Tuesday, Aug. 6, Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema

Civil War films, despite their inaccuracies, provide us with an introductory platform for learning about the era’s issues, events, and personalities, argues historian Brian Steel Wills.

Come join us Tuesday, August 6, 2019, as Dr. Wills takes us on a fascinating tour of the Civil War in cinema.

Make your reservations by calling 865-671-9001.

Please note: The date listed in the Knoxville News Sentinel is incorrect. The above is the correct one. Because of the scheduling of the banquet hall, we are meeting on the first Tuesday this month rather than the second.

Scout’s Report – August 2019

xScout – August 2019

Scout’s Report – July 2019


x7-2019 Scout_FINAL_corrected

Scout’s Report – June 2019


x6-2019 Scout FINAL

New Civil War Mapping Resources

When the United States Army entered Knoxville in September 1863, riding alongside Gen. Ambrose Burnside was Capt. Orlando Poe.  An 1856 West Point graduate with the Corps of Engineers, Poe not only designed and coordinated the construction of the defenses of Knoxville; he was meticulous in his methods, record keeping and documentation.

Standing strong against a November 29 attack by the best assault troops of the Confederacy, Poe was proud of the fortifications at Knoxville.  He ordered the creation of detailed maps, employing Cleveland Rockwell and R.H. Talcott of the US Coast Survey to do original measurements. Only recently located at NOAA, the maps created by these assistants–Rockwell north of the river, Talcott south–display actual survey lines of sight used to locate specific military and civic features.      

North side:  https://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/historicals/preview/image/T00939-02-1864              

 South side:  https://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/historicals/preview/image/T00920-02-1864

The army knew exactly where its forts were and documented those locations with precision. It is important to note that the army maps are topographical; that is, they record the elevation of the terrain of Knoxville.  All elements on the maps are located with three dimensions.

Recently, graphic designer and historic map specialist Charles Reeves compiled information from the Poe 1864 map, the Rockwell and Talcott maps, Sanborn insurance maps and 1942 topographical maps from the US Geological Service.  All of this data lines up to confirm the accuracy of the mapping done in 1864 locating the Civil War features around Knoxville. Reeves was even able to establish longitude and latitude coordinates for the fortifications. Here is his beautiful map created in January 2019 along with contact information. Reeves’ work is also available from the East Tennessee Historical Society.


Charles Reeves, Jr. – reevesca@tds.net


10812 Dineen Dr

Knoxville (Farragut), TN 37934-1809




Scout’s Report – May 2019

Scout_May 2019




Volunteers at the Fort Dickerson Spring Cleanup


Volunteers L to R: John Burkhart, Jason Wasilewski, Eli Beatty, Fiora Cruey, Lincoln Hugo, Katherine Grote, Gene Akers, Dale Green, Jerry Patterson, Jack Spiceland, Travis Henson, Eric Wayland, Dennis Urban, Brian Burroughs. Absent from photo: Neil Williams, Ken Failing, & Jim Doncaster, photographer.

Volunteers across America spurred on by the American Battlefield Trust turned out on Saturday, April 6, 2019 to attend to the maintenance needs of museums and historic sites across the country. For us in the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, this meant attending to the ongoing needs of our adopted site, Fort Dickerson. Seventeen people showed up for the event including eleven Roundtable members, four police explorers, and two of event-organizer Eric Wayland’s extended family. The beautiful morning made the work a joy, and much was accomplished. Thanks to the ongoing work at the fort by the Roundtable and the City of Knoxville, Fort Dickerson has never looked better. A steady stream of visitors to the site throughout the morning and early afternoon testified to the interest the fort now holds for the community.

Scout’s Report, April 2019

4-2019 Scout FINAL

Reopening the Tennessee River Civil War Tour, Saturday, March 23, 2019

by Neil J. Williams

Please join us on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, as we tour the locations and places important to reopening of the Tennessee River during the early stages of the 1863 Chattanooga Campaign, we will learn more about the actions that led to the establishment of the famous Cracker Line that fed the Army of the Cumberland which had been bottled up in Chattanooga following their defeat at Chickamauga. We are pleased to have return as our guide, Jim Ogden, Chief Historian at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. This tour will start at 9 am in Chattanooga and end about 5. We will meet up at 8:30-8:45 am at a location in Chattanooga that will be announced at a later date.

This will be the KCWRT’s fourth trip with Jim Ogden covering different portions of the Campaign and Battle of Chattanooga. The first tour covered Sherman’s army’s approach and eventual attack against Cleburne’s men on the northern portion of Missionary Ridge at Tunnel Hill. The second tour was at the opposite end on the Union line covering the Battle of Lookout Mountain, where recently arrived soldiers from the XI and XII Corps of the Army of the Potomac under Gen. Hooker clashed with Confederate soldiers from Cheatham and Stevenson’s Divisions of the Army of

Tennessee. Last we toured Missionary Ridge and learned about the Army of the Cumberland charge of the steep slopes. This year we will learn about the operations to reopen the Tennessee River and establish a supply line into the city of Chattanooga, that would later be named the Cracker Line. Once established supplies and rations began to follow into the bottled up and starving Army of the Cumberland, prior to the opening of the Cracker Line, the soldiers were down to receiving four pieces of hardtack/bread and a quarter pound of meat every three days.

We will meet up at 8:30-8:45 a.m. in the northeast corner on the Walmart parking lot located at 3550 Cummins Hwy in Chattanooga. We will start our tour from that location and will consolidate into as few cars as possible, any volunteers for drivers in the car caravan would be greatly appreciated. Those who have already volunteered as a driver for the tour, thank you again for volunteering. For lunch I would encourage many of you to bring your own lunch, we will try to find a nice location to eat lunch similar to last year’s Missionary Ridge tour. If you want to grab fast food, you will also be free to do too. This tour will take place rain or shine, please dress appropriately for the weather.

For some good reading on the Battle of Chattanooga and the actions on Missionary Ridge, see Blue and Gray Magazine’s 2013, #6, issue written by the late Wiley Sword; “The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battle for Chattanooga”, by Peter Cozzens; or visit the Civil War Trust’s web page which has extensive information on the battle and some of the people who fought it in.

If you plan to go on the tour of the Reopening of the Tennessee River, please send an email to Neil Williams at njwilliams85@gmail.com, so I can add your name to the list.

President’s message, March 2019

My father-in-law was a Marine Lieutenant who engaged in some of the heaviest fighting of The Second World War on the Pacific island of Okinawa. After the war he returned to the civilian world where he raised a wonderful family and enjoyed a successful career as a top executive with a major corporation. He also experienced recurrent nightmares for the rest of his life related to his platoon’s defense of its position against a Japanese banzai charge. Like so many brave combat veterans, the war for him never completely ended.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, has been described as a delayed-stress syndrome which is caused by exposure to combat or other high stress factors.

Characterized by symptoms of rage, guilt, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, and emotional numbing, it can culminate in a wide variety of escalating social and psychiatric problems. The syndrome has its roots in antiquity and has been referred to by many different names over the course of recorded history. In the Civil War, it was referred to as “Soldier’s Heart, Nervous Shock, Melancholy, Dementia, Hysteria and Cowardice.”

In 1981, PTSD, officially found a medical home when it was added as a medical diagnosis to “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” The Manual describes a lengthy constellation of symptoms and sets forth the requirements for diagnosis.

The murderous excesses of the Civil War created a perfect storm of conditions for the development of PTSD. The description of handtohand fighting in the trenches of Spotsylvania horrified its participants and set a new benchmark for savagery. Compounding matters, medical officers had little understanding of the manifestations of battle-induced psychic trauma and could offer little in the way of treatment.

Broken in mind and spirit, many returning soldiers retreated into opioids and alcohol in order to blunt the physical and psychic pain brought on by the war.

Alarmingly, some returning veterans deteriorated mentally, often overwhelming family resources. In 1860, approximately forty state and federal mental asylums existed in this country. By 1880, the number of such

institutions had soared to 140. Tragically, over two-thirds of these patients were Civil War veterans. Many surviving post-war amputees also fell prey to substance abuse and mental infirmities. The majority of men who fought in the Civil War were from the lower economic classes, and educational poverty represented a huge obstacle to overcome.

Returning home, they discovered that

farming and most positions in the blue- collar labor field could not accommodate their special needs. Essentially, they had been condemned to a life-time of unemployment. Union veteran records reveal some interesting findings regarding the coexistence of post-war physical and mental problems. Comorbidity issues were found to be statistically higher in veterans sustaining battlefield injuries. Witnessing the intense trauma of death on a daily basis impacted surviving POWS in a terrible way too.

Surprisingly, research revealed that the younger the soldier, the greater was the potential for comorbidity and substance abuse issues surfacing in later life. Other PTSD stressors reported were witnessing the death of comrades, dismemberment, killing others, hand-to hand combat, percentage of company members killed, and the feeling of being absolutely helpless to prevent the deaths of fellow soldiers. Tortured souls all, these poor men were condemned to endure the unendurable for the rest of their lives.

-Jack Spiceland, President