February at KCWRT: John Bull, Uncle Sam, and King Cotton: Conflicted Friendships


The Civil War may have been a distinctly American affair, but the guns that rocked America shook the world. In England and on the continent, the war touched close to home as vested interests clashed, bonds of friendship frayed, and business ties were torn asunder.    

What Jefferson Davis’s foreign policies meant for Southern independence and ties to Europe, and, conversely, what Lincoln’s policies meant in preventing Southern independence and keeping Europeans at bay is one of the least understood and potentially most consequential aspects of the war. Because the navies were the primary instruments for projecting power in the nineteenth century, international conflict often played out on the high seas.

Come join us Tuesday, Feb. 13 as naval historian Kent Wright addresses the British “X” factor in the war. Backed by 30 years of research, Kent will discuss how British interests were tied to the war from start to finish and how these interests affected major policy decisions and the handling of one crisis after another on both sides of the Atlantic.  

Kent Wright, Huntsville, AL

Nebraskan turned Alabamian Kent Wright is a veteran of the nuclear navy and a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In civilian life, he was a nuclear plant startup engineer and senior reactor operations training specialist for the General Electric Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

He and his wife Elizabeth, from Vicksburg, MS, are now living in Huntsville, Alabama, where they moved in 1986. During his five years in Vicksburg, he reignited his lifelong interest in Civil War history while merging it with his knowledge of steam plant engineering and propulsion. While there, he made many visits to the raised Union gunboat, USS Cairo, which started his course of learning on Civil War naval history.

After moving to Huntsville in 1993, Kent joined the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table (TVCWRT) and became an active member as the program chairman. Throughout the years, he has published articles and given talks to Civil War Round Tables and various other interest groups concerning the role of the US and CS Navies in the Civil War. He is currently working on two manuscripts which he hopes to get published.  


Farragut Museum Features Battle of Campbell Station Exhibition

From the Town of Farragut website:

A new special exhibit – “The Battle of Campbell Station” – will open January 22 at the Farragut Museum.

The exhibit features items from the personal collection of local community member Gerald Augustus, including artifacts from the battle, fought Nov. 16, 1863, on the land surrounding the Farragut Town Hall.

The exhibit is open through Friday, June 15.

A special “Friends Only” exhibit preview will precede a lecture by Augustus on Sunday, January 21. Friends are invited at 1:30 p.m. for refreshments. General admission begins at 2:30 p.m. If you are not a Friend and wish to join, you are welcome to register during the preview. The lecture on the battle begins at 3 p.m.

The Farragut Museum is committed to preserving the heritage of its East Tennessee community and features a remarkable collection of artifacts from the area, including an extensive collection of the personal belongings of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, first Admiral of the U.S Navy and hero of the Civil War. Housed in Farragut Town Hall located at 11408 Municipal Center Drive, the museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and offers free admission. For more information about the museum or the exhibit, please visit www.townoffarragut.org/museum or contact Historic Resources Coordinator Julia Barham at museum@townoffarragut.org or 218-3377.


Maps available for purchase

KCWRT member Jim Tumblin has asked that you be informed about Charles Reeves’ maps at http://ReevesMaps.com

For instance:

The Bachelder-Gettysburg Map is here:


One other map I recall us discussing is the city map of Knoxville, but not sure the CWR members would be that interested in it.  We also talked about a 1930 map of the city at McClung.

The Hess on the “Battle of Ft. Sanders (Knoxville” book is here:


Of note is that this is a new copy of the hardback first edition, not the current paperback.

Charles Reeves, Jr. – reevesca@tds.net
10812 Dineen Dr
Knoxville (Farragut), TN 37934-1809

Thanks, Jim.

Not Just Antietam – September 17, 1862 In Perspective

A good point, well made

Emerging Civil War

Wednesday, September 17, 1862. is rightly classed as the bloodiest day in American history. In that 24-hour period, more Americans fell killed, wounded, captured, or missing, than in any like 24-hour period before or since.

This contention rests almost totally on the Battle of Antietam outside Sharpsburg, Maryland, where 23,726 (12,410 US and 10, 316 CS) soldiers fell in essentially 12 hours of combat that day.

But that horrific number does not cover all the losses on September 17.

View original post 122 more words

2017 Year Ending Financial Report for Knoxville Civil War Roundtable

Your Knoxville Civil War Roundtable would like our membership to know that our financial records are open and available for all members. Although we operate on a Fiscal Year that begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year, a brief Calendar Year ending report might serve better to illustrate our revenues and expenses and total financial picture.

With our low membership dues and dinner charges just over our costs, your Board has done everything possible to keep your costs at a minimum.

As many of you know, our primary source of revenue is membership dues and we collected slightly more than $7,000 in dues this year. Our Membership Chairman, Jerry Patterson has done an outstanding job in building our membership to about 240 members. In addition, Eric Wayland, our Preservation Chairman, brings in about $1,000 from the sale of magazines and books generously donated by our members.

Since we pay Bearden Banquet Hall $13 for each member who dines with us and charge only $15 for that member, we do not make any money from our dinner collection, especially after we pay for meals for our speakers, their guests and any other guests we invite. We are also faced with having to pay dining expenses for members who call in a reservation, but do not come to the meeting.

As a Roundtable, the largest expense we incur is for speaker expenses. We pay no honorarium to our speakers, but we do pay for travel, meals, lodging costs and the cost of small gifts which are presented to them. I believe each of you will agree that our Program Chairman, Jim Doncaster, does a splendid job of recruiting knowledgeable and even exciting speakers. This year we spent just over $4,000 for speaker expenses.
Our second largest expense is for our support of Ft. Dickerson. With our upkeep of the park and the expense involved with our Living History Weekend, we spent just over $3,600 this year.

Additionally, other expenses we incur are for printing and mailing the “Scout”, telephone, post office box rental, office supplies and other equipment such as the new laptop we purchased this year.

As you can see, we operate on a very tight budget and your Board is very frugal with your money.

Our bank balance beginning in January, 2017 was $11,067 and at year’s end it was $9,722.

Questions about this financial summary are welcome.

Stones River (Murfreesboro) battlefield tour, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018

—by Neil J. Williams and Norman C. Shaw

Please join us on Saturday, January 20th, 2018, as we tour the Stones River Battlefield and learn about this important battle and the men who fought it. We are lucky to have as our guide, Jim Lewis, who has been a Park Ranger at Stones River National Battlefield since 1997 and has acted as the de-facto Park Historian for Stones River.

This will be an all-day event, rain or shine, that will begin at 9:30 a.m. (CST) at Stones River Visitors Center and will end about 5 p.m. (CST). Please dress appropriately for the weather and bring or wear comfortable walking shoes.

People who have decided to carpool from Knoxville will meet at 6:45 a. m. in Walmart’s large parking lot in Turkey Creek, near Chick-fil-A, and depart at 7 after consolidating our numbers into as few vehicles as possible. For people who have elected to drive separately, we will meet you at the Stones River Battlefield Visitors Center a little after 9 a. m. (CST). People will have the opportunity to use the bathrooms at the Visitors Center.

We will have one hour for lunch and will restart the tour immediately after the hour. We suggest bringing snacks and drinks, for the lunch break people can either get food from nearby fast food chains or may pack their own lunch to eat.

We currently have 28 people signed up for the tour. If you plan to go and have not yet contacted one of us, please send an email to either Neil Williams (njwilliams85@gmail.com) or Norman Shaw (shawclan4@bellsouth.net) so we can add your names to the list. Should you need to cancel after signing up, please let Norman or me know as soon as possible.

Missionary Ridge battlefield tour, Saturday, March 17, 2018

—by Neil J. Williams and Norman C. Shaw

Please join us on Saturday, March 17th, 2018, as we tour Missionary Ridge and learn about this important Union victory that forced Bragg’s Confederate army from Chattanooga. We are pleased to have returning as our guide, Jim Ogden, Chief Historian at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

The Battle of Missionary Ridge, fought on November 25, 1863, was a key battle in the Chattanooga Campaign, which followed up on the Union victory at Lookout Mountain the day prior. This battle ended the siege of Chattanooga that began shortly after the Confederate victory at Chickamauga the prior September.

If you plan to go, please email Neil Williams njwilliams85@gmail.com or Norman Shaw shawclan4@bellsouth.net.

KCWRT President’s message – January 2018

“Now is the winter of our discontent…”

Richard III by William Shakespeare

Winter can be a hard time of year. The days are short, and the weather is usually cold and often brings rain, snow, or ice. Trees are devoid of leafs, nothing is blooming, and outdoor activity is curtailed. Newspapers, magazines, and television commentators recall people who have died in the ending year, and events that we would often rather forget. We have time to contemplate our current divisive political and cultural climate. And yet…..

It could be, and has been, worse, and as students of the Civil War we should recognize that. We do not have opposing armies in the land, mass casualties, famine, burning cities, and the other curses that accompany internecine strife. George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The programs and activities of our Roundtable help us remember, and learn from, the history that belongs to us all.

On December 12 we again surpassed the century mark for Jim Ogden’s presentation about “Opening the Cracker Line” into besieged and starving Chattanooga. To be precise, we had 75 diners (66 members and 9 guests) and 35 attending the lecture (27 members and 8 guests). That’s a total of 110. Hopefully we will be able to use both rooms on January 9, so we won’t be as cramped. Join us for Michael Shaffer’s lecture on “Francis Shoup and the Chattahoochee River Line”.

More than 25 members are planning to go on the KCWRT Field Trip to Stones River Battlefield on Saturday, January 20. Neil Williams and Norman Shaw have planned an excellent event. Review the information elsewhere in this newsletter, and plan to enjoy a day of education and fellowship.

At our April 10 meeting we will celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. There will be some special features for the evening. A couple of volunteers are needed to help plan. Please speak with any member of the Board.

We currently have 229 members, but we need to interest more young people in the Civil War. Jack Spiceland, Director of Promotion, has formed an ad hoc committee to address this issue. Members include Jack, Lee Muller, Jim Jorgensen, Joan Markel, Steve Dean, and Gerald Augustus. More thoughts and viewpoints will be welcome. Please contact Jack or any committee member.

We don’t commonly think of Starkville, Mississippi, as a Civil War tourism destination, but that should change. Mississippi State University is home to the newly expanded Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, and also a very large collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia and research material.

Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, will host the 27th Annual Civil War Weekend on March 16-18, 2018, plus an optional Spring Campaign to the Shenandoah Valley guided bus excursion March 18-20. Several nationally known speakers will participate. Full information including cost will be available at the January 9 meeting.

Finally, winter is not without benefit to those who study the Civil War. Vegetation is defoliated, and battlefield views are improved. Go to Fort Dickerson and enjoy the views of Knoxville. It’s a City Park, but your Roundtable has made major contributions to preserve and improve it. The public benefits.

John Burkhart, President

KCWRT in January: Francis Shoup and the Chattahoochee River Line

As May of 1864 turned into June, and June into July, Joe Johnston’s Army of Tennessee back-stepped across North Georgia. Abandoning one fortified position after another the Confederates moved south in syncopation to the sidestepping maneuvers of Wm Tecumseh Sherman’s combined Union forces. Dalton, Resaca, Allatoona, Kennesaw Mountain, Smyrna– each was flanked in turn by the wily Sherman, though not before the Union commander was bloodied at Kennesaw and reminded of the perils of a frontal assault against a well-fortified position.

Now as they approached Atlanta the federals ran into yet another line of massive fortifications along the Chattahoochee River, what Sherman called “the best line of field intrenchments I have ever seen”. The six-mile line was the handiwork of one Brigadier General Francis Shoup.

Come join us as historian Michael K. Shaffer shares the story of Shoup, the River Line, and the action that followed when Sherman faced Johnston on the Chattahoochee.

* * *

Michael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, author, lecturer, newspaper columnist, and tour guide. A member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, and the Georgia Association of Historians, Michael served as president of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and currently serves on the board of the River Line Historic Area and as a consultant to the Friends of Camp McDonald. Michael holds BA and MA degrees in Military History: Civil War Studies. When he’s not writing, traveling, leading tours, and talking to groups like ours, Michael teaches Civil War courses at Kennesaw State University.

Anniversary of the Battle of Ft. Sanders

The Battle of Fort Sanders took place just after daylight on Sunday, November 29, 1863.

The short engagement was a total victory for the Federal troops and closed the Siege of Knoxville which began 11 days earlier.

The fort’s earthen walls were 20-feet high, almost straight up, and in the cold and foggy winter morning were wet, slick, and partially ice covered.  Confederate forces mounted a doomed attempt to traverse the unanticipated dry ditch and scale the walls.  They carried no scaling tools or ladders.

In a battle that lasted only twenty minutes, 813 of 4,000 Confederates died, were wounded or were taken prisoner.  Union casualties were only 13; 5 killed and 8 wounded.

Due to land development occurring in the late 1800’s nothing remains of the fort today.  A Tennessee State Historical Marker, a United Daughters of the Confederacy monument, and a monument to the 79th New York Highlanders commemorate the battle and the fort.  A Civil War Trails marker near the corner of 17th and Highland Streets details the Battle of Fort Sanders and includes a photograph of the fort just after the battle.

Below is a plan of Fort Sanders.  The Confederate attack took place against the northwest bastion, the upper left of the drawing.

Dennis D. Urban