Clarksville CWRT Meeting for February

February 19th, 2020 – Our 187th meeting.  We continue our fifteenth year!

The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 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 “Commander William F. Maury, CS Navy”


At the beginning of the Civil War, Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, known in history as “The Pathfinder of the Seas” and “The Father of Oceanography,” left the US Navy and was initially named Chief of Sea Coast, River and Harbor Defenses, for the Confederate States Navy.  Because of his international fame from serving as First Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. charting the world’s oceans and seas, Maury was eventually sent to England and France as a chief agent in the Confederate Secret Service.


One of his most prominent books was “The Physical Geography of the Sea”, known as the first full work on oceanography and some of his other works are still used today.  He charted currents and weather and published them as map sets assisting sailors of his and later eras.  He was also an advocate of a southerly route for the Trans-Continental Railroad as well as a rail line across the Isthmus of Panama to ease trade and shipping.  Maury, born in Virginia but who lived in Franklin, Tennessee during his formative years, worked in the shadows procuring ships for the CSA and as an unofficial Confederate diplomat.  Maury also perfected “electric torpedoes,” which were basically contact mines which greatly damaged Union Navy ships.  He was also a cousin of Abram Maury, Franklin, Tennessee’s founder.


In his post-war career, Maury taught at Virginia Military Institute chairing their physics department and advocated for the creation of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as Virginia Tech. An avid geologist, Maury also authored a book on the physical geography of Virginia believing that mining and manufacturing would help the state recover from the Civil War.  Maury also advocated for a land version of the sea oriented weather bureau to help with forecasting and charting winds across America, traveling to Europe to give speeches on the topic seeking their support.


Over the last ten years, Franklin’s Chip Hooper has amassed the largest known private collection of Commander Maury’s papers which he calls “The Pathfinder Papers.”  In this month’s program, Hooper will discuss Maury’s role abroad and will share some of his findings from these papers while introducing original letters and documents to the audience.


A Middle Tennessee native, Chip Hooper’s 3x Great grandfather, Captain Thomas J. Carothers, served in Company H of the 20th Tennessee Infantry and was severely wounded at the November 1864, Battle of Franklin. Hooper has served on the Boards of the Battle of Franklin Trust, The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall Foundation and the Maury County Historical Society and recently received a research grant from The College of William and Mary.


Last Month’s meeting


Historian and author James Knight gave us a wonderful study of the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas.  Fought on March 7-8, 1862, the Confederate defeat there tied in with losses at Forts Henry and Donelson, the fall of Clarksville and Nashville and the defeat at Shiloh which, along with the Union push up the Peninsula in Virginia to threaten Richmond, made for a sad spring for the Confederacy.  Using detailed maps and a good description of the terrain issues both sides face, this battle was brought to light in fine fashion.  Union General Samuel Curtis would rise to be a prominent commander in the Trans-Mississippi theater while loser Gen. Earl Van Dorn, would eventually lose army command after again being defeated at Corinth in October 1862 but redeem himself somewhat as a cavalry commander.


Jim’s book on the topic is one of only a few ever written on it so get it at your local bookstore on on  Thanks Jim for coming to see us.




March 2020 – Karel Lea Biggs – historian/teacher – “Quinine in the Confederacy”

April 2020 – Mark Zimmerman, author/historian – “Iron Maidens and the Devil’s Daughters: US Navy Gunboats versus Confederate Cavalry on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers”


Some of our speakers are authors and bring books to sell at our meetings.  Please support them by buying their books.

IMPORTANT –  MEMBERS AND DUES: DUES ARE DUE AT THE JULY 2019 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.




Indiana Soldier William Cammack Archive Now Online At Fort Negley’s Web Site


On October 8, 1864, William Cammack (1835-1867) of Grant County, Indiana joined the 12th Battery, Indiana Light Artillery along with his close friend Addison Baldwin. Within weeks of enlisting, the pair arrived at Fort Negley where they spent the remainder of the war. During that time, William and his family and friends sent more than 100 letters describing life in Nashville and on the home front. William maintained an especially close relationship with his younger brother Calvin who provided regular updates on events back home including deaths, births, enlistments, interactions with the brothers’ many love interests, business transactions, and the occasional run-in with Indiana copperheads. With friends serving across both theaters of war, William received letters from Sharpsburg, Memphis, and New Orleans. William’s letters, approximately 700 pages of written correspondence spanning from 1858 through 1867, reflect a young educated man struggling with adhering to norms established by his Quaker upbringing, with satisfying his duty to his country, and with fulfilling his own ambitions in business. Although Calvin and William’s deaths in 1867 remain a mystery, their letters contain numerous descriptions of lingering illnesses.


Fort Negley Park received the Cammack Collection in 2018 via private donation. The following year, the Friends of Fort Negley Park received a grant from the Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board Regrant Program administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. In addition to purchasing the appropriate archival storage materials, the park established a Flickr page for sharing the letters with the public. With the help of Andy Blair and Howard Mann, members of the NCWRT, the page currently features high quality digital scans of more than 60 letters. The page will soon include transcriptions of the letters as well.


To view the letters online please visit – Fort Negley Park Archive Flickr page:


Fort Negley Park’s archive is open to researchers by appointment. For more information on the Cammack Collection or the park’s other holdings, please contact or 615-862-8470.


Fort Donelson National Battlefield Anniversary Events This Weekend


Our good friends over in Dover have a full slate of events to commemorate the Battle of Fort Donelson set for the public this coming weekend.  Check their web site for the dates and times of each event and head on over and support your local National Battlefield.  Use the link below –


Two Events Upcoming At Historic Traveler’s Rest In Nashville


Traveler’s Rest kicks off 2020 with another fun and informative event in February.


On Saturday, February 15, they will host Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project for a lecture, campfire discussion, and overnight visit here at Travellers Rest. We are partnering with Belle Meade Plantation and Franklin Masonic Hall to welcome Mr. McGill and the project to Middle TN this winter. Mr. McGill will be spending a night at each site during his stay.


Travellers Rest is hosting a full day of free events on February 15, so please check their website, and Facebook page regularly for more information and to register.


There are fees for each of these events and those can be found on the web site.


The Battle of Franklin Trust Offers A New Documentary


The Battle of Franklin Trust presents a new documentary about America’s history and Battle of Franklin, which occurred on Nov. 30, 1864.

Entitled “The Battle of Franklin and the American Experiment,” the documentary traces the American experience from the Declaration of Independence through present day. Highlights include the battlefield reclamation work in Franklin and the Fuller Story project. The documentary focuses heavily on politics and slavery and how America moved toward civil war. The war and various battles are revisited, such as the Battle of Franklin, and the viewer will experience a unique interpretation of the events that redefined America. Before bringing the story to our present day, the torturous path through Reconstruction is put on full display, including a sharp look at Jim Crow and the modern Civil Rights Era.

Starring: Hewitt Sawyers, Shelia Mullican, Ethan Castelo, Brad Kinnison, Chris Williamson, Julian Bibb, Bobby Hargrove, and Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric A. Jacobson.

“We are so pleased to release this new project,” said Jacobson. “We hope the documentary will have a lasting impact on Franklin and beyond. Educating everyone on these topics, and what Americans have truly experienced, will hopefully lead to a better understanding of how critically important our civil war was and is.”

Historic Franklin Theatre, 419 Main Street in downtown Franklin

Date: Thursday, February 13

Tickets: $15

Doors Open: 5:30 PM

Commentary Begins: 6:00 PM

Film Begins: 6:30 PM

Run Time: 1 hr 12 min

Q and A: After the film


For more information about the film and showing, please visit or call (615) 538-2076.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS!!!!  A Large Selection of New Books Still Available at the Clarksville CWRT This Month!

Danny Gilkey is a retired history professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville and he recently donated hundreds of books for the Nashville and Clarksville CWRTs to sell to members and raise funds for speakers for each CWRT.  Thanks to his great generosity these will be available for sale at this month’s meeting!  So come prepared to shop and add some great stuff to your library all while benefitting your CWRT!   Help give these fine books a new home!  Besides Civil War titles, there will also be books on these subjects: colonial and Revolutionary War books, slavery, Reconstruction, later 19th Century wars, World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam and Cold War topics.  Danny also made a most generous donation of some reference books to the Fort Negley library which is open to the public!

We appreciate those of you who bought from this great book selection last month!  The CWRT needs funds to keep getting in speakers and the book sales go towards that so thank you!  The prices for these great books or 50 per cent off or more so some great deals here for your library!

Please keep buying and supporting your CWRT!  We sold quite a few last month – thank you!

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