January Newsletter and Meeting Notice

January 16th, 2012 – Our 34th Meeting!!

The next meeting of the Nashville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Monday, January 16th, 2012, 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: “Freedom’s Captain – Robert Smalls From Slave to Congressman.”

Robert Smalls was born a slave in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5th, 1839. His birthplace was the slave cabin behind his master’s home. In 1862, living in Charleston at the age of 23, he escaped aboard a steamer called the Planter with his family and a few friends. Smalls had been the boat’s pilot and the Planter served the Confederacy as a transport. The boat made a harrowing journey past other Confederate vessels before it was surrendered to the USS Onward of the Union squadron that was blockading Charleston.

If the escape wasn’t enough excitement, Smalls met President Abraham Lincoln a couple weeks later who became enamored of the young man. Because of Smalls’ abilities as a boat pilot around the inlets of Charleston Harbor Lincoln commissioned him as a captain in the U.S. Navy in command of the boat by which he escaped. Smalls became the first black Captain of a U.S. Navy warship. Smalls later begged Lincoln to consider recruiting black troops to fight for the Union and Lincoln asked Smalls to help recruit and train the 1st South Carolina Infantry (Colored).

Smalls commanded the USS Planter for the rest of the war taking part in engagements in the Charleston area and helping to maintain the blockade. After the Civil War he was elected to the U.S. Congress as part of the first class of black congressmen in American history. Ironically, he later bought the home of his former owners for his family.

The story of Robert Smalls will be conveyed to the Nashville CWRT by Kraig McNutt. A Louisville, Kentucky native, he has been seriously studying, researching and writing on the American Civil War since the mid 80s. He has self-published numerous studies on the war and his Civil War blogs receive tens of thousands of visits a month. Kraig specializes in the Battle of Franklin but is not limited to that topic. He holds degrees from Indiana University and the University of Kentucky and taught at the college level for several years. He now lives on a small farm in Franklin where he and his family raises and breeds Arabian horses.


John Walsh, owner of Fort Donelson Relics in Dover, Tennessee and president of the new Fort Donelson CWRT, gave us a fascinating program on Civil War photography. Beginning with a history of the art, Walsh delved into the several types in use during the Civil War era. Using a fine Power Point heavily illustrated with examples of each type, Walsh showed the evolutions and good and bad points of each type. The Civil War brought a massive renaissance in photography with purveyors of the art taking to the field to show, for the first time, the horrors of the battlefield including those that had lost limbs. Soldiers by the thousands flocked to have their pictures taken after enlisting or during the war to send home. Thankfully many of these survive to give the modern viewer an insight into the Civil War era. Thanks to John Walsh’s excellent program all of us were able to understand and learn that insight. Walsh also brought along examples from his large personal collection for display. This program would be wonderful for any CWRT. Thanks John.

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

February 2012 – Myers Brown, Tennessee State Museum/author – “Tennessee’s Confederates” (based on his recent book)

March 2012 – Mike Manning, Fort Donelson NBF/author – “The Civil War In The Indian Territory”

April 2012 – Mark Christ, historian/author – “The Civil War In Arkansas 1863” (based on his recent book)

May 2012 – Nancy Baird, Western Kentucky University/author – “Josie Underwood’s Civil War; A Union Girl in Bowling Green, KY”

June 2012 – Gordon and Traci Belt, authors – “Onward Southern Soldiers: Religion in the Army of Tennessee”

July 2012 – The one and only Ed Bearss!!!!!! We are not kidding!!! Topic to be determined.

August 2012 – Jim Ogden, Chattanooga-Chickamauga NMP – “The Prelude to Chickamauga” (tentative)

September 2012 – Ruth Hill McAllister, author/historian – “Sam Watkins Memoirs, Company Aytch” (tentative)

October 2012 – Dr. Brian Wills, Kennesaw State University, author/historian – “General George Thomas” (tentative)

November 2012 – Dorothy Kelly, Knoxville CWRT and author – topic TBA (tentative)

December 2012 – Krista Castillo, Fort Negley and Nashville CWRT – “Christmas In The Civil War”

January 2013 – Rick Warwick, Williamson County Historian – topic TBA (tentative)

MEMBERS AND DUES – The membership has decided that every May will be our fiscal year. Please plan on taking care of your membership renewals at this meeting. 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

When your dues are paid your name badge with two stars on it will be available at the following meeting. If your badge does not have a star on it then you are not current. 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 for the 2011-2012 campaign are due at this month’s meeting. We cannot bring in speakers without dues being paid so if you have not yet renewed for 2011-2012 please do so. Thanks for supporting the Nashville CWRT.


Online Civil War Program At The US Army Heritage And Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania (From the Kankakee Valley CWRT newsletter in Illinois)

If you are looking for some good online Civil War lectures you cannot do wrong by visiting http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ahec/. A search through their Media Galleries will lead you to their lecture series. Some of their presentations do have a bit of static, and some even have some distortion and focus issues. However, the material presented is of very high quality. Here’s the list of what’s currently online and expect more topics to become available as the Civil War Sesquicentennial moves along.

Devils Own Work-CW Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America Barnet Scheter 73 mins

Virginia Campaign-May-June 1864 Mark Grimsley 60 mins

Harp and Eagle Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865 Dr. Susannah J. Ural 64 mins

Role of the Constitution in the CW Mark Neely, Jr. 73 mins.

From Engineer Lieutenant to Corps Commander-The Civil War Career of Godfrey Weitzel Dr. Arthur W. Bergeron Jr. 61 mins

Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant and the American CW Dr. Richard J. Somners 81 mins

West Pointers in the Civil War Dr. Wayne Hsieh 69 mins

Other online topics range from the militia men in King Philips War through Magnificent Desolation: The Long Road Home from the Moon with Dr. Buzz Aldrin, former Apollo astronaut.

Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event: Invasions By Rail and River, April 4-5 2012

The next series of Tennessee Sesquicentennial Civil War events will be held on April 4-5, 2012 at Pickwick Landing State Park. This site is not far from Shiloh National Military Park. Part of the festivities will include – Looking Back:The Civil War In Tennessee digitization project, where people can bring their letters, diaries, photos, weapons and much more to the event so that they can be documented by the state archives. Other programs include living history demonstrations; special exhibits from the Tennessee State Museum and Tennessee State Library and Archives plus musical performances and lectures by noted Civil War historians. These speakers include Larry Daniel, Wiley Sword, Stacy Allen, Tim Smith, James McDonough, John Marszalek Carroll Van West and others.

For more details on the location please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/PickwickLanding/. The hotel at Pickwick Landing is offering a special sesquicentennial rate of $75 per night and to secure that rate please call 800-250-8615. For more details on the event please call 615-741-2159 or email vionne.williams@tn.gov

Shiloh National Military Park Sesquicentennial Events – April 6-7, 2012

If you stay in the Pickwick Landing area a couple more days you can attend the additional sesquicentennial events hosted by Shiloh National Military Park just down the road. These include special extended tours of the battlefield and a grand illumination of the Shiloh National Battlefield with 23,746 luminaries, one for each American soldier killed, wounded or missing at Shiloh. If that isn’t enough, two amazing locally sponsored living history reenactments featuring 6,000+ re-enactors and hundreds of cannons will be held on March 29 through April 1st in Hardin and McNairy counties to commemorate the 150th Battle of Shiloh.

For more information on these locally organized events visit http://www.nps.gov/shil/.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield Sets Their 150th Anniversary Programs

Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Dover, Tennessee, will be having a number of events for their upcoming 150th Anniversary. Not all of the programs have been filled as yet but several known authors including Ed Bearss, Kendall Gott, Jack Hurst and Myron Smith have all been tabbed to make appearances at the park, most of them during the February events. Smith is an expert on the naval war in the west with several books to his credit while Hurst and Gott have both written books on the Fort Donelson Campaign. Ed Bearss is…well… Ed Bearss! Most of the events will be around the date of the battle, February 12-16, 1862, but there will also be events for the fall of Fort Henry and Fort Heiman around February 4-6, 2012. Many of the programs will be led by park rangers but there will also be living historians and their encampments to add luster to the affair.

For more information on all of the events please visit the park’s web site at: http://www.nps.gov/fodo

150th Anniversary Fort Donelson Reenactment – March 2-4. 2012 To Be Held At Cumberland City, Tennessee

This 2012 national event will be held 20 miles south of the actual battlefield on the Stewart-Houston County line in an industrial park. The event will feature loads of cannons, thousands of troops as well as civilian events like a ladies tea. The whole affair is sponsored by Porter’s Tennessee Battery (www.portersbattery.com) and the Armies of Tennessee (www.armiesoftennessee.com).

For more details about attending either as a spectator or reenactor please visit the event web site at – http://www.FortDonelson.org. This is an approved state of Tennessee Sesquicentennial event – visit http://www.tnvacation.com for details of all of their Civil War events.

Battle of Franklin Blog and Emailed Newsletter

his month’s speaker, Kraig McNutt, offers a fine blog on the Battle of Franklin as well as an emailed newsletter that will offer updates, information and much more. To get to the blog
please go to – http://www.BattleofFranklin.net – and be prepared for a lot of information. If you wish to receive his emailed newsletter simply send your email address to
– BattleofFranklin@yahoo.com.

Kraig also offers a site dedicated to the descendants of those men who fought at Franklin on November 30, 1864. Please visit –


Kentucky Historical Society Gives Award to Phil Seyfrit of Battle of Richmond, Kentucky (From the Civil War News)

The Kentucky Historical Society recently presented its 2011 Frank R. Levstik Award given for professional service to Phillip Seyfrit. Seyfrit is the superintendent of the Battle of Richmond
Battlefield in Kentucky. He began working at the park in 2007 and guided most of the projects aimed to making it a viable resource and tourist destination including the new visitor
center which opened in 2008. His official title is Madison County Historic Properties Director.

In addition to running the battlefield park, Seyfrit is a member of the Kentucky Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission (appointed in 2010 by Governor Steve Breshear), as well as the
program chair for the Madison County Civil War Roundtable. He is also an officer of the Central Kentucky World War Two Roundtable. He also won a previous award, the Pinnacle
Award, given by the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance. Our heartiest congratulations to one of our past speakers!


One response to this post.

  1. I am a novelist looking for help with research for a book I’m writing that takes place in Nashville duing the Civil War. If someone could get back to me I would appreciate it. I could use help with referrals and where to begin compiling certain information. I can be reached @ rachelgladstone@bellsouth.net


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