Schedule for 2014-15

Wednesday, Sept. 10 — 75th Ohio Infantry.  David Frey will make a presentation on this regiment, which was recruited and organized in late 1861 by the son of a U.S. Supreme Court justice who famously wrote a blistering dissent in the Dred Scot case. The regiment was formed from several southern Ohio counties including Athens County where approximately 40 of its members are buried. The 75th was smack dab in the middle of and suffered heavy casualties during three significant battles, including Chancellorsville, at Chinn Ridge protecting Pope’s retreat from Second Manassas, and the first and second days of Gettysburg. After Gettysburg the regiment had become so wrecked that it had to be removed from the Army of the Potomac to be sent to Florida where it was converted to mounted infantry, but was further involved in additional battles helping to tighten the blockade. Although not as famous as the Iron Brigade, neither was it a typical regiment that might see only occasional action. Instead in little more than eighteen months the ranks 75th were severely reduced by hard, sometimes desperately savage fighting that helped to preserve the Army of the Potomac for later fighting. Learning more about our 75th is an excellent way of becoming acquainted with the dedication and valor of everyday soldiers who fought in the Civil War while refreshing your memories about these strategically important battles.

Wednesday, Oct. 8 — 18th Ohio and the Boys from Athens Help Save the Union.  Scott Diezman and Glenn Davis will do a presentation on the formation, recruitment, training and engagements of the 18th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  Scott describes their presentation this way: “In October, 1861, a group anxious and patriotic men from Athens County and other surrounding counties formed the 18th OVI to do their part in putting down the Southern rebellion.  The unit trained at Camp Wool in Athens, under the command of Col. Timothy Stanley and soon set out to make their mark on history.  Our presentation will highlight key events that forged this regiment into one of the best units in the Army of the Cumberland and earned them numerous citations for valor.  The climax of the presentation centers around the Battle of Chickamauga and the pivotal role that Athens native, Lt Col Charles Grosvenor and the “Boys from Athens” played in preventing the total elimination of the Army of the Cumberland and ultimately earning their Corps Commander, Maj Gen George Henry Thomas, the nickname “The Rock of Chickamauga.”  Following the Battle of Chickamauga, we’ll take you into Chattanooga — a city under siege and end with the 18th OVI’s role in the little-known, but critical battle at Brown’s Ferry which paved the way for the final deathblow to the Confederate forces in the western theater.  You will hear the accounts of the battles and conditions first-hand from the diaries and letters of the men themselves and feel a sense of pride for the major contributions that our ancestors, ‘The Boys from Athens,’ made in preserving the Union.”

Wednesday, Nov. 12 — Music of the Civil War. Music of the Civil War. Ohio University Music Professor Allyn Reilly will speak about music in America immediately before, during, and just after the Civil War. This talk will give a brief overview of the music of the slaves, popular song and stage music, European-derived classical music, and patriotic and military music of both sides in the war. Prof. Reilly is a descendant of the David Wills in whose house President Lincoln stayed when he visited Gettysburg to deliver his famous address.

December — No Meeting.

Wednesday, Jan. 10 — Ohio generals not named Sherman or Sheridan.  This will be a true round table discussion in which participants will discuss and rank the less famous Ohio generals who made major contributions to the war.  This list will include such men as Alex McCook, William Rosecrans, one of the Ewings (Thomas, Charles, etc.), James Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Cox, William H. Lytle, William Schenck, and Don Carlos Buell.

Wednesday, Feb. 11 — Ohio’s forgotten hero of Civil War and Reconstruction: Albion Tourgée.  Carl Denbow will look at the life and legacy of Albion Tourgée, an Ohioan from Ashtabula County, who served in two different regiments during the war and was later a “carpetbagger” during Reconstruction as well as the lead attorney for Homer Plessy in Plessy vs. Ferguson.  In his brief for that case he coined the phrase “color blind justice.”

Wednesday, March 11 — The trial of Lincoln Assassination Conspirators.  A mock trial will be held of one of the conspirators.  Two possibilities are Dr. Samuel Mudd or Mrs. Mary Surratt.

Wednesday, April 8 — Civil War military communication.  This presentation by Martin Lowery will focus on the Signal Corps and the various codes used during the war to communicate on the battlefield and with both military and civilian leadership.

Wednesday, May 13 — Anaconda plan.  John Murray will lead a discussion of the importance Winfield Scott’s often misunderstood plan that played a bigger role in the war than it is sometimes given credit for.  The focus will be on the effectiveness of the blockade and deployment of river boats on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.