Meeting Information

American Civil War education, preservation and restoration

Monthly Meetings

The round table meets on the third Tuesday of the month from September through May, except April, at the Knights of Columbus, 1114 American Boulevard West, Bloomington, MN 55420, for members and their guests. Social hour starts at 5:45 pm followed by dinner and a speaker at 6:30 pm. If you are not yet a member please see Join the Table for more information or contact Carol VanOrnum, Treasurer, at

For a more complete description of the program, and a speaker bio, click on the presentation title.

2022-2023 Guest Speaker Schedule

September 20, 2022: “Emancipation During the Civil War” – Amy Murrell Taylor

September 20, 2022

“Emancipation During the Civil War”

– Amy Murrell Taylor

September 20, 2022

It’s one of the great moments of American history: Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But as monumental as that order was, it did not do the full work of destroying slavery and freeing enslaved people. This talk will reveal how different–and more complicated–the history of Emancipation seems when we bring the experiences of enslaved people closer into view. It will tell the largely untold story of the flight of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children away from slavery and into the lines of the Union army during the war — a mass migration that created a refugee crisis but also proved pivotal in destroying the institution of slavery once and for all.

Amy Murrell Taylor is the T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of a number of books and articles on the Civil War era, including The Divided Family in Civil War America (UNC Press, 2005), and Embattled Freedom: Journeys Through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps (UNC Press, 2018), which won a number of national prizes including the Frederick Douglass Prize for the best book on the history of global slavery. In the summers, when she is not writing or researching about this era, she likes to vacation with family along the St. Croix River in Minnesota.

(Photo:  National Archives)

October 18, 2022: “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home” – Richard Bell

October 18, 2022

“Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

– Richard Bell


October 18, 2022

Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home. Their ordeal— an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black-market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War.

Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home which was a finalist for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award and the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Center for History and Culture and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

November 15, 2022: “The Louisiana Tigers” – Scott Mingus

November 15, 2022

“The Louisiana Tigers”

Scott Mingus

November 15, 2022

One of Robert E. Lee’s best, and most controversial, brigades in the Army of Northern Virginia – the Louisiana Tigers. They played a key role in the Gettysburg Campaign. Their storming and seizure of a vital fort in the Winchester defenses forced Union commander Robert Milroy to abandon the town, opening the way north to the Potomac River for Lee’s forces. The Tigers were perhaps the single unit most feared by the Northern press, and some of their exploits will be recounted, followed by a discussion of their ill-fated attack on Cemetery Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Scott Mingus is a retired scientist and executive in the global pulp and paper industry. He has written 23 Civil War and Underground Railroad books. His biography of General William “Extra Billy” Smith won multiple awards, including the Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize for Confederate History. He has also written several articles for Gettysburg Magazine and other historical journals. Scott has appeared on C-SPAN, C-SPAN3, PCN, and other TV networks.  For more than a decade, he has written a blog on the Civil War and Underground Railroad history of York County ( He has written six scenario books for Civil War miniature wargaming.

December 20, 2022: “Out to Work: Women and the Civil War Homefront” – Dr. Lisa Marie Rude

December 20, 2022

“Out to Work: Women and the Civil War Homefront”

– Dr. Lisa Marie Rude

December 20, 2022

Women played many important roles during and following the Civil War. They were the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of soldiers and sailors, and held the home front together through four terrible years of warfare. They also worked in hospitals just behind the battle lines, in factories, as merchants, did much of the farming, and assumed roles in community leadership. Rather than being a domestic burden, these women, from Minnesota to Maine, played key roles in preserving the Union and in trying to build a better society in its aftermath. Skills forged in the fires of war, aided women in their struggle for a place in society when it ended.  

Dr. Lisa Marie Rude is a professor of history at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN. Dr. Rude received her doctoral degree in History and Women’s Studies at the University of Maine in 2015. She earned her Master of Arts in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College. Her primary research concentration is on twentieth century women’s political history focused on the impact of the women’s movements on the First Ladies of the United States.


(Photo: Women Amidst War Landing Page,


January 17, 2023: “The Turning Point: The Wilderness and Spotsylvania” – John C. Fazio

January 17, 2023

“The Turning Point: The Wilderness and Spotsylvania”

– John C. Fazio


January 17, 2023

The twin battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania on May 5-19, 1864, could arguably constitute the true turning point of the Civil War, despite the fact that the first of them was a Confederate victory, because they forever extinguished the possibility that the Confederacy could win the war. That possibility was already remote by virtue of major Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, in July, 1863, but neither of those battles sealed the Confederacy’s fate, as demonstrated by the later Confederate victory at Chickamauga (September, 1863). The fate was sealed when General Grant turned south at the Brock Road-Plank Road intersection, toward Spotsylvania Court House, after his defeat in The Wilderness, rather than northward to re-cross the Rapidan, lick his wounds and regroup, as the long train of mediocrities before him had done. Grant promised Lincoln there would be no retreat, and he meant it. “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer,” he wired Henry Halleck.  And he did. 

John C. Fazio has a B.A. and J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.  He joined his wife, Mary, in retirement in 2016 after practicing law for 50 years.  He is a student of history, with an emphasis on European and American history and with an even greater emphasis on the most defining event in American history, the Civil War.  He is a member of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable and has been its president.  He is also a member of the Lincoln Forum, the Surratt Society, the Cleveland Grays and the Western Reserve Historical Society. He has taught Civil War history at Chautauqua Institution, frequently speaks on the war and other subjects before Roundtables and other groups and has written and published more than 40 articles on the war and other subjects.  In addition, he has written Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, after five years of research and writing. 

(Image of Spotsylvania by Thure de Thulstrup.)


February 21, 2023: “The Underground Railroad” – Chris Crutchfield

February 21, 2023

“The Underground Railroad” – Chris Crutchfield

February 21, 2023

The Underground Railroad was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early- to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans primarily to escape into free states and Canada. The network was assisted by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escapees. The enslaved who risked escape and those who aided them are also collectively referred to as the “Underground Railroad.” ( 

Chris Crutchfield is an attorney and is the Deputy Director of Community Relations for Ramsey County Community Corrections.  Chris is also an adjunct professor at Inver Hills Community College where he teaches litigation to paralegals.  Prior to that, Chris was a partner at the law firm Capitol Heights Law Group where he represented small business and nonprofit clients; was involved in civil rights cases; and successfully secured one of the largest gender equity settlements in Minnesota.

Since the mid-1980s, Chris has been involved in outdoor education that focuses on teaching about history.  Chris has facilitated the Underground Railroad re-enactments and other cultural outdoor programs for youth since 1988. He was formerly President of the Board at Osprey Wilds (then known as Audubon Center of the Northwoods).

Chris lives near Lake Phalen in Saint Paul and enjoys fishing in all seasons.  He is married and has five children ranging in age from 9 to 29 years old. 



March 21, 2023: “Clara Barton: Civil War Battlefield Nurse” – Leslie Goddard

March 21, 2023

Clara Barton: Civil War Battlefield Nurse – Leslie Goddard

March 21, 2023

Long before she founded the American Red Cross, Clara Barton earned fame as the first woman to serve as a nurse on the front lines of a battlefield. This living-history program brings to life the story of Barton’s work during the American Civil War, including her decision to solicit and deliver supplies to soldiers and her experiences working under fire at battlefield hospitals. Her stories — funny, poignant and sometimes heartbreaking — reveal the medical conditions of Civil War soldiers and the courage required for a woman to defy conventions during a national crisis. 

Leslie Goddard is an award-winning actress and scholar who has been portraying famous women in history for more than fifteen years. In addition to a master’s degree in theater, she holds a Ph.D from Northwestern University specializing in U.S. History and American Studies. She lives in the Chicago area, where she served on the boards of the Chicago Civil War Round Table and the Illinois State Historical Society. A former museum director, she currently works full-time as a living history performer, author and public speaker.

May 16, 2023: “The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy” – Lorien Foote

May 16, 2023

“The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners

and the Collapse of the Confederacy”

– Lorien Foote

May 16, 2023 

During the last winter of the Civil War, nearly 3,000 Union prisoners escaped from Confederate prisons in the Carolinas and fled toward Union army lines.  Black and white southerners fed, hid, and guided the fugitives across hundreds of miles of dangerous terrain.  Lorien Foote will share what the journey of escaped prisoners reveals about the transformation of the home front to a battle front inside the Confederacy and how the movement of prisoners of war ultimately shaped the contours of the war’s final military campaigns. 

Lorien Foote is the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor in History at Texas A&M University. She is the author of four books, editor of three volumes, and writer of numerous articles and essays on the cultural, intellectual, and military history of the American Civil War. Her books include the just-published Rites of Retaliation: Civilization, Soldiers, and Campaigns in the American Civil War (2020); The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy (2016), which was a 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title; and The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Manhood, Honor, and Violence in the Union Army (2010), which was a finalist and Honorable Mention for the 2011 Lincoln Prize.  She is the co-editor, with Earl J. Hess, of The Oxford Handbook of the American Civil War. She is the creator and principal investigator of a digital humanities project, which is mapping the escape and movement of 3000 Federal prisoners of war.  The project includes contributions from undergraduate researchers at four universities.  It can be explored online at