President’s message: Activities around the table

Over a span of 43 years from August 1934 until November 1977, the newspaper cartoon character Li’l Abner periodically proclaimed “No man is an Ireland [sic].” That was true before Dogpatch and its denizens became famous, and it’s still true. Individuals and nations do not exist in a vacuum, and the actions they take—or don’t take—affect others, sometimes at a great remove in both time and place.

Those who attended Kent Wright’s presentation on February 13 were reminded that the American Civil War had repercussions far beyond the shores of America. The sun never set on the British Empire. Great Britain was vitally interested in the causes and consequences of the American conflict. Gigantic forces which would shape the future of world history were at work. Wars are complex affairs.

On March 13 we will welcome Gordon Rhea, whose topic will be “Cold Harbor”, one of the final battles of the Overland Campaign. It’s often overlooked, but the battle had significant effects. The war would continue for almost another year, and the casualty lists and financial and political costs would mount. This will be another interesting, educational evening.

The Eighth Annual Civil War Lecture Series continues at McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee. On Sunday March 25 at 2 pm, Dr. Joan Markel will present “South of the River: Developments in Knoxville’s Historic Preservation Effort.” For 35 years our Roundtable has supported the preservation and historical interpretation of Fort Dickerson. Now Legacy Parks, the Aslan Foundation, the City of Knoxville, and other groups are increasingly adding to our efforts and saving land for public use and edification. This is a good opportunity to learn more about our history and its preservation.

The Civil War Preservation Trust sponsors an annual Park Day. Volunteers clean up after winter and prepare Civil War sites for increased public visitation and usage during the warmer months. Director of Preservation Eric Wayland has scheduled a work day at Fort Dickerson for the morning of Saturday April 7. Mark your calendars, and join fellow Roundtable members for a few hours of making our community better.

Also note that in April we’ll observe the 35th Anniversary of the Roundtable. Our speaker, Dr. Bud Robertson, will present his thoughts on a complex, provocative, and often controversial topic, and we’ll have a few special events to mark the occasion.

Other important future dates include Living History Weekend at Fort Dickerson October 26-28, and a special Missionary Ridge Battlefield Tour on Saturday March 17. This field trip has been organized by members Neil Williams and Norman Shaw, and will be expertly led by Jim Ogden. Due to the government shutdown in January, the Stones River tour had to be cancelled, and will be rescheduled.

At its regular meeting on February 6 the Board approved funding of up to $500 for the second Dot Kelly Preservation Award. Director of Community Activities Stan Sech and other Board members are aggressively publicizing the award and seeking applications. The grant will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the East Tennessee Historical Society in May.

The Board continues to seek ways to improve the monthly meeting experience for our members and guests. Recently a random one-table-at-a-time numbering system has been used to ease congestion in the buffet line. Member feed-back has been overwhelmingly positive, so this system will be continued.
President’s Message

Finally, remember that the Roundtable is a volunteer organization. There are opportunities to benefit the club and the community at multiple levels of talent and time. Be a Volunteer!

John Burkhart, President

Cold Harbor – find out more at the March KCWRT meeting

Cold Harbor. The very name conjures up feelings of foreboding and dread.

More than a century and a half has elapsed since the Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and Baldy Smith’s 18th Corps pressed toward Petersburg aiming to sever the Army of Northern Virginia’s main supply line.

The six weeks of combat preceding the movement on Petersburg represents the most intense continuous bout of warfare the continent has ever witnessed.

Each side’s premier general – Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee – matched wits and endurance in a campaign of combat and maneuver from the Rapidan River to the James. Packed into those six horrific weeks were the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River, and Cold Harbor.

Come join us as historian and author Gordon Rhea presents an appraisal of Grant’s and Lee’s generalship during the Overland Campaign.

The focus will be on the campaign’s final days at Cold Harbor and Grant’s decision to pry Lee from his formidable earthworks by slicing the Army of Northern Virginia’s main supply line at Petersburg. The story is one of the most exciting in the annals of American military history, and who better to tell it than Gordon Rhea who has written the definitive history on the subject.


Gordon Rhea

Gordon Rhea

Gordon C. Rhea received his B.A. in history from Indiana University, his M.A. in history from Harvard University, and his law degree from Stanford University Law School. He served as Special Assistant to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities for two years and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington D.C. and the United States Virgin Islands for some seven years. He has been in the private practice of law since 1983.

Mr. Rhea has written seven award-winning books about the American Civil War, including The Battle of the Wilderness, The Battles at Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, To the North Anna River, Cold Harbor, On To Petersburg, Carrying the Flag, and In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee.

He has lectured across the country at the invitation of numerous historical societies, universities, and historic preservation organizations on topics of military history and the Civil War era and has served on the boards of historical societies, history magazines, and historical preservation organizations, including the Civil War Library and Museum, Philadelphia, the North and South magazine, and the Charleston South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. Mr. Rhea conducts fundraising tours for organizations that raise funds to purchase and preserve historical sites related to the Civil War era, including the Civil War Trust, the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, the Blue and Gray Education Society, and the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield. He has also appeared multiple times as a historian and presenter on nationwide television programs, including productions by The History Channel, A&E Channel, Discovery Channel, and C-Span.

McClung Museum hosts Civil War lecture series

The eighth annual UT McClung Museum Civil War Lecture Series kicked off on January 28, 2018Throughout the series, McClung Museum Civil War Curator Joan Markel and guest contributors explore the places and people of the Civil War in East Tennessee and beyond.

Each Sunday lecture will be held at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the UT McClung Museum at 1327 Circle Park Drive.

February 18: “History on the Ground: An Armchair Tour of 1863 Knoxville.” Our modern landscape is only a click away from the sites and structures of the Civil War era. The latest technology will allow a comfortable armchair tour of diverse locations rich in Civil War history; the route follows the troops from Farragut down Kingston Pike then around the easily identifiable downtown streets.

March 25: “South of the River: Developments in Knoxville’s Historic Preservation Effort.” Recent preservation efforts at Fort Dickerson, Fort Higley, and the Battlefield Loop section of the Urban Wilderness solidify and highlight events of 1861–1865 on the south side of the Tennessee River in Knoxville.

April 29: “Soldiers and Civilians: History as Documented by the Social Life of an Occupied City.” Knoxville was not just a military post; throughout the war it was the center of social life in East Tennessee. Military personnel and civilians interacted to a significant extent, and surviving stories are of lasting interest. Recent Civil War programming at Blount Mansion will be highlighted by Executive Director David E. Hearnes.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Free parking is available on weekends.

President’s message: the reason for all wars, and more

As I compose this epistle, snow is falling, and so is the thermometer, which is forecast to reach single digits within a few hours. These circumstances lead to increased contemplation on the vital role of logistics and economics in warfare. Several recent speakers at our monthly meetings have touched on the support required to keep an army in the field. In addition to feeding, clothing, sheltering, and arming the troops, the horses and mules required immense amounts of accouterments, fodder, and water. One of Jerry Patterson’s article reprints at the January meeting reviewed some impressive numbers for the animals. Of course, winter weather often magnified logistical difficulties due to cold, snow, mud, and agrarian unproductivity. Wood became fuel and shelter. The armies often needed more of everything, and got less of it. It all cost money, and lots of it. Winter must have been very unpleasant if not miserable for Civil War soldiers, and for civilians too.

When I was a callow youth, a history professor startled my class by stating that all wars were based in economics. He went on to say that almost all armed conflicts had primary if not total economic causation, although higher-sounding excuses such as religion or culture were often advanced. Furthermore, economics generally determined the victor, especially if the conflict was prolonged. I’m sure there are exceptions to his rule, but the area is worthy of much more study and attention than it usually receives.

Join us on February 13 as Kent Wright explores the complex web of cotton, economics, and politics both domestic and international in the 1860s. This is an unusual but timely topic and should be of great interest to all.

The 108 who attended Michael Shaffer’s presentation on January 9 heard new perspectives on Civil War maneuver and fixed fortifications. 71 members enjoyed dinner together and were joined by an additional 31 members for the lecture. We also welcomed 3 non-members for dinner and an additional 3 for the program.

Continue reading

2018 Dorothy E. Kelly Preservation Grant – now accepting applications

In December 2015 the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable (KCWRT) created the Dorothy E. Kelly Preservation Grant to honor long-time Roundtable member and Past President Dot Kelly for her many years of service to the KCWRT and her tireless efforts towards the preservation of Knoxville’s Civil War history and historic sites.  This annual grant, in an amount not to exceed $500, will be given to a group, individual, or organization for a Knoxville Civil War preservation project.  Beginning in 2017 and in future years, the annual grant information and application will be included with the East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS) Awards of Excellence which are usually announced each February.

The grant information and application is now available through the KCWRT, the KCWRT website, our Facebook page, or the East Tennessee Historical Society.  All applications are to be submitted in writing to the KCWRT and mailed to P.O. Box 52232, Knoxville, TN 37950-2232, marked “2018 Dorothy E. Kelly Preservation Grant”.  Submissions will be reviewed and awarded by the KCWRT.  The winner will be announced at the ETHS Annual Meeting on May 1, 2018.  The application submission deadline for 2018 is to be postmarked no later than April 2, 2018.

Questions should be submitted by email to ——Stan Sech_

Download the application by clicking the link below:

2018 Application

February at KCWRT: John Bull, Uncle Sam, and King Cotton: Conflicted Friendships

The Civil War may have been a distinctly American affair, but the guns that rocked America shook the world. In England and on the continent, the war touched close to home as vested interests clashed, bonds of friendship frayed, and business ties were torn asunder.    

What Jefferson Davis’s foreign policies meant for Southern independence and ties to Europe, and, conversely, what Lincoln’s policies meant in preventing Southern independence and keeping Europeans at bay is one of the least understood and potentially most consequential aspects of the war. Because the navies were the primary instruments for projecting power in the nineteenth century, international conflict often played out on the high seas.

Come join us Tuesday, Feb. 13 as naval historian Kent Wright addresses the British “X” factor in the war. Backed by 30 years of research, Kent will discuss how British interests were tied to the war from start to finish and how these interests affected major policy decisions and the handling of one crisis after another on both sides of the Atlantic.  

Kent Wright, Huntsville, AL

Nebraskan turned Alabamian Kent Wright is a veteran of the nuclear navy and a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In civilian life, he was a nuclear plant startup engineer and senior reactor operations training specialist for the General Electric Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

He and his wife Elizabeth, from Vicksburg, MS, are now living in Huntsville, Alabama, where they moved in 1986. During his five years in Vicksburg, he reignited his lifelong interest in Civil War history while merging it with his knowledge of steam plant engineering and propulsion. While there, he made many visits to the raised Union gunboat, USS Cairo, which started his course of learning on Civil War naval history.

After moving to Huntsville in 1993, Kent joined the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table (TVCWRT) and became an active member as the program chairman. Throughout the years, he has published articles and given talks to Civil War Round Tables and various other interest groups concerning the role of the US and CS Navies in the Civil War. He is currently working on two manuscripts which he hopes to get published.  


Farragut Museum Features Battle of Campbell Station Exhibition

From the Town of Farragut website:

A new special exhibit – “The Battle of Campbell Station” – will open January 22 at the Farragut Museum.

The exhibit features items from the personal collection of local community member Gerald Augustus, including artifacts from the battle, fought Nov. 16, 1863, on the land surrounding the Farragut Town Hall.

The exhibit is open through Friday, June 15.

A special “Friends Only” exhibit preview will precede a lecture by Augustus on Sunday, January 21. Friends are invited at 1:30 p.m. for refreshments. General admission begins at 2:30 p.m. If you are not a Friend and wish to join, you are welcome to register during the preview. The lecture on the battle begins at 3 p.m.

The Farragut Museum is committed to preserving the heritage of its East Tennessee community and features a remarkable collection of artifacts from the area, including an extensive collection of the personal belongings of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, first Admiral of the U.S Navy and hero of the Civil War. Housed in Farragut Town Hall located at 11408 Municipal Center Drive, the museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and offers free admission. For more information about the museum or the exhibit, please visit or contact Historic Resources Coordinator Julia Barham at or 218-3377.


Maps available for purchase

KCWRT member Jim Tumblin has asked that you be informed about Charles Reeves’ maps at

For instance:

The Bachelder-Gettysburg Map is here:

One other map I recall us discussing is the city map of Knoxville, but not sure the CWR members would be that interested in it.  We also talked about a 1930 map of the city at McClung.

The Hess on the “Battle of Ft. Sanders (Knoxville” book is here:

Of note is that this is a new copy of the hardback first edition, not the current paperback.

Charles Reeves, Jr. –
10812 Dineen Dr
Knoxville (Farragut), TN 37934-1809

Thanks, Jim.

Not Just Antietam – September 17, 1862 In Perspective

A good point, well made

Emerging Civil War

Wednesday, September 17, 1862. is rightly classed as the bloodiest day in American history. In that 24-hour period, more Americans fell killed, wounded, captured, or missing, than in any like 24-hour period before or since.

This contention rests almost totally on the Battle of Antietam outside Sharpsburg, Maryland, where 23,726 (12,410 US and 10, 316 CS) soldiers fell in essentially 12 hours of combat that day.

But that horrific number does not cover all the losses on September 17.

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2017 Year Ending Financial Report for Knoxville Civil War Roundtable

Your Knoxville Civil War Roundtable would like our membership to know that our financial records are open and available for all members. Although we operate on a Fiscal Year that begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year, a brief Calendar Year ending report might serve better to illustrate our revenues and expenses and total financial picture.

With our low membership dues and dinner charges just over our costs, your Board has done everything possible to keep your costs at a minimum.

As many of you know, our primary source of revenue is membership dues and we collected slightly more than $7,000 in dues this year. Our Membership Chairman, Jerry Patterson has done an outstanding job in building our membership to about 240 members. In addition, Eric Wayland, our Preservation Chairman, brings in about $1,000 from the sale of magazines and books generously donated by our members.

Since we pay Bearden Banquet Hall $13 for each member who dines with us and charge only $15 for that member, we do not make any money from our dinner collection, especially after we pay for meals for our speakers, their guests and any other guests we invite. We are also faced with having to pay dining expenses for members who call in a reservation, but do not come to the meeting.

As a Roundtable, the largest expense we incur is for speaker expenses. We pay no honorarium to our speakers, but we do pay for travel, meals, lodging costs and the cost of small gifts which are presented to them. I believe each of you will agree that our Program Chairman, Jim Doncaster, does a splendid job of recruiting knowledgeable and even exciting speakers. This year we spent just over $4,000 for speaker expenses.
Our second largest expense is for our support of Ft. Dickerson. With our upkeep of the park and the expense involved with our Living History Weekend, we spent just over $3,600 this year.

Additionally, other expenses we incur are for printing and mailing the “Scout”, telephone, post office box rental, office supplies and other equipment such as the new laptop we purchased this year.

As you can see, we operate on a very tight budget and your Board is very frugal with your money.

Our bank balance beginning in January, 2017 was $11,067 and at year’s end it was $9,722.

Questions about this financial summary are welcome.