Civil War Trust Annual Conference, June 7-11, 2017

Saving America’s Civil War Battlefields   |
Annual Conference


In north Georgia and south Tennessee, Union and Confederate armies clashed during the fall of 1863 in some of the hardest fighting of the Civil War. The prize was Chattanooga, a key rail center and the gateway to the heart of the Confederacy. This summer, you can join Civil War Trust members with some of our nation’s elite historians as we delve into the battles that one Confederate soldier ominously called, “the death-knell of the Confederacy.”

At our 2017 Annual Conference, you can explore the battlefield as never before. Our lineup of expert tour guides and speakers includes Keith Bohannon, Michael R. Bradley, Peter Cozzens, Parker Hills, James Ogden III, and the Trust’s own Garry Adelman. Our tours will give a detailed look at the Battles for Chattanooga and the Battle of Chickamauga, and cover themes such as William Tecumseh Sherman versus Joseph Eggleston Johnston in North Georgia, and how George Thomas earned his enduring nickname. The complete list of tours can be found here.

The conference will take place June 7-11. Space is limited! Register now to reserve your spot at the conference and to sign up for your tour preferences. See you in Chattanooga!

Lee's Headquarters
Special Events at Lee’s Headquarters!

We have events planned throughout the year where you can visit the newly restored Lee’s Headquarters at Gettysburg. Save the date for an open house in 2017.

Learn More


Tell Your Story
Why Do You Support the Civil War Trust?

Tell us about why you are passionate about Civil War history and battlefield preservation. Please share your story on our website.

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Shiloh Animated Map

April 6-7 marks the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. To commemorate the event, you can view the entire engagement from start to finish, from sunrise on April 6, 1862, to Grant’s Counterattack. Watch »

Park Day
Park Day Photo Contest

If you attended a Park Day Event last weekend, please enter your favorite photo from the day for a chance to win! Enter »

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President’s message: Ft. Sumter


Thank you to everyone who attended the March meeting to hear Curt Fields speak on “Appomattox: The Days before the Surrender”. His appearance and presentation as General Grant was commanding as well as enlightening. Total attendance for the lecture was an even 100. There were sixty-three diners, nine who were non-members. Also attending were an additional thirty-seven members and six who were non-members to hear the presentation. Thank you once again for your support and interest in the Round Table as this is the best attended event of the year.

Remember to make your dinner reservation by 11 a.m. Monday April 10th to hear Scientist, Attorney, Historian and Author Scott Mingus speak on “Extra Billy Smith”. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at the April meeting.

Looking forward to the May 9th dinner meeting, please mark your calendar to hear Bud Robertson’s presentation on “The Four-Legged Soldier”. You will not want to miss Mr. Robertson, who is an outstanding speaker, historian and author.

Fort Sumter

It is 4:30 pre-dawn in Charleston Harbor. The date is April 12, 1861 and a single mortar round is fired at a fort in the middle of the harbor. The shell explodes over Fort Sumter, a Federal Fort. The mortar round is fired by the Confederate States of America under the command of Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard. Major Robert Anderson is the commanding Federal officer of Sumter. The American Civil War has begun.

The battle of Ft. Sumter

Surrounding the harbor, all of the Federal installations and Forts had been surrender to the Confederacy except for Sumter. Strategically and geographically Sumter can control all ships coming and leaving Charleston. The South for the past several months has been demanding that the fort be evacuated and surrendered. On the afternoon of April 11th, Beauregard sent a letter of ultimatum to Anderson demanding its evacuation. Anderson replied “I regret that my sense of honor, and my obligation to my Government, prevent my compliance”.

Beauregard was informed by friends in Washington that an expedition was on route to Charleston to relieve Anderson and a force would be landed to overcome all opposition. On the eve of the 11th, masts of the Federal ships could be observed forming off shore. Anderson sent word to Beauregard that he would evacuate the fort on April 15th. With the expedition force offshore, Beauregard could not wait. At 3:20 a.m. on Friday, April 12th, he sent word to Anderson that he would open fire within one hour.

By 5:00 a.m. gun batteries from Fort Johnson on James Island, Morris Island, Mount Pleasant, and Sullivan Island were firing on Fort Sumter. In Charleston, Mary Chestnut, the wife of Colonel James Chestnut, was awaken suddenly by the bombardment. She wrote, “I sprang out of my bed, and on my knees prostrate, I prayed as never before”. Spectators circled the harbor to watch the shelling of the fort. Concussions of the shells hitting the walls of Fort Sumter could be felt in downtown Charleston and the sound of the guns could be heard more than forty miles away. It most certainly must have been a spectacular site.

The assault on Fort Sumter ended with Colonel Anderson’s surrender at 2:30 p.m. on April 13th. The bombardment lasted for 34 hours with more than 70 Confederate guns and over 4000 shells fired. Although the fort had suffered considerable damage, no one lost their life.

The firing on the fort united a formerly divided North behind President Lincoln’s mission to preserve the Union. On April 15th Lincoln proclaimed a state of insurrection rather than war and issued a call for 75,000 volunteers to quell the rebellion. Officially, the Civil war has begun.

John Stegner, President
The Atlas of the Civil War edited by James M. McPherson The Union Is Dissolved by Douglas W. Bostick
The Everything Civil Book by Donald Vaughn

KCWRT welcomes historian Scott Mingus back to Knoxville


Historian and biographer Scott Mingus will speak to the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (Details of the meeting on the left of this page.) His topic will be William “Extra Billy” Smith.

Scott Mingus is a scientist and executive in the paper industry and holds patents in self-adhesive postage stamps and bar code labels. He was part of the research team that developed the first commercially successful self-adhesive U.S. postage stamps.

Scott has written a dozen books and many articles on the Civil War, and his biography of Confederate General William”Extra Billy”; Smith won the 2013 Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Book Award and the James I Robertson Jr. Literary Prize. He also has written six scenario books on miniature war gaming and was elected to the hobby’;s prestigious Legion of Honor.

Scott maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County ( and is a sanctioned Civil War tour guide for the York County Heritage Trust. His great-great-grandfather was a 15-year- old drummer boy for the 51st Ohio. Other family members fought at Antietam and Gettysburg.

William ‘Extra Billy’ Smith topic of April KCWRT meeting


Historian and biographer Scott Mingus will speak to the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (Details of the meeting on the left of this page.) His topic will be William “Extra Billy” Smith.

William “Extra Billy” Smith, the oldest and one of the most controversial Confederate generals on the field at Gettysburg, was also one of the most colorful and charismatic characters of the Civil War.

William “Extra Billy” Smith

Known nationally as “Extra Billy” because of his prewar penchant for finding loopholes in government postal contracts to gain extra money for his stagecoach lines, Smith served as Virginia’s governor during both the War with Mexico and the Civil War, served five terms in the U.S. Congress, and was one of Virginia’s leading spokesmen for slavery and States’ Rights. Extra Billy’s extra-long speeches and wry sense of humor were legendary among his peers. A lawyer during the heady Gold Rush days, Smith made a fortune in California and, like his income earned from stagecoaches, quickly lost it.

Despite his advanced age, Smith took the field and fought well at First Manassas, was wounded at Seven Pines and again at Sharpsburg, and marched with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania. There, on the first day at Gettysburg, Smith’s frantic messages about a possible Union flanking attack remains a matter of controversy to this day. Did his aging eyes see distant fence-lines that he interpreted as approaching enemy soldiers, or did his prompt action stave off a looming Confederate disaster? What we do know is that his calls for support diverted limited Confederate manpower away from attacks against Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill that might have turned the tide of Southern fortunes in Pennsylvania.

Come join us as Scott Mingus, drawing from his award-winning 2013 biography, paints a broad, deep, and colorful portrait of one of the South’s most interesting leaders and devoted sons. Extra Billy Smith will satisfy anyone who loves politics, war, and a great story well told.

KCWRT Scout’s Report, April 2017

April 2017 

Ft. Dickerson Park clean-up day set for April 1


The Knoxville Civil War Roundtable sponsors a Ft. Dickerson Park clean-up day twice a year (Spring and Fall).

This year’s Spring Clean-up day is Saturday April 1.

We spread mulch on the trails, pick up fallen debris, and trim brush.  The Knoxville Police Department Explorer Scouts provide huge labor assistance. Knoxville Parks and Recreation provides the mulch and a loader.

All willing workers welcome.

KCWRT provides refreshments and light snacks.  Time is 9:00 – 12:00 noon.  Bring rakes, pitchforks, trimming and brush clearing tools.  Park at the top of the Fort Dickerson hill.  Enter off Chapman Highway south at the new entrance and stop light.  All are welcome.

Excellent community service hours.

Photos from our visit by General and Mrs. Grant (Curt Fields)

Photos from the visit Tuesday night by General (Curt Fields) and Mrs. Grant.

Photos by Dennis Urban

Scout’s Report: March 2017

The Scout’s Report, March 2017

MARCH2017 ev

President’s message: A book of Civil War facts


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

Welcome to Knoxville, Gen. Grant (Curt Fields)



Curt Fields will be the speaker at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable on Tuesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. (See details for the dinner on the left side of the page.

Dr. E. C. (Curt) Fields, Jr., is an avid and lifelong student of the American Civil War. His interest in portraying General Ulysses S. Grant was driven by that study and his deep respect and admiration for General Grant. Dr. Fields is the same height and body type as General Grant and therefore presents a convincing, true-to-life image of the man as he really looked. He researches and reads extensively about General Grant to deliver an accurate persona of the General. His presentations are in first person, quoting from General Grant’s Memoirs, articles and letters the General wrote, and statements he made in interviews.

Curt Fields as Gen. Grant

Dr. Fields holds a Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Education from the University of Memphis. He later earned a Master’s degree in Secondary Education and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Curriculum from Michigan State University. He is a career educator who taught for eight years at the junior and senior high school levels and then served for 25 years as a high school administrator. He also has taught as an adjunct Sociology Professor at the University of Memphis and in Education for Belhaven University’s Memphis campus.

Dr. Fields is now an educational consultant and living historian. As a consultant, he has worked in leadership development as espoused and practiced by General Grant with several corporate and civic groups. As a living historian, Dr. Fields portrayed General Grant at the 150th Sesquicentennial observations of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Raymond, Vicksburg, and at Appomattox Court House in 2015. He has portrayed the general on film as well staring as General Grant in the Visitor Center film shown at Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and in the Discovery Channel’s three-part documentary series “How Booze built America.” Dr. Fields also was featured as General Grant, giving his life story, on the Civil War Trust website.

A frequent contributor to “The Civil War Courier” (A Civil War monthly newspaper), Dr. Fields is a member of The Tennessee Historical Society, The West Tennessee Historical Society, The Shelby County Historical Society, The Nathan Bedford Forrest Historical Society, The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, The Appomattox 1865 Foundation, The 290 Foundation (dedicated to the Civil War Navies), The Civil War Trust, and the Ulysses S. Grant Association.