“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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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