Schedule: 2018-19 (Tentative)

ALL MEETINGS ARE HELD ON THE SECOND WEDNESDAY OF EACH MONTH AT THE ATHENS COUNTY LIBRARY BRANCH AT 30 HOME ST. IN THE CITY OF ATHENS.   MEETINGS START AT 7:00 P.M. AND RUN FOR AN HOUR AND HALF.

Sept 12, 2018 (Wednesday) — Civil War battles far from the battlefield.  We know Confederates and Unionists fought on seemingly countless battlefronts and mobilized on homefronts. The two governments also opened up a crucial front of the war in Europe, according to Professor Brian Schoen, who will make this presentation.   On this foreign front they vied for guns, supplies, funds, and for the kind of publicity that might aid their respective side in the battle for Confederate recognition. The Civil War in Europe took place not only publicly in the press but also in secret where a number of men and women, including an interesting Confederate spy named Rebel Rose Greenlow, plotted with world leaders including Napoleon III. This talk will look at how that battle was fought and ultimately what proved key for the Union’s success.

Oct. 10, 2018 (Wednesday) – Grant and Sherman: The Ohio Friendship that Won the War. .

Noted Grant and Civil War historian Frank Scaturro makes a return trip to Athens to discuss the crucial role that the growing friendship of Ohio generals Grant and Sherman played in the prosecution of the war.  He will explore this friendship and its influences on the conduct and the ultimate success of the Union War efforts.

Grant and Sherman faced adversity in their prewar lives. When the war started, they answered the call to duty. But no one observing where they both were in 1861 would have predicted their meteoric rise to the top of the army.  Neither could anyone have predicted the tragic events that these two Ohio born and raised men would witness — the horror and the bloodshed that was of such a magnitude that it raised the question of the very survival of the Union itself. In this context, Scaturro will explore intertwining stories of Grant and Sherman from their early life to the war years and afterwards.

A word about Scaturro’s background: He is a Washington, D.C., attorney and author of one of the first scholarly books on Grant’s presidency to reassess the conventional notion that he was a failed president.  Instead in President Grant Reconsidered, he presents evidence and makes a strong case for Grant being the first civil rights president, who took decisive action to promote the civil rights of blacks and to fight for equal rights for all citizens.  Frank is also the author of a legal tome that documents the Supreme Court’s shameful retreat from the gains freedmen had made during Reconstruction.  

Nov. 14, 2018 (Wednesday) — Rufus Dawes: Ohio Man, Wisconsin Soldier 

Grandson of both a Revolutionary War Hero and the Founder of Ohio University

Rufus R. Dawes was born on July 4, 1838 in Malta, OH.  He was both the great-grandson of William Dawes, whose midnight ride (more than Paul Revere’s) altered colonial minutemen of the approach of the British army at the beginning of the Revolution and the great-grandson of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, the father of Ohio University.  

Rufus Dawes was a graduate of Marietta College, but was living in Juneau County, Wisconsin when the Civil War erupted in April 1861 and immediately raised Company K of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry.  Dawes rose in rank from Captain to Major, Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel of the regiment in 1864. During the war the 6th Wisconsin served in many major battles in the Eastern Theatre including Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania and Petersburg as one of five regiments known as the Iron Brigade. On March 15, 1865, Dawes was appointed brevet brigadier general.

Following the Civil War Dawes returned to Ohio and operated a successful wholesale lumber business in Marietta, served one-term as U.S. Congressman, and remained active as a member of the Board of Trustees at Marietta College as well as in Republican politics, veterans and civic affairs.

While on furlough in January 1864, Dawes married Mary Beman Gates. The couple had six children, including Charles G. Dawes, Vice-President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge.

This presentation will chronicle the life of this remarkable man, with a focus on his actions during the Civl War.  

Jan. 9, 2019 (Wednesday) – cancelled, weather

Feb. 13, 2019 (Wednesday) – Rebels on Lake Erie

This presentation will consist of viewing a very interesting and informative DVD on the attempt of rebels to free the Confederate officers imprisoned on Johnson Island.  After viewing the DVD, Carl J. Denbow will conduct a Q&A session about the video.  

The Rebels on Lake Erie DVD tells the story of young John Yates Beall and his abortive attempt to liberate the Confederate prisoner-of-war depot on Johnson’s Island. That prison was unique in the Civil War. It was built specifically to hold all captured Confederate soldiers. But as the war dragged on and more Confederate prisoners were captured, the prison was converted to one that held officers only — and a few political prisoners and spies. During the Civil War, more than 10,000 Confederate officers at one or another time called Johnson’s Island home.

Pirate John Yates Beall was unique as well. The wealthy Virginia plantation owner served under the legendary Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. But Beall is best known for his exploits on the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie.

Three years in the making, the documentary was written, directed and produced by Professor Kathleen Endres of the School of Communication of the University of Akron under a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council. Rebels on Lake Erie was filmed at the Johnson’s Island prisoner-of-war-depot archaeological dig; in Sandusky, Ohio; and on Governor’s Island in New York City harbor. It features photographs, maps and illustrations from libraries and archives from across the nation and Canada.

March 6, 2019 (Wednesday) – Revisiting the Emancipation Proclamation in West Virginia and Beyond
West Virginia: Carved from a Slave State and Born of War

In the fall and winter of 1862-63, President Abraham Lincoln transformed the Civil War into a revolution by issuing the preliminary and final versions of his Emancipation Proclamation. Michael Woods, associate professor of history at Marshall University, will discuss the origins, development, and effects of the two-part proclamation, paying special attention to the place of West Virginia – then in the process of statehood – in the broader story. Shrouded in myths and half-truths, the Emancipation Proclamation’s true significance and limitations become clearer by considering the relationship of the Mountain State to the politics of slavery and war.

April 10, 2019 (Wednesday) — Fighting for Our Freedom with “Unconditional Loyalty.”  

Marvin Fletcher, professor emeritus of history at Ohio University, will make a presentation on the 27th United States Colored Infantry. This regiment, like the 5th USCI, had a number of Ohio men in its ranks. It was organized at Camp Delaware in Delaware, Ohio, and began its active service on 16 January 1864. The regiment was involved in many significant actions, including: the Siege of Petersburg, the Battle of the Crater, the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, the First Battle of Fort Fisher, the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, and the Carolinas Campaign, Occupation of Raleigh, Surrender of Johnston and his army, and early Reconstruction duty in North Carolina until September 1865. 

This is a very important presentation about an aspect of the Late Rebellion that has been overlooked for way too long. Recent scholarship has revised the estimates on the number of African Americans who fought in the war to around 200,000. Lincoln himself once said that the Emancipation Proclamation and the massive influx of “colored men” into the Federal Army turned the tide of the war in favor of the Union. The regimental history of the 78th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, makes reference to this fact. It was known then by soldiers in the ranks — both black and white — but over the years it faded from pubic memory. It’s time to remember, once again!

May 8, 2019 (Wednesday) – Brian Schoen will talk about “Abraham Lincoln: The Life and Death of a Statesman.”  Details will be available soon.  Check back.

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Possible substitutes (as needed):

Your Ancestor’s Regiment, or What Did Great-granddad Do in the War?  Since many members of our CWRT have ancestors who fought in the war, we thought it would be interesting for each member who has such a relative to talk briefly about what he or she knows about that ancestor. This would be followed by a roundtable discussion of the various theaters where these ancestors fought.

Flamboyant GeneralsA true 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.

Battles of Monocacy and Ft. Stevens.  This will be a two-part presentation.  First Carl J. Denbow will discuss the Battle of Monocacy, which was a Confederate victory but delayed the rebel advance on Washington enough to allow reinforcements to be put in place so that Confederates were repulsed at Ft. Stevens. Monocacy was an ironic battle in that while it was a defeat, it probably represented the best leadership of the war for General Lew Wallace.  The second part of the meeting will be a discussion of Ft. Stevens lead by David Frey.  Some have called this campaign by Jubal Early to threaten or take Washington as the last chance for victory by the Confederacy.  

Ohio cavalry. Through the good offices of Marvin Fletcher we will attempt to secure the services of Eric Wittenberg to make a presentation on Ohio cavalry units.