Meeting Notice and Newsletter

October 18th, 2010 – Our 19th Meeting!!

The next meeting of the Nashville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Monday, October 18th, 2010, in the visitor’s center of Ft. Negley Park, a unit of Metro Parks, Nashville, TN. This is located off I-65 just south of downtown between 4th Avenue South and 8th Avenue South on Edgehill Avenue/Chestnut Avenue. Take Exit 81, Wedgewood Avenue, off I-65 and follow the signs to the Science Museum. 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: “The Shadow Of Shiloh: General Lew Wallace and the Civil War”

In the Spring of 1862, Union Major General Lew Wallace appeared to have an exceptional military career ahead of him. At the age of 35, he was the youngest major general in the Union Army, rising to that rank from colonel in only eleven short months. After performing very well at Fort Donelson where he showed great initiative launching the first Union counterattack against the surging Confederates, his failure to appear on the battlefield until the end of the first day of Shiloh appears to have put his career on hold. However, the 1864 Battle of Monocacy , the “battle that saved Washington,” appears to have resurrected it. The truth, however, is never that simple. Wallace was a genuine hero, but he made mistakes and was also a scapegoat for others. The story of Lew Wallace and the Civil War is complex and highlights some important truths about battles within the Union Army as well as those with the Confederates.

Lew Wallace was an Indiana native and the son of one of that state’s governors. He served in the Mexican war in the 1st Indiana Infantry and afterward was elected to the state senate. With the coming of the Civil War, Wallace was appointed state adjutant general helping to raise troops and was soon appointed colonel of the 11th Indiana Infantry, a Zouaves regiment. He reached Brigadier General not long after that commanding a brigade. After the war, Wallace wrote what is considered one of the finest pieces of American literature in the 19th Century, the famous book Ben-Hur.

This month’s program will be presented by Gail Stephens, author of the new book, Shadow Of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War. This is her first book. She holds a Bachelors’ Degree in International Politics from George Washington University and has done graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities. She retired from the Department of Defense after 26 years of service which then gave her the time to study the Civil War on a greater scale. Gail volunteers at Monocacy National Battlefield near Frederick, Maryland and she also teaches classes at area colleges in addition to giving battlefield tours. In 2002, she won the National Park Service’s E.W. Peterkin award for her contributions towards the public’s understanding of Civil War history. She will hopefully have copies of her book at the meeting.

We are very fortunate having Gail Stephens coming to speak to us – don’t miss this meeting!

LAST MONTH’S MEETING

Our own Greg Biggs concluded his two part program on the Atlanta Campaign. Starting with the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Greg continued the campaign through the battles around Atlanta, their planning and an assessment of Hood’s and Sherman’s generalship in each. The program offered different interpretations of these battles that diverged from many other interpretations by historians. Hood got more credit than usually given for his planning (not that he didn’t make mistakes) as did Sherman for Kennesaw Mountain. Finally forced back into the city’s defense, Sherman laid siege and sent his cavalry off to raid the last railroads coming into the city. These raids were destroyed by Joe Wheeler who then went off on his own raid into Tennessee denuding Hood of most of his cavalry and allowing Sherman to maneuver west of Atlanta while Hood remained in the dark. The final clash came at Jonesboro and after two days, Hood’s last railroad into Atlanta was cut and he had to abandon the city. On September 3rd, 1864 Sherman telegraphed Abraham Lincoln that, “Atlanta was our’s and fairly won.” Lincoln had the political capital he needed to win re-election that November.

Thanks Greg for the presentation.

FUTURE PROGRAMS (please check our new web site for other events):

November, 2010 – Dr. William Glenn Robertson, US Army Combat Studies Institute, Ft. Leavenworth, KS – “A Tale Of Two Orders in the Battle of Chickamauga”
December, 2010 – John Marler, Battle of Franklin Trust/former Petersburg NBF – “The Petersburg Campaign.”
January, 2011 – Ross Hudgins, Nashville CWRT – “The Civil War of Nashville’s Maggie Vaulx, April, 1861-March, 1862”
February, 2011 – John Walsh, Ft. Donelson Relics – “Civil War Photography”
March, 2011 – Dr. Glenn LaFantasie, Western Kentucky University/author, “Heroes Of Little Round Top”
April, 2011 – TBA
May, 2011 – Dr. Michael Bradley, historian/author – “The Bodyguard and Staff of Nathan Bedford Forrest”
July, 2011 – Bobby Krick, Historian, Richmond National Battlefield – “The Seven Days Campaign and the Rise of Robert E. Lee”
August, 2011 – Greg Wade, Franklin CWRT, “The December 17, 1864 Retreat from Nashville and The Battle of the West Harpeth (Medals of Honor, Fascinating Personalities and an Agricultural Giant)”
November, 2011 – Eric Jacobson, Battle of Franklin Trust – “Baptism of Fire: The Role of Federal Recruits at the Battle of Franklin”

MEMBERS AND DUES – The membership has decided that every May will be our fiscal year. As decided by the membership, the annual dues structure for the Nashville CWRT is as follows:

Single membership – $20
Family – $30
Military – Active duty and Veterans – $15
Military Family – Active duty and Veterans – $25
Student – $10
Senior (age 60 plus) – $15
Senior couple – $20

Thanks to all of you who have paid their dues. When your dues are paid your name badge will be available at the following meeting. Our dues go to paying for speakers as well as donations for Civil War preservation causes especially those of a local nature. Please be sure to pay your dues so we can offer the best programs possible for you!

We also utilize donated items for silent auctions each month to help add to the treasury. If you have something you would like to donate for these auctions, please bring them to the meetings. Books, art, or anything Civil War, works very well. Thanks very much to all of you who have made such donations!

*****DUES ARE DUE AT THIS MEETING SO PLEASE BE PREPARED TO TAKE CARE OF THEM AT THIS TIME!!! IF YOUR NAME BADGE DOES NOT HAVE A STAR ON IT OR IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A NAME BADGE THEN YOU ARE NOT CURRENT. *****

Your dues money goes to support the Nashville CWRT and helps to cover our speaker costs; we have no programs without our speakers folks! The proceeds from the book sales also go into our treasury so please support your CWRT by buying some books at the meetings.*****

CIVIL WAR NEWS AND EVENTS:

Colonel Edmund Rucker Lecture to be held at the Holiday Inn Opryland in Nashville, October 16, 2010

As part of the Rucker Family reunion, Michael P. Rucker of Peoria, Illinois, will present a lecture on Confederate Colonel Edmund W. Rucker. This will be held at 8 PM on Friday, October 16th. Rucker began his military career in west Tennessee as an artillerist and then moved into commanding cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was captured on the second day of the Battle of Nashville after hand to hand combat with troopers of the 12th Tennessee Cavalry (U.S.). This event has been endorsed by the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society and is open to interested members of the public.

General Lloyd Tighman Museum Ghost Walk – Paducah, Kentucky, October 30, 2010

On Saturday, October 30th, the Lloyd Tilghman Museum will hold its Ghost Walk event. This will be a major fundraiser for the Lloyd Tilghman Home and Civil War Museum. Tilghman commanded Kentucky Confederates at Camp Boone near Clarksville as well as troops at Fort Henry and Donelson. He was killed in action at the Battle of Champion Hill in Mississippi in 1863.

Ghosts on the tour will include Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman and wife Augusta, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Abraham Buford and Col. Albert P. Thompson. Thompson was a Paducah native killed in Forrest’s raid there in 1864. Union General U.S. Grant and Col. Stephen G. Hicks will also be there as will a Confederate Camp, ladies in period attire, music and more.

Please support this fine museum that is less than 2 hours from Nashville. The cost will be $10.00 per person with children 12 and under getting in free with paid adult. For more information please call (270)575-5477.

Franklin, TN Civil War Roundtable program – Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our fine neighbors of the Franklin CWRT will present Dorothy Olson of the Knoxville CWRT and her program “A Want Of Confidence: James Longstreet’s East Tennessee Campaign” at their October meeting. The CWRT meets at the Williamson County Library and the program begins at 3 PM. Dorothy Kelly is an expert on the war in East Tennessee and has been published in North & South magazine. She has lead tours of the Knoxville area and is very active in local preservation efforts. If you get the chance to go please do – this is a great program.

Battle of Nashville Park sites – by Betsy Phillips (Civil War Preservation Trust web site and the Nashville Scene)

I had to take a break from the Metro parks. So I decided to hit up a few non-Metro parks — namely, the places preserved by the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. In my younger days, I had an uncle who was a history teacher: my dad’s brother, Blain. He was brilliant in ways that were inspiring, not off-putting.

My very first thought, the first time I went to Fort Negley and walked the slope up and saw the wooden pathways, was that Uncle Blain was going to love this. He had been dead at least 10 years by then, but my instinct was to share that place with him. I had that same urge in the middle of Redoubt One — to call him, at least, to tell him how they had situated the gun and how I could see clear into town through the trees and how the earthworks they would have hidden behind was worn with time.

On the Battle of Nashville Monument, there’s a poem. It’s not very good, as poems go, but the ending will break your heart: “Let the past be past, let the dead be dead, — Now and forever, American!” If that’s not enough to get the city’s point across, on the other side there’s an explanation of the statue. It reads, “The spirit of youth holds in check the contending forces that struggled here in the fierce battle of Nashville, December 16th, 1864, sealing forever the bond of union by the blood of our heroic dead of the World War 1917-1918. A monument like this, standing on such memories, having no reference to utilities, becomes a sentiment, a poet, a prophet, an orator to every passerby.”

I’m not sure what it means, exactly, but I get the gist — that there was a great wish that the young men dying together as one country during World War I would be a large enough blood sacrifice to heal the gaping wound of the Civil War, and that we could be one country with the past left in the past. The statue was dedicated on Armistice Day, 1927; at that moment Faulkner was sitting in Mississippi just getting started on his writing career, which was, in great part, built on the failure of that wish. It is, of course, in the hands of the young to fix the things we have fumbled. But we were all young, once, and we thought our job was to walk slowly through the world as our favorite uncle told us great, true stories about it.

I guess this is kind of a failure as a park review. They are fine parks and very small, so it’s no trouble to explore each of them thoroughly and still have much of the afternoon. Yes, there’s some graffiti at Shy’s Hill and someone seems to have kicked over the signs telling you to keep off the earthworks at Redoubt One. But you should still go, if only to remember that the place we live is rich with the stories of people who bled and died so we can stand here today — people who are now gone, as you and I will be one day. And while you’re there, you can wonder if we, as a city, have managed to come together since then, or if we have just paved over the sorrows of the past so that we can pretend not to know them — as if we could pretend so hard to forget that one day they might be erased from all time.

Tennessee Civil War 150th Event Kick-Off – November 12-13, 2010 – Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial events begin on November 12th and 13th with two days of seminars, tours, living history events and much more. On Friday, November 12th, events include living history in Bicentennial Capitol Mall, tours of the Civil War exhibits of the Tennessee State Museum and workshops at Tennessee State University. On the 13th, a seminar with historians will be held at the War Memorial Building which includes a keynote address by noted historian and author Sam Davis Elliott as well as tours of the state museum and living history on the mall. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information please visit – http://www.tncivilwar150.com

The Battle Of New Market Heights, Virginia – The Perils of Battlefield Preservation by Jimmy Price (Civil War Preservation Trust web site and the blog The Sable Arm – dedicated to black soldiers of the Civil War)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the attempt to make the battlefield at New Market Heights a National Historic Landmark. The attempt was made between 1989 – 1990, led by an African American military veteran who wanted the ground where 16 USCT’s (14 African American enlisted men and two white officers) were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to be preserved and recognized. The reasons that this did not happen are illustrative of just how complicated and frustrating battlefield preservation can be. It all started in 1989 when an organization called The Black Military History Institute of America, Inc. lobbied for preservation of the battlefield. The BMHIA sent two letters out on February 16, 1989. The first was to the Department of the Interior and it stated:

The deeds of these brave and valiant Black fighting men who participated in the struggle for the unity of our nation must no longer be allowed to go unrecognized. To correct this gross oversight, we are requesting that the Department of Interior, under the purview of its charter, take the following action: designate the New Market/Chaffin Farm area as a National Historic Landmark, and, b., resurrect the Dept. of Interior’s 1979 study to expand Richmond National Battlefield Park to include the New Market Heights Battlefield and Fort Gilmer Extension.

The same day a letter went out to then-Senator John Warner. The BMHIA also sent a request to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Historic Resources for a state highway marker to be placed near the battlefield. In the meantime, local landowners began to dispute the claims that the Battle of New Market Heights was fought on their ground. Not only did they dispute the location of the battlefield, they also disputed the date of the battle. They maintained that the battle took place on Signal Hill, north of route 5 (historic New Market Road) even though a cursory examination of the maps made by the Army of the James in October of 1864 clearly shows the battlefield to be south of the road. In retrospect this seems ludicrous, but these landowners were apparently willing to twist the facts to make sure that the historic battlefield of New Market Heights would not be preserved.

To combat the claims of the local landowners, the BMHIA enlisted the help of Ed Bearss, Chief Historian of the National Park Service in 1989. However, it appears that the institute was not given a place at the table when meetings and deliberations were held concerning the NHL nomination. Not hearing from Senator Warner’s office, Governor Douglas Wilder received a letter on April 6, 1990. Finally, in June of 1990 a memorandum was released that stated the following:

The NHL nomination is dead; it will not be pursued any further by the NPS because of near-unanimous owner opposition. The NPS and the county and Warner’s office are all aware that the battle happened to the south of Route 5, not on Signal Hill. Most of the land where the battle really occurred is in the hands of the opponents. The property owners contend that the battle really happened farther to the east and a week or so earlier than everyone else thinks, Bearss and Richard Sommers (author of Richmond Redeemed) being “everyone else.” Thus ended the battle for making New Market Heights a National Historic Landmark.

In 1993, a roadside marker was placed on Route 5 to mark the site of the battle. Thankfully, there have been renewed talks about preserving what is left of the battlefield at New Market Heights. Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia’s Third District has requested $10,000,000 for a New Market Heights Memorial & Visitors Center, stating that “The funds will be used for land acquisition, site preparation and toward construction of a memorial and visitor’s center at New Market Heights, adjacent to the Richmond National Battlefield Park in Henrico County, Virginia.” It remains to be seen what will become of this effort.

In the meantime, the portion of the battlefield where the USCTs made their charge against Confederate defenses south of Route 5 has been preserved by the County of Henrico and remains dormant and undeveloped. Part of this land was destroyed by a gravel pit that was converted into a large pond before the County purchased the land. The remainder is nearly inaccessible due to the propensity of Four Mile Creek to flood and overflow the dirt road that leads to the site. Henrico County has plans to develop the site and erect a monument to the USCTs and on September 25th I’ll have the honor of leading a special tour of the site for the 146th anniversary of the battle. Unfortunately, some of the land that has not been protected is about to be lost forever due to a developer who refused to listen to a local preservation group. In a sense, it seems as if the Battle of New Market Heights is still being fought. The Civil War Preservation Trust listed New Market Heights as one of America’s Top 10 most endangered battlefields.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Robert S. Davis on February 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Dear Nashville Civil War Roundtable

    I am the author of books on Andersonville prison and Civil War Atlanta, as well as articles on many related topics such as Civil War intelligence. You may have seen me recently at the beginning of the episode of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded talking about the theft of Confederate gold in the last days of the Civil War. I will be speaking to the Tennessee Valley Civil War Roundtable on May concerning Confederate brown and green water guerilla warfare.

    I would be delighted to speak to your group and to bring along my new book, Civil War Atlanta, a telling of the tale of the destruction of the city from 1814 to the present by someone raised amidst what has remained of its history.

    All the best.

    Robert S. Davis

    Reply

    • Posted by clarksvillecivilwar on February 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you for your comment – I’ve forwarded your information to our speaker coordinator!

      Reply

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