Welcome back to Knoxville, Brian Steel Wills



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Brian Steel Wills is the director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, after a long tenure at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Brian Steel Wills

Brian Steel Wills

He is the author of numerous works relating to the American Civil War, including a new volume – The River Was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow.

His other titles include: A Battle From the Start: The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest Reprinted as: The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest. This work was chosen as both a History Book Club selection and a Book of the Month Club selection.

He also authored, The War in Southeastern Virginia, released in October, 2001, and No Ordinary College: A History of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, (2004), both by the University Press of Virginia. Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema appeared in 2006. An updated edition of the James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., Civil War Sites in Virginia (Virginia, 2011) arrived just in time for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and in 2012 and 2013, Brian authored George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel and Confederate General William Dorsey Pender: The Hope of Glory.

In 2000, Dr. Wills received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the state of Virginia, one of eleven recipients from all faculty members at public and private institutions across the state. He was named Kenneth Asbury Professor of History and won both the Teaching award and the Research and Publication award from UVA-Wise.

KCWRT Scout’s Report, October 2016


Check out the October 2016 Scout’s Report: oct2016october-2016e

KCWRT welcomes Civil War historian Frank O’Reilly


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The next meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Bearden Banquet Hall. The speaker will be Frank O’Reilly, historian of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania national military park.

Welcome back to Knoxville, Frank O’Reilly.

Frank A. O’Reilly received both his BA and MA in American History with a concentration in Early American Military History and Civil War Studies. After graduating from Washington & Lee University in 1987, he joined the National Park Service at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

frank-oreillyLater he worked with the Park Service at Independence Hall in Philadelphia before returning to Fredericksburg in 1990 as the park’s permanent historian. He has also served as an historical consultant for the City of Fredericksburg.

O’Reilly, who has lectured extensively on military history to audiences around the world, has written numerous articles on the Civil War and Mexican War and has appeared on CSPAN and in several video documentaries. He is the author of Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg and The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock which garnered a number of awards including a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

Currently he is researching a book on the Battle of Malvern Hill and the Seven Days’ Campaign around Richmond.

Marching Out of Step: Robert E. Lee After Appomattox



The next meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Bearden Banquet Hall. The speaker will be Frank O’Reilly, historian of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania national military park.

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Following the surrender at Appomattox Court House, General Robert E. Lee’s life was fraught with uncertainty.

The man of war who had had thousands of men marching with him for four years now was a man alone.

Robert E. Lee after the war

Robert E. Lee after the war

Without a job, without a home, and without a country, Lee faced indictment for treason and was betrayed by his own failing health.  Despite these setbacks, Robert E. Lee felt a greater obligation to the United States than ever before.  He dedicated the rest of his short life to restoring peace in his own way—through education and personal example.

Turning his back on his military past, the general made a point of “marching out of step” to follow a path of reconciliation. Only then did Robert E. Lee achieve true greatness as a man and as an American.

Come join us as Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP historian Frank O’Reilly introduces us to “the lion in winter,” and we explore a Robert E. Lee few of us know.

John Stegner: President’s message, September 2016


Speaker Meeting Attendance and ETHS Fair

A thank you to everyone who attended the August meeting. There were 69 diners, five who were non-members. Also attending were an additional 20 members and two guests to hear the lecture. Total attendance for Dr. McMurry’s lecture was 91. Thank you for your attendance and support.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. on September 12th to hear Professor Brian Steel Wills speak on “George Henry Thomas”. Please plan on attending.

A special thank you to Jim Doncaster, Dick Heisser, Dennis Urban, Jerry Patterson, Dave Terwell, Bill Lawhon, Stan Sech and Eric Wayland for their representation of the KCWRT at the East Tennessee History Fair on August 20th. I encourage all of our members to volunteer for KCWRT events as opportunities are presented. It is a very rewarding experience.

Hans Henry Danielson

Hans Danielson was born December 18th, 1832 in Norway and immigrated with his parents to Dane County Wisconsin. He married Elizabeth Anderson and settled in a newly established settlement in the area of Red Wing, Minnesota in August of 1856. Six years later Hans and his brother John were called to service in Company G, 7th Minnesota. Hans and Elizabeth were my Great Great Grandparents and Hans served in the Union Army. This is a brief account of a Norwegian immigrant who first saw action in the Great Sioux Uprising and later in the American Civil War.

Hans Henry Danielson,  picture taken at the 7th Minnesota 1905 Civil War Reunion

Hans Henry Danielson, picture taken at the 7th Minnesota 1905 Civil War Reunion

The 7th Minnesota Infantry Regiment was formed in response to President Lincoln’s calls for an additional 600,000 Northern troops in the summer of 1862. No sooner formed and the 7th was called to respond to the Sioux Uprising in the areas of Morton and New Ulm in Southern Minnesota. Hans served under Colonel Henry Sibley and fought against the Sioux at Birch Coulee and the Battle of Wood Lake in Southwestern Minnesota. He participated in expeditions against the Sioux Warriors that took him as far north and west as to the Missouri River near what is present day Bismarck, North Dakota.

With the defeat of the Sioux, the 7th Minnesota was sent south under the command of General A.J. Smith first to St Louis and later to the Memphis. In the summer and fall of 1864 Hans and the 7th took part in battles at Tupelo, Mississippi against Southern Armies commanded by General Nathan Bedford Forrest and General Sterling Price in Arkansas and Missouri. The defeat of Price marked the end of the Southern organized military operations west of the Mississippi.

Late in November, the 7th Minnesota as part of the Sixteenth Corps, arrive in Nashville commanded by General George Henry Thomas. Confederate General John B. Hood was in position and threatening the Union lines south of the city. The Battle of Nashville begin on December 14th and on the 16th it changed Hans Danielson’s life as he suffered an extremely serious wound to his leg from fragments of a cannon shot. Hans was transported to a hospital in Louisville where his leg was amputated at the hip. Most men who suffered this type of wound did not survive. Hans returned home to Minnesota and was mustered out of the Union Army in August of 1865.

Upon his return home, the future looked bleak with a wife, four small children, his handicap and a homestead in need of attention, but with courage and fortitude he and Elizabeth overcame all of these problems. They were frontier people that rebuilt their lives building up a Midwestern farmstead and erecting a large machine shop. His shop became his pride and joy and as modern as any in nearby towns in those days. Hans and Elizabeth had twelve children. Hans Henry Danielson died on March 6, 1908.

Hans H. Danielson picture taken at the 7th Minnesota 1905 Civil War Reunion

I know that many of you have similar stories of relatives that served in the Civil War. If you would like to share their story, please send in an article about them and their service in the Civil War so their stories can be shared with the membership in the Scout Report.

John Stegner, President


Anderson Amundson von Krogh Family, Complied by Lester W. Hansen Minnesota Historical Society
Hans H. Danielson Diary

The Rock fails to roll: George H. Thomas at Kennesaw Mountain


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George Henry Thomas

George Henry Thomas

The American Civil War opened avenues for many individuals to emerge as leaders in the conflict.

In 1861, George Thomas brought with him a West Point education and extensive earlier service in the field, including active involvement in the Mexican- American War. Before Thomas could become one of the most renowned general officers to serve the Union, however, he had to overcome doubts concerning his Virginia birth, his fidelity to the Union cause, and his willingness to wage campaigns zealously against his fellow Southerners.

His meticulous manner, reflected in the pre-war nickname, “Old Slow Trot,” also raised questions in the minds of superiors and some colleagues about the degree to which Thomas might be able to contribute to ultimate Union victory. George Henry Thomas overcame his doubters to become one of the Union’s top generals, known best to history as “the Rock of Chickamauga.”

Even so, when ordered to punch through the defenses of Joseph Johnston at Kennesaw Mountain during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, Thomas found the work formidable in the face of some of the Confederacy’s finest fighters —Patrick Cleburne and Benjamin Franklin Cheatham.

Come join us as author and historian Brian Steel Wills takes us for an in- depth look at the triumphant life and career of General Thomas while zeroing in on one of his more challenging days.


Scout’s Report, September 2016



You can download the September 2016 Scout’s Report here:



Richard McMurry tells KWCRT Joseph Johnston gets ‘too much credit’ for transforming the Army of Tennessee


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Historian Richard McMurry told the August meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable that Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston gets too much credit for being a “miracle worker” in November 1863 when he too command of the Army of Tennessee south of Chattanooga.

Most of the things that happened to change the army during that winter, McMurry said, “would have happened anyway no matter who was the commander.”

Here’s a video excerpt of McMurry’s talk:

KCWRT-McMurry from Jim Stovall on Vimeo.

Historian Richard McMurry discusses the undue credit that Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston receives for “turning the Army of Tennessee around” in the winter of 1863-64 when he took command. Many of the things that happened to re-invigorate the army would have taken place no matter who was in command. The speech was given on August 9, 2016, to the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable.

Johnston took over the Army of Tennessee in November 1863 when it was demoralized and in disarray. McMurry listed some of the things that Johnston did to get the army ready for its spring battles:

  • He reorganized the command and thus restored its morale.
  • He made useful suggestions for transporting food more efficiently.
  • The men built relatively comfortable shelters for the winter.
  • More railroad cars became available and thus more food, clothing and supplies were shipped tot he army.
  • Johnston reduced the number of mouths the army had to feed by granting furloughs.

Many of these things would have happened anyway, McMurry said, but Johnston gets credit for them. The reputation of Braxton Bragg, one of the army’s previous commanders, has suffered because these things had not happened on his watch.

August 2016 Scout’s Report

Download it here:



Marszalek tells KCWRT about Sherman’s “hard war” and “soft peace”


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John Marszalek, professor emeritus at Mississippi State University, said that William Tecumseh Sherman, despite his modern-day reputation, was the South’s “best friend” because he advocated a “hard war” and a “soft peace.”

John Marszalek on William Tecumseh Sherman as the “South’s best friend” from Jim Stovall on Vimeo.

Marszalek spoke to the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable on July 12, 2016 about the general whom many in the South and elsewhere consider a 19th century terrorist.

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