May newsletter and meeting notice

May 21st, 2014– Our 122nd meeting.   We begin our eleventh year!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 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. 

 – “Lincoln and McClellan (*)…What Might Have Been…” (Plus a little Ulysses Grant and Henry Halleck, too…)”


Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan are two of the most compelling and larger-than-life personalities from the American Civil War. Theirs could have been a powerful partnership, yet proved to be a disastrous one that had a serious effect on the timeline of the Civil War.  One, Lincoln, was learning military strategy to fight his new war thrust upon him by events outside of his control.  The other, deemed by some to be “the Young Napoleon,” was arrogant, not conducive to obeying Lincoln’s orders at times and yet not very aggressive when it came to battle and yet was a brilliant organizer who held the affections of his troops.  The results were a butting of heads over planning and execution with Lincoln, in exasperation, not only removing McClellan from command, but having to bring him back later.  


To call their relationship stormy might well be a big understatement but it remains one of fascination that hampered Union military operations in the early stages of the war. This month’s program will talk about these two men, including how these men affected operations in the western theater in February and March of 1862.


Doug Richardson is in his twenty-first year with the National Park Service. He started his career in some National Parks near his hometown, and spent 17 years working at a collection of five National Parks in western Pennsylvania, including Johnstown Flood National Memorial and Flight 93 National Memorial, and briefly worked at Abraham Lincoln National Historical Park. Having a life-long fascination with the American presidents, specifically Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant, Richardson came to Fort Donelson National Battlefield in September of 2010 to have the opportunity to explore this part of Grant’s life. He collects presidential biographies, which are severely testing the beams of the floors in his house, and has co-authored two books on the 1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Flood, and is working on another.


This is a terrific program – put this one on the “do not miss” list!




Our own Greg Biggs filled in for the ill Rob Cross and gave a program entitled, “The Fall of Nashville and the Rise of the Sirens.”  Greg explained the set up to the capture of the capital of Tennessee on February 26th, 1862 which began with the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson.  Despite orders from departmental commander Albert Sidney Johnston, Nashvillians failed to properly defend the city ignoring orders to build fortifications.  Consequently, before the city was captured by the Army of the Ohio, the “Great Panic” ensued.  Those who could get out did; those who could not stayed and had to deal with Union military occupation for the rest of the war.  Greg’s program covered how people dealt with that initially and how those who refused to take oaths of allegiance to the Union were sometimes jailed or banished.  All of this set the stage for the rise of the sirens who would sing out to the Confederates who would make their several attempts to retake the city.


We hope to have Rob Cross come to us in the future.




June 2014 – Robert Girardi, historian/author, Chicago Police Detective – “The Murder of Union General William “Bull” Nelson”

July 2014 – Conrad Laplante, Ottawa, Canada CWRT – “Canada and the American Civil War”

August 2014 – Eric Wittenberg, historian, author – topic TBA

September 2014 – Jamie Gillum, historian/Author, Franklin, TN – “Twenty Five Hours To tragedy: The battle of Spring Hill, November 29th, 1864” (based on his new book)

October 2014 – David Mowery, historian/author – Cincinnati CWRT – “John Hunt Morgan’s Great Indiana and Ohio Raid”

November 2014 – Shirley Farris, author/historian – “Fort Donelson: One Soldier’s Story” (CS Surgeon, 41st Tennessee)

March 2015 – Mark Hoffman, historian/author – The 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics in Middle Tennessee” (from his book)

: – DUES ARE DUE AT THE JULY 2014 MEETING.  WHEN YOU ARE CURRENT YOU WILL GET A NEW CWRT MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR.  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


Here’s a great chance to get back issues of Gettysburg Magazine for little money


I am the former publisher of The Gettysburg Magazine, having recently sold it to the University of Nebraska Press, which is continuing publication. I, however, have an inventory of back issues for sale. I am offering three sets of magazines at a big discount and thought your members might be interested.


If you are not familiar with the magazine, each issue is 128 pages with no advertising, making each more like a softcover book on the Gettysburg Campaign than a traditional magazine. Each article is footnoted and is accompanied by maps and both modern and historic photos. Every article has been reviewed before publication by a panel of Gettysburg experts, including Edwin C. Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service. The magazine has published some of the best Gettysburg material out there. Check the bibliography of any book on Gettysburg and you’ll almost surely find The Gettysburg Magazine listed as a source.


I have a 25-issue set (3,200 pages of material) for $60 plus shipping and two 10-issue sets (1,280 pages per set) for $30 plus shipping available. I have attached a pdf of a flyer with details and a pdf listing the tables of contents of the issues in the sets.


This is a great amount of material for the price that many of your members may be interested in purchasing. I would appreciate it if you could pass the information on to them and anyone else you know who is interested in the Civil War. If you have any questions, please let me know.


With regards,

Andy Turner


Gatehouse Press 
PO Box 1311 
Dayton, OH 45401


Jefferson Davis Birthday Events at the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site – May 30-31st-June 1st, 2014


The fine folks at Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview, KY have a full slate of events for the weekend of May 30th through June 1st, 2014.  The events include reenactors, a movie off the side of the Davis Monument, a period ladies tea, beauty pageants, artillery firing and much more. Some other facets of the weekend include a Civil War surgeon’s demonstration, sutlers, a flags display, and the band Red River Breeze.  Of course tours to the top of the monument – with its spectacular view – are included!


The park is about 15 miles north of Clarksville.  Take I-24 into Kentucky and get off at the first exit – Exit 89/KY Hwy 115.  Turn right and keep going until you see the park on the left – the monument will be seen several miles before you get there.


Ron Sydnor usually has flyers at our meetings that have the complete schedule of events so be sure to head up there and have a great time!  I you have never been there before the park visitors center has many details of the Confederate president’s life on display and they have a book store/gift shop as well.


Civil War 150th Anniversary a Bust Say Some – Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2014


RINGGOLD, Ga.—Don Dodson’s relic and metal detector store is a mini-museum of Civil War artifacts—bullets, guns, cannonballs—many of them found near this town where Union and Confederate armies once fought.   When the war’s 150th anniversary began three years ago, the 63-year-old wanted to see relics fly off the shelves. But with just one year left in the celebration, the shop’s glass cases remain full.   “We were hoping for more tourist traffic than we’ve seen,” he says. “It was disappointing.”


Promoters of Civil War memorabilia, tourism and re-enactments across the country are fighting a losing battle against apathy for one of the most important periods in U.S. history—a cataclysmic event that shaped the nation and helped define its soul. Limited government funding to stage events and public unease over the divisive racial issues that the war represents are two factors for low turnout, say Civil War buffs.  And younger Americans have other things on their minds, from social media to superheroes.


“If it’s a celebration, it’s a celebration that the public is either not aware of or not interested in,” sighs Jamie Delson, owner of the Toy Soldier Company, a mail-order business with a warehouse in Jersey City, N.J.  For the anniversary in 2011 of the war’s opening salvos, Mr. Delson developed special toy soldier sets marking famous Civil War battles, anticipating a bump in sales. Instead, his Civil War soldiers—from inexpensive plastic privates to a hand-painted metal version of Maj. Gen. George Pickett, asking price $325—make up only 5% of sales, behind figures from World War II and the American Revolution, he says.


 Louis Varnell opened the History Company, a military memorabilia store in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., near Chickamauga battlefield, where more than 34,000 men were killed, wounded, reported missing or captured in an 1863 clash.  “We were thinking the sesquicentennial was really going to help us out,” says the 44-year-old former history schoolteacher and longtime re-enactor. In all of 2013, he only had two weekends when sales were good, he says. He sells more World War II collectibles “to keep the lights on,” he says.  


Gary Gallagher, a Civil War expert at the University of Virginia, says the anniversary is “anemic” in part because Americans still find the subject uncomfortable. “It’s hard to talk about if you don’t mention race, emancipation and slavery,” he says.  Another major factor is widespread ignorance, says David Heidler, who co-edited the five-volume “Encyclopedia of the American Civil War” with his wife. “Significant numbers of people have no idea when the Civil War occurred, let alone what it was about,” he says.


A poll by Public Policy Polling last summer asked Georgians what they thought of Union Major Gen. William T. Sherman, once despised here for his destructive March to the Sea, which began in Atlanta. The poll found that most people don’t care: Fifty-six percent had no opinion of Sherman at all and only 28% disliked him. In comparison, 63% disliked reality TV star Honey Boo Boo.  Some events, including re-enactments last summer marking the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, have drawn large crowds. The Civil War Trust, a nonprofit that preserves battlefields, just surpassed its $40 million goal for a capital campaign tied to the anniversary and set a new goal of $50 million.


But the war’s enthusiasts worry that the lackluster anniversary marks a general retreat.  Even at Gettysburg, the war’s most famous battlefield, the numbers pale in comparison to the past: Nearly seven million people scampered along its rolling hills in the peak year of 1970, compared with 1.2 million last year, according to the National Park Service.  “The whole thing sort of fizzled,” says Steve Sylvia, editor of North South Trader’s Civil War, a memorabilia magazine. “The shot in the arm that many of us were anticipating just never materialized.”


It wasn’t always like this. The 1990 broadcast of the PBS documentary “The Civil War” by Ken Burns ignited obsessive public interest, leading to movies, books, battlefield visits and brigades of men joining re-enactments. Ed Mann, a re-enactor, says that when he traveled to the 135th anniversary of Gettysburg in 1998, 20,000 men in gray and blue took the field.  Re-enactments this anniversary have been “shadows” of that event, says Mr. Mann, a 66-year-old Los Angeles attorney. And crowds gathering to watch have also fallen. An annual re-enactment in Long Beach drew about 3,500 paying attendees when it started several years ago, but it was canceled after 2012 when only about 1,000 showed up, Mr. Mann says.  “If there are no light swords and aliens with huge special effects and cities disappearing, a lot of teenagers and early 20-somethings are just not interested,” he says.

In the South, Confederate heritage, once an intense point of pride, has been forgotten by many and to others is a source of embarrassment. A Civil War ball planned for this month in Prescott, Ark., was canceled after some community members were offended and “didn’t want to celebrate that aspect of our history,” says Bill Fish, president of the group that had organized the festivities.


Nor have the country’s politicians, generations removed from Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, widely embraced the war’s remembrance.   In 2011, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation urging people to observe the anniversary.  But he didn’t set up a federal commission to oversee events, and congressional efforts to do so died in committee. Many states, citing the poor economy, slashed budgets for commemorations.


In Ringgold, Ga., a town of about 3,600 in Georgia’s mountains about 90 miles northwest of Atlanta, town leaders, local companies and Civil War buffs raised about $120,000 in 2008 for a bronze statue of little-known Confederate Major Gen. Patrick Cleburne. He won the Battle of Ringgold Gap on Nov. 27, 1863, and some in town hoped the statue, the anniversary and Ringgold’s location near Interstate 75 would draw tourists.  Mr. Dodson says the statue and anniversary did little for his store, North Georgia Relics and Metal Detectors, started seven years ago. Today he makes most of his money selling metal detectors over the Internet, many to people looking for gold or objects unrelated to the Civil War, he says.  At the small park where the Cleburne statue stands, no one came to visit on a recent weekday morning until Dave Van Dyke, 63, a retired factory worker who lives outside of town, parked his pickup to eat a breakfast burrito. Asked if he knew anything about Gen. Cleburne, he shrugged: “Not really.”  According to Mr. Van Dyke, every spring, when area farmers turned over their fields, “You used to see people looking for Civil War stuff with metal detectors. I haven’t seen them out there in years.”


“American Eagle” Film showing at Fort Donelson National Battlefield, May 17th & May 18th beginning at 3:00 PM


A new HD film about the American Bald Eagle will be shown in the visitors center at Fort Donelson on May 17th and 18th.  Filmed by three-time Emmy-winning cinematographer Neil Rettig, this first-ever HD hour on bald eagles is an intimate portrait of these majestic raptors’ lives in the wild.   Unique to North America, the bald eagle is the continent’s most recognizable aerial predator, with a shocking white head, electric yellow beak, and penetrating eyes.  Fort Donelson has had a nesting pair for several years and they recently moved their nest closer to the Upper Battery site on the river.  So after the film you can go down to the Water Batteries and see them in action.


Please call Douglas Richardson at (931) 232-5706, ext. 108 for more information


Fort Donelson Book Club Discussion: “Mrs. Lincoln & Mrs. Keckly” – Thursday, May 29th beginning at 6:00 pm


This month’s edition of the Fort Donelson Book Club will discuss Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave.


This is a vibrant social history set against the backdrop of the Antebellum south and the Civil War that recreates the lives and friendship of two exceptional women First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her mulatto dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckly.  The book club takes place in the park visitors center auditorium and begins that evening at 6 PM.


New Book Examines Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas and the Issue of Slavery in Latin America


Professor Robert E. May of the history department at Purdue University, has written a new book entitled “Slavery, Race and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas and the Future of Latin America.” The booknot only examines this topic in detail but also challenges the way historians today interpret the causes of the Civil War.  The famous rivalry between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas was much more than a series of debates for political office; there was also the issue of the expansion of slavery in the West with Kansas as well as the planning to bring Cuba, Mexico and Central America into the United States as slave states.  Lincoln opposed the Mexican War and remained very skeptical about “Manifest Destiny” seeing that both would, “unleash U.S. slave holders across Latin America.”  Lincoln also opposed the filibusters to Central America for the same reasons like Walker’s attempts at taking over Nicaragua.  May’s thesis shows how the American struggle for how to deal with slavery actually extended beyond American borders and that Stephen Douglas offered assistance towards this goal.  Additionally, the book covers Lincoln’s plan to resettle freed slaves in Central America.


The new book, already a finalist for the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is published by the University of Cambridge Press and it can be ordered from their website, for a discount or our local book sellers will be happy to order it for you.  Congratulations Dr. May.


Fort Negley Park in Nashville Offers Email Newsletter


The fine folks at Fort Negley in Nashville offer a periodic newsletter that covers the many happenings at this wonderful historic site.  The newsletter comes by email and it is a great way to keep up with the goings on which seem to be growing at a rapid rate!  Of course later this year they will be a key part of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Nashville.


If you wish to receive the newsletter please send your email address to – – and they will be happy to add you to their mailing list.


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