Schedule: 2017-18 (Tentative)


Sept. 13, 2017 (Wednesday) — Civil War Monuments in the 21st Century: Relevant Historical Artifacts or Relics of a Past Best Forgotten

This program will focus on the recent controversies involving the removal, the relocation, and in a few cases, the destruction of Civil War monuments, mainly in the South.  Brian Schoen will place these monuments in historical context by discussing when they were erected and what they represented to the people responsible for them.  After these opening remarks, those present will be encouraged to engage in a give and take on the hotly contested issue so much in the news. If, as historian Carl Becker claimed long ago, “History is what the present chooses to remember about the past,” who and what do we wish to commemorate? How do we, as a society, deal with previous generations’ answers to those questions, both those that took form in the stone and bronze statues peppering our public landscape and those that never made it off the drawing board?  Join us for what promises to be a vibrant and highly relevant conversation.

Oct. 11, 2017 (Wednesday)  – Cancelled

Nov. 8, 2017 (Wednesday) — “Glory to God in the Highest, Ohio Has Save the Nation”: Buckeye State Politics During the War

Brian Schoen will present an in-depth look at the internal politics of the Buckeye State during the war. Among other things, he will explore the shifting political alliances that occurred as the war progressed and discuss the election results in 1860, 1863 and 1864 on a county-level basis that gives some insight into regional differences of opinion that existed at the time. The 1863 gubernatorial election is particularly instructive and of local interest since it pitted Ohio Alumnus John Brough, of Washington County, against Peace Democrat Clement Vallandigham, who was a national leader of the Copperhead movement. Bough was a War Democrat, who also had the Republican nomination and was running as a “fusion” candidate. Come prepared to be surprised at what you discover about these elections and the role played by Southeastern Ohio citizens.

Jan. 10, 2018 (Wednesday) — Generals & Civilian Leaders:  Good, Bad and Ugly

Departing slightly from the previous schedule, David Frey will talk about Civil War high command.  Drawing from various sources, including research for his recently published book, David will share some informal insights, reflections, and ruminations about the top command, military as well as civilian, during the Civil War. He will discuss how the commands are formed, how they evolved during the war, how they compared, and their influences upon the war’s outcome. David promises to provide ample opportunity for member input to the discussion.

Feb. 14, 2018 (Wednesday) — Naval Architecture of the Civil War Era
The naval engineers and designers of the 1850s were experimenting with propulsion systems, weapons, and armament. When the Civil War began both sides had a variety of options as to what they should and could build. We will explore those experiments and how successful they were. We will also look at whether these experiments had an impact on the war itself and on the future of the US Navy.

March 14, 2018 (Wednesday) – Civil War Favorites

This will be an open-ended, freewheeling program, in which members will share the favorite things that interest them about the late War of Rebellion.  This could include a political or military issue, civilian or military personalities, units, battles, general war-related books, movies, family histories, diaries, specific ancestors, or a pet peeve.  While those attending will be encouraged to participate in the discussion, such participation is optional and not mandatory.  You are welcome to simply sit back, relax, and observe the discussion. 

April 11, 2018 (Wednesday) – Intrepid Mariners

John Fazio will make a PowerPoint presentation about the saga of the only major battle between ocean-going vessels in the Civil War. John A. Winslow and Raphael Semmes had become best friends while serving together during the Mexican War. However, during the Civil War, Semmes captained the C.S.S. Sumter and the C.S.S. Alabama and became the scourge of Federal commercial shipping, sinking or capturing 85 merchant ships and one Union warship. As Captain of the U.S.S. Kearsarge, Winslow pursued his former friend and the Alabama for 14 months before cornering him off the coast of Cherbourg, France, where the two ships fought to the death. Their last view of each other and the action taken by Winslow in consequence of it is the stuff of legend. The story is not only history; it is supreme literature.

May 9, 2017 (Wednesday) “A-mouldering in the grave”:  John Brown’s raid and the Abolitionist Cause on the eve of the Civil War

You know the story of John Brown’s raid. But do you know the story of where, how, and why the plot was hatched?  Ever heard of John Brown’s “constitution,” his Canadian “founders,” or the British military man that Brown hired to train his troops, a man who betrayed Brown’s cause to leading northern politicians?  What about the story of James Redpath, a British journalist who would eulogize Brown and then dodge federal officials trying to get him to testify, before becoming a promoter of African-American emigration to Haiti.  This talk by Brian Schoen will explore the dynamics leading up to the raid and its aftermath, as well as its meaning in the context of the times and for a nation that would — within a year — be on the brink of war.

Other topics that may be substituted for one or more of the above, depending on the availability of outside speakers and/or the discretion of the Steering Committee: 

1. Flamboyant Generals (Frey, et al)

This would be a roundtable discussion of some of the most eccentric and flamboyant generals of the late rebellion.  Possible candidates include George Custer, Stonewall Jackson, Judson Kilpatrick, David Hunter, Thomas Francis Meagher, Nathan Forrest, Don Carlos Buell, Thomas Maley Harris, and John C. Frémont.

2. Book Review Session

Members of the Steering Committee and other attendees review books they read recently.  No review to be longer than ten minutes.

3. Local Luminaries in the War

Steering Committee members will each study up on one of the local guys who made a name for himself during the war make a brief report to the assembled masses on that individual. Then after these presentations, a round table discussion will follow. Men to be considered are: Charles H. Grosvenor, Milton Holland, Jasper North, Wm Houlton and William Richey. The last four were all recipients of the MOH.

4. Kansas-Nebraska Act 
Michael Wood, perhaps with financial help from the History Department)
5.  Big Deal, Little Deal, Part II.