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 March 11, 2014
Topic: Memoirs of U. S. Grant — the Unknown Warrior
Presenter: Don Miller
Mr. Miller will take us through the last five months of Grant’s life — as U. S. Grant. We have, at that time, a man who was reflecting on his life because he was fighting the throat cancer that would eventually end his life, and because he was striving to overcome the pain of his illness to write his memoir before his death. It was not vanity that pushed Grant to write and complete his memoir, but the financial security it would provide his family when he was gone. Grant was a soldier, but this courageous effort showed him to be a true warrior.
Join us as Don Miller helps us relive that period and understand the man that won fame and adulation as a general, disgrace as a president, and his greatest, final battle.
- 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
Postponed until the new year (Possibly April): Arlan Byrne presents Cavalry in the Civil War
Due to the partial government shutdown, which has affected our national parks, James A. Garfield National Historic Site could not co-sponsor the October session of the Great Battles of the Civil War series of talks. As a result, Arlan Byrne’s presentation on Cavalry in the Civil War has been postponed until the new year — possibly April.
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.
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: More than You Wanted to Know about Artillery in the Civil War
Presenter: Ted Karle
Ted gave another of his knowledgeable, informative, and humorous presentations, this time on Artillery in the Civil War, at the Great Battles of the Civil War series. It served as a warm-up to this presentation. It was the version I saw. I missed his encore performance because I was warming up in Florida at the time.
Ted’s philosophy is that the audience wants to be entertained as well as informed, and he certainly succeeded in both missions.
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.
2013 Spring Field Trip
Lakeview Cemetery is filled with history and stories, and Marge Wilson did a great job providing a sampling aimed at our specific interests.After the tour, we made our way to Mama Santa Restaurant in Little Italy and had a pleasant meal.A number of us then proceeded to the Western Reserve Historical Society where Ann Sindelar provided a fascinating sample of the Civil War items available in their collections. What a tantalizing taste it was! Afterward, we were free to roam the museum, check out the Crawford Auto Collection, and peak at the Euclid Beach merry-go-round exhibit under construction.Special events coordinator Franco Sperrazzo deserves accolades for putting together another successful Spring Outing.
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 Grant and Lee on March 12, 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