Thank you to everyone who attended the February meeting to hear Professor Earl Hess speak on “Civil War Tactics”. Total attendance for the lecture was seventy-nine. There were forty-five diners, five who were non-members. Also attending were an additional twenty-four members and four who were non-members to hear the presentation. Thank you once again for your support and interest in the Round Table.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. Monday March 13th to hear historian Curt Fields speak on “Appomattox: The Days before the Surrender”. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at the March meeting.

Everything you need to know about the war that divided the nation by David Vaughan

I found this book at the back of my book case and thought it would be interesting to look at the war from a lighter point of view. It is written for high school level readers and presents many facts and stories in an easy to read format. Here are a few short snippets taken from the book that I found interesting.

The Rebel Yell: Historians believe the rebel yell was first heard at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. After nearly 14 hours of fighting, a corps of soldiers under Pierre G. T. Beauregard began a counterattack against Union forces and launched the now-famous wail. When the Union forces saw – and heard – what was coming at them, they panicked and fled in retreat. The rebel yell was heard during every major battle after that.

Substitutes: Future Presidents Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland, both of draft age, avoided military duty by paying others to serve for them.

Spencer Rifle: Union ordnance men turned down the Spencer repeating breech loading rifle in 1860 with the explanation that soldiers would fire too quickly and waste ammunition. Smarter minds prevailed, and the Spencer eventually made its way to the battlefield, but not until near the end of the war.

The Homes of Wilmer McLean: Wilmer McLean witnessed firsthand both the beginning and the end of the Civil War. McLean’s family estate was located near Manassas, Virginia, directly in the path of the Battle of Bull Run.
McLean was so shaken by the incident that he decided to move as far away from the war as possible, settling his family in Appomattox, a quiet town southwest of Richmond. The McLeans lived in relative peace for almost the entire war, only to find the conflict knocking on their door once again on April 9, 1865. McLean was asked about possible locations in which Lee could meet with Grant to discuss surrender terms. McLean reluctantly offered his own home.

Civil War Facts:

 Astoundingly, only one civilian (a young woman who was struck by a stray bullet) was killed during the three-day battle at Gettysburg.

 During the Battle of the Wilderness, fighting was halted on several occasions as both sides tried to rescue wounded comrades from the uncontrolled brushfires that threatened to burn them alive.

 The first federal income tax law was enacted during the Civil War but died after the war was over. It wasn’t until 1913 and the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment that the income tax became part of the U.S. Constitution.

 Weapons fire on both sides was often wildly inaccurate, due to the limitations of the weapons and the hurried panic of the men who used them. As a result, some soldiers estimated that it took a man’s weight in  lead to kill a single enemy in battle. According to a Union munitions expert, each Confederate who was shot on the battlefield required 140 pounds of powder and 900 pounds of lead.

 At the Battle of Chickamauga, the 535 members of the 21st Ohio Infantry Regiment used their Colt revolving rifles to help prevent a Union rout. During the five hours of fighting, the 21st Ohio fired off more than 43,500 rounds, proving the superiority of repeating rifles. Commented one captured Confederate soldier: “My God, we thought you had a division there!”

 Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson drew his sword so infrequently that it actually rusted in its scabbard.

 The Civil War soldier was paid very little for laying his life on the line. Top pay for a Union infantry private was just $16 a month. His Confederate counterpart received $18 a month, but it was worth considerably less due to skyrocketing inflation.

 At its height, the Confederate POW camp near Andersonville, Georgia, contained more than 33,000 Union prisoners, making it the fifth largest city in the Confederacy.

 Lieutenant David H. Todd, commandant of the Confederate Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, was the half-brother of Mary Todd Lincoln.

 Jefferson Davis’s plantation in Mississippi was turned into a home for freed slaves at the end of the war.

In April, Eric Wittenberg, Attorney, Historian and Author, will present “Brandy Station” at the Round Table’s monthly meeting on April 11th, 2017. I’m looking forward to Mr. Wittenberg’s thoughts and insights concerning this topic.

John Stegner, President


The Everything Civil Book by Donald Vaughn