Twin Cities Civil War Round Table
Joe Fitzharris’ interest in the Civil War developed slowly. While teaching at the University of St. Thomas, he had to focus on a temporal era as well as a geographic region, and all American history up to 1914. He gradually focused on the Civil War era from 1810 to 1914. Quoting Carol Reardon from Penn State, “All good military historians do at least two wars.” World War II became his second focus.
“Civil War round tables were a well-kept secret until John Uldrich bought in a dentist, the founder of the Civil War Medicine Museum in Frederick, MD, to speak on wartime medicine. Uldrich contacted me to speak to my Civil War seminar,” Joe shared. After that, Roger Johnson invited Joe to speak on the human and financial costs of the Dakota Uprising. Joe joined the TCCWRT in 1993 and has served as Vice President, President, and Director. He’s done much research on the Third Minnesota Infantry, which has led to many presentations here and there. In 2019, his book “The Hardest Lot of Men” was published.
He recalls the many locations the TCCWRT called home, fondly remembering the Normandy Inn’s popovers, the Officers’ Club bar, and the current KOC’s “pretty darned good food.” But what keeps him coming back is the people and the camaraderie.
Joe knows that there were 11 Fitzharrises who served in the Union forces, and one or two of them might be direct ancestors. His areas of interest are several: the soldiers, their morale, unit cohesion, and experiences, 2) counter-and anti-guerrilla operations, and 3) logistics.
However, his favorite Civil War campaign where “the war was won and lost in the west,” is Rosecrans’ vastly underrated Tullahoma Campaign. “Pushing Bragg out of Tennessee and taking Chattanooga was more important than taking Vicksburg, and vastly more important than Meade’s holding action in Pennsylvania. However, Rosecrans’ failure at Chickamauga helped to obscure the value of his prior campaigning.”
One thing most people don’t know about Joe is that he was a Visiting Associate Professor of Soil Science at the U of M, studying meteorology and climatology as part of a long-term study of Minnesota Agricultural productivity.
Throughout his career in teaching, both at St. Thomas University and the Senior Center for Senior Citizen Education (now call the Selin Center within St. Thomas), he values the friendships he made with the students who came back year after year to learn from his courses.
Our featured member of the month is Jim Uecker. He joined the TCCWRT in 2014. He says that he has always been interested in the Civil War since he was in grade school. He had a replica Civil War Union kepi that he wore every day to school and on the playground until it wore out. He was a history major at Gustavus Adolphus College where he majored in European and American History.
Jim grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota called Meridan, halfway between Owatonna and Waseca. His dad managed the creamery and there were many other small businesses there, including a studio where artist Jim Stuart lived. Today, the only surviving business is the expanded grain elevator. As a child, he was allergic to ragweed, so his parents sent him to Camp Warren in northern Minnesota from July until Labor Day every year to avoid the ragweed at home.
Jim survived a hunting accident at age 15 when a friend accidentally discharged a 12-gauge shotgun several feet from his thigh, which took the entire charge but fortunately struck only muscle.
His wife, brother, and daughter are also interested in genealogy and the Civil War. His wife Jane recently joined the TCCWRT at our September meeting.
Jim enjoys our monthly meetings and hearing the personal histories of some of our members. He finds it very interesting how 158 years after the end of the Civil War it still has an impact on our society and politics.
He has some ancestors that were indirectly involved in the Civil War. He shares that his great-great grandfather, Ferdinand Spaude, was a Private in the Hutchinson Guards during the 1862 Dakota uprising for 70 days and that they were considered a Volunteer organization of the Union Army until disbanded. Jane’s great-great grandfather was in the Michigan Cavalry Volunteers which were involved in many minor skirmishes, the Battle of Cold Harbor, and were present at the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox.
Jim has toured Gettysburg twice. As a Marine stationed at Quantico, he toured Fredericksburg and Bull Run. He has personal military history as a Marine Captain artillery officer from October 1965 until December 1968 with service in Vietnam from June 1967 to June 1968. He was part of the Department of Defense’s experiment with creating a Searchlight Battery, including tactics, for nighttime Firebase Defense against Viet Cong and North Vietnam regular forces. In late February 1967 he was promoted to Captain and became Commanding Officer of B Battery, 1st Battalion, 13th Marine Regiment which was then located at the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Our member of the month is Deb Bachrach. She was introduced to our TCCWRT by Mitch and Sally Rubinstein whom she met when they were all graduate school students in European history at the University of Minnesota. When she retired about 15 years ago, they suggested that perhaps she may be interested in our Civil War Round Table. She came to a meeting and was hooked and has been a member for about 10 years. She now has a collection of books on this subject and has tremendously enjoyed having extended her fields of interest.
Her husband, Berner, who sadly passed away in July, 2023, shared her history interest. He had retired after teaching at the U of M for over 50 years as the History Department Senior Medievalist. They very much enjoyed discussing history strategy together.
What she has enjoyed about the TCCWRT is learning new things as she had almost no familiarity with American History and takes pleasure in learning about her own country. She has no ancestors associated with the Civil War, as she says they were all from eastern Europe. So, for her this subject has been purely of intellectual and historical interest.
She is extremely impressed with the number of people locally who are amateur historians, and she has tremendously enjoyed their enthusiasm. However, she wishes that more people were interested in their own history and would invest their time and energy in pursuing that subject.
When asked about her favorite Civil War battlefield, she relays the story of taking a trip to Gettysburg when her boys were quite small. She and her husband were taking a long walk around the battlefield and suddenly discovered that they could not find their sons. After a panicked search they discovered them on Little Round Top, listening to a lecture. They extolled to their parents the virtues of Major General Joshua Chamberlain, but particularly about the Minnesota soldiers who fought in the battle of Little Round Top. She says it was then that they discovered that their Minnesota-born sons were indeed Minnesotans unlike their New Yorker parents. What a surprise she says! She also hopes to visit Chancellorsville someday.
Her only family military history is that her dad served in World War II as a dentist working on soldiers of the 82nd before they left for Europe.
She says that she has been fascinated by military history for such a long time and likes being around people who share this interest. She added that the Civil War Round Table has filled this space long missing from her interests.
Our member profile this month is Tom McManus. He became a member of our Twin Cities Civil War Round Table in 2015. Tom shares he has always been interested in history, and by high school he had read several books about the Civil War. He enjoys our monthly meetings and the newsletters.
On his mother’s side, he has ancestors who fought in Ohio regiments but doesn’t know any of the particulars of their involvement. He intends to dig into their histories to find out more about what they did and where they served.
Tom finds the battles, troop movements, attacks, and tactics to be the most interesting about the Civil War. His favorite battle is Gettysburg because of the important part that the 1st Minnesota played. He has also traveled to most of the other major battle sites and has enjoyed them all.
He grew up in St. Paul, being the second of four brothers but has no sisters. He attended a minor seminary near Buffalo, NY during his ninth, tenth, and half of the eleventh grades, so he experienced living away from home and his parents at an early age. He returned home and graduated from Cretin High School in St. Paul. He then attended the University of Minnesota for his undergraduate degree and attended the University of Minnesota Law School.
He enlisted in the Navy for 3-1/2 years where he served as a lawyer in the JAG Corps, mostly as defense counsel in low-level court martials. He was stationed on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.
After he got out of the Navy, he spent some time in private law practice and then worked as an attorney for various title insurance companies and agencies until he retired in 2008.
Our featured member is Dennis Garoutte. His Civil War interest began with a quote most recently shared by Ron Chernow in his 2017 book, Grant: “Then came an immortal line that would be emblazoned in the press and trail him forever: ‘[I] propose to fight it out on this line if it takes me all summer.’ In an artful piece of editing, Grant struck out the word ‘me’ which might have sounded vain; that deletion turned him into an impersonal force of nature. Grant didn’t realize the force of his line until it shouted from newspaper headlines several days later. Nothing since the ‘unconditional surrender’ line at Fort Donelson had gripped the public imagination quite so powerfully.”
That line “gripped my personal imagination” as a seventh-grade history student and my interest in the Civil War began there. My interest was accelerated upon my inheritance of a small Civil War library, (probably 40+ books), along with enough time in retirement to begin reading them.
I grew up on a farm within the limits of what was then legislatively defined as the Village of Wilder, Minnesota. Our family farm was the original site of the Breck School which is now located in Golden Valley. The Breck facility abandoned its Wilder campus sometime around 1915 and the original Breck School Chapel in Wilder was repurposed to become a barn. Our family’s five cows were milked twice a day in that converted chapel.
In 1966 I volunteered for the draft. After basic training and the completion of military police training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, I was sent to West Germany as a security guard at a NATO weapons depot within the Black Forest.
In 2014 I discovered the TCCWRT due to my existing membership in the Friends of Gettysburg Foundation and I became a TCCWRT member shortly thereafter.
I have visited Wilson’s Creek, Gettysburg, Fort Sumter, Antietam, and the Hunley Submarine Museum in Charleston. My last Gettysburg visit included, among other things, viewing the refurbished Cyclorama, a tour of the David Wills house, and a tour of the Jennie Wade house. Those were followed the next day by a self-guided auto tour using a CD. The CD jacket stated the tour time to be about four hours. To the slight irritation of my wife, I/we spent the entire eight-hour day touring the battlefield, [my wife, Kathy, had envisioned spending a few afternoon hours enjoying retail therapy, aka shopping]. I realized we had bypassed the statue of General John Buford, so the next day we viewed the Buford monument before leaving for home.
My soon-to-be great grandmother became a widow during the siege of Vicksburg. Her husband, William A. West, was a member of Iowa’s 17th infantry regiment. The 17th was one of the units ordered to immediately advance into the crater/opening in the Rebel line that was caused by the detonation of underground explosives. Private West was mortally wounded during that charge and succumbed twelve days later. His widow, my great grandmother, (Mary Ann King West), married my great grandfather shortly after the war. So my favorite Civil War site is one I have yet to see: Vicksburg.
To me the most interesting parts of the Civil War are the people issues. There is a story of a Federal soldier taken prisoner by the rebels and after many months in a POW Camp he was exchanged. Upon returning to his original unit, his mess mates accompanied him to a nearby creek for a bath. They soon discovered that something was amiss with the skin on his torso. However, it was not a problem with his skin as further scrubbing revealed a shirt adhered to his skin. The soldier’s response to this discovery was something to the effect, “Oh, my gosh, I thought that I had lost that shirt months ago.” The remnants of the shirt were removed and floated away with the current.
My largest disappointment in the study of the Civil War is negative judgments of the folks that lived half past the 19th century by people using 21st century values as a basis for their criticism of those folks.
Also, I think we sometimes become enthralled with the mystic of far distant Civil War sites to the detriment of interesting displays much closer to us. I think such a display is the GAR Hall in Litchfield, Minnesota. I was told that it is one of only three remaining pristine GAR Halls in the country and it, along with the collection of artifacts on display there, is I believe to be one of Minnesota’s GEMS.
Jane and Larry Koenig
Our featured members this month are the Koenigs. Larry and Jane have been members of the TCCWRT since 2010.
“We didn’t know about the CWRT until after the big trip we took in 2008. We happened on a web site about the TCCWRT and saw the name of Bob Paoli as one of the officers. We knew Bob and Mary as they were neighbors in Richfield in the 60s and early 70s. When we found out the TCCWRT met at the Officers’ Club we decided to investigate it. When we learned this club focused on the Civil War we were committed and joined.
When we were first married Larry was a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army. He requested to be assigned to one of the military posts along our U.S. eastern coast. Our first assignment was at Ft. Lee, Virginia. This location was perfect for weekend excursions to places of historical significance. We both loved history, especially U.S. history.
Since our first home was at Ft. Lee, we were very close to the Petersburg National Battlefield Park, the location of the Siege of Petersburg. We could walk to this site from where we lived. This crater is still visible today. Richmond was another place we found fascinating. Learning about the Confederacy was as much of a part of our history as learning about the Union.
Later that fall, Larry was reassigned to Ft. Holabird, in Baltimore, Maryland. This was a great opportunity to visit more Civil War sites, including Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. We’ve been to Gettysburg a half dozen times. Each time we would learn more about that famous battlefield. The field where Pickett’s Charge had taken place, when we visited, was full of billowing long grass, so quiet and peaceful. It was hard to visualize how devastating that battle was, 100 years later now so peaceful and serene.
Years later in 2008 we took an in-depth three-week trip to Shiloh, Stones River, Chattanooga, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Chickamauga, Antietam and Vicksburg. Franklin, Tennessee was especially interesting after having read a historical fictional novel, Widow of the South. That book described a burial place that was established on the Carnton plantation home of the widow. She, with help, went out into the battlefield to collect the bodies of dead Confederate soldiers. She brought them to her plantation’s private cemetery for a proper burial. She used information she found from Bibles or letters she found on the soldiers’ bodies to determine which state each soldier came from. She buried them with others from their home state so they could be with their comrades. She kept records so families would find and locate their sons’ resting place. Larry and I walked through her cemetery. It was a holy place.
Several years ago, we met some people from Franklin when we were on a Rhodes Scholar trip. These people shared that Franklin had just celebrated 150 years of the Battle of Franklin. To memorialize that horrific battle the people of Franklin place nearly 10,000 luminaries at the battle site commemorating the 9,760 Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that battle. The towns people were stunned to think each burning luminary represented a dead man!
One of the most poignant stops on that trip was visiting Andersonville Prison, also known as Camp Sumter. We recommend the book, Andersonville, the Last Depot by William Marvel. It gives a detailed picture of the prison conditions and disease that consumed many at that prison.
We stopped at the Appomattox Court House. I couldn’t believe we were standing in the very room where one of the most significant events of our American history took place, Lee’s surrender to Grant. It felt like a most sacred space.
One thing most CWRT member do not know about us happened in Nov. 1963. After President Kennedy was assassinated, we went to Washington, D.C. to witness the solemn funeral cortege after it left the White House to the U.S. Capitol. We stood along the sidewalk as Mrs. Kennedy, Caroline and John Jr. exited their car. We saw that little boy salute his daddy. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.
Jane’s interest in the involvement of the US Army in 1863 began when she was in high school. She grew up in Wabasso, a little town not too far from Fr. Ridgley. We often visited this state park and learned how the US army helped the early settlers during the Indian Uprising of 1862. In high school she wrote an in-depth research paper about that war and how devastating it was to both the early settlers and the Native Americans who lived in that area.
We enjoy being part of the TCCWRT. We have met some very nice and interesting people. We come away from each meeting with more information on the bloody war.”
Joyce Lange Hinderks was born at Watertown, MN, but grew up on a farm in Minnetrista. She developed her interest in history from her father – who was a great storyteller. She loves history because it is about people – their hopes, their dreams, and their struggles.
Joyce attended St Cloud State college, graduating with a degree in World and American history and German. While at St Cloud, she met her future husband, Jim Hinderks.
She taught history and German at Concordia Academy in Bloomington. She and Jim led a trip to the four German speaking countries with the German students. When their children were small; Joyce had a private piano studio in her home and taught piano. She moved to Dayton Hudson Corporation when the children were older and was in management in their Credit Department. In 1976, at the time of the Bicentennial, she began to ‘work on’ a Lange family tree. Using her daughter’s tape recorder from Sears, Joyce’s family interviewed her aunts and uncles – recording their stories.
Joyce learned that her Great Grandfather August Lange was in the Civil War. Working full-time at that point, there was little time to pursue more information. When Joyce retired from Dayton-Hudson Corp in 2004, she signed up for Ancestry.com and began researching August Lange. She found his military records which showed that he served with the 2nd Iowa Infantry – signing up in Keokuk, Iowa.
When she told Jim about the location of the records, he said “We’re going to Iowa to get those,” – which they did. The records of his 2nd Iowa read like a AAA Trip Tik. Exciting! While in Iowa, they were able to see firsthand the 2nd Iowa Battle Flags stored at the State Historical Society.
Using the records, Joyce and Jim researched the battles and began giving presentations to various civic and Civil War groups. In 2012 they presented to the Keokuk, Iowa, Civil War Re-enactment Weekend and presented the first ever local historical group (WAHS) exhibit at the Carver County Historical Society. They do this to honor her Great grandfather’s service. They love meeting people and hearing their stories.
After the war, Joyce’s Great Grandfather came to Watertown, MN and cleared land on Oak Lake. The forest was part of “The Big Woods” of Laura Ingalls Wilder fame. Living there, he and nine other men founded St. Peter’s Lutheran Church (in 1867) which is still in existence. Joyce and Jim were part of the 150th anniversary of the church. The anniversary ‘cemetery crawl’ consisted of historical depictions of people who had been members of the church.
For the Civil War Sesquicentennial kick-off in 2011, they took a two-week trip retracing the route of the 2nd Iowa from Ft. Henry and Donelson, to Atlanta, the route to the Sea, the March through the Carolinas and the Grand Review in Washington D.C. in which Sherman himself asked the 2nd Iowa to lead the troops down Pennsylvania Avenue.
While in Smithfield, NC, they were able to stand on the courthouse ground on which Sherman stood and told his troops that Lincoln had been assassinated. Joyce said it brought tears to her eyes.
They were in Charleston, SC, for the reenactment of the day the battle at Fort Sumter had begun on April 12, 1861. The cannons went off at 4:00 am – many parents were there with their children.
They attended the Chambersburg, PA, seminar in 2015. They traveled to Gettysburg and were part of Ed Bearss’ tour of Gettysburg, Ford Theater, Booth House Tavern, Dr. Mudd house, Garrett farm, etc. Lincoln is Joyce’s most regarded Civil War figure and it was great to tour these places with Ed.
They learned of the TCCWRT from an article in the Mpls Tribune and became members in 2012. Jim served as President during the 60th Anniversary of the TCCWRT in 2015 and their most memorable time was interviewing the four founders who were still active.
Joyce and Jim have a daughter and son, two grandsons, and reside in Minnetonka.
Our featured TCCWRT member this month is Larry Pearson. Larry is a Minnesota native, born and raised here, grew up in Richfield and now has been a resident of Bloomington for over 40 years.
Around 1985, he and some of his family were on a trip to Washington, D.C. and other historic locations in the East when he decided to stop for a day at Gettysburg. He had read about the battle and wanted to look at the area where it took place. Nothing like that had ever happened in Minnesota. He was immediately fascinated by the monuments and the sacred feeling of the battlefield. He’s been deeply interested in the Civil War ever since that visit.
He became aware of the TCCWRT when his good friend, Mark Pridgeon, invited him to join about 20 years ago. He and Mark are battlefield tramping companions after three trips to see most of the battlefields in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Over the years, Larry has enjoyed the meetings, meals, and numerous friends he’s made in the TCCWRT.
Also, subsequent to joining the round table, Larry heard about some old, retired professor of history at St. Thomas University who thought he knew something about the Civil War and was offering a five-year series of classes for elderly folks about that war. Meeting Dr. Joe Fitzharris and attending those and even more classes offered by him has been a special highlight of Larry’s involvement in local Civil War programs.
Another special part of the TCCWRT for Larry is the involvement of his daughter, Annalisa. She joined a few years ago and attends almost every monthly meeting. Larry is very proud to have her involved and interested in something he cares about very much.
Finally, because all the ancestors he knew about came over from Sweden in the beginning of the last century, he thought he didn’t have any ancestral connection to the Civil War. However, with his wife’s help and ancestral research, he discovered a few years ago that his maternal grandmother was of English origin, not Swedish and her grandfather (Larry’ great, great grandfather) immigrated from western England in the early 1840s, settling in Grant County, Wisconsin. His name was James Edward Greenhalgh (green-haw) and he fathered nine children, one of whom was named General George Washington Greenhalgh, according to Ancestry and the 1860 census (full name included the title). Unfortunately, General George died when he was 20 years old.
In 1864, at age 41, James Greenhalgh enlisted in the 12th Wisconsin Infantry (maybe to get away from all those kids – who knows) and joined the regiment in Atlanta with Sherman’s army.
He was with them all the way through the March to the Sea, the Carolina’s campaigns and the Grand March in Washington. James and his regiment were mustered out in July of 1865. Fortunately, he survived his service, returning to Wisconsin and had four more children including Larry’s great grandfather, John Henry Greenhalgh.
Gettysburg is still Larry’s favorite battlefield of all he’s visited in the East. He’s been there at least a half-dozen times over the years, including attending a few weekend seminars to learn more about the battle. Because of age and mobility issues, he hasn’t been back for a while but hopes to get there at least one more time.
In the meantime, he will continue to enjoy the TCCWRT meetings. In addition to a group of friends from his church, Oak Grove Presbyterian in Bloomington, he has friends and co-workers, particularly Dr. Glenn Corliss, from his 25 years of employment at General Mills, whom he regularly sees at the TCCWRT.
Our featured member this month is Kiki Sonnen. Kiki has been a member of the TCCWRT since 2014. She first became interested in the Civil War during the centennial 1961-1965 and reading Bruce Catton’s books.
Her great-grandparents lived in New Ulm at the time of the U.S.-Dakota war. Her great-grandmother gave cookies to the Dakhota children and their mothers who came to the door asking for food. When the Dakhota attacked, they left their home untouched but did burn the neighbors’ homes and killed some of these same neighbors. Her great-grandparents later left that area and moved to St Paul. Kiki’s brother, Stuart, lived in Georgia and shared her interest in history. Together, they toured Savannah where they discovered a cemetery which General Sherman used as a corral for the horses and mules, trampling over the graves. She added that people in the area are still upset about that to this day.
What she finds most interesting about the Civil War are the people involved, such as Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Grant, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Joshua Chamberlain and the 1st Minnesotans who held the line at Plum Run in Gettysburg. She also finds interesting the clash of ideas during this time: slavery vs. free states’ rights, Union temperance movement, religious revival, medical advancements, and the role of women outside the home.
Kiki is a lifelong resident of St Paul. She earned a BA from the University of Minnesota in social work and American history. She worked as a financial assistance officer at Ramsey County. She has also been a community organizer for Hamline-Midway coalition, aide to a City Councilmember, was elected three times to be a City councilmember for the 4th Ward in St. Paul, and an executive director for a social service agency in Hennepin County. Her last position was a crime analyst for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s department until she retired in 2014.
Kiki enjoys the people in the TCCWRT, always learning something from others at her table. She enjoys the speakers, the food, and the annual symposium.
Her current hobbies are birding, sketching, and gardening. Most meaningful to her, she tries to follow the philosophy of her late husband. Even though he had multiple medical problems, he lived every day to the hilt, sick or well, and loved life. She has tried to follow his example in her own life.
Clark Hauschildt joined the TCCWRT in 2021 after the most intense worry of COVID was past. “I was just in time to get a nifty TCCWRT coffee cup which I use often.” His interest naturally flowed from his interest in all United States’ wars. He’s read extensively on World War II but currently concentrates on the Civil War. Clark grew up in Red Wing, Minnesota, and was aware from quite a young age about the Minnesota representation in the conflict and particularly our local CW hero, Colonel William Colvill. His retirement in 2019 offered him the time he needed to participate in learning more through the TCCWRT.
When asked what he likes about the TCCWRT, he responded, “I like the diverse lecture presentations, the book purchasing resources allowing me to expand my library, and the camaraderie of people with like interests. The vast amount of information available from amazingly diverse points of view intrigues me and allows me to explore the strategies, tactics, personalities, and the political and social setting upon which it was fought.” His favorite battlefield used to be exclusively Gettysburg (visited twice), but having increased his studies, he’s discovered that each battlefield offers unique situations and lessons. Now, he says, he’s hard-pressed to name a favorite.
Clark’s German ancestors, mostly farmers, arrived in the US in the 1880s, so were not here at the time of the Civil War. As for his own military background, he shared that, “Due to my brother’s death in Vietnam when I was 14, I was classified as ‘sole surviving son’ and thus was not asked to serve.”
“I have been married for 39 years to my long-suffering wife, Debra. We have two children (daughter 33, son 31. We have lived in the same house in south Minneapolis for 36 years. I arrived in Minneapolis from Red Wing in 1975 to attend school in Minneapolis and have never regretted it. I have degrees in accounting and geography (University of Minnesota). Accounting provided my vocation, geography my avocation. Travels in the U.S. involving Civil War sites have taken me to Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New Mexico. And I have a fondness for science fiction and my interest in all the works of Isaac Asimov.”
Our member profile this month is Tara Harl (pronounced “terra” like the earth). She first joined the TCCWRT in the fall 2021. However, she was co-founder of the St. Cloud CWRT over a decade ago. In addition, her brother is past president of the Milwaukee CWRT. Tara raised her daughter in the CW Reenacting/Living History hobby and says she has a deep love for “The Boys in Blue.”
As a child, Tara lived in Virginia. Her parents took her and her siblings to the Shenandoah Valley and multiple battlefields on the east coast. While they did not know their family history then, she says, “My DNA has been haunting me ever since.”
“I have dozens of uncles/cousins from both sides that fought and died—-a few that stand out is one Indiana grandpa who was in the light artillery, fought four years, was never hurt and never lost one piece of his equipment. Missouri grandfather hurt at Wilson’s Creek, his horse was killed, cousin who was a doctor with the Iron Brigade, cousin in 1st MN, one from New Orleans’ Washington Artillery—-the opening guns at Pickett’s Charge—another cousin won the Medal of Honor in the Wheat Field at Gettysburg. Famous ancestors of mine are General Hood, General R. E. Lee, & Abraham Lincoln. The irony for me about that was how many places/events/historic moments my DNA tracks “attended” and tried to kill each other during that war—my family lines were truly ripped apart.”
Tara shares that while she has visited every major/minor CW battlefield in this country, “My soul is in the Shenandoah Valley and has always been haunted by the battle of Franklin’s Carnton Field Hospital.”
She was born on a military airfield, as her father was in the Surface Nuclear Navy for 26 years. She grew up from one end of this country to the next, and overseas. Tara’s parents were Iowa/Missouri farm kids, they planted her and her siblings on family farms in the summers to keep all the kids humble. Her brother and his wife are retired Air Force Colonels, and their daughter is an Air Force doctor. Tara’s daughter is a Navy Chaplain serving on a destroyer in Norfolk, so she lives her Navy/military career dreams vicariously through her and she makes sure Tara gets close access to aircraft carriers and her favorite creatures—fighter jets. Unfortunately for Tara, while she wanted to go to the Naval Academy and be a military pilot, she has animal induced asthma and a Naval flight surgeon said that would never happen.
Professionally, Tara’s had quite a career. “Post-Covid health challenges at the end of 2021 brought early retirement from a 42-year civilian aviation career. I am a pilot type-rated in corporate jets with international experience, have been a chief pilot and director of operations in corporate flight departments, have managed corporate airports, been a research consultant at the National Academies of Science, and worked in collegiate aviation, four years ago I became a Professor Emeritus from Kansas State University.”
What Tara most enjoys about being a member of TCCWRT is the affirmation and camaraderie of being with others who love to talk endlessly about the war years.
Since I was a boy in the 1960’s, I have always been fascinated with the American Civil War. Although I did not realize it at the time, in 1961 – 1965 the Centennial of the Civil War was being celebrated. My exposure to it was the Civil War toy soldiers sets for sale in the Sears Christmas catalog! I never did get that set, but one of my neighborhood friends did; we spent countless hours maneuvering the blue and grey soldiers across imaginary battlefields.
That interest was dormant for some years, until it was rekindled by the famous Ken Burns Civil War documentary series in 1990. After that, I began reading Civil War novels and non-fiction accounts alike. I did not realize Civil War round tables existed until in the early 2000’s when I joined the St. Croix Valley group. From there I joined our Twin Cities chapter in 2009.
I have been fortunate to visit many battlefields with members of our round table group. Probably my favorite two are Antietam and Chickamauga. The fact that both battlefields are in rural locations, and therefore are largely intact, is the biggest draw for me. Examining the terrain of the battlefields brings those battle accounts to life for me.
I have three ancestors that were union soldiers in the Civil War, all brothers born in Ireland. My great-great-grandfather was a private in the 60th New York Volunteer Infantry and participated in the Peninsula Campaign. He later came down with scarlet fever and served the rest of the war in the Veteran Reserve Corps in Washington D.C. His unit, however, the 60th New York, was at Gettysburg and was one of the pivotal units in the defense of Culp’s Hill. In addition to my grandfather, his two brothers were enlisted a year later in the New York 142nd regiment. Both were killed in action in the trenches of Petersberg, tragically near the end of the war in the Spring of 1865. On one trip to Virginia I was able to locate the grave of one of them.
My personal profile is unexciting. I retired this last year after over 40 years practicing civil law in the Twin Cities. I have a lovely wife, Becky, four adult children and nine grandchildren. The two oldest grandchildren are showing interest in the Civil War and I hope to pass on my enthusiasm to them as they grow older. My prized possession is my grandfather’s discharge papers or “walking papers” dated 1864 after his 3 year enlistment expired.
I am pleased to have made the acquaintance of so many fine amateur historians who are in our round table group. I look forward to many more enjoyable sessions both formal and informal studying the Civil War both within our round table and elsewhere. I am pleased to be serving as the new Vice President for the club this coming year.
Heather, who joined the TCCWRT in 2016, was recently voted in as a Director on our Board. Heather holds a dual membership with both the TCCWRT and St. Croix Valley and “enjoys meeting people who are as interested in history as I am, plus each Round Table speaker enriches my understanding of the Civil War time period.” She feels “the Civil War was really a pivotal point in American history, heavily influencing everything that came after. It would be hard not to be interested in it.”
“I love to read and have always been interested in history. In junior high, I read The Red Badge of Courage and was really impacted by it. When I got to college, there was a course on the Civil War & Reconstruction I desperately wanted to take because of that book. The class was only offered to upperclassmen, but I successfully made a case to be allowed to attend as a freshman. I am so thankful, as the professor retired after the next term and the course was not taught again during my time in school. I wish I had been able to let the professor know how influential the class has been on my life.”
Heather’s great-great grandfather fought with the 12th Wisconsin, in Company G. He was at Vicksburg, was wounded during the Atlanta Campaign, took part in Sherman’s March to the Sea, and was part of the Grand Review. She’s recently found two other Civil War soldiers in her family, though both are pretty indirect relatives, being great, great, grand-uncles. One of the two was in the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. The other was in Company D of the 1st Wisconsin Calvary and took part in capturing Jefferson Davis at the end of the war.
While she’s visited several battlefields, Heather is holding out on picking a favorite until she’s visited Vicksburg and Shiloh. “Vicksburg was the first action my great-great grandfather participated in. His service is something I have long been proud of, so visiting a site where he served will be special. Recently I’ve learned a large contingent of men from my hometown enlisted in the 18th Wisconsin at the start of the war. Shiloh was their first battle. It was a very harsh experience, leaving a significant number of them wounded, captured or killed, including the deaths of the unit’s captain, major and colonel. Knowing these are my hometown boys and having an idea of what they went through has already changed my expectations of what visiting Shiloh will be like.”
Heather enjoys traveling with her mother who has also caught the Civil War bug. While she seriously considered enlisting in the military several times but did not do so, she is proud of relatives who have served. She has discovered ancestors who fought in the Mexican War, War of 1812, and one who was a privateer during the Revolutionary War, licensed by the Continental Congress to harass British shipping.
Heather’s goal is to visit all 50 states, having gone to 30 so far. She lives in Eagan and has been working in the commercial insurance field for the past 20 years.
Our featured member of the month is Steve Cook. He joined our group in 2004 following his attendance at our symposium. He decided to join because he has always been interested in history, especially the Civil War. He particularity likes being a member of a group with similar interests. He enjoys sharing and learning through social interactions as well as the topical presentations.
What he finds most interesting about the Civil War is the incredible impact it had on individuals, their families, and on our society, as a whole, at the time. Also, he is amazed at the many inventions that came about because of the war which led to other post-war developments.
As far as he is aware, the ancestors that fought in the Civil War were his great grandfathers’ two brothers who enlisted in Michigan and were deployed to Ohio. Steve’s favorite battlefields are Shiloh and Gettysburg.
One thing that most people don’t know about him is that at one time he was a Chorister in the Canterbury Cathedral Choir School.
He grew up in the Rochester and also the Macalester/Groveland area of St Paul. He currently lives with his family on a hobby farm in Inver Grove Heights where he raises 5 goats, 2 llamas, 12 ornamental chickens, 2 dogs, and 2 cats.
A number of years ago he served on our Board of Directors and was Secretary/Treasurer. He has recently been elected to serve on the board again and is happy to do so.
Our featured TCCWRT member this month is Annalisa Pearson. It was her father, Larry, who introduced her to the TCCWRT experience, and she joined shortly thereafter. For as long as she can remember, her father had been interested in the Civil War. In high school, she took an Advanced Placement in United States History course, and then over an MEA break, her parents took her to Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg for the first time. Larry made sure they got a female tour guide so that she could see that there were women working in the history field as well. She loved that trip and is forever grateful to her parents for making that experience possible. Gettysburg is her favorite battlefield, but the man she calls “the man, the myth, the legend” is her father, Larry Pearson.
She loves coming to our TCCWRT meetings to learn more about Civil War history and sitting with what she calls “the table of hooligans.” She especially enjoys spending time with her dad there as she comes from a big family, and alone time with her dad is not that easy to come by.
Annalisa has four ancestors who fought for the Union. On her mom’s side there was Great Grandfathers X4 Jacob Walker of 2nd Minnesota Sergeant, Siver Wilson of 6th Regiment Iowa Calvary Company D and Christian Bloom of Wisconsin 43rd Infantry Company B. On her father’s side there was Great Grandfather X4 James Greenhalgh of Wisconsin 12th Regiment Infantry. She also has two grandfathers who fought in World War II, which also interests her. Her maternal grandparents wrote a memoir, in which her grandfather wrote about his experiences in WWII. She feels very fortunate to be able to read his words and hear his perspective. She has a letter that her paternal grandfather wrote to her father on his first birthday while he was serving in WWII. She also has a great uncle who survived Pearl Harbor.
What she finds most interesting about the Civil War is learning about the experiences of women and Black and Indigenous People of Color during and after the war. She feels it is important to have their voices represented, their impact remembered, and their stories told. She also feels a need to learn how to counter Confederate sympathizers’ arguments, learning about fact versus fiction regarding the Civil War and understanding how the Civil War is impacting society even today.
Annalisa is the youngest of five children, with 22 years between herself and her oldest sister. She was raised in Bloomington but has been temporarily living in Chattanooga. She jokingly says no Civil War history there!! She is avoiding the winter here and caring for her Irish Wolfhound who is recovering from a stroke, but she is excited to be coming home soon and attending more TCCWRT meetings.
She is a graduate of St Olaf College in Northfield MN with a degree in English Education. She is a substitute teacher and also a part-time medical editor.
Our featured member this month is Gerald (Jerry) Ogdahl. Jerry initially became interested in WWII because his father and uncles served. He followed in their footsteps and enlisted in the Army in 1965. He trained as an infantry soldier but applied for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned into the Quartermaster Corp in 1967. His first tour of duty in Vietnam was as a 2nd Lieutenant. His post headquarters there was called Long Binh, which was involved in the Tet Offensive in 1968. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and received several awards and medals including the Bronze Star. Over the next 30 years while he was on either active duty or the Army Reserve, he and his family lived in Germany, traveling the world, particularly Europe. He especially enjoyed traveling to Norway, the home of some of his ancestors. When he and his family came back to America, they also lived in many places including North and South Carolina, Virginia, and California. He enjoyed military life and when he retired he had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
While stationed at Fort Lee, he visited the Petersburg battlefield in Virginia and a small seed of interest in the Civil War was planted. He joined the TCCWRT in 2012 after attending as guest to Rod Myers, his long-time Army friend whom he had first met at Fort Bragg in 1975. What he most enjoys at our monthly meetings are the speakers and says that he learns something from each speaker. He also finds interesting the transition of Napoleon maneuvers to more modern battlefield maneuvers, and also the impact new infantry weapons and more accurate artillery pieces had on the Civil War battles.
Jerry has ancestors who lived in the New Ulm, MN area during the US-Dakota war. They are listed as survivors in the book “Dakota Dawn” by Gregory Michno. He has toured the Ft Ridgely and Wood Lake battlefields.
Born in Glenwood, MN, Jerry learned the construction business from his father, along with accounting from his mother. He earned a finance degree from St. Cloud State University. His military education includes Officer Candidate School, Officer Advance Course, and Organizational Effectiveness Staff Officer Course and Command General Staff College, both of which were the equivalent of Master degrees. While on active duty he also got a Master of Science System Management from the University of Southern California.
One fun fact about Jerry is he was selected to be an escort officer for the Bob Hope Christmas Show in Vietnam in December 1967. He had the privilege to escort Barbra MacNair and Miss World (Madaline Hartog-Bel from Peru).
His current hobbies include photography and woodworking. Jerry currently lives in Bloomington.
Our featured member this month is Yvonne Compart. Yvonne first became aware of the TCCWRT when she and her late husband, Roger, would dine at the Fort Snelling Officers’ Club on the same nights that the round table met. Neither were members at the time. Yvonne shared that Roger, who was a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, “was good with history and we would travel to other countries, including Mexico and Sweden. Roger could speak Spanish and we would walk the villages, and he always knew the history of the places we traveled to.” After Roger died in 2012, Yvonne looked for something to fill her time. She remembered the TCCWRT and joined in 2014. She enjoys learning about the Civic War and is most interested in the battle sites of Fort Sumter and Gettysburg. She enjoys the round table meetings and the speakers, but she especially enjoys socializing with others at the meetings.
Yvonne grew up on a farm near Nicollet, MN. She helped her family milk up to 30 cows there and did other farm work to help out. Her father bought her six purebred Jersey cows for her to raise. As a member of 4H, she showed her cows at county fairs and the state fair. She was particularly fond of Dolly and Flora.
She lives in Bloomington and is most proud of her working career as a speech therapist in the Hastings area school system for 42 years. Yvonne enjoys gardening with a raised garden bed. She plants rhubarb, asparagus, chives, and also plants tomatoes and green beans to wind upward on two lattices. “I get a lot of use out of that soil,” she says.
Like many other Civil War enthusiasts, Leroy Burggraff’s journey evolved over the years. He doesn’t remember ever NOT being interested in history but began with a fascination in World Wars I and II. In his mid-teens he stumbled upon a Reader’s Digest article on the 20th Maine. When an older brother moved to Pennsylvania, their visit to the Gettysburg museum and terrain had him hooked.
His early interests focused on the Army of the Potomac. But having gone on a ‘western’ history tour with Stephen Osman to sites like Vicksburg, Corinth, Shiloh, etc., he’s since become more interested in large moves and more impactful battles in that theater. Today, he reads more about the personalities of that period and the political causes and less about the battles and tactical movements.
When asked if anyone in his family shares his interest, Leroy stated, “My poor family is not so interested and were always subjected to sudden stops at historical markers along the highway. Once I discovered a group of friends in the First Minnesota Volunteers reenacting community who visit battlefields, and other like-minded friends who go on historical bus trips, I have found those trips as a great means of getting a dose of history and my family is much relieved.”
Leroy’s participation in reenacting began 2012. He loved going to Fort Snelling in the 80’s and 90’s as a visitor for Civil War Days there and always wanted to try that. When he learned that an office coworker was with the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment, he was pulled into the unit. The one thing he could never get from books was the feeling of being a part of a battle reenactment. “The hair on the back of my neck stood up when standing outside of cornfield near Sharpsburg elbow to elbow with hundreds of fellows in blue, with the sun rising, canons booming, and the sunrise obscured in smoke as we watched confederate flags moving above the corn during the 150th anniversary. I found that profoundly moving. I actually enjoy more the living history / encampment activities, often local, where we drill, bivouac and interact with guests. That part that is most enjoyable to me, to act as a teacher to folks interested in the history, often telling them for the first time that, ‘Yes, Minnesota was in the Civil War, and let me tell you about a certain charge at Gettysburg.’ Wearing the uniform and acting the part is a fantastic vehicle for Introducing others to Civil War history in a very fun, interactive, way, making it the most rewarding part of the reenacting hobby for me.” Leroy’s favorite Battlefield is Antietam, since the ground is still so much as it appeared then.
Leroy began his membership with the TCCWRT as a guest in May of 2017. He joined the next season. “What I enjoy most about TCCWRT is that I get to meet with like-minded people who share my interest in history generally, and the Civil War specifically. I’ve become acquainted with a number of people at these meetings or on our history tour bus trips with Stephen Osman, and I love to chat and catch up. I also look forward each meeting to approaching a table and not knowing exactly who I might be joining; I have met some incredibly interesting folks over dinner. I join two of my favorite fellows (Jim Coughlin and Dan Sherry) as regulars each month, but we often mingle with a handful of previously unfamiliar history-learners each month. Visiting over dinner and listening to a new – sometimes offbeat – topic is something I look forward to each month.
Leroy and his wife, Maureen, are empty nesters and live just 10 blocks from the Knights of Columbus, which he suspects wins for the shortest drive to our weekly meetings.
Our featured member this month is Charlotte Shover. She has been a member of the TCCWRT since 2010.
Charlotte developed a deep interest in the Civil War when she discovered years ago that her great grandfather, Augustus Temme, had served in the Union Army in the Civil War. He enlisted in April of 1861 at age 22. He came from Allegheny, PA, but when he joined, he served the Sickles Excelsior Brigade in the 70th NY volunteers Infantry Company E. However, when he reenlisted on 1864, he became part of the 86th NY volunteers, both of which were part of the Army of the Potomac. His final rank was that of Provost Guard.
In 1902 Augustus wrote a list of the various battles that he either fought in or served as reserve troops. This history was passed down through his family. He fought at Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, the Peninsula Campaign, the Overland Campaign, the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, and Appomattox. Her interest in her great grandfather’s experiences was the catalyst to tour each of these battle sites. She is most interested in the Wilderness because of the horrific conditions the men endured.
She very much enjoys reading the Civil War diaries and letters of individual soldiers, learning how they felt and what their daily life was like.
She has published a family book about her great grandfather Augustus Temme. She had also published a second book, Civil War Letters of Samuel W Croft and William C Wiley. This book was illustrated by TCCWRT member, Craig MacIntosh. She encourages everyone to look up your own family history, as you may be surprised at the interesting things you may discover.
She shares her interest in the Civil War with her husband, Dick (who is also a TCCWRT member), and children. Charlotte enjoys outdoor activities such as canoeing, biking, and walking. She has been to Europe five times and served on the Burnsville City Council for 10 years.
She also wanted to thank the TCCWRT Board of Directors for the great speakers and the website that has been developed over the years.
Bob first joined the TCCWRT in 1990 after he retired from his career as a sales representative with Cessna Aircraft. His friend, Bernie Cahill who was already a member, is the one who got him interested to join. Bernie also got him interested to join the WW II round table group. Bob met Bernie while they served in Vietnam.
Bob had been a faithful member to come to our meetings until he had a stroke last April. He feels bad that he is no longer able to come to our meetings, but he still enjoys getting the newsletter and keeping in touch.
What he finds most interesting about the Civil War is how hard the Union troops fought against the Confederate troops. They did their best to keep our nation together. His favorite battlefield that he has learned about is Gettysburg.
He does not have any ancestors in the Civil War that he is aware of since his father’s side of the family came here from Italy in the 1890s and his mother’s side came from Ireland also in the 1890s. He was born and raised in Kansas.
He remembers hearing on the radio about Pearl Harbor being attacked when he was about four years old and he says that memory gave him the desire later to serve in the military.
He is very proud of his military service to our country. One of his favorite sayings is “Duty First.” He joined the Kansas Army National Guard in 1955 while he was a senior in high school. He went to OCS in 1958 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1959.
While he was in the Kansas National guard in 1968, President Johnson called 180,000 into active duty to go to Vietnam. He was first sent to Fort Carson, Colorado for eight months and then was sent to Vietnam where he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, “the Big Red One.” He served with this 1st division for one year and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Two Army Bronze Star medals for his time in combat with the 1st Division, including a battle at a support base called Oran. After his time in Vietnam, he was also on active duty at Army schools in Ft. Benning, Georgia. After his three years of active duty, he returned to the Kansas National Guard where he overall served for 13 years and reached the rank of Captain.
In 1972, his civilian employer Cessna Aircraft transferred him to Minnesota. He then transferred to the Minnesota Army National Guard where he retired from the military in 1979 at the rank of Major.
After he retired from his civilian job in 1990, he wanted to educate young people on the importance of our military and veterans. He would go to his daughter’s (who was an elementary teacher) second grade classes on Veterans Day and talk to them about his military career and the importance of all veterans and what they had all done to make our country “the freest nation in the world.” He would also give them all a small US flag and explain what the flag meant to our country and show them how to salute the flag properly when they would say the Pledge of Allegiance. He also spoke to various high school classes.
Thank you, Bob, for your service to our country and always putting “Duty First.”
(Pictured left: Great Grandson and Great-Great-Great Grand Daughter of Valentine Myers)
I’ve been a member of the TCCWRT for about 12 years. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this group. Great programs, interesting topics, and interesting people all make this something that I really look forward to on my calendar.
As a child I was told that my great-grandfather had been in the civil war. I was a kid, big deal, what’s that to me? As an adult, really a retired adult, I was feeling a little differently about “old people.” I attended a program at our church where members sat at different tables in a large room to discuss their hobbies and things they enjoyed in their free time. There sat Mark Pridgeon. I already knew Mark and I knew he was really the go-to guy if you had any history question, but I didn’t know about his interest in and involvement in studying the civil war. Mark invited me to the next TCCWRT meeting at Ft Snelling Officer’s Club. I was IN after just one meeting! Shortly after that, another church member, Larry Pearson, told me about classes at St Thomas on the 5 years of the civil war era that were going be held by a retired professor that Larry considered to be quite an authority on the subject, Joe Fitzharris. It was GREAT series of lectures! If Dr. Joe ever does another program like it, I’ll be in the front row.
Thank you Mark & Larry.
I find the most interesting subject of the era to be the motivations of the people on each side of the issues and how they became so passionate about them. Studying this helps to better understand (if I do) the issues that appear to divide us today. How does anything become so important to you that you are willing to slay your fellow countryman? I guess because he is so clearly wrong and you are so clearly right! Yes, that must it. So, if he’s wrong and I’m right, then he has to die, right? Clear as mud. I also find it interesting in trying to understand how individual soldiers got so motivated to participate in a war that was so distant from their lives. But hasn’t that always been the case in nearly every war?
My great grandfather was quite an active participant in the civil war. Valentine Myers was born in Germany 1833. He Immigrated to USA 1858 and settled in Minier IL. He enlisted 9 Aug, 1862, fought in Co H, 115 ILL Voluntary Infantry and mustered Out 1 July 1865 Springfield IL.
He was captured 20 Sept 1863 and interned for 17 months at 5 Confederate prisons, including 15 months at Andersonville GA. There is very interesting reading concerning Andersonville Prison and even a movie. Small place, too many prisoners, lousy conditions, virtually no shelter, insufficient food, primitive sanitary situation (water supply also served as sewer, or vice versa). Numerous escapes attempts (with nowhere to go) lead to many an early death.
His final three months pf captivity were at the Florence Stockade, Florence SC. Grampa was transferred From Andersonville early Dec 1864 as General Sherman was making his March to The Sea through GA.
My brother and I recently visited Andersonville Prison. What a sad place, but it also has a rather good POW Museum that shows how US inmates were treated in different conflicts.
At lunchtime we went into Andersonville to a small café. To our surprise, there in the middle of town was a monument to Henry Wertz, Commandant of Andersonville Prison. We were astonished. How could there be such a thing honoring such a terrible man & a terrible place? We wondered what great grandpa Myers would think of such a monument. We agreed, he would piss on it.
I am retired from the US Army, 25 years of service, 10 active 15 National Guard, CW4 Rotary Wing Aviator (helicopter pilot). As my grandchildren would say, “big deal, everything you flew grampa is in the museum!”
James Mewborn’s interest in the Civil War began as a Boy Scout, hiking and studying the Tennessee battlefields near his home. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, James learned from his father that he had three great uncles and a great-grandfather who all fought in the 13th Tennessee. The youngest of the great uncles, Uncle Josh, had just turned 18 when he enlisted, joining his two older brothers in the regiment. Only two weeks later, they all fought in the battle of Shiloh. Uncle Joe was captured and sent to Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, where he spent a year. Somehow, there he started learning dentistry and went on to establish the Memphis Dental Society. What James finds special is that his Uncle Josh lived long enough for James’ father to engage in many personal conversations about his war experiences. These conversations were passed down to James.
James attended college in Rhode Island, where he took the opportunity to visit the graves of General Ambrose Burnside and Governor William Sprague IV in Providence. He attended law school in Baltimore where he met his Minnesotan wife, Susan. For over 40 years, James practiced civil litigation before retiring in May 2020. James has a broad interest in all aspects of the Civil War but enjoys learning the soldiers’ perspectives. Unrelated to the Civil War, he enjoys English Tudor history, particularly Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
Sally Rubinstein has been a member of the TCCWRT for about 20 years, served as President from 2007 to 2009, and has been facilitating the book raffle before each meeting for the last 12 years. She’s a lifelong history student and earned a Master of Arts in history from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and was a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Minnesota. She was working as an editor at the Minnesota Historical Society Press when in 1999 the director asked her what topics the Press had not yet covered. She knew that they had not published anything about the American Civil War. She got the assignment, and her interest in the Civil War grew from there, leading to the publication of a dozen books by the Press.
She passed on her interest to her husband, Mitch, and their daughter, Rebecca, who researched and spoke on the soldier vote at the April 2021 symposium. Rebecca’s research was subsequently published in Minnesota History magazine. Sally’s ancestral connection to the War is her great-great-grandfather W. C. A. Bain from Indiana who served as a doctor in the Civil War. She also notes that her house in St. Paul was built in 1884 by Judson Wade Bishop, the Colonel of the Second Minnesota Regiment.
What Sally finds most interesting is the astonishing role Minnesota played in the War. As one of the newest states in the Union with a small population, it still sent about 25,000 men to fight for the North, playing significant roles in the major battles of Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Nashville. She’s proud that in every battle Minnesota soldiers fought in, they helped hold the line. She also feels it noteworthy that Minnesotans were the first to enlist, and Minnesota also had the last surviving Union veteran – Albert Woolson, who died in Duluth in 1956.
A former member of TCCWRT and a friend, Bob Waterloo, advised me if I would be interested. I was, and my wife Pat and I joined the Round Table in 2018.
On my mother’s side I can go back to Hardy Pace. He was a cofounder of Atlanta, Georgia and Pace’s Ferry across the Chattahoochee River. This was the site of a skirmish in the Atlanta Campaign for General Oliver O. Howard’s IV Corps.
I served in the Navy Reserves and the Air National Guard. My educational background was in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. I added an MBA in courses of my choosing. I’ve had various positions in engineering, sales, and management in the electrical industry and specifically in industrial and process automation.
My interest in the Civil War began in my American History class in high school. The subject was okay, but what was really interesting was the French Second Empire mansion of Major General Grenville M. Dodge that he had built in 1869-1870. It was only about 100 yards out the southeast window of my class room. My high school sat on land the General once owned. The Y M C A where I learned to swim was sponsored by the General. The Carnegie Grant Library, that I used often through high school, was built with extra Dodge money to make it the largest and most expensive Carnegie Grant Library in Iowa.
What really hooked me on the Civil War was the time I spent researching the Battle of Pea Ridge at the Iowa Historical Society. The writings were by Ed Bearss, of when the then, Colonel Dodge, was twice the deciding factor in the battle. Mr. Bearss was a rookie tour guide at Vicksburg when he wrote it.
Since then, I’ve made it a priority to visit Civil War sites in my travels: Shiloh, Tupelo, Corinth, and the fort at the entrance to Mobile Bay. My wife and I have visited several museums of Civil War leaders. Last year I produce a twenty-two YouTube video on the museums: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FtL7PUudbE
Brett’s interest in the Civil War was sparked in 2005 when his boss passed on Michael Schaara’s Killer Angels to him she had received from a management course. He later joined the Twin Cities Civil War Round Table in 2015. He received his B.A. in Economics from St. Olaf and an MBA from the University of MN and worked in finance and systems development at Control Data and Target.
Brett’s interests include traveling and camping. His two adult children could claim that he dragged them to more battlefields than any of their history teachers had seen! More recently, Brett has taken annual one-week trips to southern Civil War battlefields with a high school friend who lives in Dubuque, IA. The biggest surprise on one of the trips was when he saw the baseball field in Hot Springs, AR, a favorite spring training grounds 100 years ago, where Babe Ruth hit his first 500-foot home run!
Brett has also learned that he has an ancestor who fought with the 5th MN for General Sherman, which included digging trenches in Vicksburg, MS.
Brett has been an avid reader of the Economist magazine since going on a college junior year abroad in Oxford. His most recent Civil War reading, in the summer of 2021, was Lincoln on the Verge, a fascinating chronicle of Lincoln’s 13-day trip to Washington D.C. to assume the Presidency. His favorite historical author is Robert Massey, who has written massive volumes on many subjects and people, including Peter the Great, and Castles of Steel (WW1 battleships). Brett is excited that his wife has recently taken interest in the Civil War as well, and she will be joining the Round Table for the 2021-2022 season.
Ken is the Past President of TCCWRT and chairs the TCCWRT Marketing Committee and has been a member of TCCWRT since 2008; and is also a past member of the Hiawatha and Rochester round tables. Ken’s Civil War pedigree includes numerous relatives, ranging from generals to privates, serving in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota regiments. He is a member of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society and has lectured frequently, locally and nationally, especially on the Battle of Nashville and the XVI Corps. Civil War writing efforts include the production of a play, The Guerillas from the Greenwood and the poem An Ode to a Soldier Long Forgotten that won the Editor’s Choice awards of the National and International Libraries of Poetry.
In 2011-2015 Ken served with the Minnesota Governor’s Sesquicentennial Task Force, conducting commemorative services and obtaining new granite markers for 14 of the only 20 Minnesota soldiers killed in the war and returned for burial in Minnesota. In 2014 Ken established the first ever marker by any state on the Nashville Battlefield where 98 Minnesotans were killed. In 2014 he placed three State historical markers in his hometown of Plainview, Minnesota, noting the exploits of a unique company of Civil War soldiers.
In 1962, Ken was the youngest first ever Peace Corps Volunteer from Minnesota at age 19. He has been involved in the start-up and development of more than a dozen companies and organizations domestically and internationally. He is the author or two books: Into the Backlands and Retrieving Isaac and Jason. In 2002 he was recognized by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as an outstanding rural entrepreneur and in 2012 by Governor Mark Dayton for his entrepreneurial contributions to the State of Minnesota. Ken is widowed and resides in Eagan, Minnesota.
Carol has been a member of the TCCWRT since 2010. As a child, her family took many road trips, stopping at Civil War battlefields. It was the seed that was cultivated into a love of Civil War history. After reading Killer Angels, she became fascinated by the personal relationships developed throughout the Civil War between soldiers, generals, politicians, and the families back home. She has been secretary/treasurer of the TCCWRT since 2011. In 2017, the TCCWRT Board sent her to Manassas to attend the first annual CWRT Congress conference, an organization which was created to help Civil War round tables thrive and survive. The seminar provided ways to improve your Civil War round table. The ideas she brought back were implemented, such as creating an updated logo, a vibrant website, a Facebook page, and more.
In the summer of 2020, Carol was invited to be on the Board of the CWRT Congress (first woman!) as the Director of Communications. Her role includes creating a quarterly newsletter and an annual report. She enjoys seeing and sharing how other round tables around the country and world find ways to keep their round tables thriving.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that she discovered she had Confederate ancestors. The King family hailed from Roswell, GA. She has four 5X-great uncles who fought and died or were wounded in the war; two other uncles served in the ministry and medical field. Her G G G grandfather, Barrington King, operated a textile mill which was burned by General Sherman’s army. Her main interest and research is Sherman’s Atlanta campaign as it made its way through Roswell, and she gives lectures on that episode.
Carol lives in the Hopkins area with her rescue dog, Mittie, who is named after Mittie Bulloch, the mother of Teddy Roosevelt and a true Southern belle.
Stephen Osman is a graduate of St. Olaf College who retired as senior historian with the Minnesota Historical Society. He managed Historic Fort Snelling for over three decades, and actively researches, speaks and writes about Minnesota’s role in the Civil War and the Dakota War. Osman served with the US Army Reserve in Psychological Operations at Fort Snelling, is an elected fellow of the Company of Military Historians, and a long-serving board member of the Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum, the Friends of Fort Snelling, Heritage Arms Society and the Pond Dakota Heritage Society. He is the author of Fort Snelling Then and Now: The World War II Years, Fort Snelling and the Civil War and numerous articles in history journals, and published the scholarly journal Minnesota’s Heritage.
Stephen’s interest in the Civil War dates back to grade school when relatives passed their ancestors’ artifacts onto him. He was a member of the Bloomington-Normal Illinois Civil War Round Table in those days. In 1973 he co-founded the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry reenactment group and led them to numerous national events and movie filmings. For the past two decades he has chaired the multi-Round Table committee that produces the annual Minnesota Civil War Symposium.
Stephen’s wife Wendy is a talented historic costumer and member of the TCCWRT. Their three adult children all volunteered at Historic Fort Snelling when young, but only son Austin now seems to have fully caught the history bug.
Darryl Sannes has been studying the American Civil War, as a hobby, all of his adult life. He co-authored the three-book set, Patriots of Brooklyn, the stories of men from Brooklyn Township who served in the Civil War. From 2011 through 2015 he served on the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force. He has been to all of the major Civil War Battlefields at least once and has been to Gettysburg 11 times. Sannes has over 500 Civil War books in his library. He has been a member of the TCCWRT since 2006 and has been an officer and board member for the last five years. Darryl has also presented on Civil War subjects to the other Minnesota Civil War Round Tables. Sannes is a board member for a local non-profit, is active with the Brooklyn Historical Society, and spends most of his retired time researching history and genealogy.
My name is Nancy Ray Johnson and I have belonged to the group since 2014. I first became aware of the TCCWRT from a bookmark that was handed to me at another event. At my first meeting, I truly enjoyed the reception I received and felt very welcome in the group.
Ancestry is my real passion and I have been working on my family history for over 25 years. My mother and maternal grandmother both belonged to The Daughters of the American Revolution. Through my Grandmother Pearl Baker Siemen, I inherited A Childs History of Waseca Co. Minnesota for Fifty Years 1854 – 1904, and the two-volume set of the Minnesota in the Civil War and Indian War 1861-1865. These books I later learned are in the Minnesota Historical Society for reference. My Great Grandfather, Samuel White Baker was in the 2nd. Regiment of Cavalry in Company C. He enlisted on Dec. 1, 1863 and was discharged Nov 17, 1865. I have his discharge papers. His Cousin Asa Mosher was also in this company. They both took part in the battle of To-Ha-Kouty Mountain on the east side of the Dakota Bad Lands and the battle of the Little Missouri. He also may have been among those who rescued a wagon train run by Captain Fisk heading to the Idaho gold fields. I have 14 Civil War Soldiers that I have documented and have pictures of 10 of these. All but two of the ancestors are in my Grandmothers English descent.
I joined the Round Table to learn more about the Civil War. The First Minnesota Voluntary Infantry is most important to me because my ancestor, Ludwell James Mosher, was one of the first to enlist on April 16th, 1861, in Company G., under Captain Louis McKune. He was 23 and fought at the second battle of Bull Run and was wounded there. On July 2nd, 1863, he was again wounded in an arm and leg in the charge at Gettysburg that made the Minnesota First Infantry the heroes of that day.
I was born in Minneapolis and have lived there and in the western suburbs. I have two married daughters who live near me, and four grandchildren.
I joined the Twin City Civil War Round Table in 2012. I have served on the Board of Directors for the past several years. I love getting together with everyone there and listening to all the speakers and always learn something new. I feel I am among my “own kind,” and I wish I had found this group years ago!
My interest in the Civil War is learning how it affected the relationships between people in both the North and the South – the “brother against brother.” I am interested to learn about the men who had to leave their wives and other loved ones behind not knowing if they would ever return to them and how hard that must have been on both these men and the ones they left behind. I like to learn how the men handled their day-to-day life in the war and also how their families survived without them. So, the emotional side of the war is what interests me the most.
I won the American history award in my small-town high school one year. I also had read the book and saw the movie Gone With the Wind in high school. I had watched several Civil War mini-series on TV and also saw the Ken Burns Civil War documentary series and all of that really fueled my desire to learn more.
I got my love of history from my Dad. He never got to tour any historical areas of the USA but I did, and he would always love to look at my photos, mementoes and stories that I would tell him about all the historical things that I had seen. It really was a special bonding time with my Dad and is a special memory for me now. I used to tell him that I had to look at things twice on the history trips that I went on, once for me and once for him! He has now passed but I know he would be so surprised and proud that I found this group and am even on the Board of Directors now.
I have toured various Civil War sites such as Gettysburg – twice, Nashville, Springfield IL, Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Washington DC, Richmond, and a few other sites in Arkansas and Missouri. Gettysburg is my favorite battlefield site as I can really feel the history there and have felt spiritual things there that I have not felt at any other historical place. Antietam, Appomattox and Atlanta are on my “bucket list” of places that I would still like to visit.
I also have an interest in the US/Dakota War of 1862 since I was born and raised in that area of southern MN and have toured many of those sites as well. Because of my interest in both of these wars I have wished that I had an ancestor that had been involved in either of these wars, but I do not believe I do.
I have also toured some Revolutionary War and colonial sites such as Philadelphia, Boston and the New England area.
Some of my other interests are many types of dancing such as polka, ballroom and Latin. I like to sing Karaoke, movies, reading, concerts and going to craft shows. I enjoy public speaking and can speak a little Spanish.
Bruce Cooper is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and currently works as an analytical chemist at 3M.
Bruce’s interest in American history in general and the Civil War in particular dates back to childhood. During that period his family acquired The Golden Book History of the United States. Bruce spent many hours reading the 10 volumes and studying the many illustrations painted by Alton Tobey. He still owns the original 10 volume set.
Bruce joined the Round Table in 2011. He served as President of the Round Table during the 2017-2018 season. He currently serves on the Board as a Director and is editor of the TCCWRT News newsletter. He is also the administrator of the “Civil War Round Table – Twin Cities Group” on Facebook.
Bruce enjoys historical travel. During the last decade he’s traveled to Kansas City MO (World War One Museum, Truman Presidential Library) in 2010, Nashville TN (Andrew Jackson’s “The Hermitage,” Shy’s Hill, Stone’s River Battlefield) in 2014 and Virginia (Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg National Battlefield Parks, Appomattox Courthouse NHS and Battle of New Market) in 2018. He had hoped to celebrate his 60th b- birthday at Gettysburg NBP in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on those plans.
Bruce also enjoys bird watching, fishing and drawing/painting (mostly bird, fish and other wildlife). He currently lives in Andover MN with his wife Melodie who is also a Round Table member since 2019.