Update on the Clarksville CWRT – News for our members and friends


Hello everyone,

Hope you are all staying safe and coping with the Covid situation as best as possible.  This has indeed dropped a hammer on all of our lives and we will hopefully be done with it sooner rather than later.

I thought I might get some information out for you with regards to meetings, current events regarding the Civil War, Civil War shows and an upcoming tour.

We Mourn the Passing Of Former US National Park Service Chief Historian and Tour Guide Extraordinaire Edwin Bearss

The one and only Ed Bearss passed away at the age of 97 on September 15, 2020.  In ill health over the last year or so, Ed had moved to Mississippi to live with his daughter Jenny.  The Clarksville CWRT, in conjunction with some other CWRTs in Tennessee and Indiana, was very fortunate to have Ed lecture to us in 2012.

Jim Lighthizer, now retired president of the American Battlefield Trust, whom Ed worked with extensively, wrote:

It is my sad duty to announce the passing of historian Ed Bearss, one of the legends of the battlefield preservation business and a long-time member of the Trust board. Ed’s career is unmatched in the Civil War community – from his discovery of the USS Cairo in the Yazoo River to his role as chief historian emeritus of the National Park Service. For many of us, our love of history and preservation was nurtured through battlefield tours led by Ed and his appearance on Ken Burns’ series The Civil War. His knowledge of history was encyclopedic – and his ability to convey that knowledge in a relatable way mesmerized his audiences for generations.  

Ed was born in June 1923. His early interest in history was sparked by books read by his father in the evenings. After graduating from high school in 1941, he spent the summer hitchhiking across the country to visit Civil War battlefields. That next year, he demonstrated his love of country by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, fighting in the Pacific Theater during World War II and receiving grievous wounds in the 1944 Battle of Suicide Creek. 

After World War II, Ed pursued a career in the National Park Service – gradually rising through the ranks and gaining recognition as the utmost authority on the Civil War. During the Civil War Centennial, he led efforts to create two new national battlefield parks at Pea Ridge and Wilson’s Creek. In 1991, he was named to the federal Civil War Sites Advisory Commission – the blue ribbon panel that set the battlefield preservation priorities we still use today.  

I am honored that in lieu of flowers, the Bearss Family has requested that donations in Ed’s memory be made to the American Battlefield Trust. Recognizing the special place that these battlefields held in his heart, such gifts will be used to secure additional lands associated with the Vicksburg Campaign. Please visit www.battlefields.org/RememberingBearss for more information. 

Untold Americans have cherished memories of Ed’s vast knowledge and indefatigable energy. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know him and benefit from his love of history. Rest in peace, Ed. 

For those that never did a tour with Ed you really missed something.  I was fortunate to co-lead two tours with him as well as show him around to several Civil War sites that he had never been to before.  His near photographic memory was simply astounding!  There will never be another like him.  Rest in Peace Ed and thank you SO much for what you have done for our nation and Civil War history.

If you wish to send Jenny Bearss a note of condolence or memories of our time with Ed please do so at –

P.O.Box 490, Hwy 468

Brandon, MS 39042

email: bearssm@bellsouth.net


Tullahoma Campaign Tour – Saturday, October 24th, 2020

The Tennessee valley CWRT in Huntsville is sponsoring a tour of the Tullahoma Campaign, the brilliant campaign of maneuver by Union Gen. William Rosecrans whereupon in about ten days, he maneuvered the Confederate Army of Tennessee our of their namesake state and to Chattanooga.  At a cost of only some 1100 casualties (compared to the 48,000 over the same time frame at Gettysburg), Rosecrans, from June 23rd to July 4, 1863, waged a wonderful campaign that featured fighting for the gaps in the Highland Rim south of Murfreesboro as well as along the Elk River.  Only the incessant rainfall kept Rosecrans from probably crushing Braxton Bragg in the campaign.  This campaign is the subject of two very recent books by the way – nice to see it getting the attention it deserves!

The campaign tour will start in Murfreesboro and end on Sewanee Mountain and will take a full day.  Stops include Fortress Rosecrans, Hoover’s Gap, Liberty Gap, Guy’s Gap, Shelbyville, Tullahoma, Estill Springs, Decherd, Cowan and finally the University of the South where the campaign ended.

Those seeking to attend from Nashville will be picked up on the bus at Sewanee Mountain and taken back there at tours end to retrieve your vehicles.  Only 4-5 seats remain – there is a limit of 27 for the bus and 22 seats are sold already.  Bring your masks – this will be a fully social distancing tour!  The tour will stop for food at lunch time or you can bring your own.

Tour guides are Greg Biggs and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) John Scales, who has spoken to our CWRT before.  The fee is $80.  For more information please email John at –  scalesjr@aol.com

Dover, TN Civil War Show – Saturday-Sunday, October 17-18, 2020

With no Franklin show this December, the good news is the Dover, TN Civil War Show is happening the weekend of October 17-18, 2020 at the Stewart County Convention Center on Highway 79 in Dover.  This is just past the entrance to Fort Donelson National Battlefield on the left side next to Mama Mea’s Restaurant.  Some of the dealers who attend Franklin will be set up there so come on up to Dover – and tour the Fort Donelson National Battlefield right across the street!  Saturday hours are 9 AM to 4 PM and Sunday, 9 AM to 2 PM.  

Masks are suggested for everyone’s safety.  Clarksville CWRT will be set up recruiting members and selling books for the club treasury – we raised over $400 last year!

LASTLY – When Will The Clarksville CWRT Meet Again?

Thanks to everyone who responded to the query about when to meet again.  The other issue is securing speakers who are willing to travel and speak in person and currently not many are so willing.  Accordingly, I think it’s best to wait for January 2021 and go from there – Covid and flu season of course dictating events.  I am also pretty tied up with other things right now and cannot devote much time to anything else at least until December.

Thanks for reading and, most importantly, stay well and safe!

Greg Biggs

President, Clarksville CWRT

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