President’s message: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation


Thank you to everyone who attended the January meeting to hear Jim Lewis speak on “Hell’s Half Acre”. Total attendance for the lecture was 82. There were 51 diners, four who were non-members. Also attending were an additional 24 members and seven who were non-members to hear the presentation. Thank you once again for your outstanding support and interest in the Round Table.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. Monday February 13th to hear Earl Hess speak on “Civil War Tactics.” I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at the February meeting.

Since February 12th is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, I decided to write my column on what he believed to be his most important achievement – The Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln / The Emancipation Proclamation – January 1st, 1863

With the discussion of Presidential Executive Orders in today’s news, I thought it would be interesting to review Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Here are some of my thoughts on the Proclamation.

The first draft was presented to Lincoln’s Cabinet on July 22, 1862. The issuing of this draft was delayed at the advice of Secretary of State Seward until the Union had a significant military victory. A Preliminary Proclamation was issued September 22, 1862 after the Union victory at Antietam. A 3rd draft was written between December 29-31, 1862 and the Proclamation was issued and became law on January 1, 1863. Lincoln signed the Proclamation on that day against the advice of most of his Cabinet.

Was it a legal document? The Constitution in 1863 did not allow Lincoln via executive order to free slaves in Union states. Slavery was legal in the US Constitution. Through the War Powers clause of the Constitution Lincoln, as Commander-in-Chief, was able to claim presidential authority to free slaves in the states in rebellion. States who remained part of the Union with slaves were not affected. These states were Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and the state to become West Virginia. The Proclamation was a temporary document and it would need Congress to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution to enact into law.

Lincoln was looking for the Proclamation to have an impact militarily, politically and morally. Militarily, he hoped that slaves would come forward and join the Union army as well as leave the plantations in the South reducing its labor force choking it economically. Politically, it would make it more difficult for England and France to support the Confederacy. Morally, the scourge of slavery could be ended and the process to free all slaves would be in place if the North won the war. Hindsight tells us that all of this was accomplished but whether the Proclamation did this is debatable. Author Richard Hofstadter is quoted that the Proclamation “had all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading”.

“If my name ever goes into history… it will be for this act [the Emancipation Proclamation]”, President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln wrote every word of the Emancipation Proclamation with little or no consultation. It was written in the manner to meet legal requirements and as such not very inspiring. Having said that, the Proclamation was the first written document promising to end slavery.

One final tidbit. In reading and re-reading the Emancipation Proclamation and the section that speaks to the States in rebellion, Tennessee is left off the list. I have listed a couple of books in my sources if you would like to read more on this topic.

In March, Curt Fields, Historian, “Appomattox: The Days before the Surrender” will be the presenter at the Round Table’s monthly meeting March 14th, 2017, on this topic.

John Stegner, President


The Greatest Speech, Ever – James L. Cotton Jr.

Lincoln’s Hundred Days – Louis P Masur

Lincoln’s Gamble – Todd Brewster

Tactics during the Civil War


If you believe that the use of Napoleonic tactics was outmoded at the time of the Civil War, you are not alone. If you believe that the advent of the rifle musket changed the landscape of warfare in a way that was underappreciated if not misunderstood by Civil War combat leaders, again, you are not alone.

Conventional wisdom buttressed by reams of scholarship has long maintained that the horrendous casualty rates incurred by Civil War fighting units were directly attributable to advances in tactics not keeping pace with advances in weaponry. How else can one explain the bloodiness of the whole affair?

Our speaker, Dr. Earl Hess, argues that there is another explanation. After intensively studying the three tactical manuals available to Civil War officers (written by Winfield Scott, William J. Hardee, and Silas Casey) and thoroughly reading the battle reports to be found in the Official Records, Dr. Hess maintains that the linear system in use during the 1860s not only was highly effective but it was the true system to be used with the rifle musket.

He also argues that most regimental commanders North and South quickly learned the drill, taught it to their subordinates, and effectively used these tactics on the battlefield.

Please join us as Dr. Hess shares the conclusions of the research that informed his recent book Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness and marvel as he turns conventional wisdom on its head. Details of the meeting are are the left of this page.

Scout’s Report, February 2017



President’s message: Battle of Stones River


Thank you to everyone who attended the December meeting to hear Jim Ogden speak on “The Great Locomotive Chase”. There were 67 diners, seven who were non-members. Also attending were an additional 24 members and three non-members to hear the presentation. Total attendance for the lecture was 92. Thank you once again for your outstanding support and interest in the Round Table.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. January 9th to hear Jim Lewis speak on “Hell’s Half Acre”. I’m looking forward to the first meeting of 2017.

The Battle of Stones River / Murfreesboro – January 2nd, 1863

At 4:00 p.m. on January 2nd Bragg made his last major offensive against Rosecrans. The Union position under the leadership of Generals Crittenden and Beatty will soon be attacked by Confederate General Breckinridge. General Hanson will give the order to advance to Colonel Joseph Lewis of the 6th Kentucky (C.S.). “Colonel,” Hanson yells to Lewis, “the order is to load, fix bayonets and march through the brushwood. Then charge at double quick to within a hundred yards of the enemy, deliver fire, and go at them with the bayonet.” Hanson had privately told Breckinridge that he believed he would not survive the assault. A single cannon shot from Carnes’s battery was the signal for the Confederate attack.

So what did the advance look like from the opposing side as Larry Daniels writes? An Ohio soldier in the distance reports that “they came not as a mob, but in good order. They advanced so coolly and gracefully as if on parade… Thorough discipline was indicated in every step.” A half mile away, one of Beatty’s soldiers could “plainly and distinctly hear them giving commands – Forward!, Guide Center!, March!”. A message delivered to Rosecrans and Beatty stating that Rebels are massing an attack. It was reported that they had counted sixteen enemy flags. A Union soldier yelled “boys, they are coming! The woods are full of them.”

What did the advancing Confederate soldiers face as they advanced toward enemy lines? They were under punishing artillery fire. Breckinridge stated “many officers and men fell before we closed with their infantry.” In the midst of the shelling, Hanson’s brigade came to a halt. Hanson was hit in the leg from a shell fragment which severed the femoral artery. He was transport to Murfreesboro where his wife and Mrs. Breckinridge attended him. He died two days later.

Breckinridge forces under the command of Preston were able to sweep Union General Beatty’s brigades from the field in full retreat. Crittenden had amassed a formidable array of artillery. He turns to Captain John Mendenhall, his artillery chief, with Beatty’s division collapsing he orders him to cover my men with your cannon. Mendenhall unleashed his artillery that sweeps the Confederates from the field. “As the mass of men swarmed down the slope they were mowed down by the score”, observed a Union officer. In the final analysis the North’s superior resources save the day in stopping a Confederate victory at Stones River. Breckinridge’s attack was over in one hour by 5:00 p.m. The two armies had fought to a draw by the end of the third day.

In February, Earl Hess, LMU Professor, Author, Historian, will do a presentation entitled
“Civil War Tactics” at the Round Table’s monthly meeting February 14, 2017. I’m looking forward to Professor Hess’s thoughts and insights on this topic.

John Stegner, President


The Battle of Stones River – Larry J. Daniel
Battle of Stones River Illustration – Kutz and Allison

Jim Lewis to speak on the Battle of Stones River



Jim Lewis has been a Park Ranger with the National Park Service since 1991. Since 1997, he has been fixture at Stones River National Battlefield, serving as a park ranger, curator and de-facto historian there. He became the Chief of Interpretation & Cultural Resource Management in 2016.

Jim has researched and presented dozens of interpretive programs at Stones River National Battlefield and across the country on a variety of Civil War topics. He has also produced numerous interpretive publications and exhibits for the National Park Service.

The September 2012 Blue and Gray Magazine featured “Lincoln’s Hard Earned Victory,” a full issue article written by Ranger Lewis that provides a concise analysis of the Stones River Campaign and its military, political, and social consequences.

Born in Burlington, Vermont and raised in New Jersey, Jim is a graduate of Cornell University (BA in History) and has been a student of Civil War history since his late teens. He lives in Murfreesboro with his wife Beth and son James. He serves on the advisory board of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association. He is also a founding member of the Middle Tennessee Civil War Round Table and a reenactor in Company B of the Ninth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, U.S.

For your viewing pleasure:

Battle of Stones River Panelists talked about the Battle of Stones River. Lincoln Memorial University history professor Earl Hess talked about Confederate commanding General Braxton Bragg’s role in the battle. Author and historian Richard McMurry discussed Jefferson Davis and the confederate strategy carried out in the Stones River campaign. Stones River National Battlefield Park ranger Jim Lewis and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area historian Antoinette van Zelm talked about the civilian perspectives on the battle and its outcome.

Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis

The symposium, marking the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Stones River, which was fought from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Jim will speak at the Jan. 10 meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. Details about how you can attend this presentation are at the left of this page.

Hell’s Half Acre: Stones River ranger to speak at next KCWRT meeting, Jan. 10


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On the morning of December 31, 1862, the men in Col. William B. Hazen‘s brigade of the Army of the Cumberland prepared to defend a position at the edge of a grove of trees near the Nashville Pike outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That afternoon their position, known locally as the Round Forest, became the most hotly contested spot on a battlefield that would become synonymous with hard fighting.

Hazen’s men staved off four separate assaults made by six different Confederate brigades anchoring the Union center that day. The ferocity of the fighting in their sector left behind a gruesome scene of dead and mangled bodies giving immediate rise to a new name: Hell’s Half Acre.

Following the battle, the site became the focus of one of the earliest attempts at battlefield commemoration as Hazen’s men built a monument to mark the site of their triumphant stand. The Hazen Brigade Monument stood for decades as the anchor on the landscape that would later become a national park.

Park Ranger Jim Lewis will tell the tale of the pivotal fighting at Hell’s Half Acre using the words of those who fought there and examine how the fighting there helped reverse the tide of battle. He will also discuss the sense of pride that led Hazen’s men to construct a monument during the rigors of war time, a monument that stands today as one of the most unique features on the Stones River National Battlefield.

Lewis’ talk will be Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the monthly meeting for the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. See details on the left side of this page.

Battle of Stones River

Battle of Stones River

KCWRT Scout’s Report, December 2016

KCWRT Scout’s Report, December 2016



Welcome back, Jim Ogden, lifetime KCWRT member



Jim Ogden, Chief Historian at Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park, is an historian, teacher and tour guide par excellence. A frequent speaker at Round Tables and historical organizations across the U.S., Jim is a longtime friend of the KCWRT and our most visited speaker. In December 2015, the KCWRT honored Jim with a KCWRT Lifetime Membership Award for his dedication to Civil War Preservation as well as his contributions to the organization.

He will be our speaker for the December KCWRT meeting.

A native of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Jim graduated from Frostburg State College with a degree in history after spending his summers working at Point Lookout State Park and doing an internship at Harpers Ferry NHP. Jim joined the National Park Service in 1982 and served at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Russell Cave, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania before returning to Chickamauga Chattanooga NMP in 1988 as historian, the position he now holds.

Jim has taught numerous history courses and written several articles on the Civil War. He also has appeared in several TV productions including “Civil War Journal,” “Civil War Combat,” and “History Detectives.” Jim, his wife Lora, and their son Jamie (born on the133rd anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg) live in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

President’s message: Review of book of the Battle of Stones River


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Thank you to everyone who attended the November meeting to hear Ed Bearss speak on “Custer at the Little Big Horn.” There were 63 diners, ten who were non-members. Also attending were an additional 22 members and nine non-members to hear the presentation. Total attendance for the lecture was 94. Thank you once again for your outstanding support and interest in the Round Table.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. December 12th to hear Jim Ogden speak on “The Great Locomotive Chase.” Don’t forget to bring a dessert to share for the “dessert social” after the speaker’s presentation.

The Battle of Stones River / Murfreesboro

I re-read Larry J. Daniel’s book entitled “Battle of Stones River: The Forgotten Conflict between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland”. The Confederacy referred to it as the Battle of Murfreesboro. This battle was of great importance to both sides and its Generals – Rosecrans for the Union and Bragg for the Confederacy. Rosecrans needed a victory to undermine the growing antiwar movement and regain the northern army’s morale after the loss at Fredericksburg. Bragg, who was defeated in Kentucky, needed to reclaim Middle Tennessee and his reputation. So at the end of December 1862 both armies are on the move in horrific conditions of severe rain and cold, lack of food and supplies, and mud ankle deep to secure Middle Tennessee. 100,000 men fought in deadly battle for three days starting December 31st, 1862 and resulted in 23,000 casualties by the two armies.

In reading Daniel’s book it is hard to understand why this battle is referred to the forgotten battle. Bragg withdrew his army from the field because he did not have the supplies or the reinforcements to continue the fight. I believe that Bragg and his army acquitted themselves well at Stones River but none the less it is considered a Union victory and another loss for Bragg.

The Battle of Stones River

The Battle of Stones River

The Union did hold Middle Tennessee and Rosecrans’s star was on the rise. Let us not forget that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect January 1, 1863 with the support of a win at Stones River. Lincoln would write to Rosecrans: “I can never forget, whilst I remember anything, that about the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.” Lincoln certainly understood the importance of this battle to his cause to continue the war. This may be the best book on this battle and I would encourage you to read it. Maybe you will be able to answer the question of why this has become the forgotten battle.

In January Jim Lewis, Historian Stone’s River NMP, will do a presentation entitled

“Hell’s Half Acre” at the Round Table’s monthly meeting January 10, 2017. Lewis’ thoughts and insights on this battle.

John Stegner, President


The Battle of Stones River – Larry J. Daniel
Battle of Stones River Illustration – Kutz and Allison

Map – Hal Jespersen

Map of the Battle of Stones River

Map of the Battle of Stones River

Next at KCWRT: Jim Ogden and the Great Locomotive Chase


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The Andrews Raid in April, 1862 is the stuff of legend and with good reason. The story of the taking of the “General” at Big Shanty, Georgia by 22 Union men and the subsequent chase after the locomotive by Confederate railroaders made headlines when it happened and has been told and retold in books and movies ever since.

It is the story of Yankee intrigue and audacity pitted against Confederate improvisation and determination with heroism amply served up on both sides. But the chase itself, exciting as it was, was but the first chapter of a larger affair that combined prisons, trials, hangings, and daring escapes in a tableau that stretched from Atlanta to Knoxville and beyond and resulted in the awarding of the first medals of honor.

Come join us as our old friend Jim Ogden takes us back in time to one of the Civil War’s most iconic events. And remember to bring your favorite holiday treat. At the end of the evening there will be time and a table set aside for all the tasty delights.

Jim will be speaking at the Dec. 13 meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. All the details of our meetings can be found on the left sidebar of the page. Call by Monday noon to make your dinner reservations.