Saturday, December 18, 2010

December Meeting - Cancelled

OK, so it really wasn't this bad, but we did have sufficient snow, ice, and low temperatures to warrant cancellation of the December meeting. No sense endangering everyone. See you next month.

Friday, November 19, 2010

November 2010 Meeting

Jeff Westfall who works with Crescent City Sutlery, a large wholesale and retail provider of Civil War apparel and equipment for re-enactors presented our program for the evening. It was entitled “Conversations on Civil War Sutlery”. Jeff's father Myron Westfall assisted by modeling items of clothing and equipment. A former US Army Bandsman himself, Jeff also performs with the Red Brush Reunion Band and he has participated as a sutler at many civil war reenactments around the country. For his program, Jeff gave a background history of the sutler’s purpose as the predecessor of the modern military Post Exchange, and the myriad of items that the sutler might provide in an attempt to supplement the comfort needs of the CW soldier. He displayed and discussed a variety of reproductions of equipment, clothing, and comfort items which would have been worn or used by the soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies. He discussed both the practical and comfort design of items from shoes to headgear, cartridge boxes to haversacks, and eyeglasses to “Lucifer’s”. He also shared his own experiences of using various items while participating at reenactments. The items displayed are available for purchase by re-enactors at Crescent City Sutlery which is located in Vanderbrugh County. The company recently moved from their more out-of-the-way location off Hwy 57, to a store front on Greenriver Road, in Daylight, IN. A connection to their website is provided on our webpage. (Submitted by Tom Murray, photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Meeting

Our October program was presented by Gail Stephens, a volunteer historian at the Monocacy National Battlefield Park in Maryland and author of “Shadow of Shiloh”. Her presentation, also the subject of her book, was on Indiana native, General Lew Wallace. She covered the military service of Wallace from his early days with a the Montgomery Guards militia; thorough his raising of regiments for the State of Indiana at the call of Governor Oliver P. Morton; his actions as a field commander during the battle of Shiloh for which he was criticized; and finally, his validation of Lincoln’s trust with his leadership in organizing the defense of Washington during the 1864 Battle of Monocacy. Gail pointed out the considerable faults of Wallace which helped to get him in to trouble. But his major problem may have been that he was a political general and that put him at odds with the traditional West Point careerists. In addition to her visit to our roundtable, Gail also took time earlier in the day to visit locations in Evansville, where Wallace and his regiment had encamped early in the war. Her presentation was excellent and was well received by the packed room of members and guests in attendance. (Submitted by Tom Murray, photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Monday, September 27, 2010

September Meeting

Our September guest speaker was Karel Biggs, a member of the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable. She is a teacher and the wife of CCWRT chairman Greg Biggs who has spoken to our group on several occasions in the past. The title of Karel’s program was "Women & Other Civilians in Occupied Middle Tennessee". Her presentation focused primarily on the conditions in and around Nashville, leading up to and throughout the occupation of the city by Union troops during the war. Prior to the war, Nashville was a prosperous city and could be considered fairly progressive, with its developing education and cultural activities. Its significance as a shipping port on the Cumberland River and an important railroad hub made it a key logistical location for the Union forces to control. In February 1862, shortly after the fall of Fort Donelson, it became the first state capital to fall to Union troops. Two weeks prior to their arrival, a panic ensued and many prominent people fled. Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor and seized control of the government. In order to do business, loyalty oaths were required. The city suffered under the occupation and without a good business economy or an adequate tax base to operate with, schools were closed and the buildings were used for hospitals and administration activities by the occupying forces. Karel’s program also included comments and observations of individuals who endured the occupation and she recommended visiting several historical homes related to the period, which have been preserved. (Submitted by Tom Murray, photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Friday, August 20, 2010

August Meeting

JO Frobieter-Muellar, a member of our roundtable, was our August guest speaker AND entertainment. Her program was titled: “An Interesting Hypothesis: The Effects of the Civil War Upon the Current Population of the Country". An author of several books and writer of hundreds of published articles, JO’s educational training was as a biologist. She noted in her introduction that both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day and she confessed that having become interested in the history of the civil war, her biology background also stirred an interest in attempting to understand the effect the war had on the current population of our country. Citing research into published facts and figures on the tremendous loss of men during the war; their genetic, educational and cultural backgrounds; she raised questions into the possibilities of how these losses may have impacted on later generations. Questions were also raised concerning later human behavior and how the war may have effected the gene pool. There is much disparity in some published information she had found, making it difficult to accurately make such an assessment, but it does raise food for thought and further discussion around the table.

As a bonus ‘show and tell’ to her program, JO, who is also a member of the Red Bank Reunion Band, brought along a Civil War era fife, plus a more modern fife, as well as her flute. The older fife was on permanent loan from a friend who had told her it had been played at the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. JO discussed the limitations of a fife, demonstrated its capabilities, and treated us to several short musical renditions. She concluded her program with the playing on her flute, the haunting “Ashokan Farewell”, the theme from the PBS Civil War Series. (Submitted by Tom Murray, Photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July Dinner Meeting

Our July annual dinner meeting speaker was Brian Dirck, associate professor of history at Anderson University, and author of two books on Abraham Lincoln. His presentation was on three individuals of historic importance in Indiana during the war, but not all well known. They were Gov. Oliver P. Morton, George Julian, and Lambdin Milligan.
Probably the most well known of the three was Morton who emerged as the most powerful of the war governors. He answered Lincoln's call for troops by raising twice the number requested for Federal service. Largely because of his efforts, Indiana provided 150,000 enlistments to the Federal army with little resort to the draft. A stalwart ally of Lincoln’s war measures, he waged a bitter campaign against Copperheads (Peace Democrats) and when growing peace sentiment pitted him against a legislature threatening to limit his military powers, rather than call the hostile representatives into session Morton kept the state government running with loans from Washington, advances from the private sector, and profits from the state arsenal he had established. He was criticized for arresting and detaining political enemies and suspected southern sympathizers.
George Julian worked as a lawyer in Greenfield before being elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1845. A member of the Free Soil Party he was elected to the 31st Congress in 1848 and over the next two years advocated land reform and women’s suffrage. He also opposed the growth of monopolies. Defeated in 1850 Julian continued his campaign against slavery and was an early member of the Republican Party. Julian was elected to the 37th Congress in 1860 and became a leading figure in the group that became known as the Radical Republicans. During the war he argued that the Union Army should not only free the slaves but to reconstruct Southern society. Julian strongly supported the Freeman’s Bureau, the Civil Rights Bill and the Reconstruction Acts. After the war Julian clashed with President Johnson and voted for his impeachment in 1868.
Lambdin Milligan, from Huntington near Fort Wayne, was a lawyer, farmer, and leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle during the war. He publicly protested the Union's waging war against the Confederacy and by the end of 1863, was widely believed to be involved in a huge conspiracy against the United States. Union authorities believed he was in contact with Confederate agents and was arrested in October 1864 by order of General Alvin P. Hovey and tried before a military tribunal. No warrant or affidavit was given to show Milligan's arrest was authorized. Milligan was told that he must prove his innocence. He was convicted and sentenced to hang but the sentence was later commuted to life by President Andrew Johnson. He appealed to the Supreme Court and in what became knows as the Ex Parte Milligan ruling, his conviction was overturned as unconstitutional for use of military tribunals when civil courts were still operating. (Photo courtesy of Larry Morris)

Friday, June 18, 2010

June Meeting

Jim Goecker, from Terra Haute, Indiana, and a member of the West Central Indiana Civil War Roundtable, was our guest speaker. He presented an excellent program which was entitled “Military Intelligence Comes of Age: The Bureau of Military Information”. Jim covered how military intelligence and a framework of information processing were non-existent at the beginning of the war. His presentation followed the evolution of information analysis in the Army of the Potomac from the early days of the war to the organization of the extremely efficient Bureau of Military Information by the end. (photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May Meeting

May’s SICWRT speaker was David Fraley, noted former curator and historian of the Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee. His outstanding presentation was on the retreat of Hood’s army following his Army of Tennessee’s attack on Nashville, commencing on the 17th of December 1864, to the 27th. Speaking to a large attendance, David gave a passionate talk, relating to the roundtable members the difficulties the Confederates faced as they fought their way out of Tennessee. Barely able to stay ahead of the pursuing Union cavalry and infantry, fording icy streams and rivers, and with little to wear or eat, the Confederates endured against the tremendous odds both nature and enemy threw at them. David detailed the actions of the Confederate rear guard composed of Lee’s Corps, Forrest’s cavalry, and Walthall’s skilled infantry brigades, and how this was able to prevent the total destruction of the army. (Photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April Meeting

New member Ken McHenry presented a program entitled, "In the Footsteps of Private Samuel J. Martz". Ken had been invited to speak to our group following the recent publication of an article in the Evansville Courier-Press. In that printed article, he discussed researching the ancestry of Private Martz, who was his great grandfather and a veteran of the Civil War. In Ken's program to thirty attendees, he discussed how he and eleven other close family descendants of Private Martz had over a couple of weeks, traveled to various locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia to visit sites where the private had been during the war. Using a book published about the history of his great grandfather's unit, the 18th Missouri Infantry, Ken reviewed the history of the unit and provide additional side stories about the unit's activities. The book was also a valuable guide during their travels to locations such as the Shiloh Battlefield where Private Martz was wounded in his first combat experience. (photo courtesy of Steve Kweskin)

Friday, April 9, 2010

March Meeting

Our March program was presented by Max Hochstetler, an Evansville native who is a professor emeritus at Austin Peay State University and is a member of the Clarksville Roundtable. Max presented on Twins John and Phillip Decker, distant relatives on his wife’s side, who lived in Evansville and in 1861 joined the Indiana 32nd , the first German Regiment, under Col. Auguste Willich. The family had emigrated to the US in 1853 and settled in Evansville in 1837. Christian Decker, father of the boys, was a wagon maker and set up shop at Main and Sycamore streets. (submitted by Patsy Sproatt, photo courtesy of Jim Cox)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

February Meeting

Our February program, “Father Abraham”, gave us a look at Abe Lincoln as a father and was ably presented by Charlie Finnerty who was formerly the Spencer County historian. The Lincoln’s had four sons: Robert Todd, was born in 1843. A second son, Edward Baker was born in 1846 and died in February, 1850. William Wallace, the third son, was born in December 1850, named for the physician who had attended Eddie. Abe had finished his one term in congress and his law practice was fairly well established in Springfield and by the time the fourth son, Thomas “Tad”, was born early in 1853, Abe had become a much more attentive father. The two younger boys would be frequent visitors to Abe’s law office and it is said they were given free reign, often using the furniture as a fort and whooping it up as boys that age will do. When the Lincolns moved to Washington, Robert was in his late teens and it was not long after that he left for the White House for Harvard. Meanwhile, Washington society and the nation (the North at least) doted on the two young Lincoln boys who apparently were given the run of the White House as they had the law office. However, much of the joy came to an end in 1862 when Willie died, probably from Typhoid. Tad was devastated by Willie’s death and then just over two years later suffered the death of his father.

Tad died in 1871 at age 18, possibly from Tuberculosis. Following his graduation from Harvard Robert was commissioned a Captain and served under Grant. He passed the bar and built a successful career, avoiding politics until 1881 when he served as Secretary of War until 1885 and from 1889 to 1893 as Ambassador to the UK. He spent most of his time in Vermont where his home, Hildreth, is preserved. Robert died in 1926, and the last of the Lincoln line died in 1984. (Submitted by Patsy Sproatt. Photo courtesy Steve Kweskin)

Friday, January 22, 2010

January Meeting

At our well-attended January meeting, we welcomed Bill Bartelt, author of "There I Grew Up: Remembering Lincoln's Indiana Youth". His book was first published in July 2008, and since reprinted once. It is currently limited in it's availability, but Bill promised to contact the Indiana Historical Society to learn when there will be a third printing. His roundtable program was entitled “Abe and Me”, and Bill recounted his long interest in Abraham Lincoln, which began when Bill was five years old. A retired AP History teacher in the Evansville School System, he supplemented his presentation with personal photos from his summer recesses spent working as interpretive ranger at the Lincoln National Boyhood Memorial. Over his thirty plus years of teaching, the knowledge and interest in Lincoln grew and upon retirement he proposed to the IHS the writing of his book. Bill discussed his extensive research efforts, and added many tidbits of historical facts and papers he uncovered during this effort. (Photo courtesy Steve Kweskin)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

December Meeting

During our December meeting, we held our annual Trivia program competition consisting of teams presented with questions by moderator Larry Morris. This photo is an example of just the type of question which might be offered in the game.... In this photo we see: a.) Union officers relaxing prior to the Battle of the Wilderness; b.) Four Provost Marshals of the 3rd U.S. Corps; c.) Several examples of Union officers' uniforms and accouterments; or d.) SICWRT member Larry Harms and three of his buddies at a recent gathering of re-enactors?

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Thomas Flagel was our guest speaker for the September meeting. Author and professor, Mr. Flagel teaches American History at Columbia State Community College in Tennessee. He holds degrees from Loras College (B.A. History), Kansas State University (M.A. European History), Creighton University (M.A. International Relations), and has studied at the University of Virginia. Originally from Iowa, he has also lived in Austria and the Czech Republic. Among his ancestors are several Civil War veterans. He has authored the following books: The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War, The History Buff’s Guide to Gettysburg. The History Buff’s Guide to the Presidents, and The History Buff’s Guide to World War II.

PROGRAM: “With the Desperation of Demons: How the Press Reported the Battle of Franklin.” Through their research historians have given us a detailed account of how the Battle of Franklin claimed 10,000 casualities in less than five hours. For the people that lived during that time their main source of news about this and other battles was the newspapers.

During the Civil War there were approximately 2,500 newspapers with 800 in the South. Reporters faced a difficult job since many generals did not want them following the troops. Gen. Sherman stated he would rather have spies in camp than have reporters. The Southern presses suffered a great disadvantage as Union troops advanced and destroyed printing facilities, telegraphs, and railroads. These losses could not easily be replaced. Northern cities could get the news from the front very quickly compared to the South. For example, Chicago would get the news about the Battle of Franklin the next day from the New York Times, while the Jacksonville Republican, only 100 miles from Franklin, would take two weeks to reach print. Newspaper reports often contained several inaccuracies. Confederate Gen. Hiram B. Granbury had his named spelled several ways. A General Williams was reported killed in action and he did not exist. In the South it was wrongly believed that Gen. Hood had won and recaptured Nashville. Newspaper reporters were eyewitnesses to one of the most memorable conflicts in history. They left a record that was brilliant, but at other times marred by shoddy journalism. They were however the American public’s primary source of information.



Our winners for the September book raffle were: Steve Kweskin, Jerry Dill, and Dennis Hutchinson. Remember, if you have any books you would like to donate for the raffle, please bring them to the next meeting. (LM)

THE REST OF THE STORY: More “Digging” the Civil War

Georgia Southern University students have completed their second summer of the archaeological dig at Camp Lawton, the Confederate run prisoner of war camp located just north of Millen, Georgia. Project director Dr. Sue Moore called the amount and variety of artifacts found this summer as “stunning”. New artifacts include a soldier’s ring with the 3rd Corps insignia, a grocery token from Michigan, suspender buckles and a pocket knife. Foreign coins have been found which indicates that they may have belonged to Union soldiers that joined the army as soon as they arrived in the U.S. This camp was constructed in 1864 and housed more than 10,000 Union prisoners for six weeks before evacuation caused by Sherman’s approach on his “March to the Sea”. (BE)

Source: civil-war-prison-comes-to-life


"In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free. Honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth."

President Abraham Lincoln, message to Congress, 1862 (LM)

NOTE: You might have noticed some initials at the ends of sections of the newsletter such as BE or LM. They stand for your newsletter editors Bill Emmick and Larry Morris. They let you know who contributed to the article in case you have some further questions.


The Red Bank Reunion Band will present an all new program for 2012.To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, they have researched and rehearsed a program using the songs and stories of the Hope Indiana Coronet Band. (LM)


Oct. 4, 1861 — The USS South Carolina captured 4,000 to 5,000 stands of arms when the Confederate schooners Ezlida and Joseph H. Toone were taken near South Pass of the Mississippi River, south of New Orleans.

Oct. 7, 1861 — General John C. Fremont sets out to attack General Sterling Price in Missouri.

Oct. 10, 1861 — President Jefferson Davis recomends the use of blacks as laborers for the Confederate army.

Oct. 14, 1861 — President Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus. Oct. 16, 1861 — Union forces take back Lexington, Missouri

Oct. 21, 1861 — Col. Edward Baker, U.S. Senator from Oregon and a personal friend of Lincoln’s, is killed at Ball’s Bluff on the Potomac.

Oct. 24, 1861 — In western Virginia, the people vote to form a new state. (BE)/(LM)


October 20, 2011 – Red Bank Reunion Band

November 17, 2011 – Terry Hughes "The War Comes to Fredricktown"

December 15, 2011 – Trivia Contest


October 20, 2011 — Band

November 17, 2011 — Ron and Patsy Sproatt

December 15, 2011 — Phil Hare


The Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable is open to membership to anyone interested in learning more about the U.S. Civil War. Meetings are held monthly on the third Thursday of each month at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in downtown Evansville, Indiana at 7:00 p.m. Dues are $15.00 per family for a year and are due in January of each year. If you still owe dues for this year, be sure to see Ron Sproatt at our next meeting. Members are always encouraged to share information they have about any civil war topic by passing it along to the newsletter editors.

SICWRT officers are: Chairman – Alan Elsner; Treasurer – Ron Sproatt; Program Committee – Tom Murray and Larry Harms; Newsletter Editors – Bill Emmick and Larry Morris; Book Raffle Chairman – Larry Morris