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.

2017-2018 Guest Speaker Schedule

September 19th, 2017: “The Sword & the Pen: A Life of Lew Wallace” – Ray E. Boomhower

September 19, 2017

“The Sword & the Pen: A Life of Lew Wallace”
– Ray E. Boomhower

September 19, 2017

At various times in his remarkable life, Indiana’s Lew Wallace was a lawyer, a state senator, vice president of the court-martial that tried the conspirators behind the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, governor of the New Mexico Territory during the days of outlaw Billy the Kid, best-selling author, and a diplomat who represented the United States in Turkey.

Ray E. Boomhower, the author of the Wallace biography The Sword & the Pen: A Life of Lew Wallace, will examine Wallace’s turbulent career as a Civil War officer as he advances from colonel of the Eleventh Indiana to promotion to major general and subsequent downfall following the Battle of Shiloh. He will also talk about Wallace’s defense of Cincinnati from Confederate attack and the resurrection of his military career as commander of the Middle Department and role in saving Washington, D.C., from Confederate attack at the Battle of Monocacy.

Ray E. Boomhower is senior editor at the Indiana Historical Society Press, where he also is editor of the IHS’s popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. In addition to his Wallace biography, Boomhower has written many biographies of notable historical figures.

October 17, 2017: “If I Have Got to Go and Fight I Am Willing:” A Union Regiment Forged in the Petersburg Campaign, the 179th New York Volunteer Infantry 1864-1865.” – Edwin P. Rutan, II

October 17, 2017

“If I Have Got to Go and Fight I Am Willing:” A Union Regiment Forged in the Petersburg Campaign, the 179th New York Volunteer Infantry 1864-1865.”
– Edwin P. Rutan, II

October 17, 2017

In the summer of 1864, the 179th New York Volunteer Infantry protected Washington, D.C. They joined Grant’s army in June at Petersburg, first in failed assaults, then entrenched and engaged in the Battle of the Crater. The 179th New Yorkers served in the attack at Fort Stedman in March, 1865, and finally stormed Petersburg. In all, hundreds were killed or wounded in their service.

Ed Rutan graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and began a legal career for a major New York law firm. He served as the City Attorney for Salt Lake City and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration in 2013. Now, after a rewarding career as a lawyer, he has retired and is focused on American History. Rutan and his wife, Lynne, live in Park City, Utah, where they enjoy skiing, hiking and traveling.

November 21, 2017: “Three Paths to Glory: The 2nd and 5th Minnesota Regiments and the 1st Tennessee in the First Year of the Civil War” – Representative Dean Urdahl

November 21, 2017

“Three Paths to Glory: The 2nd and 5th Minnesota Regiments and the 1st Tennessee in the First Year of the Civil War”
– Representative Dean Urdahl

November 21, 2017

Three Paths to Glory is the fictional, history-based story of three regiments in the American Civil War: the 2nd and 5th Minnesota and the 1st Tennessee. It follows each of the regiments through the war through the eyes of men serving in them. Clinton Cilley, of the 2nd Minnesota will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Jimmy Dunn of the 5th fights bravely in the Indian wars and at Nashville. Sam Davccis of the 1st Tennessee is remembered as the “Boy Hero of the Confederacy” for his gallant and noble deeds. Three Paths to Glory centers on the first two years of the war in the western theater.

Dean Urdahl is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He served as Minnesota’s commissioner to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was instrumental in forming the Minnesota Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. A former history teacher and writer of historical fiction, Dean Urdahl has authored a series of novels – Uprising, Retribution, Pursuit, Conspiracy! and Three Paths to Glory – detailing events of the 1860s.

December 19, 2017: “The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862” – John Haymond

December 19, 2017

“The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862”
– John Haymond

December 19, 2017

The military commission trials of the Dakota War have been extensively studied, but a thorough understanding of 19th century military law has been lacking in the history of this war. The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law and the Judgment of History, is the first examination of the trials by a historian with expertise in both military law and conflict history. In this presentation, John A. Haymond discusses the legal controversies that still surround the military commission trials, considers the role of Native American culture as it relates to definitions of lawful warfare, examines the trials within the broader context of military law during the Civil War, and discusses how this subject has been portrayed in published histories. This presentation engages with some of the lingering questions from the war, such as: was the military commission a legal court; did the lack of defense counsel make the trials invalid; was there any evidence to support the claims of widespread atrocities; and did Henry H. Sibley personally violate the law in the course of the trials?

John Haymond is a conflict historian who researches the impact of war upon society. He has written two books, contributed to peer-reviewed academic journals and the “Laws of War” department in Military History Quarterly, and is a published poet. A former paratrooper and infantryman, he retired from the U.S. Army in 2009 after a 21-year military career. He has a BA in History and English Literature from the University of Minnesota and an MSc in History from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

January 16, 2018: “Civil War Surgeon Archibald S. Maxwell – And Iowa Soldiers’ Aid” – George C. Maxwell

January 16, 2018

“Civil War Surgeon Archibald S. Maxwell – And Iowa Soldiers’ Aid”
– George C. Maxwell

January 16, 2018

Dr. Archibald S. Maxwell served in the Civil War in the City of Davenport, Iowa’s volunteer medical missions following the battles of Fort Donelson and Shiloh. Mr. George Maxwell, the great-great-great- grandson of the doctor will also discuss soldiers’ aid/sanitary commissions in Iowa during the Civil War.

George C. Maxwell is a practicing attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Borene Law Firm. He received his J.D. from the University of Iowa Law School in May 2001, graduating with High Distinction. He was a member of, and a Note and Comment Editor for, the Iowa Law School’s Transnational and Contemporary Problems Journal. He also holds a bachelor of the arts in Political Science and Russian from the University of Northern Iowa, and upon graduation received the Purple and Old Gold Award for Meritorious Scholarship in Russian. In connection with his bachelor degree, he studied Russian language at Moscow State Linguistics University and Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia. Mr. Maxwell has written a number of published articles that touch on immigration law and other legal topics. Agent of Mercy: The Untold Story of Dr. Archibald S. Maxwell Civil War Surgeon and Iowa State Sanitary Agent is his first book.

February 20, 2018: “Lincoln’s Childhood” – Brian Dirck

February 20, 2018

“Lincoln’s Childhood”
– Brian Dirck

February 20, 2018

Abraham Lincoln grew up in southern Indiana, where his childhood years became the stuff of legend, as part of one of the great rags-to-riches stories in American history. What parts of the Lincoln mythos regarding his childhood are true, and what are false? Was he really an entirely self-taught child, reading books on his own by the light of a cabin fireplace? Was he really a frontier farmer and “railsplitter”? What sort of relationships did he have with his family and friends, and what were the hardships and challenges he endured that shaped his later life and personality? We will examine these questions, and look at the trials, difficulties and triumphs of the future Civil War leader as he came of age on the American frontier.

Brian Dirck is a Professor of History at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. He received his B.A. in history at the University of Central Arkansas, an M.A. in history at Rice University, and a Ph.D. in history at the University of Kansas. His scholarship has focused on the American Civil War era, in particular the life and career of Abraham Lincoln. He has published and edited several books: Lincoln and Davis: Imagining America, Lincoln the Lawyer, and others. He has also spoken at Harvard University, the National Archives in Washington DC, the Lincoln Forum in Springfield, Illinois, and Gettysburg’s Civil War Institute.

March 20, 2018: “Weapons of Mass Destruction” – Mark Laubacher

March 20, 2018

“Weapons of Mass Destruction”
– Mark Laubacher

March 20, 2018

In an effort to bring about resolution to the Civil War, creative suggestions and research was offered by individuals, many of whom were civilians. Several of such suggestions involved the use of chemical and biological agents as unconventional weapons by both Confederate and Union forces against their adversaries.

Weapons of mass destruction were not sortied as neither President Lincoln nor President Davis gave authorization, as both disapproved of unconventional warfare. Both feared the negative propaganda, the infuriation of the citizens, and reprisals from irregular warfare. As a result, on April 24, 1863, President Lincoln issued General Order No. 100, which prohibited the use of poison in any manner. This presentation, complete with photos and descriptions, will discuss and illustrate the chemical and biological poisons considered by both militaries during the War Between the States. It is imperative that history shows that such weapons of mass destruction were considered, but not utilized.

Mark Laubacher, RN, paramedic, is a Certified Specialist in Poison Information since 1992 at the Central Ohio Poison Center located at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio. Prior to this, he was a full time staff nurse at Children’s Emergency Department for 4 years. He received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capital University in 1989. He is also currently a faculty member for Grant Medical Center Paramedic Program in Columbus, Ohio. Having delivered over 400 presentations, he routinely presents at the state and national levels on various topics of toxicological emergencies. He is active member of the following: 1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery A, Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable, Society of Civil War Surgeons, National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and Society of Civil War Historians.

May 15, 2018: “Thaddeus Lowe and the Aeronauts” – George Romano

May 15, 2018

“Thaddeus Lowe and the Aeronauts”
– George Romano

May 15, 2018

Thaddeus Lowe and the Aeronauts is about the birth of U.S. Army aviation, U.S. Aviation, and also the birth of literally flying by the seat of one’s pants! Balloons played a role in the American Civil War but were gone from the skies by 1863. Why? And how did they get there in the first place? Come and learn the fascinating story of the aeronauts of the Civil War.

George Romano has had an interest in the Civil War since growing up 20 minutes away from the Chickamauga Battlefield site in NW Georgia. He is past President of the Rochester Civil War Roundtable and the President of the Board of the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association.