August 2016 Scout’s Report

Download it here:


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


, , , ,

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.

Continue reading

Director, Matthew McConaughey interviewed about Free State of Jones


, , , , ,

The movie Free State of Jones stars Matthew McConaughey and was directed by Gary Ross.

Both were interviewed for this piece on CBS Sunday Morning.

See the’s previous piece on Free State of Jones.

Continue reading

Open forum: William Tecumseh Sherman: Was he the ‘South’s best friend’?


, , ,

Historian John Marszalek spoke to the Roundtable on Tuesday, July 12, about William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general whose march through Georgia in 1864 brought a “hard war” to the civilian population.

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

The event still echoes in the minds of Americans.

But Marszalek called Sherman the “South’s best friend.” invites readers to participate in an open forum about William Tecumseh Sherman. You may have been present to hear Marszalek’s presentation. If so, let us know what you think.

If you weren’t able to attend, we still invite comments. You may want to respond to something one of the commenters has said, or you may have opinions of your own. Either way, we would like to hear from you.

To comment, click on the “Leave a comment” button just under the title of this post. Comments are moderated and should be civil and appropriate.

Or, respond to our survey:

Marszalek: Sherman was ‘no villain’


, , , ,

The members of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable will have to wait until Tuesday (July 12, 2016) to find out what historian John Marszalek has to say about William Tecumseh Sherman being “the South’s best friend.”

Before then, however, we can read a bit of what Marszalek has written about Sherman.

Here are some excerpts from Marszalek’s biography John F.. Sherman : A Soldier’s Passion for Order.

This from the Prologue:

William Tecumseh Sherman, photo by Matthew Brady

William Tecumseh Sherman, photo by Matthew Brady

The destructive methods Sherman employed in the march to the sea were controversial, but he was no villain; he was one of the great military leaders of the Civil War. He knew how to outmaneuver a major Confederate army and how to destroy the Confederate will. He was an appealing individual, whom soldiers, family, and friends idolized. As a major public figure, he was in demand for both the office of the presidency and small social gatherings and public speeches. He impressed his contemporaries, influenced his age, and left a name for posterity.

Marszalek, John F.. Sherman : A Soldier’s Passion for Order. Carbondale, US: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 7 July 2016.
Copyright © 2007. Southern Illinois University Press. All rights reserved.

Continue reading

Scout’s Report, July 2016


Download the Scout’s Report, newsletter for the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, for July 2016 here:

2016-07-July-Civil War Scout’s Report

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 6.15.36 AM

Find out ‘more to the Sherman story’ at the July KCWRT meeting



Many people in the South, whether familiar with the Civil War or not, recoil at the mention of Gen. William T. Sherman.

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

The negative image of the man who wreaked havoc in the Carolinas and made “Georgia howl” persists to this day. But there is more to this story than first meets the eye. Sherman had many close relationships with Southerners before, during, and after the war. He spent most of his life after his 1840 graduation from West Point in the South, and just before the war began he was superintendent of the Louisiana Military Seminary, the forerunner of today’s Louisiana State University.

At the close of the war, this leading practitioner of “hard war” became the strongest advocate for a “soft peace,” so much so that he was roundly denounced by Stanton, Halleck and many Northern newspapers for the lenient peace terms he offered Joe Johnston.

Continue reading

John Stegner: President’s message for July 2016

I would like to say a special thank you to Dennis Urban for his outstanding leadership as the KCWRT President these past three years. He has set a high bar for future presidents to follow.

In way of introduction of myself, my family and I moved to Knoxville from Minnesota 25 years ago. I retired from Y-12 Federal Credit Union last July where I served as their CFO for 21 years. In addition to my accounting background, I have a degree in history. As a result, I’ve always had a strong interest in the Civil War and other historical topics and events.

Speaker Meeting Attendance

At the June meeting 69 diners, including members and non-members, were served. In addition to the diners, we had many others who attended Brian McKnight’s presentation on Champ Ferguson. I thoroughly enjoyed Professor McKnight’s presentation on Champ Ferguson and thank him for an outstanding presentation. I plan on learning more by reading his book on Champ titled “Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia”.

Please be sure to make your reservation for the July 12th meeting by calling in your dinner reservation before 11 a.m. on Monday, July 11th. July’s speaker is John Marszalek, Mississippi State Professor/Author. His topic is “Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order”.


The Knoxville Civil War Roundtable will be participating at the East Tennessee Historical Society, First Families of Tennessee Reunion, on August 19-21, 2016. There are a number of events that are planned during the days of the Reunion. I would encourage you to attend if you are interested. I’m sure it will be an enriching experience.

Mark your calendar for the Fort Dickerson Living History weekend on October 28-30, 2016. The event will be highlighted with re-enactors and artillery pieces on display. Volunteers are needed to help at this event. Please see myself or any of the KCWRT board members if you wish to volunteer. This is a fun and exciting event for everyone so make plans to attend.


The KCWRT membership drive for 2016-2017 is currently underway. Membership in the KCWRT offers insight into the Civil War at a great value. The presentation last month by Brian McKnight about Champ Ferguson is just an example of the quality of speaker we can offer because of your membership in the KCWRT.

Jerry Patterson, Director of Membership, would like to share the following comments regarding KCWRT membership. “We have been fortunate to have a number of new members sign up so far for this fiscal year (1 July 2016 – 30 June 2017). Most of these new members had been guests in the past and enjoyed our monthly meetings and activities. Please welcome these new members and make them feel at home within the KCWRT as you did when they were guests. Treating guests well is a splendid way to get new members. As members renew, they might consider adding family members to their membership. This is a good way to help the younger generation (children, grandchildren) learn about the Civil War.

Each family member having an Internet address gets their own Scout’s Report, which always has good Civil War information in it. As more and more history gets crammed into school curriculums, the time spent teaching about the Civil War keeps getting less and less. Involving the younger generations in KCWRT activities is a good way to supplement their Civil War knowledge and appreciation of how our country evolved to what it is today.” Thank you Jerry, for all the good work you are doing to help keep our current members and attract new members to the KCWRT.

Consider upgrading your membership to a family or sustaining or higher for this coming year. I am honored to serve as your president for the next year. I hope to see at you at upcoming meetings and events and a special thank you for your continued support of the KCWRT.

John Stegner, President

Battlelines: Gettysburg: Saturday, July 4, 1863 and beyond


, , , , , , , , , ,

Note: The annual anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg was this weekend. To commemorate that, we are posting, with permission, excerpts from Battlelines: Gettysburg, that describe aspects of the battle. Battlelines: Gettysburg contains the battlefield drawings of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the only two artists who witnessed the battle.

A hard, driving rain drenched Gettysburg on July 4, 1863.

The rain was both merciful and burdensome. It was merciful in that it provided relief from the stifling heat of the previous days. More importantly, it discouraged both armies from attacking each other.

Edwin Forbes drawing of the devastation of the battle of Gettysburg is particularly striking.

Edwin Forbes drawing of the devastation of the battle of Gettysburg is particularly striking.

It was burdensome because many of the dead and wounded were still lying exposed to the elements or without adequate shelter, and for those still living the rain could not have been helpful. The rain was yet another obstacle in cleaning up the battlefield, finding the dead and wounded, and in getting the army ready to move when the commanders decided it was time.

Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia stood ready to receive an attack from the Army of the Potomac. In some Confederate quarters, there was even hope that this would happen. Southerners still wanted to inflict some pain on their Union counterparts.

Continue reading

Battlelines: Gettysburg: Day 3, Friday, July 3, 1863


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Note: The annual anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg is this weekend. To commemorate that, we are posting, with permission, excerpts from Battlelines: Gettysburg, that describe aspects of the battle. Battlelines: Gettysburg contains the battlefield drawings of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the only two artists who witnessed the battle.

Lee’s original plan for the third day of battle was similar to that of the second day: attack both sides of the Union line. But early in the morning, instead of just holding his position, Meade ordered troops at Culp’s Hill to clear out the Confederate forces that had captured Union positions the day before. So, rather than storming Culp’s Hill – as Lee had planned – General Richard Ewell’s troops had to fight to hold their own position.

When Lee realized that Ewell’s troops were occupied, he changed his plans and told Longstreet to prepare of an attack on the center of the Union line. The attack would require soldiers to cross nearly a mile of open fields that gradually sloped up toward a copse of trees that stood just behind the center of the Federal forces. Longstreet argued against the assault, but Lee was a gambler and felt this was a chance worth taking.

By 11 a.m., Ewell’s troops had been flushed out of their positions at Culp’s Hill and could offer no support for the advance that would later occur. At 1 p.m. Confederate artillery opened up on the Union line, but many of their shots were aimed too high and fell harmlessly behind the lines. Union artillery answered for a while until the order came to cease firing in order to conserve ammunition. By not answering the Confederate fire, Union artillery units were able to conceal their positions in some instances.

Edwin Forbes' painting of Pickett's charge

Edwin Forbes’ painting of Pickett’s charge

After two hours of bombardment, the cannons ceased, and more than 12,000 Confederates advanced on Union lines in what has become known as Pickett’s charge. In addition to the field being open and often exposing the troops to direct and flanking fire, the troops had to cross fences that further exposed them to Union musketry. The center of the Union line held fire for a time, leading Confederate leaders to believe that the artillery bombardment had been successful.

They were wrong.

Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.