs coming over the next few months. The CWRT meets at the Franklin Police
Department building in the community room. The meeting days are normally the second Sunday of each month and the meetings begin at 3 PM. The set speakers are:

April 15th – Dr. Brian McKnight – Champ Ferguson: Tennessee’s Perfect Guerilla (based on his current book)

June – Ruth Hill McCallister – new findings on Sam Watkins (editor of the recent version of “Co. Aytch”)

July – Dr. Michael Bradley – Forrest’s Fighting Preacher (noted Tennessee historian and author)

August – Ranger Jim Ogden – Chickamauga (historian at Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military park)

September – Kent Masterson Brown – Kentucky sentiments (noted Civil War author)

October – Dr. John Kvach – De Bow and the impending crises in the South

November – Peter Cozzens – The Cahaba Prison (noted Civil War author)

Do go and visit the Franklin CWRT when you can!

Great Events Coming At Jefferson Davis State Park – Fairview, Kentucky

Less than 30 minutes north of Clarksville is Fairview, Kentucky, home of Jefferson Davis State Park, birthplace of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Park superintendent Ron Sydnor has a wonderful slate of programs set for the next several months. These include:

North Drive Middle School’s Re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg – April 21, 2012. Jefferson Davis’ Birthday Commemoration – June 1-3, 2012. U.S. Colored Troops’ 12th Heavy Artillery, Living History – August 11, 2012.

For more information on these and other events at the park call 270-889-6100 or email Ron at – Ron.Sydnor@ky.gov

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