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 14, 2013
Topic: Women in the Civil War
Presenter: Richard McElroy
Mr. McElroy is no stranger to our group, having presented American Presidents and First Ladies in 2009 and Rating Ohio Presidents in 2011, both times at our holiday meeting.
Our presenter enjoys collecting baseball cards and the autographs of famous personalities. He is the author of more than 100 stories and articles and has published 12 books including:
Battlefield Presidents: Zachary Taylor and Benjamin Harrison and their America; James A. Garfield, His Life and Times; William McKinley and Our America; and American Presidents, Fascinating Facts and Stories.
Richard McElroy is a prodigious writer who has received many national and local awards. He is listed in Who’s Who in America. He was awarded the Liberty Bell Award by the Stark County Bar Association.
Note: Because this program centers on women in the Civil War, we are extending a special invitation to lady guests.
- 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 email@example.com
Topic: The Escape and Capture of John Wilkes Booth
Presenter: Mel Maurer
The assassination of President Lincoln and the surrounding activities continue to generate general interest, as the recent movie and Booth Escape Route tours indicate. Mr. Maurer has followed Booth’s route and stopped at a number of significant sites along the way. He was able to add personal experience to an account that proved extremely interesting. Booth’s condition and state of mind, the character of Dr. Mudd, and the details of the escape were new information to me. The talk proved to be both entertaining and informative and, judging by the number of questions it generated, triggered a great amount of interest in our group. Mr. Maurer did an excellent job.
2013 Spring Field Trip
This year’s Spring Field Trip will feature a tour of historic Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland. Marge Wilson, who did an excellent job when we toured the cemetery in 2004, will once again be our guide. If you have never toured the cemetery, it is filled with historic sites. If you have toured it before, this is an opportunity to find new places of interest and revisit Garfield’s monument, Ray Chapman’s grave to see what has been left by visitors, and other interesting sites.
The tour will take place on Saturday, May 18. Arrive and park at the E. 126th Steet entrance on Euclid Avenue at 9:45AM. An air-conditioned tour bus will move us from site to site within the cemetery. After the tour, the bus will drop us at Mama Santa’s Restaurant in Little Italy where we will have lunch. For those interested in extending the day, Franco Sperrazzo has a number of passes to the Western Reserve Historical Society where we can tour the new rotunda with the Euclid Beach carousel and view the current exhibits: The World in Motion and Dior and more: for the love of fashion.
Cost is $15 per person (guests are welcome), which covers the cost of the bus, our tour guide, and entrance to the Western Reserve Historical Society, and is payable in advance. Note that lunch is not included. To help with planning, please get your checks (made out to NEOCWRT) to Franco Sperrazzo as soon as possible.
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 Siege of Vicksburg on June 12, 2013. Admission is free and bag lunches are permitted.
2012 Fall Activity
A CIVIL WAR VACATION by Arlan Byrne
The Northeast Ohio Manassas Expedition, consisting of Joe Abazzio, Alan Byrne, Arlan Byrne, Tom Horvath, John Sandy and Franco Sperrazzo left Cleveland at 10:00AM Thursday morning September 27th 2012; and arrived on the battlefield of Antietam that afternoon. We explored the battlefield for a few hours before attending a meeting of the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable to which George Deutsch, a member of both our own Northeast Ohio Civil War Roundtable, and the Hagerstown group, had invited us. It was held in a barn on the Mumma Farm in the middle of the battlefield. The speaker was the nationally known Civil War historian, author, guide and our friend, Dennis J. Frye. Dennis discussed his latest book “September Suspense: Lincoln’s Union in Peril”. Since he was raised next to Antietam Battlefield Park and spent his childhood running around the park grounds, he was able to bring many interesting side bars into his talk. After the meeting it was reunion time with Dennis with much handshaking, picture taking and reminiscing. We ended our day with an exciting ride through a heavy rain and electrical storm to our hotel in Chantilly, Virginia.
Friday morning we began our actual Manassas adventure with the Second Battle of Manassas. Our guide was National Park Ranger Henry Elliot. He began his outstanding tour of the battlefield with a short overview of the battle, in which he explained the situation in the summer of 1862; including the plans of Generals Lee, Longstreet and Jackson and the reactions of General Pope. Then he walked us through the individual fights at Brawner Farm, Sudley Springs Church, the Big Cut, Chinn Ridge and Henry Hill.
The park has spent an enormous amount of time and money removing trees and underbrush; trying to restoring the land to the way it was at the time of the battle. Thus, at Brawner Farm and the Big Cut, for instance, you can see what the Union soldiers saw preparing to attack. As you look across the open rolling fields ahead of you with cannon pointing at you in the distance; you can almost see the enemy battle line at the top of the far ridge waiting for you. You experience the excitement and the anxiety building as the troops around you begin their assault. And, as you walk across the ground in the footsteps of those long dead men, hearing in your mind the noise of the cannons and muskets, and the shouts and screams of the soldiers; you can feel the spirits of them rushing past you. It is a very emotional experience.
Saturday our guide for the First Battle of Manassas was our own George Deutsch. He started the tour at the Stone Bridge where he discussed the battle plans of both Union General McDowell and Confederate General PGT Beauregard. Our next stop was at the top of Matthews Hill. Here George explained the fighting during the morning of July 22nd, 1861. Then we descended Matthews Hill, crossed the Warrenton Turnpike and Young’s Branch and climbed Henry Hill where George explained and made sense of the confused fighting on that hill in the afternoon. We ended the day with the Confederates following the defeated Yankees north, back up the Warrenton Turnpike, and across the Stone Bridge toward Centreville.
We also visited the Stone House at the bottom of Matthews Hill and the intersection of the Warrenton Turnpike and the Sudley Springs Road. Because it served as a hospital in both battles, it was never destroyed. Both before and after the war it served as a tavern and overnight rest stop. It also had a cannon ball imbedded in the front of the house. Since nobody knew which battle it came from; I think it must have been cemented in the wall by the owner himself as an early example of a tourist attraction.
Sunday morning before we headed home we visited the Chantilly Battlefield. This battle, fought a few days after Second Manassas, was Lee’s last attempt to destroy Pope by getting between him and his Washington defenses. The small, neatly kept, two acre memorial park, is located in the midst of huge sprawling commercial and residential sub-divisions. The interesting thing to me was since part of the original battle took place in a corn field, the park volunteers had planted a small plot of corn at one side of the park. A local visitor told us it was probably the only cornfield in this densely populated county.
Our final stop was at Thoroughfare Gap. The narrow, rough 200 foot wide break in the Bull Run Mountains with Pond Mountain on the South side and Mother Leathercoat Mountain on the North side of the gap played an important role in both battles. In 1861, at the First Battle of Manassas, a railroad transported Confederate troop reinforcements from the Shenandoah Valley through the gap to the Bull Run Battlefield just in time to give the victory to the Confederates. Thirteen months later the gap allowed Jacksons half of Lee’s army to get behind Pope and a few days later allowed Longstreet’s half of Lee’s army to join him. The only problem occurred when a wandering Union detachment happened to trap Longstreet’s Wing of the Confederate Army in the gap for a few hours. Rebel troops charged up the western sides of both mountains, drove the Yankees off the top of the mountains and opened up the gap so Longstreet and Lee could continue through.
In 1862 a visitor described the gap as a “dark and gloomy spot.” Well, it is “dark and gloomy” no longer. The gap has been widened to accommodate a modern interstate highway; and if you are not careful you will zoom right through it and not even know it is there.
As the final event of our trip we climbed to the top of Mother Leathercoat Mountain and saw where the battle to open the gap was fought in a stone quarry. It was so much fun I am willing to climb anything named Mother Leathercoat.
In conclusion: It was a perfect trip. The guides were excellent. Their explanations were clear and easily understandable. John reserved rooms at the modern Chantilly Hyatt Hotel. They were large, spacious and only cost $70 per night. The hotel even threw in a free meeting room for us. There are many good restaurants in the area and we ate each meal at a different one. Brent and Sharon Morgan drove up from their home near Richmond and went to dinner with us on Saturday night. John, Tom and Franco rented a seven passenger van so we were all able to travel together. The weather was perfect each day, just right for walking. It only rained at night. We watched Ohio State beat Michigan State. What more could you want?
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.
The Ohio Historical Society has a web site dedicated to Ohio activities related to the Civil War sesquicentennial. That web site is: www.ohiocivilwar150.org.
The James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Lawnfield) is sponsoring a lunchtime series on Major Battles of the Civil War at the Mentor Public Library. Their web site, a portion of the National Park System site, is http://www.nps.gov/jaga.