Our Guiding Principles
Education — studying and learning about the American Civil War
Fellowship — constituted as a private men’s organization
Quality — selective and limited membership
Motto: “Quality, Education, and Fellowship in all our Endeavors!”
Next Meeting: May 13, 2014
Presenter: Greg Biggs
Greg Biggs has studied military history for over 45 years with concentrations on the ancient Greeks, Napoleonic era, Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II. Within these, he has concentrated on tanks and military unit flags. For the past 25 years, Greg has scoured the country in museums and libraries to gather information on those flags. He has presented his findings at museums, Civil War roundtables, and other historical groups.
Greg spent several years as an Associate Editor of Blue & Gray magazine, which has published several of his articles, including those on Confederate flags. Greg has contributed to several books on Civil War flags and numerous museum displays. He has also been published in Civil War Regiments, North-South Trader, and Citizens’ Companion.
Greg is also a Civil War tour guide for campaigns of the Western Theater and has given talks on the campaigns of the Western Theater to more than 30 Civil War roundtables.
Greg lives in Clarksville, TN with his wife Karel and their four cats named for Civil War figures.
- Canteen at 6:00 PM — Dinner at 6:50 PM
- Dino’s Restaurant — on state route 306, just south of I-90 in Willoughby, Ohio
- Cost $25.00 for an excellent family-style dinner and speaker. Cash bar.
- Reservations are required. Contact Mike Sears at 440-257-3956 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rescheduled for April 30: Arlan Byrne presents Cavalry in the Civil War
Arlan’s presentation on Cavalry in the Civil War as part of the Great Battles of the Civil War series of talks was delayed due to the partial government shutdown. It has been rescheduled at a special date, April 30 at the usual time and place: noon in the Garfield Room of the Mentor Public Library. The original entry about his talk follows:
As part of the “Great Battles of the Civil War” series, long-time member Arlan Byrne will be presenting Cavalry in the Civil War on
October 9 at noon in the Garfield Room of the Mentor Public Library. The series of monthly talks, now in its second year, was developed by the staff at James A. Garfield National Historic Site and has always featured their park rangers. For the first time, they have extended an invitation to our group to present topics. Arlan’s talk will be the first, with Ted Karle following in December with Artillery of the Civil War. Arlan’s talk is sure to be, as it always is, both entertaining and informative. (See Geauga County during the Civil War Years, below.) Plan on attending and having a good time while supporting one of the good guys.
2014 Spring Outing
The Executive Committee has come up with a Spring outing this year that should have broad appeal to our members and their guests. On May 31, we will get a behind-the-scenes tour of three of the four theaters that comprise Playhouse Square. The second largest theater district in the U.S. is thriving and active. These refurbished theaters are fascinating and historic, and the area just outside the theaters will soon feature a huge chandelier suspended from two crossed arches. This is a great opportunity to see an area that should be the center of excitement and activity.
After the tour, we will lunch at historic Inn of the Barristers on West 3rd Street. Our final stop will be the Cleveland Police Museum across the street from the restaurant in the Justice Center. Cleveland has had its share of notorious events and interesting characters. Learn (more) about the unsolved Kingsbury Run murders, also known as the “Torso Killings”, Eliot Ness, the Prohibition Era, and much more.
Additional information regarding cost, parking, times, and logistics will be presented at the May meeting. Save the day for what promises to be an excellent trip.
Civil War Symposium
Our second annual Civil War Symposium, held on Friday, July 19, gave every indication of being a success. James A. Garfield NHS ranger, Todd Arrington, led off with some general remarks and introduced Franco Sperrazzo, who had done such a good job setting up the Symposium. Franco set the ground work and introduced Dick Muny to 45 people, up significantly from last year’s attendance.
Dick brought representative pieces from his antique firearms collection and presented Firearms of the Civil War. Audience members were engaged by these historic weapons that they were encouraged to handle and examine while Dick demonstrated and taught about the evolution of small arms during the Civil War.
Dick’s talk was followed by a short break during which the audience (and speakers) partook and enjoyed refreshments provided by Barbara Horvath, Cindy Sperrazzo, and Joe Tirpak.
Ted Karle then presented Little Round Top Revisited in which he proposed and supported his contention that the importance of the battle for Little Round Top has been overstated. Though an important site, Ted contended (and had numbers to support) that even had the Confederates taken the hill, they would not have been able to hold it. Ted was surprised to learn from Norty London, who was in the audience, that several noted Civil War historians who spoke at Chautauqua had independently arrived at the same conclusion.
The program ended with more refreshments and a small group of NEOCWRT members convening at Yours Truly to celebrate a successful evening. Those of us involved in putting on the Symposium were pleased at the number of NEOCWRT members who came out to support their comrades.
Once again, the Symposium served as a fitting start to the weekend of Civil War encampment on the grounds of James A. Garfield NHS. Fortunately for us, the Symposium dodged the heavy rains that harassed the re-enactors who tried to camp out Friday night.
Topic: The Army of the Tennessee
Presenter: John Sandy
John had some very interesting bits of information about the Army of the Tennessee — how it came to be formed, how Grant got credit for victories the navy won, and how every time Grant scored a major victory, he got demoted. The story of this army was fascinating and John only covered up to Shiloh. If the remainder of its existence was anywhere near as interesting, I’d like to hear John complete its history.
2013 Fall Field Trip: The 1862 Maryland Campaign by John Sandy
On a clear September morning, President Tom M. Horvath along with NEOCWRT members: Joe Tirpak, Bill Meissner, Steve Abbey, Arlan Byrne and John Sandy departed from northeast Ohio for Hagerstown, Maryland and our annual field trip. The senior contingent departed from Mentor at 8:00 am and arrived in Hagerstown just after 1:30 pm. They then proceeded to “nap until dinner time.” The “young bucks” waited until 10:30 am to leave Ohio and checked into the hotel at 5:30 pm. However, the later arriving travelers did not require a nap!
The two groups joined forces and traveled by van over Antietam Creek by way of a one lane, 19th century bridge. We arrived at a nearby Italian restaurant in Funkstown, Maryland where a tall, blonde waitress named Latonya welcomed our thirsty brood and provided liquid refreshment. After dinner, we enjoyed the cool autumn evening by relaxing and following the exploits of our Cleveland Indians and their pursuit of an American League playoff spot.
On Friday morning we met Jim Rosebrock, the Chief Battlefield Guide for Antietam. We gathered at the Antietam Battlefield Visitors Center for a briefing on the day’s agenda. Our guide is a graduate of Niagara University and earned his Master’s degree in National Resources Strategy. He is a graduate of the U S Army Command and General Staff College and a retired U S Army Lt. Colonel who is now employed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Our morning briefing dealt with understanding the various objectives of the 1862 Maryland Campaign and how those objectives might be accomplished. President Lincoln wanted to restore the Union. He also wanted to destroy the Rebel Army, if possible and to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
Jefferson Davis and the Confederate States of America on the other hand, wanted to secure independence by adding the state of Maryland to the Confederacy. In addition, Davis wanted the Army of Northern Virginia to act in concert with other Confederate offensives in western Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi. Davis wanted to secure European recognition of the Confederacy and that could only be attained by a victory.
George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, wanted to drive the Confederates out of Maryland and maintain his army for future operations. His movements and orders were captioned with “Proceed with Caution.”
Above left photo: Tom Horvath, John Sandy, Arlan Byrne ; back row: Joe Tirpak, Steve Abbey and Bill Meissner
Above right photo: John Sandy and Steve Abbey at the North Carolina Monument on South Mountain
Robert E. Lee’s objectives were to destroy the Army of the Potomac before overwhelming manpower and industrial capacity were brought to bear against the South. Lee also wanted to affect the U S midterm elections by appealing to the hearts and mind of the North. The war effort was costing hundreds of thousands of lives and bringing the scourge of death and suffering to every city and hamlet of the Union. Lee also wanted to carry the war into the North in order to halt the destruction of Virginia’s farms and private homes by invading federal armies.
Our group visited South Mountain and reviewed D. H. Hill’s defenses and the location where Confederate General Samuel Garland fell mortally wounded. We toured Foxes Gap, Turners Gap and Crampton Gap where we were greeted by members of the Cleveland Civil War Round Table. The Cleveland group was also touring the 1862 Maryland Campaign locations.
We enjoyed a lunch break at the nearby Sunrise Café, where the food and service were excellent. After lunch we headed for Loudoun Heights. Located 900 feet above Harpers Ferry and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Loudoun provides a spectacular view of the river gorge and the town below.
We had the good fortune to say hello to Dennis Frye, the Head Historian of the Harpers Ferry National Historic Site as he was conducting a living history symposium for high school students on School House Ridge. Dennis Frye is an accomplished writer whose latest book, September Suspense, Lincoln’s Union in Peril, has won national acclaim.
Historian Dennis Frye greeting the NEOCWRT Field Trip members near School House Ridge
We spent the remainder of the day visiting the shops and historic buildings in Harpers Ferry before returning to our hotel. Later, JET led our group to a nearby, famous steak house where a line of famished and thirsty couples were patiently waiting to be seated. Undaunted, our COB asked to see the manager and applied his negotiating skills to the occasion. Within minutes, we were directed to a comfortable table for six, much to the dismay of all, including our group. Joe claims that it was his beautiful white hair that charmed the manager and won the day. Joe added: “It happens all the time, everywhere I go. They see my white hair and they are entranced.”
Jim Rosebrock and members of the NEOCWRT 2013 Field Trip admire the view from Loudoun Heights
Photographs by Tom Horvath
Early on Saturday morning, we returned to the Antietam Battlefield in order to review the positions and deployment of Lee’s defensive line around Sharpsburg and McClellan’s plan of attack We began our tour at the Pry House, the location of McClellan’s headquarters during the Battle of Antietam. In 1862, much of the surrounding area was open pasture land and cultivated fields. The Pry farm’s location afforded McClellan a clear panorama of the battlefield and the movements of both armies. Today, much of the area is overgrown with trees that obscure the sight lines and block one’s vision.
The Battle of Antietam began just before sunrise on the morning of September 17, 1862, when the men of Joseph Hooker’s First Corps passed through the North Woods and into the Miller cornfield to assault Stonewall Jackson’s advanced lines near the Hagerstown Turnpike near the Dunker Church. Hooker saw the Rebel bayonets poking out of the corn stalks to his front and ordered Union artillery to rake the position. Confederate artillery on Nicodemus Hill returned fire on the Union First Corps’ advance and all hell broke loose. More than 8000 men Rebels and Yankees fell in the first couple hours of the attack. No one, including the veterans of numerous battles from both armies recalled witnessing a more bloody fight.
At 11:00 am, our battlefield guide invited us to witness an artillery firing demonstration by the 42nd U S Artillery Reenactment Unit. The 42nd’s gunners used a shinny 12 pound Parrot for the firing demonstration and the sound was awesome. When they pulled the lanyard, the entire earth shook! The gunners had to wait ten minutes between each round in order to give the gun time enough to cool before inserting the next bag of black powder. Jim Rosebrock is also a member of the 42nd U S Artillery Reenactment Unit and would have participated in the live fire demonstration were it not for the fact that he had broken his arm three weeks before. We enjoyed lunch at “Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd, “one of Jim Rosebrock’s favorite haunts. We were joined by some of the gunners from the 42nd.
Saturday afternoon we return to the battlefield to review the fighting along the Sunken Road and at Burnside’s Bridge. Later we toured the National Cemetery located in Sharpsburg, where 4746 men and women are buried. More than 1/3 of the graves are marked Unknown. In the center of the National Cemetery stands a 44 foot tall granite statue of a Union soldier. “Old Simon,” as he is called first appeared at the Centennial Exposition is Philadelphia, Pa. in 1876. The statue was later moved to its present location and dedicated on September 17, 1880. Simon weighs 250 tons.
Saturday evening we stopped at that Italian restaurant in Funkstown for another visit with Latonya. Later we all gathered in Joe and Bill’s room to watch Ohio State defeat Wisconsin and the Indians secured a playoff spot by beating the Minnesota Twins.
Sunday morning we all departed Hagerstown and headed for home. The 2013 Fall Field Trip was one of the very best. The weather was nearly perfect for touring battlefields. The food and refreshments were excellent. The Indians, Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns all won their games. (How rare is that!) Tom Horvath selected Jim Rosebrock to be our battlefield guide and he proved himself to be one of the very best. All of these elements went into making this field trip special. However, the best part of the field trip was that we all got to enjoy and experience the laughter and good company that comes with being a part of the Northeast Ohio Civil War Round Table.
Geauga County during the Civil War Years
On May 15, long-time member Arlan Byrne presented Geauga County during the Civil War Years at the Middlefield Library. Arlan’s daughter, Rebecca, shared the podium with him and John Sandy put together a Power Point presentation to provide some visual diversion. Arlan’s talk was a lighter look at history, pointing out some of the stranger aspects of events. For instance, in order to have enough area to qualify as a county and separate itself from Geauga County, Lake County counted land under Lake Erie. Then there was the convicted killer whose funeral was held before his execution. Arlan’s talk, as always, was amusing and delightful. A number of members of our round table made the trip to Middlefield and joined Arlan for a celebratory snack after the talk.
We have, in my opinion, one of the best round table newsletters around – thanks to the many contributors and, especially, to the editors, John Sandy and Carl Dodero. Here is a link to the latest one:
Lunchtime Series: Major Battles of the Civil War
The presentations are held the second Wednesday of each month at noon in the James A. Garfield Community Room of the Mentor Public Library. The next presentation is The Battle of the Wilderness on April 9, 2014. Admission is free and bag lunches are permitted. The library requests that you phone them at 440-255-8811 to reserve your free seat.
Other Web Sites of Interest
Western Reserve Historical Society
: Our club has acquired a group membership in the Western Reserve Historical Society. Located in University Circle, the Civil War archive of books and photographs hs been toured and admired by many of our guest speakers. It is one of the best collections in the country. They also own and run Hale Farm and Village. Their web site is: www.wrhs.org