August Meeting Information!

August 16th, 2017 – Our 159th meeting.  We continue our thirteenth year!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Tennova 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  – “They Changed Everything: Civil War Embalming Surgeons.”


The staggering number of deaths, from combat and disease, in the American Civil War was staggering.  The nation never expected this when the war began in 1861.  The sheer numbers of dead, and even more wounded, forced both sides to deal with medical issues like never before.  War often brings about big technological and other changes and this war was no exception.


Ever heard of the names Holmes, Bunnell, Prunk, Brown & Alexander, Hutton, Scollay, Buchley, Plant?  Actually the list could go on further.  These men represent just a small example of the individuals who served as embalming surgeons during the Civil War.  This was tough work, and over time embalming surgeons have been either assailed as con artists or saints.  There is not much middle ground here.  However both assessments, as with most sweeping historical assessments miss the truth.  There is a great usually untold story about the mission, activities, and long lasting results for American culture which has lasted to this very day because of the work of these individuals.  Make no mistake the embalming surgeons in the Civil War changed the way American’s cared for their dead permanently.  Their story needs to be told, and this presentation is a humble attempt to do just that.


Our speaker this month is Todd Van Beck of Nashville.  Mr. Van Beck has been in funeral service and bereavement care and church lay ministry for over 48 years.  He began his mortuary career in Omaha, NE and over the years he has been involved with a variety of funeral/embalming/educational and operational activities touching most areas of this vocation.


Mr. Van Beck is an author and speaker on a wide variety of topics from funeral customs and practices, burial and cremation history, operational business practices to counseling and dealing with grief.  He has lectured internationally from New Zealand to Germany.


Originally from Iowa, he was not born into a funeral services family.  At age five he decided he wanted to be a funeral services director. To that end he holds an honorary doctorate degree from the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service; a Master’s Degree in Religion from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary; a Bachelors of Arts from Mt. Mercy University and a professional diploma in funeral service arts and sciences from New England Institute in Boston.  He has received several honors from the funeral and embalming industry over his career.  He has had long service in the funeral home industry, embalming, hospice care and academic institutions where he continues to serve.


We hope you will make a point to attend this unique and interesting program on a medical aspect of the Civil War.


Last Month’s meeting


We have a typically excellent program from Kent Wright of the Tennessee Valley CWRT in Huntsville, Al on the red River Campaign.  Kent deftly explored the motivations, politics and execution of the campaign fought in the spring of 1864.  Backed by a large naval fleet and experienced troops but with mediocre top leadership, the recipe for a failure was cast despite what was brought to the table.  Kent’s knowledge of the topic was excellent as was the supporting power point.  We always enjoy when Kent comes to speak to us and this time was no different.  A fine program for those looking for something different and a Trans-Mississippi topic to boot.




September 2017 – Allen Mesch, author/historian – “General Charles F. Smith” (based on his book)

October 2017 – Edward Semmes, historian – “Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes”

November 2017 – Scott Sallee, historian/author – “Joe Porter’s War: The Civil War in Northeast Missouri, 1862” (based on his book)

December 2017 – Jim Lewis, Chief Ranger, Stones River National Battlefield – topic TBA

March 2018 – David Deatrick, Louisville CWRT – “Kentucky Union General Lovell Rosseau”

IMPORTANT –  MEMBERS AND DUES: DUES ARE DUE AT THE JULY 2017 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:

  • Student – $10
  • Single membership – $20
  • Family – $30
  • Military – Active duty and veterans – $15
  • Military family – Active duty, veterans, and family – $25

Please plan on paying your dues at this month’s meeting.  If you cannot attend please send payment to Greg Biggs, 2600 W. Henderson Way, Clarksville, TN 37042.




Fantastic Civil War Display at Fort Donelson, Dover, TN – September 9th-10th, 2017


A great display of Civil War artifacts, by some of the most recognized collectors from around the country will be on hand to exhibit their museum quality displays. This will take place on the weekend of September 9th-10th, 2017 at the Stewart County Visitors Center, 117 Visitors Center Lane, across from the entrance to Fort Donelson National Battlefield.  Some 50 tables of artifacts will be on display.  The event is free and open to the public.


If you love Civil War History – you will not want to miss this.  Have a Civil War item to sell, trade, or have appraised? This is your chance! There will even be some items for sale!  The event runs on Saturday, Sept. 9th from 9 AM to 3:30 PM and on Sunday, Sept. 10th from 9 Am to 2 PM.


For more information please email John Walsh at – or call (773) 610-1034


The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association Announces Fall Tour – The Civil War On The Upper Cumberland, September 2, 2017


Join Dr. Aaron Astor of Maryville College for a Three-Star tour along the upper Cumberland Plateau.  Visit sites that reveal stories about the most bitterly divided communities during the Civil War.   Participants will visit Travisville, the first Civil War military action in the state, as well as several sites related to the guerrilla war that drew in noted bushwhackers and pitted supporters of the Union and Confederacy against one another in some of the most remote landscape in Tennessee.

The driving tour will begin early Saturday morning at Cookeville and conclude by 1 pm near Sparta.  There will be short walks to some of the sites.

There is no fee for the tour but pre-registration will be required.  Watch for a tour announcement in August with additional details and a link to the registration form.  For more information and to register please email –


Dr. Astor will be speaking to the Clarksville CWRT in 2018 on his fine book on the War on the Cumberland Plateau.


The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association Weighs In About Fort Negley’s Development Threat  – The Story Continues To Grow.


If you have not yet emailed Nashville’s Mayor Barry your opposition to this disgraceful development proposal please do so at –  Do it today please!  Your voice need to be heard to help put a stop to this travesty!


The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association has sent the following letter to Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry with their opposition to the Fort Negley development

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